Friday, February 29, 2008

Bu$hCo's Tim Goeglein learns about the Google


Who can forget Dubyah's describing his use of the Google? And W we'd like to have you back at the ranch also. Less than eleven months now.

Today's news of Tim Goeglin being nailed for plagiarism by Nancy Nall and then resigning was classic schadenfreude. He was the Pipeline to the President For GOP Conservatives busy Selling Brand Bush to the Christian Right as Bush's Eyes and Ears on the Right and ...

Press Secretary and noted historian Dana Perino offered up the Bu$hCo statement as follows:
Tim Goeglein has loyally served President Bush for over seven years and worked tirelessly on his behalf to promote the President's policies. Among his contributions, Tim helped establish the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He also played an important role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito.

Today, Tim accepted responsibility for the columns published under his name in his local newspaper, and has apologized for not upholding the standards expected by the President. The President was disappointed to learn of the matter, and he was saddened for Tim and his family. He has long appreciated Tim's service, and he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country. President Bush accepted Tim's resignation today
First there was Domestic Policy Advisor Claude Allen shoplifting and now there's Timothy Goeglein stealing anothers academic work and passing it off as his own. Merely scratching the surface of this very worst administration ever, that these guys apparently thought they'd not be caught would be an interesting study to undertake. John Gunn

Save the internet ~ Plus ... Shame on Comcast!


Please visit Free Press Action Fund's savetheinternet.com for further information. John Gunn

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dana Siegelman and Scott Horton on Dan Abrams


Dan Abrams is all over the Don Siegelman story. Dana (Don's daughter) does OK in her appearance and was great in putting a face to Don's family. Harper's Scott Horton seemed solid. Dan is righteous in his demand for action from DOJ. Reckon the Mobile Press-Register will soon have something going after Dan Abrams' journalistic integrity? John Gunn

Mobile Press-Register gets twofer in Editorial

After yesterday's "precious little reason to believe "garbage from the B'ham News, the Newhouse paper in South Alabama got in their obligatory defense of those who prosecuted and jailed Don Siegelman. And they also managed to get a hit in on The New York Times for mistreating St. John McCain. I do understand that some people aren't thrilled with not just the NYT but also other sources for suggesting a sexual relationship with Vicki Iseman. I also wonder if there's more to the story or if maybe that part could have been culled. But the story wasn't about sex. More on that to follow.

My question is how the Mobile Press-Register can claim CBS show guilty of bad journalism? They write:

Let's go over their "journalism" ... It was perversely fitting that "60 Minutes" fired a wild shot at Mr. Rove just a few days after The New York Times tried to out-tabloid the tabloids with a story suggesting a romantic link between Republican presidential candidate John McCain and an attractive blonde lobbyist.

Following the lead of the Gray Lady, "60 Minutes" used sex to promote a weak story that rounded up a high-profile Republican suspect and then failed to present convincing evidence of corruption. The CBS program's descent into tabloid journalism consisted of uncorroborated and mostly repackaged charges about the prosecution and conviction of Mr. Siegelman on bribery charges.

"Perversely fitting" for a "wild shot" at Karl Rove? Damned if the Mobile P-R doesn't make the B'ham News look almost fair. At least they had the decency to give some credence to the many, many questions raised by this saga. "Failed to present convincing evidence of corruption" is the standard for printing? Aren't serious questions enough, especially for a politician that has repeatedly claimed to be above such unseemly behaviors? Is "uncorroborated" always forbidden?

Let's also back up for some background on the NYT story that Kevin Drum supplies. Once again, who cares about the sex! He might be cheeky ... yet it's not about him being randy but rather bold to claim he's St. John the Maverick. Even Faux News has reported some differences with St. John's recollection and Paxson Communications in that period of FEC activity. Here's some more. And I do ponder why Don Siegelman goes to prison for perhaps getting something from somebody and then perhaps helping them out when Senator John McCain did a favor for Bud Paxson who gave money and plane rides and ... to St. John.

Like I posted in my reponse to the B'ham News, Dana Jill Simpson had told Congressional aides that Karl Rove had wanted her to document Don being naughty. They correctly avoided that testimony. Ms. Simpson has testified under oath to Congress. Has anyone on the other side of this story? Providing lots of advice to 60 Minutes on being "diligent" and asking "pertinent" questions, the M P-R closes with:

Nothing presented by "60 Minutes" changes the basic facts of the case. The former governor was prosecuted by career federal prosecutors who were spurred on by stories in the Press-Register. Mr. Siegelman was found guilty by an Alabama jury. He is now pursuing appeals in the court system -- the proper venue for resolving questions about the case.

Mr. Siegelman will not be exonerated by a politicized campaign in the press to convict Karl Rove of pulling the strings of dozens of puppets, including career prosecutors and other court officials. This sort of conspiracy-mongering hurts the reputation of journalists much more than it hurts Mr. Rove or helps former Gov. Siegelman.

Mercy if that's not rich. Spurred on indeed. Larisa Alexandrovna certain is right to remind us of the M P-R's reporter Billy Curran's stake in Don's conviction. She writes, "... his entire career now rests on the very notion that he was either used to launder lies or that his own lies are about to be exposed."

Also, a main role of the press is I thought to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Don Siegleman is in prison and denied bail. Don wasn't even given time to get his affairs in order before being hauled off to prison in shackles. This seldom if even happens in a white collar case. Being treated this way is certainly afflicted I'd argue. If Don Siegelman weren't incarcerated (and waiting months or so for a transcript!) then perhaps we'd have not seen this story. 60 Minutes is smart enough to see serious questions about this case. More and more Americans, even in Alabama, are smart enough to suspect some monkey business has gone on.

Finally, Larisa has even more to offer on the way this case is being handled by the Alabama GOP and major media. I'm outraged that Don Siegelman can't at least get out pending the appellate process running its course. The M P-R knows journalism is about connecting the pieces of the puzzle. For them to claim those that are concerned about justice aren't doing good journalism is beyond belief. They surely know better. Their approach is what is doing harm to their profession. John Gunn

1 in 100 Americans in Prison/Jail

AP/MSNBC report 1 in 100 Americans behind bars, report finds: Prison spending ballooned from $11 billion to $49 billion in 2 decades which references The Pew Center on the States' recent report from their Public Safety Performance project. How can this be so? It's way more than I can fathom and yet I note the incarceration rates are much higher in the South than other regions. Surely race has to have something to do with this reality.

I love the following: “These sad facts reflect a very distorted set of national priorities,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, referring to the full report. “Perhaps, if we adequately invested in our children and in education, kids who now grow up to be criminals could become productive workers and taxpayers.” Amen Senator! If only more pols were willing to be like Bernie.

Reckon any of the candidates for President will dare talk about this problem or will they fear appearing "soft on crime"? John Gunn

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Precious little reason to believe exactly what?

Good grief B'ham News! Over to the left we have Victor Hanson III who once said "Though we are owned by the Newhouse family, The News is still run locally as it always has been." Whoever is running this paper ought to be ashamed of their treatment of Don Siegelman. Plenty of folks believe the entire Newhouse line here in Alabama has it in for Don yet the way they continue to cover his trial and incarceration seems like it will only add fuel to the fire. And maybe that's good? Let's see what all they twisted in their Siegelman's Seige editorial ...
Although a jury concluded otherwise, (Former Arizona Attorney General who remains a strong Republican) Woods said the case wasn't valid because the money went to Siegelman's lottery campaign, rather than to him personally.
Was this the jury that had to be sent out several times with instructions that they better render a verdict? And of course Mr. Woods is just one of several former AGs that have asked for a further review of Don Siegelman's situation.
It's not as if Rove hasn't dabbled before in Alabama politics, and it's certainly not as if Rove is above playing dirty.
Yup! And then you add ...
Yet the Justice Department's actions in some cases outside of Alabama make it hard to flat-out disregard Siegelman's complaints. That's unfortunate.
I'd think it a little more than "unfortunate", especially if you're in federal prison. And reckon Karl Rove and other movement conservatives might have had something to do with this monkey business at Justice?
The problem is (former GOP operative Dan Jill) Simpson. She has dribbled outdamaging allegations in such a way as to undermine her credibility.
Actually she's testified under oath. She's got her law license on the line plus perjury charges. Until some of these folks in the story testify under oath I'd think her side of the story counts for plenty. Also, since when does one have to tell the full story to make what she's said true? Maybe having her house burn down early on was what cause her to dribble? Dribbling is allowed I'd think and perhaps could even make her more credible. She's said she mentioned this plan to follow Don to see him fooling around on the wife to Congressional aides and they passed on questioning her on that part of her story. And what about all those records she's claiming to have to back up her side of the story. Think y'all might want to try to get a look at them?

But wait, it gets better with ...
Then again, the problem with this whole controversy is so many sides aren't wholly believable.
So we'll leave a man, a former Governor no less, in prison and deny him the normal bail pending appeal? The News' contempt for the legal system continues with ...
... Siegelman's defense lawyers seized on the show's less glamorous claim that former-aide-turned-witness Nick Bailey had made notes about his testimony that weren't furnished to his former boss' legal team. Prosecutors denied knowing of any such notes, but if the claims were borne out, they could provide a legal hook for Siegelman to win a new day in court.
A "legal hook"? Reckon how those claims will be "borne out" without an investigation? It looks rather glamorous to me to have the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and probably a likely Brady Order from the bench ignored. As I recall the story Bailey is to have said people from the prosecution team were there helping him write (over and over) out his story until he got it right. Am I wrong? If this is so, that's prosecutorial misconduct perhaps rather than a "legal hook". Than new day is court might be a dismissal, especially if somebody other than Judge Mark Fuller is hearing the evidence.

The close is priceless. The B'ham News writes ...
Politics should not play any role in launching a criminal investigation, or in ditching a case, either.Unless there is more evidence Siegelman was prosecuted for the wrong reasons, or that he wasn't provided a fair playing field, there's precious little reason to believe justice wasn't served when a jury found him guilty.
What else do y'all need? So are you calling for an investigation? Or are you selectively examining the case to justify keep Don in the can? I'm furious. And now I'm running late. I needed to vent. More to come perhaps? Hang in there Siegelmans. John Gunn

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Total tip of the tam to Alan Breslauer & dday & ...


The lefty blogosphere is still running with Don Siegelman's plight. I guess Don's treatment represents how foundations of Bu$hCo and much of the modern GOP, certainly the movement conservatives, has operated since at least the mid-1990s and perhaps long before. dday via Digby's Hullabaloo sends us to Alan's own work. Thanks are due to both. John Gunn

Susan Jacoby gets space in my Anniston Star

A couple of days ago Susan Jacoby's The dunce factor in America found its way into the newspaper I grew up reading. My old Daddy plus others helped me grow into the Progressive I am today yet reading The Anniston Star surely helped. Then again, merely reading pretty much anything, as Ms. Jacoby seems to argue, may have helped. Her new book The Age of American Unreason is now on my Amazon Wish List. Her Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism was already there. Susan Jacoby is one sharp lady and I need to make a special effort to finally read some of her books. John Gunn

EPA Chief Stephen L. Johnson ~ A funny thing happened on the way to the White House

Of course we all knew that Bu$hCo had told EPA to ignore all their experts when it came to California's limits on auto emissions. And I posted on their failure to stand up for "states rights" when they'll bend over backwards to do so when it helps the swells or the biuble thumpers or the ... Today's reporting from David Whitney of McClatchy Newspapers titled Documents show White House hand in EPA decision, senator charges has me singing Barbara Boxer's praises. Even when the Mayberry Machiavellis get an apparently solid soul in place they'll still make things work out for their larger agenda. Reckon he's getting the Whitman treatment. Less than eleven months to go! John Gunn

Dan Abrams & MSNBC/AP covers Don Siegelman


MSNBC/AP reports Alabama TV station red-faced after blackout: ‘60 Minutes’ story on Siegelman doesn’t air at original time and do a fine job of explaining the many questions due for this Bass Brothers station. Moreover, MSNBC's Dan Abrams is surely due a tip of the tam for examining in great detail the situation for Don Siegelman. The video above is just over ten minutes yet it is so helpful I think for exposing what appears to have been a political hit job carried out via our justice system. Truly an investigation and Don's release pending his appeal (plus increasingly available other post-conviction possibilities!) seems like the least required.

Some mention was made of similar allegations against Senator Jeff Sessions and former AG (now Bu$hCo appointed federal judge) Mark Pryor yet the explanation was lacking. The preparation of star prosecution witness Bailey plus the apparent voluminous notes of him trying to get their story straight was also covered. Dan Abrams actually called out AG Mukasey on the need to examine this case and pledged a follow up. Former Siegelman attorney Doug Jones and former GOP operative Dana Jill Simpson came across as solid and believable. I can't help but get a little excited that justice may soon come for Don Siegelman and his family. John Gunn

Monday, February 25, 2008

A tip of the tam to a "little arrogant trustafarian"

There's Jamie Johnson of the Johnson and Johnson fortune pictured over to the left. Anybody that helps the masses understand the obscene concentration of wealth in our nation/world is a Highlander in this Scot's view. His Born Rich effort from 2003 got him in the doghouse with some of the swells and his recent The One Percent film now has him tagged as The Rich Man's Michael Moore. There's some indication all this frustrates him not according to Jamie Johnson Loves It When You Hate the Rich. Well done my young trustafarian. John Gunn

Two Million Minutes ~ U.S. High Schools vs. ...


Up front I'll take some exceptions with Two Million Minutes (so named for the approximate time a high school student has over their four years)and some of the ideas of Robert A. Compton. First of all, his emphasis on math and science bothers this (note I'll not use "former" here!) history/social studies teacher. I agree those subjects are critical and yet my subjects, and literature and various other humanities as well, help create whole, thinking young people. Also, his focus might rely too much on measures and standards and the like. Once again ... you can hardly objectively measure if you taught a kid to think! Or reason! Or be creative! Or ...

I also am troubled somewhat by the competition and business orientation to his film. I doubt I'd "Bangalore[my] Business" if I ever got one yet I'd listen to a fellow that has been in the fray. Do you think he'd listen to an educator on education? Often when a "business" brain looks at my profession I get a little frustrated. Truly the conversation seems a little one sided when the capitalists come to the classroom. Without seeing the film I just can't get a handle on Mr. Compton.

With all that out of the way, I still want to watch the thing and expect I'll enjoy and find much that is positive. I suppose our schools reflect our culture. Comparing ours with the rising middle class of India and China will I'm sure reflect that their kids are doing a whole lot more with their two million minutes than ours. I can't help but think of that last Civics class I had where an exchange student from Japan and a recent immigrant from India just flat out whipped all those many, many redneck kids from Heard County, Georgia. Then again, some of the students that actually learned didn't always demonstrate this by jumping through the hoops in the way I had to ask them to do so as to have fair and objective standards.

My bottom line is that I've been in the trenches with these kids and have an idea that Mr. Compton's thinking is far more right than wrong. If nothing else, it looks clever and well filmed. More to come perhaps if and when I get to see the film. Comments as always are appreciated yet especially so if anyone has anything to add on the documentary. John Gunn

Tip of the tam to WHNT in Huntstville, Alabama?

To the left you'll see Robert M. Bass. He supposedly started Oak Hill Capital Partners and they (he and his brothers at least had or have a big chunk of Oak Hill) now supposedly own WHNT up in Huntsville. Scott Horton of Harper's first raised the issue of WHNT perhaps blocking the transmission of the 60 Minutes piece on Don Siegelman. Larisa Alexandrovna is writing on this at Raw Story, HuffPo, and her own At Largely. The story has made it to Daily Kos and FireDogLake and ... Larisa wrote:

WHNT in Huntsville Alabama was purchased by Oak Hill Capital Partners from the New York Times Company early last year. Oak Hill is owned by the Bass brothers, Bush fundraisers at the "Pioneer" level – raising over $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in both 2000 and 2004. Lee Bass is perhaps the best known member of the Bass family for his role in George W. Bush’s failed energy venture called Spectrum 7 and later for his bailing out of Harken Energy.

The Oak Hill connection emerged last night on Democratic Underground.

While SourceWatch has the New York Times listed as owning the station it appears The Gray Lady sold the station recently to Oak Hill. This CBS station, whether owned by one or more of the Bass Brothers or his/their interests or not, failed to broadcast the 60 Minutes story on Don Siegelman last night at 6:00 PM claiming "technical difficulties" prevented. And given the fact that most people still get their news from on air broadcasting, perhaps especially true in poor Alabama, it would have been good to have the coverage go out at this hour of the day.

The way WHNT has finally responded to appropriate questions regarding this failure to broadcast seems solid. And yet I want to see this followed up on. If they got caught and then fixed it then not so solid. If they legitimately just had a problem then at least we'll know. Enough smoke is here that is looks like some fire might be about. Finally, I don't know enough about the technology to know if records can be manipulated one way or the other to cover up any monkey business. I hate feeling all conspiratorial and yet after these last few years maybe it can be understood and even expected.

There's I suppose time to get to the truth on WHNT's failure to originally broadcast and yet Don Siegelman remains in prison. The main thing remains getting to the bottom of his prosecution. Setting Don free pending his appeals, plus Congressional hearings and the like, surely seems merited. It's long past time to send him home to his family. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of March 1, 2008 - It appears Robert M. Bass has been sharing his wealth with plenty of Democrats as well. The NYT reporting indicates his brothers were Bu$h backers but Robert was donating to John Kerry in 2004. Although I wasn't weeping and gnashing teeth about the broadcast failure I wanted to make sure the record was correct.

More on Alabama's high cancer death rate

Dave Parks of the B'ham News reports American Cancer Study bodes ill for Alabama residents and there's even some contextual journalism present. A tip of the tam is due Dave! The article referenced the lack of affordable health care, gave voice to putting more money into preventive care, and noted the undeniable fact that poor folks are way more likely to die from cancer. Reckon Gary Palmer and his Alabama Policy Institute noted this coverage? They've recently written of false fears related to cancer deaths when tightening water quality standards was proposed. Defending Big Pharma and Big Insurance and the AMA, plus trying to keep revenue policies favorable for the fat cats, and last but not least providing the obligatory "class warfare" distraction will surely merit a response from Mr. Palmer and API. Gotta earn that keep Gary. John Gunn

Darcy Burner brags on Governor Dean and the DNC


Well said and I concur! I met some of Darcy's team over the weekend at the DFA training up in Kent. I'm pretty much ready to join up and help her. I also met Jim Dean (Howard's brother) and thanked him for what he's doing with DFA. Seeing good friends that I've gone to war with leading the DFA training was surely positive. I learned new stuff certainly yet I was most pleased to see new folks willing to understand and then do the hard work of political organizing. I'd have liked to see more young people there yet we can bring them into the fold with good and creative processes. John Gunn

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Alabama Senator Kim Benefield on Water Planning

Alabama State Senator Kim S. Benefield gets space in The B'ham News to urge others to join her and Republican State Representative Greg Canfield in pushing for a permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Management. Kim is right to seek a comprehensive solution for the many challenges Alabama face that are related to water. I also appreciate her references to the environmental part of the issue. Goat Hill has hardly demonstrated a willingness and talent for tackling complexities such as these that require collective thought and cooperation. The water issue also requires regional and even national involvement. A tip of the tam to Kim for showing some leadership. John Gunn

The Red State of Alabama

Survey USA has done polling in Alabama as represented bythe image above (and California) on the possible November matchups. That Alabama was chosen as the "Red State" is understandable yet I'm still sad that this is so. Reading the reasons makes a worthy visit. John Gunn

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Earning that Wingnut Welfare defending St. John

Digby has nailed the right's reactions to St. John's rare negative coverage. Crooks and Liars has Keith Olbermann looking at the same angles. Digby writes
... Did anyone really think their animosity for McCain was going to last through November? Please. They are all on wingnut welfare to one degree or another and there's no way in hell that they could continue to do their jobs in opposition to the Republican presidential nominee. It's ridiculous. I'm sure they all felt a huge sense of relief that they had finally found a hook to get back down to business, which is demeaning and destroying liberals on behalf of Republicans. This is not to say that they won't blame McCain for being a heretic and turncoat to conservatism when he loses in November. Their lizard brain logic will be "The liberal Democrat won because McCain wasn't conservative enough." But in the meantime, they had to find a way to earn their paycheck, and now they have their hook. ...
The right will I hope get plenty of exercise for those lizard brains this fall. I'm not so sure the American public will buy their foolishness this time. John Gunn

Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly provides wingnuttery on JeffCo Commission's dime

Above we have Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly with Alabama's very own infamous theocrat Roy Moore. The picture has no realtion to the post yet I do enjoy a chance to reflect on Roy Moore's helping make sure our state remains near the top of the backwardness index. I'd mentioned previously that the JeffCo Commission was actually putting up $15,000 of the taxpayer's money to bring her and Eagle Forum in for an "educational forum". The B'ham News Charles Dean gives us the details from her appearance and it's not pretty. She's crazy as a run over dog. John Gunn

Friday, February 22, 2008

That Cheeky John McCain

dday is right to praise Governor Dean for supplying such a solid frame for the Progressive communities response to the NYT and others revealing St. John's interesting relationship with one particularly young and attractive lobbyist named Vicki Iseman. Truly the issue of an affair matters little for me yet his relationships with just the corporate lobbyists making up much of his team is relevant. Straight Talker and Maverick my rear end! He's looking more like a cheeky charlatan as of late.

Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum of the WaPo provide much more on St. John in their The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists. Jeremy Lott of The Guardian likewise takes a good look at the way St. John seemingly outdoes The Gipper on the teflon. It's about time this Free Ride ended. And I might as well mention that St. John's team demonstrated a talent for handling the media even dating back to when the Mrs. was caught stealing opiates from her charities. And he wants to ramp up the "War on Drugs"?

I'm ready to fight back when the GOP starts working the Wurlitzer like they did with John Kerry. He and his weren't assertive enough back in 2004 and I like the idea of taking the fight to St. John. He's supposed to be strong on ethics and the like. Hit him where he's allegedly strong! Stay on offense! I'm hardly thrilled with either Hillary or Obama but another four years of the GOP in the White House will make it even tougher to recover from the last three decades of Republican and Republican Lite (Slick Willy) control of the Executive branch. John Gunn

UPDATE ~ Evening of March 8, 2008 - The Other Side of the McCain Lobbyist Scandal by Jerold M. Starr sheds even more light onto St. John's actions on behalf of Mr. Paxson. Again, it's not which blonde (among Cindy or Vicki or ...) was in his life.

DFA Training ~ Some time with old and new friends


Above you'll find a nice YouTube from the Darcy Burner for Congress effort. I hope to meet some of Darcy's people at the DFA Training Academy event this weekend up in Kent. I'll arrive Saturday evening (just in time for the festivities!) as I've a duty on Saturday that I couldn't wiggle out of. I'm truly looking forward to seeing two old friends from Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriot Corps and the Jerry McNerney for Congress campaign. We did some good work in the fall of 2006. And I'm ready for 2008. Let's get to work! John Gunn

Thursday, February 21, 2008

House Republican Conference ... There really is no urgency on the Protect America Act/FISA


Perhaps I owe Steny Hoyer some good press after scolding him for the futile effort in keeping Al Wynn in Congress representing MD-4 (and more importantly for some of the powers that be like Steny representing Corporate America) so let us turn to how the GOP's House Republican Conference tried to handle the "Protect America Act". They've got Steny coming on after allegedly our own Senator Jay Rockefeller was claiming ruin if provisions of the PAA didn't continue with Steny saying repeatedly "There is no urgency." After each of Steny's statements they flash pictures of various bad guys holding AKs and otherwise looking very menacing.

As an aside, I worry way more about sophisticated terrorists/extremists than those bouncing about like the ones they picture. As a second aside, the Senate's "overwhelming" vote was 67-31. All the GOP's Senators supported Bu$hCo on PAA but "we" lost 19 "Democrats" plus Joe "Honest Independent" Lieberman. Those "For the meat of the matter as to this YouTube, I'd merely state the plain truth is that Steny is right. We've got the regular old FISA laws that we managed to fight the Cold War with still in place. The so called the "Protect America Act" let efforts initiated under it go on for a full year! Clearly the claim that exigent circumstances require hasty action fails and yet the GOP apparently is more than willing to just ignore the facts. As The Economist opines just today ...

In reality, the statute's demise has done little practical harm. Existing wiretaps can continue. American spies can also tap away as long as they get permission from the attorney-general; warrants, which have to be signed by a judge, can be obtained subsequently. (Preparing warrant applications, even after the fact, is time-consuming, but that should not be an immediate problem.) And telecommunications firms worried about lawsuits are no worse off than they were before.
What gives? Is telecom immunity that critical? I'm guessing that civil trials which would allow some digging in places the current administration and their corporate enabalers don't care to have tapped is one reason behind their efforts. Maybe they are doubling down on the fear factor that worked in 2002 and then in 2004 to a lesser extent (as the sanctity of marriage effort made the difference then) as they get ready for 2008? The Economist piece above reveals some good insights into the GOP's wailing and posturing. Where is the reporting from on our side of the pond that dares contextualize the news?

At least Newt Gingrich got in a shot at those pesky trial lawyers. And Newt is just one of thousands on that side of the mix that will work this and similar votes into their message machine. This Faux News effort to blend the PAA vote and "the Surge" is another taste of things to come. Better gird our loins and all that stuff here on the left. John Gunn

60 Minutes to air Don Siegelman report on Sunday



Above you can see and hear Republican operative Jill Simpson explain what Karl Rove asked her to provide plus why she's now coming forward. A link to the 60 Minutes coverage is here. Reading the comments to the story are revealing as well. I understand Sunday will be Don's 62nd birthday. Happy Birthday Governor! Next year and beyond we'll hope you get to celebrate this and other special days with your family. John Gunn

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Political Coverage ~ Pundits Ponder the Horserace

The image above is an old classic from Tom Tomorrow. And it applies even today. The wall to wall coverage of this Presidential election is rather frustrating although I'm pleased there is so much interest, even if from folks that don't always seem that well-informed. Even if you watch the boob tube, and admittedly I hardly ever do, you often get the same old same old. Coverage seems to revolve around the politicians rather than their politics. The horserace dominates the coverage of course. Bringing int he street meat in the form of various pundits is cheap and relatively simple. Little context or preparation is required of either the guest(s) or the host(s) ... or the viewer for that matter.
The WaPo's Paul Fahri delivers a great read with his Political Pundits, Overpopulating the News Networks from yesterday's paper. The bad news is that if ratings drive the effort from the corporate media then we're in for more and more of this foolishness. Here's why:
"From late December to mid-February, CNN, Fox and MSNBC collectively recorded a 62 percent increase in their prime-time audience, compared with the same period in the last campaign in 2003-04, according to Nielsen data. During all hours of the day, the increase for the three networks was 73 percent."
The corporate media is being rewarded as they deliver reporting that reduces understanding, perpetuates the two party system, doesn't contextualize politics with issues/history/etc., actually elevates the punditocracy, and otherwise fails our democracratic hopes. I know there are a few Progressives that make the cut yet they are often few and far between. John Gunn

Thinking about our next administration

I'm gradually reading Robert Reich's Locked in the Cabinet and really enjoying his first hand accounts from his tenure as Labor Secretary in Slick Willy's first term. I've just gotten into January of 1993 so plenty of hope remains and yet even then Professor Reich is clearly preparing his reader for later frustrations. I also can't help but think of his caring, thoughtful leadership at Labor as contrasted with Bu$hCo's Elaine Chao. Shame on Elaine is a great start to understanding that Dubyah's legacy goes well beyond the stuff we know he's ruined.

Married to Kentucky's Senator Mitch McConnell, a corporate board darling, a Bu$h Pioneer, a Heritage Foundation background, ... Elaine was surely a perfect fit for Bu$hCo. Heck of a job George! Just getting shed of this administration will be a positive as the next to occupy the White House will perhaps at least try to serve the public interest. John Gunn

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer Earns Keep

He's a machine! Gary Palmer continues to churn out the material. The hits just keep coming. This time he has Heritage Foundation information to back him up on why the Bu$h tax cuts need to be made permanent and the "unfair and immoral death tax" ought to be eliminated. He ends with, "Making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent and eliminating the "death tax" will alleviate the uncertainty that shrouds our economy and discourages businesses and individuals from investing."

Damn that uncertaintly! And about that "age old liberal argument that tax cuts are a drain on federal revenues and do not stimulate the economy" issue? Reckon it just might be true Gary? It didn't work for The Gipper and it didn't work for Bu$hCo.

Actually, I'm also hardly thrilled with the rebates making up this stimulus package yet Gary and I are predictably on opposite ends of the reasoning. There's adding to the deficit when even Slick Willy and his Contrary Congress had things headed in the right direction. And there can be little doubt the cuts were mostly for the fat cats. The increase in state deficits is worth noting. I surely felt the tax cuts when I tried to pay tuition in that period. The lost opportunities for revenue that could have been realized deserves more space than I'll give it. I fear that we, and in fact our children, will be paying for these Bu$h tax cuts for years to come.

As for jobs, manufacturing work has continued to become less common. Most of the jobs of those "created" were service or construction jobs yet the latter has surely backed up due to the housing collapse. Some jobs came in health care and the like. Long term unemployment is just one reality facing more and more Americans. I'll dodge delivering the details but many folks seem to feel like "jobless recovery" was an apt description. And the recovery did seem to go to the few. A feeling of broad prosperity, if it ever felt that way, might have been built on bad debt and rising housing prices. How's that working these days Mr. Palmer?

Again, I loathe the idea of taxing what we earn via work at often a higher rate than what we do with what the investing class (and yeah I know that can be awful broad if you count those invested in certain public pension funds) earns. Having the capital gains structured such that many avoid consequences from their earnings seems like policy that merits long hard pondering rather than just being accepted by folks like API's Gary Palmer.

As for the estate tax, I'm with Matt Taibbi. Then again, Estate Tax Malarkey works also. Those Big Mules just keep working on the repeal don't they? I also can't help but recall Alabama's own Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III looking for a corpse after Katrina to help him argue on behalf of repealing the estate tax. Do you really want to talk about the "immoral" Gary?

At least Gary Palmer didn't go so far as Dubyah in his recent SOTU where he falsely claimed Americans will see their tax bills go up by $1800 per year unless his tax cuts are made permanent. John Gunn

B'ham News tells Bama legislators "No Thanks" on placing JuCos under Legislative Procedures Act

State Representative Ken Guin is due special notice I suppose in this general rebuke to the idea of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Then again so is State Senator E.B. McClain. And there's ... Proposed legislation to "place the state school board under the Alabama Administrative Procedures Act - and, by extension, the Legislative Council - on matters pertaining to the two-year college system" ought to be dead on arrival but the B'ham News is right to offer up why this is so. John Gunn

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm flying home for the weekend!

I'm flying "home" Thursday evening and will get back to the Left Coast late on Monday. Doubt I'll post over this long weekend as family and friends come first. Also, I did a 24 hour duty ending this morning at 9ish so that explains my absence on Tuesday. Lots more to post on today but I'm worn out. I'll get back to posting as soon as possible. John Gunn

Donna Edwards Sends Al Wynn Packing in MD-4

Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation and Jane Hamsher of FDL sum up Donna's huge win. Ms. Magazine, appropriately enough, even uses "feminist" to describe Ms. Edwards. And I, like Leonard Pitts, do like and approve of the f-word. Tough luck Steny and the Big Mules for trying to save DINO Al Wynn. The economic royalists tried to keep their guy in power yet Donna's supporters gave and worked and built and ... Grassroots wins! John Gunn

Dennis "The Menace" Prager follows their script

Townhalll has a whole stable full of "talent" at KRLA 870 to keep the base fed that read meat yet Dennis Prager is a total tool. Listening to him for perhaps five minutes today had me pretty much spent. Climate change denial and misrepresenting telecom immunity issue involved with the illegal FISA end around were merely two sins I recall. John Gunn

Monday, February 11, 2008

Did Steny & Big Mules give Al Wynn GOTV Cash?

Jane is asking the right questions. Who knew putting money into the hands of the poor worked like this? Good luck Donna!

Reckon what Foundation Coal, Verizon, Society of Independent Gasoline Markets, Reliant Energy, Allegheny Energy, American Electric Power, American Healthcare Association, BankAmerica Corporation, Cisco Systems, Coventry Health Care, Dell Inc, Dominion PAC, Eastman Kodak, Gaylord Entertainment Co PAC, General Electric PAC, Genesis Healthcare Corporation, Healthcare Distribution Management Assocation, Hogan and Hartson PAC, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Microsoft, Mirant, National Fisheries Institute (FISHPAC), National Association of Broadcasters, NODAK, Norfolk Southern, NORPAC, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, US Chamber of Commerce, Air Line Pilots Association, Comcast Corp. Political Action Committe, Con-way Inc, Federal National Mortgage Association PAC, GlaxoSmithKline, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, National Apartment Association PAC, Northrop Grumman, Online Lenders Alliance, Safeway ... plan to get (or perhaps more accurately keep?) for their money?

A classic is that Steny and his raking in and then doling out K-Street money to try to defeat a Progressive candidate. Desperation I also hope is the motivation. Maybe he and Honest Joe can both attend the GOP convention this summer? John Gunn

St. John's words on Iraq inspire musical effort

API's Gary Palmer keeps earning his keep

Gary Palmer of the Alabama Policy Institute is in the T-town News to argue on behalf of his Big Mule backers that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is wrong to tighten the state's water quality standards with regard to cancer risks associated with toxic chemicals. Starting his effort with "nothing sells like fear" yet then pretty much relying on the fear of losing jobs seems especially bold, even for a professional shill like Gary Palmer.

He's using the tried and true "you can't prove it" argument yet leaves out the fact that most other states, including most of our neighbors use the tougher standard. The B'ham News, hardly a foe of the powerful in this state, explains this and also points out that Big Coal and the Alabama Business Council are against the tougher standards. More coverage from The Montgomery Advertiser on the proposed changes might be helpful.

Gary's got a good gig so I'm sure he's eager to play his part yet consider API's funding and function. That Mr. Palmer closes with part of the solution being to "stop smoking" is odd in that I am pretty sure some of API's backers have been part of Big Tobacco's efforts to dodge and deny.

API is eager to make sure the science is certain on climate change and gun control laws and yet they'll accept and even shill the "research" of Dr. Kirk Johnson (of The Mackinac Center for Public Policy no less! ... or maybe he's back at Heritage after doing his time for Bu$hCo over in Iraq? ... No wait he's still doing his part!) on the reasons Alabama's prisons ought to be privatized. I reckon government and science become accepted if one or both can save (or better yet make!) money for Gary Palmer's providers?

That API postures to appear as worried about cancer truly offends me. They have no shame. John Gunn

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Did Don Siegelman Get Jim Hightower Treatment?

I continue to often think about Don Siegelman. I stumbled back across this older American Spectator piece from Lou Dubose titled Did Karl Rove Help Send an Innocent Man to Jail? and thought I ought to share. The whole effort is simply damning yet I'll share just the following:

Don Siegelman's federal prosecutors were so closely associated with Karl Rove that there was enough conflict of interest to justify a change of venue to the Hague. Yet when Siegelman's defense attorneys raised the "conflict" issue, they were gaveled down. The judge refused to hear arguments that the prosecution was political. The only deference to partisan and ethical conflict was Leura Canary's recusal—and the assignment of the case to a junior attorney she supervised.

With odds like that, only an unbiased federal judge would have kept Siegelman out of a federal penitentiary. Mark Fuller was not that judge. Even if Fuller never promised to "hang" Don Siegelman, as Simpson says she was told by Governor Riley's son Rob, the judge represented something less than blind justice.

The article points out how Jim Hightower's political future was doomed once Karl Rove and a rogue FBI agent raised timely allegations of corruption against then Texas Agriculture Commissioner Hightower. I certainly knew a little about Jim Hightower yet I will try to follow him more closely now.

I also noted Scott Horton's latest Harper's work on Don. Examining the strange relationship that Nothern District U.S. Attorney Alice Martin has with The Birmingham News makes it even more worthy of reading. John Gunn

Harvey Wasserman examines the Corporate Media

Havvey Wasserman delivers with his There’s Nothing Mainstream About the Corporate Media which I located on Common Dreams. He begins with
As we stumble toward another presidential election, it’s never been more clear that our political process is being warped by a corporate stranglehold on the free flow of information. Amidst a virtual blackout of coverage of a horrific war, a global ecological crisis and an advancing economic collapse, what passes for the mass media is itself in collapse. What’s left of our democracy teeters on the brink.
And he ends with
The word “mainstream” has nothing to do with the massively monopolized machine that has a chokehold on our democracy. It’s the “Corporate Media,” and there’s nothing mainstream about it.
There's plenty in the middle of his writing worth reading. Free Press, where Harvey often toils, is likewise worthy of regular visits. John Gunn

Saturday, February 09, 2008

David Sirota ~ 2008's Confusing "Class War"

I will certainly support either of the above this fall yet hope to find a decent Congressional or even state race to help out. I may every well do a harmless protest vote down in Alabama for the Green Party candidate. I might perhaps write in Russ Feingold or Al Gore or ... Why? I'll let David Sirota explain. David writes:

... Yes, the New York senator who appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine as Big Business's candidate is winning economically insecure, lower-income communities over the Illinois senator who grew up as an organizer helping those communities combat unemployment. ...

Obama has let Clinton characterize the 1990s as a nirvana, rather than a time that sowed the seeds of our current troubles. He barely criticizes the Clinton administration for championing job-killing trade agreements. He does not question that same administration's role in deregulating the financial industry and thereby intensifying today's boom-bust catastrophes. And he rarely points out what McClatchy Newspapers reported this week: that Clinton spent most of her career at a law firm "where she represented big companies and served on corporate boards," including Wal-Mart's.

... his campaign relies on corporate donations. Though Obama certainly is less industry-owned than Clinton, the Washington Post noted last spring that he was the top recipient of Wall Street contributions. That cash is hush money, contingent on candidates silencing their populist rhetoric. ...

And so, as Marable says, Obama's pitch includes "no mention of the class struggle or class conflict." It is "hope" instead of an economic case, bromide instead of critique. The result is an oxymoronic dynamic.

Obama, the person who fought blue-collar joblessness in the shadows of shuttered factories, is winning wealthy enclaves. But Clinton, the person whose globalization policies helped shutter those factories, is winning blue-collar strongholds.

Obama, who was schooled by the same organizing networks as Cesar Chavez, is being endorsed by hedge fund managers. But Clinton, business's favorite, is being endorsed by the United Farm Workers -- the union that Chavez created.

Obama, the candidate from Chicago's impoverished South Side, is finding support on Connecticut's gilded south coast. But Hillary Clinton, the candidate representing Big Money, is finding support from those with relatively little money.

As the campaign heads to the struggling Rust Belt under banners promising "change," this bizarre class war may end up guaranteeing no real transformation at all.

He's right, as usual. David discusses how this all plays into racial or identity politics as well yet I'm focusing on the reality that both Senators appear to be unapologetic centrists and hardly Progressive or Populist. I'll also admit I hope they might then lead as a more enlightened politician once elected yet do think it fair and wise to prepare the country and Congress for such an approach come January of 2009. John Gunn

Some wisdom from John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes provides I suppose a good start for fighting off the Friedmanites. Without tackling his theories, as I've not the stamina for that effort, he once said, "I do not know which makes a man more conservative—to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past." John Gunn

Friday, February 08, 2008

Another Southern Union Adminstrator Fesses Up

Dr. Joanne Jordan, who actually seemed rather competent at times when I was around her way back in the day, has indicated she'll cop a plea in the ongoing saga of Alabama's JuCos. Brett Blackledge is of course the reporter of record. I posted off Brett's work in the summer of 2006 noting two of her boys had good jobs with SUSCC. What a mess. What a shame. John Gunn

ACU's David Keene on St. John McCain

My dearest friend talked with me just this evening about seeing David Keene on Bloomberg and I now find an interview he gave McClatchy. Since the name didn't ring a bell I'm fortunate. Oh, he's the one that ... I could care less about whether he or other movement conservatives trusting John McCain but I do enjoy seeing yet another illustration of what "conservatism" represents. Keene's conservatism in fact has been questioned when it came down to making bank. I'm shocked, shocked!

Also, up front I'll praise his ACU for fretting over the so called "Patriot Act". That one reason he is hollering over the violations of our civil liberties is that he believes we are in a permanent war is noted however.

My friend didn't tell me he was a leader with the American Conservative Union or otherwise I might have been able to connect his name to that nasty outfit. She, however, did tell me he was talking up South Carolina's Governor Mark Sanford. Given Stg, John's "Last Codger Standing" status, Governor Sanford might help offset the concerns of age.

Keene is just one of the conservative set that we need to follow as we keep our eyes on St. John and the GOP as they gear up for the general. While I'm hardly thrilled with Hillary and Obama, the idea of another four or more years under a "conservative" administration terrifies me. take what they openly claim as their beliefs and then jujitsu them. Go at their BS directly. Frame the alternative as a Progressive would. And just win baby! John Gunn

The Failed Foreign Policy of St. John McCain

Warren P. Strobel of McClatchy Newspapers asks What would President McCain's foreign policy be? Lots of good stuff here yet clicking through is just as easy as my cutting and pasting, especially given my gimpy hand.

I noted his merry band of advisors included Randy Scheunemann and James Woolsey yielding a tasty blend of neo-conservative and disaster capitalist. And don't foreget their PNAC connections. Add in William Kristol (and here's a good chance to plug BarbinMD's latest on this "serious, respected conservative intellectual") and things ought to be crystal clear.

While St. John was more than willing to double down on Iraq, I'm not sure most Americans are. What past election could you get an advance examination of such a critical part of a future administration? We've pretty much seen how this bunch operates these last seven years. Could anyone but the true believer nut jobs want more?

In a related vein, Hunter ponders McCain-Huck: You Got Your Christian Crusader Rhetoric In My Crazy-Ass Foreign Policy and asks "Can't we just distill that down to even more explicit support for unending "preemptive" military action, and explicit declarations of Jesus-based manifest destiny?" John Gunn

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I'm likely out of action for at least a few days or ...

My right hand is giving me serious grief so I expect there will be little if any blogging in these next few days. Next weekend I'm flying "home" so perhaps no posting then also. John Gunn

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Harsh tactics in arrest of 63 year old Sue Schmitz

Alice Martin, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, is pictured to the left. Bob Martin of The Montgomery Independent reveals in my hometown paper, The Randolph Leader, some disturbing indications of heavy handed prosecutorial misconduct in the recent arrest of Representative Sue Schmitz, D-Toney.

While I noted her arrest some days back, Mr. Martin's reporting is also worth noting. He relays one version of the events:
"The morning calm in the small town of Toney,located near Huntsville, was broken at 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning. A team of five FBI agents, accompanied by a prison matron, pounded on the door. When the man of the house answered, he was forced into the yard, shirtless in the early morning cold. The team had come for his wife, Sue Schmitz. She was dragged out of her bathroom, where she was taking a shower, handcuffed, breaking her flesh and scraping her wrists, and hustled off to prison."
If this is how this arrest was handled, even more so if in fact her attorney had told Ms. Martin's office she'd willingly surrender, then shame on Alice Martin. Although Bob Martin mentioned her possible perjury issues, Scott Horton of Harper's also can add to our understanding of Alice Martin. The way the Bu$hCo DOJ has become so transparently political is of course the real story here. The allegation that she is one of Bill Canary's "girls" ready to "take care" of Don Siegelman plus her past record with Don continues to ring true for me.

Truly I do think of getting back in the lawyering game when I read of how the powerful and well connected do business. John Gunn

Tip of the tam ~ Orwell Rolls in his Grave

Two big thumbs up for Orwell Rolls in His Grave by Robert Kane Pappas. Although the film is full of smart folks, I especially enjoyed hearing from Charles Lewis, former Executive Director and founder of the Center for Public Integrity. Also, Mark Crispin Miller, Author and Professor, at NYU was another solid voice featured. Then there was ... In a couple of places, none that I'm able to recall presently, I questioned what I was hearing but this is a great effort. John Gunn

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Has Rush Limbaugh ruined it for the Dhimmicrats?

With Rush Limbaugh claiming neither Hillary or Obama would "not surrender the country to Islamic radicalism" Blue Texan on FDL asks why even belong to "the party of treason, surrender, suicide bombers and burkas for everyone" anymore. Blue Texan correctly reminds us, "The Republicans told me again and again that I could count on every elected Democrat adhering to this platform -- from Max Cleland to John Kerry to Nancy Pelosi -- and especially, Hillary and Barack Osama Obama. " John Gunn

Bill Bennett has yet another lapse in morality

There's little to like about Bill Bennett and yet he remains welcome amongst the conservative set on CNN and beyond. Steve Benen reveals another failure of Bill Bennett, while wearing his journalist hat, to disclose to his customers information they deserved to be told. Claiming he hasn't got a dog in the GOP fight when he's actually maxed out donations to St. John borders on fibbing but the moral Bill Bennett wouldn't do that would he? "Mourning in America" might be a better title for his show given the idea that this hack has a place in the so called liberal mainstream media. John Gunn

Monday, February 04, 2008

Captain Plaid comes out of the closet

I'm shedding skins once again I suppose. The "Peace ... or War!", lately merely "P/W", signature is no more. Also the "Outlander and/or Highlander of the Day" is being put in the stable. I might use something like this to designate dastardly or dynamic deeds as they arrive but I'll feel no requirement to post one on each and every day. And I might not even feel it necessary to even post on every single day. I've tasks to accomplish related to taxes, learning, record keeping, etc. I'd rather just not post that do it halfway. I do enjoy blogging and don't worry about traffic, at least not much. The process helps me think and it is good cheap therapy I suppose. And in the spirit of therapy I'm revealing who I am. Most know but for those that don't ...

I'm John Gunn. I'm the proud papa of a fine twelve year old boy. You can see us above. I was born and raised on a little cattle farm just north of Roanoke, Alabama yet I briefly lived with a sister down in Clayton. I also consider Auburn "home". War Damn Eagle! As part of an odd mid-life crisis I decided to become an infantry soldier this past summer at the ripe old age of 41. I've been posted to Fort Lewis, Washington since this past October. I've done everything from teaching to practicing law to helping with political campaigns to punching cows to cutting timber to ... The bottom line is that I can do pretty much anything and like to think this ability to do good work in a wide variety of tasks is a suitable measure of a man.

My mother died in 1979 when I was but thirteen. My father died in 1998. Cancer got them both. I miss them something terrible. My son's mother divorced me in 1999 and it darned near did me in yet I lived to love again.

My interests include cooking, pouring, gardening, whitewater kayaking, fly fishing, traditional archery, backpacking/hiking, building, ... I love to work. I love to learn. I am a proud Progressive. I am rather secular as to faith. I joke that I'm a "recovering Southern Baptist" yet my dog tags read "Unitarian Universalist".

In the summer of 2006 I worked for Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriot Corps and was eventually farmed out to the Jerry McNerney for Congress campaign in California's 11th. When I arrived in Dublin/Pleasanton just after Labor Day Jerry was down by 11% yet he won by 6%! Sending Richard Pombo back to the ranch was due to hard work of many people yet I'm proud to have done my part. I continue to seek out ways to advance Progressive ideas. I try to attend both the Drinking Liberally social events in Olympia and Tacoma. I am presently looking for a good Congressional or even state race to help out. Any ideas?

This blog is a way for me to have a "place" in this world perhaps. I like to be able to share my thoughts and appreciate folks dropping by. Please challenge me when you think I'm wrong but also let me know when I've got it right. Thanks for visiting! John Gunn

UPDATE - Evening of February 4th, 2008 - I just found this Progressive Connection entry from Babaloo referencing my work on the McNerney campaign. I'm touched. Thanks!

George Will is grooving on modern economy

George Will appears in The Anniston Star with Rhythms of modern economy for a combination of conservative apology and argument. He claims Americans are "sensibly placid about ... the substantial investment by sovereign wealth funds — government owned and run investment funds — in financial institutions needing cash." George, first of all most Americans are clueless. Those that understand modern capitalism and finance are likely well placed to benefit from such financial arrangements. Those that do "get it", and either don't want to or aren't primarily motivated by the opportunities, yet still try to speak out hardly find it easy to get that message out to the masses. Given the increasing concentration of corporate media ownership we shouldn't be surprised by that reality.

To his credit, Will goes on to advise "vigilance, because they pose potential problems concerning transparency and possible political purposes." George also writes, "By buying minority interests in U.S. financial institutions or other companies, wealth funds are gaining money-management expertise." I'm not so sure I like the idea of anyone learning on my/our money but the main thing is that I'm not so sure these minority shares are that minor. Mr. Will also correctly points out, "The blurring of the line between government and private economic activity is potentially troublesome." So would regulation and disclosure and all sorts of Progressive ways of dealing with this not be wise? Or do we follow the conservative ways that George regularly advances?

Salon's Andrew Leonard explains some of how "sovereign wealth funds" work and also reminds us, "Less than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the West's gleeful jig dancing on the grave of communism, state capitalism is suddenly threatening the autonomy of the global "free" market." He writes in part the following:
... it would be more accurate to say freer markets lost the day. The root of Wall Street's woes leads back directly to their own strategic missteps, greed, speculation-run-amok, and lack of appropriate supervision. The brightest minds in finance had exactly what they wanted, a playground where the monitors were looking the other way, and they blew it. When the China Investment Corp. pumps in $5 billion to Morgan Stanley, we are not witnessing the triumph of state capitalism, but rather, the embarrassing, humiliating failure of Reagan-Thatcher style unregulated capitalism.
George Will however writes, "Because U.S. policy endorses the free flow of capital around the world, inflows of foreign investments should be welcome — if the motive of the nations operating sovereign wealth funds is profit-maximization rather than political power." George doesn't ask why the policy is so. He doesn't ponder what interests groups benefit from said policy. Nor does he offer alternatives. Again, just like trade, there are plenty of differences between what is "free" and "fair". Again and again, there's hardly a hint of questioning the tenets of George's precious "conservatism".

I love this .... George Will writes, "Today's Americans, their pain threshold lowered by the successful modulation of business cycles, now regard recessions as not mere misfortunes but as violations of an entitlement to perpetual economic serenity. In the 50 years prior to 1945, contractions were frequent and ferocious enough to fray the social fabric." What is a succesful modulation George? I thought serious conservatives like yourself thought differently about regulation and all that nasty New Deal stuff?

He then closes with, "even markets make mistakes and recessions, aka corrections, are, by definition, constructive." Ignoring the fact that for poor or even merely struggling folks this "construction" from free wheeling financiers and profiteers getting all sloppy and greedy from deregulation and the free flow of capital in the globalized world seems hardly fair. Trickled down again? We know you don't seem to care enough about the low income earners in this nation to even get your facts right on the minimum wage. We'll also leave George Will's wealth, and even his connections to Lord Conrad Black, alone for now.

George Will spend some time this summer trying to figure out the newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Yet, perhaps he need to explain himself. Is George Will a Davos Man or not? I know he and his wife Mari Maseng (a registered foriegn agent in the past and perhaps even now via her Maseng Communications PR shop) are part of the elites, and given Will's high handedness, that might be enough for some. Truly I can't reconcile George Will's conservativism with this opinion piece. I understand he and his are paid tons of money for services and speaking and ... and surely the ones paying for all of this are in tune with the rythyms. For the rest of us, George Will doesn't offer many answers or even much sympathy. P/W

Sunday, February 03, 2008

John McCain follows Bu$hCo's terrorism approach

St. John was in Alabama on Saturday using the same old tired fear and force approach that Dubyah does when it comes to "terrorism". Also, it it merely Islamic John? Indeed that's the majority yet there are terrorists of many persuasions. I'm looking forward to that "great debate" this fall. A short version of this post is that McCain's approach is simplistic and wrong. Here's his own campaign site's language:
Winning the War Against Islamic Extremists. Radical Islamic extremists are a relentless threat to America, its citizens, and the values we share. In the words of the al Qaeda leadership, Iraq is the central battleground of this war. We face a fork in the road. John McCain will pursue our opportunity for victory in Iraq, strengthen our hand in the larger war against Islamic extremists, and make our nation more secure. Democrats will fold our tents, embolden our enemies, throw the region into instability, and increase the risks faced on our home soil. To concede defeat now would strengthen al Qaeda, empower Iran and other hostile powers in the Middle East, unleash a full scale civil war in Iraq that could lead to genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. John McCain is best prepared to lead and defend our nation and its global allies as Commander-in-Chief from day one. He has the experience and leadership to defeat our enemy and secure a broader peace.
St. John, about those "global allies" ... do we really have many left? You'll defeat "terrorism"? Isn't that a tactic Senator? What would Reza Aslan and other actual experts think of your simplistic and nearly singular militaristic views? So you'll try the old "they hate us for our values" approach Senator? Surely most that do in fact hate us feel this way for what we do rather than for what we think. "Fold our tents" is how you describe alternatives to "staying the course" and pouring more and more down this dry well that Dubyah drilled?

While John Edwards had the most complete vision I felt on dealing with violent extremists among the candidates, either Hillary or Obama will clean your clock this year with voters motivated by reason. And surely there's a few left ... and perhaps more coming back given how Bu$hCo and others of the merry band of conservatives have sold us so much BS in these last few years.

St. John's own campaign website had "Iraq" as an issue rather than "terrorism". What about Afghanistan John? Isn't this a global problem so would that require a global solution? Doesn't the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have something to do with this mess. He also has a "National Security" portion as well that seems to be all about force.

Hillary Clinton's campaign site isn't much better as she merely has "Ending the War in Iraq" yet digging about gets you a little less militarism and a more complete view of the many ways to deal with "terrorism". "Restoring America's Standing in the World" for instance offers up ideas of alliances, talking with enemies, education, etc. Obama refences the Iraq issue on his campaign site yet also has a nice section on Foreign Policy.

Bring it on St. John. Fear, fear, and more fear will only get you so far I hope. It worked for your buddy Bu$h in 2004 and your party surely likes to claim they can only lead the military and "keep us safe". This nation is gradually learning the truth. P/W

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A tip of the tam to John Edwards

I'll leave the John Edwards bumper stickers on Raoul (my little green CRV) for a while longer. While he was never Russ Feingold or Al Gore, John Edwards was the pick of the litter in 2008. Populism with poise.

As for my vote, I'm still uncertain. I think I'll look for a good Congressional race in 2008 to keep me busy. We need better than what any of the moderates left can deliver but at least Bu$hCo and the serious "conservatives" will be out of power for at least a few years. I fear Congress and the White House will fail to move far enough toward Progressive solutions to our many problems yet hope springs eternal.

I'll let Meteor Blades on Kos explain some of what I think John Edwards' candidacy meant. "Frustrating, sometimes infuriating" truly applies on the media ignoring reformers like Edwards and Kucinich yet surely both being in the race was a positive. John Edwards' Pace University "terrorism speech" this past September remains as close to perfection on that issue as I've yet to study. His work on poverty will continue. Well done Senator. P/W