Monday, May 31, 2004

Why is it that black politicians are practically never elected to statewide office? In an article in the May 31 issue of The New Republic, Noam Scheiber addresses that question, even as he contends that Barack Obama will be an exception to the rule. Based on his performance in the primaries, Obama, who is facing Jack Ryan for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois, is looking good for a November victory.
Black politicians do poorly statewide, according to Scheiber, because they depend on votes from African Americans and liberal white voters. Among moderate swing voters--who decide races in most of the country--they face a stereotype that they are "overly tolerant of crime and devoted to government programs that primarily benefit African Americans." If, in order to allay these suspicions, they emphasize being centrist, they may alienate their core constituency.
The other big hurdle black politicians face is a white perception that there are "good blacks" and "bad blacks". Scheiber cites a study done in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn: While white employers in the area were perfectly comfortable--even eager--to employ West Indian immigrants from outside the neighborhood, most were deadset against hiring local African Americans and Puerto Ricans. One local employer boasted of the team of West Indians he'd hired to guard his factory, but, when asked about hiring local African Americans, remarked, "What, the bums hanging around outside? You want me to hire the guys who are trying to rob me?"
Immigrants from Jamaica or Africa are often looked on as more hard working and goal oriented than American born blacks. That perception has worked in Obama's favor: his father is from Kenya, his mother is white. Furthermore, he was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. But running for statewide office hasn't tempted him to be more centrist. He takes pride in his progressive record in the state legislature and projects earnest idealism in person and in his TV ads. One ad shows him speaking to the camera, saying, "They said an African American had never led the Harvard Law Review--until I changed that." The commercial concludes, "Now they say we can't change Washington, D.C. ...I approved this message to say, 'Yes we can.'" Voters seem to believe him. One liberal, North Shore woman in a focus group, when asked whom he reminded her of, said 'Sidney Poitier.'
In the primary, Obama ran in a field of seven Democrats and still garnered 53 percent of the vote--almost unheard of. The TV blitz the Obama campaign unleashed in the Chicago metro area during the last three weeks of the race--and downstate in the last six days--paid huge dividends among white voters, particularly in the collar counties, where Obama had done little campaigning. Obama ended up carrying 50 of blue-collar Joliet's 52 precincts. Likewise, he managed to win pluralities in several white ethnic wards in Chicago, the kinds of places Washington lost by huge margins in 1983. And Obama managed to attract white voters without eroding his standing among his core supporters. Indeed, the impressive margins among working-class whites paled in comparison with his margins among African Americans (about 90 percent or higher in ten heavily African American wards in Chicago, where turnout was up as much as 30 percent over recent elections).
Assuming that those kinds of figures transfer to the general election, Jack Ryan has a bleak outlook for becoming the next senator from Illinois.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

During Nam, Senator William Fulbright, a Democrat from Arkansas, was highly critical of our presence there. To illustrate his scorn for the idea of "democratization", he told the following anecdote in his book The Arrogance of Power.
I am reminded of the three Boy Scouts who reported to their scoutmaster that as their good deed for the day, they had helped an old lady across the street. "That's fine," said the scoutmaster, "but why did it take three of you?" "Well," they explained, "she didn't want to go."
Both the anecdote and the title of his book apply to Iraq.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Until a couple of months ago, I didn't know that Laura Bush had ever killed anybody. Did everyone but me know this? Admittedly, she's not the president, so her reckless driving at age seventeen is less newsworthy than it would be if George had done it.
Last week, Amy White got on Ted Kennedy's case again for Chappaquiddick. Thirty-five years later, he's still taking flak for it--and deservedly so. Fair enough. But if everybody knows about Ted's past, why don't they know about Laura's? I guess nobody mentions her car wreck because she wasn't a U.S. senator when it happened. But the gist of it is that one night in 1963, Laura was driving with her friend Judy toward the only highway in town. She ran a stopsign just as her boyfriend was driving past. She killed him. Some people think it was premeditated.
Okay, I'll admit that this is just juicy gossip, not important public policy. This is the stuff soaps are made of. But if you're curious, here are two versions. For the cut and dried USA Today report,click here. For the sensational version, click here. Be advised, though: while the facts in the second article are intriguing, the emotional word choice is so overdone that I don't know if any of it is credible.

Friday, May 28, 2004

**************FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE******************

May 23rd, 2004--- 3rd District Congressional candidate Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis County) strongly condemns Republican Bill Federer for comparing a single payer system of universal health insurance to Nazi genocide.

At the Marine Villa neighborhood candidate forum, at St. Alexius hospital on St. Louis City’s South Side, Republican Bill Federer answered a question about universal health insurance by saying that the Nazi Germany was a socialist society that operated a single payer healthcare system until government revenue fell, at which point the Nazi’s began to slaughter the retarded and handicapped.

Smith said he had never heard anything quite so absurd as Federer’s comparison of proposals to improve the healthcare and quality of life of 44 million uninsured Americans to the Nazi slaughter of 12 million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally retarded, handicapped, and other so called “undesirables”.

“I cannot believe that in 2004, I heard a candidate from a major party compare ideas about improving healthcare for the 44 million Americans who have no access to insurance to a methodical system of slaughter. The radical right wing in this country is so brainwashed by their hatred of government that Bill Federer legitimately seems to believe that subsidized healthcare led to the organized murder of millions.”

Smith continued, “Republicans like Bill Federer have no qualms about using the power of the state to spy on what library books you can read or to get between a woman and her doctor or to subsidize multi-national corporations that send jobs overseas. But the minute someone proposes helping the working poor and improving people’s quality of life, all of a sudden the Nazi’s are racing down Kingshighway. I have never heard priorities that upside down.”

Howard Zinn, bless his heart, has resolved my doubts about the wisdom of taking our troops out of Iraq. His article in the June issue of The Progressive recounts our abysmal history of failure at military occupation and concludes:

Truth is, no one knows what will happen if the United States withdraws. We face a choice between the certainty of mayhem if we stay and the uncertainty of what will follow if we leave.

Zinn argues that civil war is not inevitable and offers a course of action to forestall it. Click here to read the article.

So rather than leaving our troops in Iraq and continuing thereby to recruit for al-Qaida, we should leave.

To those who worry about what would happen in Iraq after our troops leave, they should consider the effect of having foreign troops stay: continued, escalating bloodshed, continued insecurity, increased hatred for the United States in the entire Muslim world of over a billion people, and increased hostility everywhere. The effect of that will be the exact opposite of what our political leaders--of both parties--claim they intend to achieve, a "victory" over terrorism. When you inflame the anger of an entire population, you have enlarged the breeding ground for terrorism.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Bush called it "sick, abhorrent."

Limbaugh called it "people having a good time."


DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FROM KMOX!

Thursday and Friday, May 27 and 28

The torture of the very Iraqis America is supposed to be liberating (90% were mistakenly
detained, according to the Red Cross) has been called "despicable" and "inhumane" by the
Bush administration, while Rush Limbaugh called it no worse than "a college fraternity
prank." The subsequent evidence of rape, sodomy and murder in Abu Ghraib prompted no
apologies from Limbaugh.

These are just some of the outrageous things Limbaugh has said so far this month about
the Iraqi prisoner abuses:

"Anything you'd see Madonna or Britney Spears do on stage." 5/3

"The reaction to the stupid torture is an example of the feminization of this country." 5/5

"A brilliant maneuver." "Good old American pornography." 5/6


These statements represent only the latest in an ongoing, diatribe of dis-information,
purposeful half-truths, and slanted inflammatory invective brought to you three hours
a day, five days a week, year after year by KMOX radio the station that used to be "At
Your Service," but is now belligerently in your face.

That's why we're asking you to JOIN US IN THIS ACT OF CIVIL OUTRAGE by calling, faxing,
or e-mailing KMOX on Thursday and Friday, May 27 and 28, and letting them know that
promoting this daily dose of political-savagery-as-entertainment represents a lack of
fairness and balance in KMOX's programming. We're not asking for censorship, we're
asking for KMOX to be accountable for the accuracy and truth of its content.

Join us in two days of outrage against "broadcasting without bounds, broadcasting
without balance." Let them know you're not happy with their lack of true programming
balance and their failure to condemn Limbaugh's long history of outrageous statements
that infect the temper of political discourse in America.

KMOX: Main number: (314) 621-2345
Tom Langmyer, General Manager: (314) 444-3285
Steve Moore, Program Director: (314) 444-3286
E-mail address: KMOX@KMOX.com
Programming Dept. (Steve Moore) fax number: (314) 444-3298

If you have a minute, write back and let us know you took action at londe@aol.com.

~Produced by ImpACT, a project of the Jefferson Township Democratic Club.~

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

There is no blog like "Flafblog".

Fafblog

It's now officially my favorite place to get the latest on Bush-to-reality speech translations:

Q: What are the new five steps?

A: They are:
1. Handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government.
2. Establishing security.
3. Continuing to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
4. Moving toward a national election in Iraq.

Q: Those are good steps!

A: We are glad you like them.

Q: How are they different from the old five steps?

A: They are the same as the old five steps, but they have the newly-added quality of newness.

Q: But -

A: We are staying the course.


The rest is worth reading...

Here's some balm for your weary soul:

House GOP leaders say they feel trampled by the White House and betrayed by the GOP-led Senate over the budget. Senate hard-liners are sick of the hand-wringing over Abu Ghraib and wish the administration would quit apologizing. Sen. Trent Lott is still bitter at Karl Rove, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell are beyond couples counseling, as are the entire State and Defense departments.

The quotation comes from a Washington Post article that Jeanette Ward brought to our attention on the discussion group page. Treat yourself to the whole piece. It's short.

Republican intraparty dissension is also the subject of an article in the May 31 issue ofThe Nation. Plenty of fiscal conservatives are in a quandary as they watch "'the world's economic superpower slowly destroy perhaps the world's most enviable fiscal position . . . .'" The other dilemma many conservatives face is their feeling that neocon foreign policy is rash and dangerous. Clyde Prestowitz, conservative and author of Rogue Nation believes that "[t]oday's neocons are not conservatives . . . but 'right-wing Trotskyists' who are every bit as determined as their counterparts on the left once were about revolutionizing the world."

To support Bush or not to support Bush, that is the question for these unhappy Republicans.

Kevin Phillips sees these rifts as perhaps the beginning of Democratic ascendancy:

Back in 1969 Kevin Phillips famously predicted that a Republican majority was emerging on the heels of the growing backlash against a liberalism that had grown fat and arrogant, and that had come to be associated with grandiose policy initiatives that, in Vietnam as on the home front, came crashing up against reality. Today, at the very moment when Republicans seem more powerful than ever, Phillips sees the potential for history to repeat itself.


Click here to read the article. (Fair warning: this one's not short.)

We in the Dean movement are determined to make another era of history repeat itself. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the robber barons held sway, but progressives and unions forced the wealthy to give ground and allow some economic redistribution. May the spirit of Eugene Debs, Bob LaFollette, and Big Bill Haywood be with us.


Monday, May 24, 2004

With Trembling Fingers
By Hal Crowther
Long one, but WOW

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Iran, run by Islamic nuts, is developing nukes. Don't you think we should look the other way? Nicholas Kristof, of The New York Times, thinks so. And the odd part is that he makes a persuasive case. If you could be elected president, would you take his advice? Click here to see what he has to say.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

When we invaded Iraq, John Stewart commented something to the effect: What the hell. Why not piss off the Arabs? They'll get over it. They don't hold a grudge for . . . more than . . . a thousand years.

Well, the Iraqis've got a gargantuan grudge going now, so we might as well get out. But how to let go of the tiger's tail?

Many pundits are now urging "internationalization", Molly Ivins among them:

The Center for American Progress has an exit strategy I think sounds useful. It is recommending President George W. Bush call an emergency international summit immediately, seek to have the United Nations fully oversee the transition, have the North Atlantic Treaty Organization take the security responsibility and set up an independent trust fund for reconstruction.

I checked their website; it isn't detailed, but it does offer this advice:

Real internationalisation of the political authorities and the security forces is desperately needed now. That means more than asking the United Nations and Nato to help. It means actually transferring real power and authority to a U.N.-authorised international mission and a NATO-led security force.

That sounds good. Let them grab the tiger's tail. But it doesn't necessarily mean we could let go. The Post-Dispatch noted that:

Most military experts think that more troops will be needed--at least 200,000 total--to stabilize the country for elections. It's unlikely that more than 50,000 troops would come from other countries.

So we'd be drafting Americans to go to a country where our legitimacy is completely shot. I can't see us being instrumental in bringing peace there. We're just targets now. A hundred of us makes 100 targets; 100,000 of us makes 100,000 targets.

Paul Krugman briefly mentioned another possibility: "The best we can realistically hope for now is to turn power over to relatively moderate Iraqis with a real base of popular support. Yes, that mainly means Islamic clerics." It's also likely to "mainly mean" civil war--unless there are tens of thousands of troops there--whose?--to keep the peace.

I would like to take a hard hearted stand: millions of us told Bush not to go there, told him that civil war would ultimately result. And now that civil war looks more imminent, I don't want more American lives wasted. Our soldiers have already been treated, as Vonnegut pointed out, "like toys a rich kid got for Christmas." Enough. Let the Iraqis fight it out.

But who knows which of Iraq's neighbors or how many will get drawn into the fray? Will it become a permanent terrorist breeding ground?

It's enough to make my head spin. I say bring the troops home--I think. Anybody else got a better idea?

And keep in mind that nothing beyond window dressing will happen while Bush still reigns anyway.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

American soldiers wouldn't be dying in Iraq at the rate they are if Bush's ideologues hadn't undermined their efforts at every turn.

Before the war even started, Rumsfeld ignored State Department advice about the likelihood of looting. Even more important, he disregarded detailed State Department plans that would have kept the government running smoothly. There need not have been early chaos to set the wrong tone.

Those were sins of omission. Under the heading "sins of commission" is a longer list. Instead of allowing early elections--real elections--Cheney installed Chalabi, his favorite puppet, and gave his man in Baghdad plenty of Saddam's secret records--useful for blackmail--and a say in reconstruction contracts--useful for kickbacks. If the administration wanted a puppet, it didn't have to choose someone who had been convicted, in absentia, of bank fraud in Jordan and sentenced to 22 years in jail there. But they did pick a crook. Consequently, a poll in February showed Chalabi to be even more mistrusted than Saddam Hussein himself.

The Bushies feared and avoided early elections because they needed time to enact economic policies that the Iraqis would never have countenanced. They slashed tariffs. They enacted a flat tax in place of a tax system that heavily taxed the rich. They threw open the country to foreign investment. They employed foreigners to do jobs that Iraqis--desperately in need of work--could have performed. They disbanded the Iraqi army, causing further unemployment, when they should have foreseen how useful those soldiers could be in keeping order.

Having made a hash of almost everything over there for the last year, The White House recently announced that we plan to continue making a hash of it. To prove it, Bush is appointing John Negroponte as our ambassador once we . . . turn over power to the Iraqis? Two problems with that notion. First, we're not turning over sovereignty. As Jonathan Schell pointed out in The Nation:

Instead of saying "On June 30, the Coalition will hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people," we should say, "On June 30, the re-election campaign of George W. Bush will hand over the appearance of responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq to certain of its local appointees."


Second, Negroponte is an insulting choice as ambassador. He'll be the de facto president, but his only expertise in Middle East affairs is the weapons sales he made to Iran during its eight year war with Iraq.

All this incompetence and corruption has helped spur the insurgency. We retaliate when our soldiers die, and innocents are killed in the crossfire. As Molly Ivins points out: "It's quite difficult to convince people you are killing them for their own good."

And all the while, rumors about Abu Ghraib have been simmering. Now they've exploded, and they're about to go nuclear--because of even more shocking pictures and because of evidence that Bush and Rumsfeld ordered the abuse.

Oh, and by the way, no one believes this isn't about oil.

If the Bushies had planned it, they could hardly have infuriated Iraqis more. Bush and his ideologues have a genius for ineptitude that cannot be counterbalanced by rebuilding a few schools and handing out candy to children.

Tomorrow I'll comment on our sorry, scant choices for dealing with our misleader's mess. Meantime, feel free to add to the list above. I'm sure it's incomplete.

On the Ed Schultz show (left-wing talk show radio host), he’s talking about E85 as a low-cost ($1.59 a gallon) environmentally friendly, domestically produced fuel that you buy if you have certain model cars. Look up the list online at:
E85 site

E85 is the term for motor fuel blends of 85 percent ethanol and just 15 percent gasoline. E85 is an alternative fuel as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy. Besides its superior performance characteristics, ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline; it is a completely renewable, domestic, environmentally friendly fuel that enhances the nation's economy and energy independence.
Today, the U. S. imports more than half of its oil, and overall consumption continues to increase. By supporting ethanol production and use, U.S. drivers can help reverse that trend. 85% ethanol can reduce pollution. Government tests have shown that E85 vehicles reduce harmful hydrocarbon and benzene emissions when compared to vehicles running on gasoline. E85 can also reduce carbon dioxide (CO2), a harmful greenhouse gas and a major contributor to global warming.
Missouri Refueling Stations:

Ballwin, MO 63011 - 15401 Clayton Road
Columbia, MO 65203 - 200 N. Providence
Jefferson City, MO 65109 - 3714 W. Truman Blvd.
Jefferson City, MO 65101 - 701 Eastland Drive
Kansas City, MO 64131 - 649 E. Bannister Road
Macon, MO 63552 - 1805 N. Missouri (coming soon)
Smithville, MO 64089 - 1102 S. Hwy. 169

A New Yorker cartoon shows two parallel rows of lemmings rushing toward a cliff with the leader saying to his partner: "Look, I have my misgivings too, but what choice do we have except to stay the course?" Someone might as well have scribbled in Bush's name above that lemming's head before they went to press. The problem is that the lemming has a point. Our choices in Iraq stink.

So most of us shy away from preaching another course, preferring instead to rail against the stupidity that got us here. Maureen Dowd bitches and bellyaches eloquently. She quotes historian Daniel Boorstin, who warned that "planning for the future without a sense of history is like planting cut flowers." (For example, Wolfowitz said before the war that Iraq had no history of ethnic tension.) She summarizes Barbara Tuchman's book comparing the Trojan War to Vietnam--with obvious parallels in Iraq. Tuchman warned about leaders with "'an addiction to the counterproductive'" and pointed out that "wooden heads are as dangerous as wooden horses." I'd say those phrases describe more than just Iraq. They sum up Bush's entire presidency.

In case you're interested in Dowd's entire rant, click here.

Iraq is a far worse quagmire than Vietnam ever was because we could, at any time, have declared victory and left. What were the consequences when we did pull out? Basically none--well, other than our hurt pride and a couple of million corpses. But lasting consequences? None. Vietnam went its way, succeeding remarkably well economically. Southeast Asia didn't descend into communism, and world peace was not threatened. We just took a beating and went home.

Iraq is so much worse. The body count is lower so far, but the consequences of failure could send worldwide ripples.

It's maddening to reflect that Iraq didn't have to turn out this badly (not to mention that it didn't have to happen at all). Tomorrow I'll outline the mistakes that were made in running the country. Friday I'll offer an opinion on what the "least horrible" course of action might be.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

In case you missed the following announcement, I'm reprinting it here, only 47 days late.

U.S. TO LEAVE IRAQ JUNE 30, RETURN JULY 1

Bush Announces ‘Operation Iraqi Re-freedom’

In his weekly radio address, President George W. Bush announced that if the new Iraqi government asks the United States to leave Iraq on June 30 it will do so, but added that it will return to Iraq on July 1, one day later.

Mr. Bush expressed his hope that the U.S.’s one-day absence from Iraq would stir nostalgia for the coalition troops and cause a public groundswell of support for their re-occupation of the country.

Calling the U.S.’s planned July 1 re-invasion of Iraq “Operation Iraqi Re-freedom,” Mr. Bush said the troops’ return to the Middle Eastern nation would give the Iraqi people a unique chance to “get it right this time.”

“Last time we invaded, we were not greeted with flowers,” Mr. Bush said. “There are operators standing by at 1-800-FLOWERS even as I speak.”

The president also revealed that U.S. forces were currently re-erecting a statue of Saddam Hussein to be re-toppled upon their July 1 return.

In other developments in Iraq, Mr. Bush announced that as a goodwill gesture the U.S. would close Abu Ghraib prison and re-open it as a Wal-Mart.

The president pointed out that the prison was an ideal candidate for such a conversion since it already had the facilities necessary to lock in its employees at night as well as an extensive ladies’ underwear department.

Mr. Bush concluded his radio address by confirming that he had asked Congress for $25 billion for Iraq and a books-on-tape version of the Geneva Conventions.



Here's the link to comedian Andy Borowitz's site.

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Pioneer of Reform

People usually know my writing as mostly acerbic and critical. This is very easy to do in today’s world, and it’s also necessary because we often have to call peoples’ attention to the injustices and hypocrisy in the world. I would like to take this opportunity to try and point to something positive. I have chosen to do this by sharing with you whom I consider a figure in history to emulate, so we can take this county back.

That man could very well be Howard Dean as well, but Howard’s campaign was really inspired by a man that lived a century ago: Bob LaFollette. Here’s his bio:

Robert La Follette, the son of a small farmer, was born in Dane County, Wisconsin, on 14th June, 1855. He worked as a farm labourer before entering the University of Wisconsin in 1875. After graduating in 1879 he set up as a lawyer and the following year became District Attorney of Dane County.

Elected to Congress as a Republican, La Follette was extremely critical of the behaviour of some of the party bosses. In 1891, La Follette announced that the state Republican boss, Senator Philetus Sawyer, had offered him a bribe to fix a court case.

Over the next six years La Follette built up a loyal following within the Republican Party in opposition to the power of the official leadership. Proposing a programme of tax reform, corporation regulation and an extension of political democracy, La Follette was elected governor of Wisconsin in 1900. Once in power La Follette employed the academic staff of the University of Wisconsin to draft bills and administer the laws that he introduced.

La Follette was also successful in persuading the federal government to introduce much needed reforms. This included the regulation of the railway industry and equalized tax assessment. In 1906 La Follette was elected to the Senate and over the next few years argued that his main role was to "protect the people" from the "selfish interests". He claimed that the nation's economy was dominated by fewer than 100 industrialists. He went on to argue that these men then used this power to control the political process. La Follette supported the growth of trade unions as he saw them as a check on the power of large corporations.


http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlafollette.htm

Funny I had to get that from a European source.

I first read of Fightin’ Bob LaFollette in high school, and I have always found him a source of inspiration. Bob LaFollette helped build the entire progressive movement and history should praise him like Howard Dean should be praised for leading the Democratic Party out of the woods.

Here’s to what an exceptional public servant should be. To Fighting Bob.

Joe Bruemmer

Sunday, May 16, 2004

When Seymour Hersh nailed Richard Perle for his clandestine profiteering, Perle called him a journalistic terrorist--which makes Hersh my journalistic freedom fighter. Since then, Hersh has been dogging Rumsfeld--critiquing our failure in Afghanistan, breaking the Abu Ghraib story and now putting Rummy right in the middle of the abuse mess. Anonymous military intelligence officers, piqued at taking the blame for following Rumsfeld's orders, told Hersh that the secretary of defense approved the physically abusive and sexually humiliating treatment at Abu Ghraib as a way of getting further information about what was behind the increased insurgency in Iraq last fall. Various officials are denying the truth of the report, calling it, for example, "pure, unadulterated fantasy."

It's hard to say how many Americans even care what we did or would blame Rumsfeld if Hersh's charges are true. For example, Bill McClellan, no right winger, wrote a column justifying torture--an attitude formed during his tour in Nam. Basically, he felt that when soldiers are in great danger, they'll do whatever it takes to find out the enemy's plans in hopes of protecting themselves. Lots of ordinary citizens would agree.

Oddly, though, professional interrogators would not. An AP article in the News Watch section of Sunday's Post-Dispatch, headlined "Torture is fruitless, say U.S. questioners", begins:

Sgt. Ken Weichert interrogated hundreds of Iraqis to gather wartime intelligence, but says only once did he raise his voice to extract information. . . .

Military interrogators say torture and other physical abuse are not only inhumane, they produce unreliable results. Prisoners may tell interrogators what they want to hear, rather than the truth, just to stop the abuse.
Indeed--especially if they're in the 70-90 percent of detainees who are not insurgents.

Weichert reckons that "It looks like the actions of immature kids that were pressured by higher command to get results."

Conservatives are fond of accusing liberals of "moral relativism." Now the shoe is on the other foot. I wonder if Bush's religious base feels pinched by the fit.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Excuse my cynicism, but I suspect that Spc. Jeremy Sivits is a liar. According to investigative records, Sivits described the goings on in his unit at Abu Ghraib and commented: "Our command would have slammed us. They believe in doing the right thing. If they saw what was going on, there would be hell to pay." Since there's more than ample proof that the problem was systemic, I have to doubt the word of this particular abuser who did, after all, cut a deal. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall when that particular deal was sealed. "We're prepared to offer you a thoroughly odious deal--light treatment in exchange for the right lies. Say all you want to about your comrades. In fact, be sure you make them look bad. Just be sure to make a point, won't you, of exonerating the fine officers who put you up to this? We'd let you off completely for that kind of service, but that would look a little too fishy, don't you agree?"

Think it might have gone something like that? Maybe we could arrange for someone to beat him up and get the truth out of him. The problem with that, though, is that he'd say whatever we want to hear to stop the beating. Oh. Our CIA people should have been bright enough to know that and bright enough to foresee the PR consequences of systematic abuse.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Rush has been making light of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. In talking about the abuse of prisoners cowering before attack dogs, he made a barking noise. But the damage done to whatever shreds of dignity we had left in Iraq isn't a joking matter. Joseph Heller says it well in Catch-22: "And if that wasn't funny, there were lots of things that weren't even funnier." I would list all the things that aren't even funnier in Iraq if the list weren't so interminable. The least funny item on the list, though, is that we're not getting out. "Combat-hardened public relations officers" (Heller's phrase), are still pretending that we can achieve, in Krauthammer's words this morning, "a decent, representative, democratizing Iraq." WE can't. Maybe the U.N. or NATO could. Maybe we should just turn it over to the mullahs and hope, as Krugman suggested. But WE can't control it. The neocons have systematically destroyed our moral authority in that country. It's beyond salvage now. But I don't see Bush taking any steps to change course.

Okay, in my best Monty Python voice, "and now for something completely different...."

On Saturday we wrapped up our endorsement in the race for Gephardt's seat. We endorsed Jeff Smith for his truly progressive platform and enthusiastic approach. Today Democracy for America came out with the first round of endorsements, Dean's Dozen. They picked 12 candidates from across the country, and we are proud to say two of them are from our Change for Missouri list of local endorsements.

The above mentioned Jeff Smith and Maria Chappelle-Nadal

"This year the race for the presidency is unbelievably important," Governor Dean said today. "But beside our efforts to evict George W. Bush from the White House, we must expand the base of the Democratic Party by competing in tough races across the country. The Dean Dozen represent some of the bravest candidates in the nation. Democracy for America is proud to support them."

Also among the Dean dozen was Chicago's own Barack Obama

My Displeasure at Claire, part 2

Hopefully, you’ve read my comments regarding the McCaskill campaign, where I pointed out what I consider to be falsehoods being perpetrated by the McCaskill campaign. To satisfy my sense of fairness, I’m now posting the positive press Claire is using in her emails, and what is fundamentally wrong with how they are framed:

Just look at what the press and pundits are saying about (Claire’s) campaign:
Campaigns & Elections’ Ron Faucheux writes that “Missouri’s Bob Holden (D) is probably in a bigger re-election danger than any other elected governor this year. Elected by a narrow margin last time, Holden’s term has been marred by messy budget controversies. He’s challenged for re-nomination by the state auditor, Claire McCaskill, who has him locked in a tough battle.”
(Campaigns & Elections, April 2004)
Top political analyst Charlie Cook writes that “Democrat Bob Holden is undoubtedly the most vulnerable governor seeking re-election this year. … Holden faces a strong challenge within his own party from state Auditor Claire McCaskill, who is in her second term. She has audited nearly every government department and says she has saved taxpayers millions of dollars. … The primary contest is beginning to get nasty in the wake of two public polls that show Holden unpopular and many voters undecided.”
(National Journal, April 8, 2004)
United Press International: “political observers point out that Holden first has to shove his way past another strong contender, State Auditor Claire McCaskill … the first term governor is still working without a net when it comes to the polls.”
(UPI, May 6, 2004)
Even Holden’s biggest supporter in Missouri recently stated: “He’s got a helluva race ahead of him,” said Missouri AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey, a Holden supporter.


Now, of course there are some problems here, some of which I addressed in the earlier post. What really jumps out at me now is the bothersome use of a right wing rag like the National Journal to toot her own horn. That is an automatic 2 point penalty in my book. There’s a second problem though: why does it sound like Claire is nothing but an afterthought in these statements? The gist of all the comment is that the road ahead will be hard for Governor Holden. The rest of it just sounds like pimping the proverbial horserace to sell papers, except for the right wing rag who touts what they like about Claire: Her ability to cut costs. TAX CUTS? Haven’t we had enough of them? That’s a Wal Mart Republican strategy if I ever saw one!
Claire is depending on you, the primary voter, to succumb to your fear and appeal to our collective laziness to win this nomination. That’s just sad especially when you think of this statement made by Harry Truman:
“If you put a fake Republican up against a real one, voters will choose the real thing every time”. Sage words indeed. I feel Claire is ignoring them, so you might want to drop her a note and help her out through this tough time:
Claire@claireonline.com
Joe Bruemmer

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I heard on today's Democracy Now show that Governor Holden sent a letter to Bush stating that troops were being put in harm's way by Haliburton contractors forcing them to be drivers. Also, I called the Governor's office to verify this, and they told me it was in today's paper! Please call the governor's contact line (573) 751-3222 and let him know in the opinion line that you support his view on this matter. Go, Bob! We haven't officially endorsed him yet, but I hope we can get a vote up soon so we can show our appreciation for such backbone.

In the Dali landscape we now inhabit vis a vis Iraq, the right wing version of reality is that we still have a chance to "win" if mealy-mouthed liberals would stop wringing their hands over a few relatively mild abuses. They defend mistake upon arrogance after stupidity the same way Col. Korn did in Catch-22: "You're either for us or against your country." Example: Last Friday's Post-Dispatch reported Kit Bond as saying that the calls for Rumsfeld to resign could weaken our position in Iraq by "undermining the authority of the Department of Defense." Cheney's attitude is: "Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. People ought to get off his case and let him do his job." Apparently, these two men haven't noticed that "the best secretary of defense we've ever had" has so botched Iraq that, in the words of Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom: "We have already failed. Staying in longer makes us fail worse." And Odom said that even before the torture scandal broke.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Title: My displeasure at Claire, part 1

I just received one of those lovely “campaign emails”, and since it ticked me off, I’d like to put it into context and critique it, if you will.
The title of this innocuous campaign email: Claire is going to Win. A dubious claim right off the bat. But wait, it gets better! Read on:


In fact, the polls show Claire matches up better against likely Republican nominee Matt Blunt than Holden does. More and more Missouri Democrats are realizing that because of his disappointing record, Bob Holden simply cannot win in November.

Ah, using polls to stir up fear. A disgusting tactic, but a common practice nonetheless. To be fair, I’ve seen these one or two of these polls, and yes, Claire consistently places higher than Governor Holden, plus she did well in statewide elections as auditor. What Claire ISN’T telling you is that if she were the nominee, her poll numbers would most likely go down to match or possibly dip below where Holden is placing now. Remember Wes Clark’s numbers before he entered the Presidential race? They were in the high 50’s. He lost 10 points just from announcing his candidacy. Another good comparison is what has happened to John Kerry’s momentum or lack thereof. We Dean Democrats saw this particular problem coming over a year ago, and I believe the same thing that’s happening to Kerry now would happen to Claire. That is a very normal consequence of transitioning from one status to another. How Claire intends to avoid or tackle this is beyond me, but it’s not my problem. It’ll be Claire’s if she wins the nomination.

Then there’s her last election, where her competitor was a convicted felon. To her credit she did get 60% of the vote against the felon, but I don’t consider that a fair measure of how she would do against a real competitor.
You know, like Matt Blunt.

Secondly, you want to spell out what part of Holden’s record is disappointing? Is it that he doesn’t have a magic wand to undo those veto overrides? Is it because the Republicans have intentionally sabotaged the budget process from the beginning of his term to make him look weak? Or is it that he took time away from Jefferson City politics to fight for those pesky strikers at your local supermarkets? I didn’t see YOU out on those lines, Claire.
By the way, Claire may want to look into her Republican husband’s business enterprises. I’ve heard he owns retirement homes, and guess what? They’re non union. BIG surprise there!

To finish out my comments on this section, her statement that Governor Holden can’t win is rings true when you consider that it’s the undermining by Claire’s campaign that makes it possible.

I’ll have more on the blog concerning Claire’s misguided candidacy later. Stay tuned.


Joe Breummer

When it comes to planting the seeds of Democracy, the United States does not have a green thumb. It's not like growing squash. You can't just pull up a few weeds and pat a little soil down over the seed of Democracy. Everytime we try it, instead of getting squash, we get the bride of Frankenstein: Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq.

But last week in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote two columns describing the current political mood of Iran, and both were surprisingly upbeat. Left to themselves, Iranians seem to be finding their own way to democracy and changing their minds about the Great Satan.

These days most Iranians love America. One opinion poll showed that 74 percent of Iranians want a dialogue with the U.S. — and the finding so irritated the authorities that they arrested the pollster. Iran is also the only Muslim country I know where citizens responded to the 9/11 attacks with a spontaneous candlelight vigil as a show of sympathy. Click here to read about a pro-American country.

Young Iranians, especially, are disgusted with repressive mullahs and determined to enjoy life. And since the mullahs themselves exhorted people to be fruitful and multiply, sixty percent of the population is now under twenty-five. Young women have found ways to make their chadors and headscarves sexy, and "young women in such clothing aren't getting 74 lashes any more — they're getting dates." How do you make a chador sexy? Find out.

Perhaps as a nation, we should switch from a gardening metaphor to shepherding:

Little Bo-peep has lost her sheep
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
And bring their tails behind them.

When Donald Rumsfeld took "full responsibility" for Abu Ghraib, it reminded me of an anecdote I read years ago about a woman who went into a cafe in a strange town. She didn't know what was good there, but she thought that "fresh cut fruit compote" sounded tasty and ordered it. When it came, it was obviously from a can, so she quoted the menu to the waitress, who said: "Oh, honey, it just SAYS that." You can SAY anything.

I say he should resign. I know what I think about the issue, but I am confused about everybody else. Two thirds of Americans don't think Rumsfeld should resign, but George Will, on the other hand--George Will!--thinks he should. All I can make of it is that lots of people like Rummy. They think he's straightforward.

Monday, May 10, 2004

HOW TO DEFEAT GEORGE BUSH AND ELECT NANCY FARMER

It is now very apparent that John Kerry has no ability to beat George Bush by himself. While Democrats may have said "Anybody But Bush", the reality is Kerry is no John F. Kennedy, especially with No Mayor Daley to vote the dead in Chicago. So Kerry must run with hope that the lower parts of the Democrat ticket can pull him to victory.

This means the only hope of a Democrat Victory in Missouri rest on the slender shoulders of Nancy Farmer who must defeat Kit Bond handily in Metropolitan St. Louis and Jackson County. This can happen if we do the following:

1. Stop by Nancy Farmer HQ in Deer Park Shopping Center, 3232 Laclede Station Road, St. Louis County, 314-645-8103 where you can pick up a bumper sticker and volunteer some time. They will also accept donations and many days Nancy is there dialing for dollars.

2. You can tell your neighbors and friends just how important a Nancy Farmer victory is to the USA. Democrats can regain control of the US Senate and retire Kit Bond who embarrasses progressives daily.

3. You can join a canvass team to register voters and spread the word about Nancy Farmer throughout Missouri.

Nancy Farmer is the only candidate running state-wide who will make a lasting difference to the future of our country.

GO NANCY GO!

Corey,

I have to say that you have really impressed me as of late also, and made very difficult for me to choose just one. I think that the residents of the 3rd Congressional District should feel honored to have such progressive candidates running. Many of us at Change For Missouri we gratified to hear that you did so well because we can now say that these people are leaders that are quality candidates, they know the issues and are shining examples of what kind of public servants America needs in Congress-the kind that have backbones. That gives me hope at a time in history when hope is hard to find.

You have earned my respect, which is almost as hard as earning my vote.
However, (and I know I’m inviting criticism for stating this) this leads to a few dilemmas. I am deeply concerned about the progressive vote being split in the 3rd and within Change for Missouri. If this happens, the result will be more politics as usual and we shoot ourselves in the foot. The people of Missouri need another aggressive progressive in the House, and we have endorsed Jeff Smith who is as much of an embodiment of that description as you are.

Therefore, I offer something of a solution. I am humbly asking that you not compete against our endorsed candidate, but JOIN us and make us all stronger. I ask this and would add that I do not begrudge you for your ambition and desire, nor do I mean to belittle your efforts. Running for office is an incredible personal risk for anyone, and you have shown your courage by doing so. Again, I worry about splitting the progressive vote. We need to unify if we are to take back our government, and the members of Change for Missouri want this more than anything else. We have endorsed Jeff, so we have to hold that commitment if our endorsement is to amount to a hill of beans. I also know that I am not the only member of Change for Missouri that intends to keep fighting past November, and we want Change for Missouri to be a crucial element in the long term battle against the fascist tendencies of the Republican Party. It would be an honor if you added your voice to ours.

For the good of the future of our Democracy, I extend my hand to you Corey. Help unite us now and give progressives a real fighting chance to make a Change for Missouri.

Joe Bruemmer

Here's another Missouri congressional candidate worth working for: Jim Newberry. A dailykos diary posting talks about the Missouri Jackson Days, where Newberry gave a really impassioned speech about the "End of Darkness". God, I hope he's right...

Click here to read the daily kos post

Here's Jim Newberry's site:

newberryforcongress.com

He reminds me strongly of Bob Graham, who I really love.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

In case you haven't had the privilege of making the acquaintance of my favorite novel,Catch-22, let me introduce you. It's about bombardier crews stationed in Italy during World War II and their frustration with the heartless, stupid bureaucrats who control their lives. I'll be quoting this bible of bureaucracy to you frequently in the next few weeks, now that Iraq is a bloody mess, both literally and as far as our worldwide image is concerned. Here's a start. After ordering a senseless attack on an Italian village in the mountains, Colonel Korn says to the fliers who protest: "You've got my sacred word for it. Nobody is more distressed about those lousy wops up in the hills than Colonel Cathcart and myself. Mais c'est la guerre." Remind you of anyone named Rummy? Our secretary of defense did take "full responsibility" for the Abu Ghraid mess--sort of. He ought to, since he was told about the pictures and the allegations in January. He also got warnings about it from Colin Powell, who passed along Red Cross complaints. He told President Bush what he'd heard, whereupon they . . . did nothing. He might as well have said to Senator McCain during Friday's questioning: "Senator, you've got my sacred word for it. Nobody is more distressed about those lousy towelheads in Abu Ghraib than President Bush and myself."

In the Sunday Times, Maureen Dowd says "[Y]ou knew Rummy wasn't going to pretend to stay contrite for very long." Instead of concentrating on how sorry he was, he "was having a dickens of a time figuring out how a control-freak administration could operate in this newfangled age when G.I.'s have dadburn digital cameras."

In the information age, he complained to senators, "people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon."


Not only is he passing the buck, he's missing the point: prisoner abuse is the issue here, not unauthorized photos.

By the end, Rummy was channeling Jack Nicholson's Col. Jessup, who lashed out at the snotty weenies questioning him while they sleep "under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it."

I lost my respect for Dowd when she trashed Dean three columns in a row last January. Still, I have to admit to enjoying her portrait of the man who doesn't "do quagmires."

At the potluck picnic yesterday, Lisa and I were comparing our ignorance about Governor Holden withholding education funds for several months. We knew the Republicans claimed that he could have released the funds in November instead of April and that he's been playing politics with the money. I asked Joe what he knew, and he suspects the funds were there, but that the Republicans had somehow managed a shell game to hide them for several months and make Holden look bad. That's the notion I'd like to believe. Do you have any support you can give us for that theory, Joe? Any of the rest of you know more about this issue? Dave Depker, how about you? You have a better grasp of state issues than some of us.

We're so focused on getting Bush out, that state politics slips past most of us. Well, focusing is good. Even so, I'd be interested to hear what the rest of you know.

Here's the relevant part of the Post-Dispatch article on it.

Holden releases $127 million for education
By Terry Ganey
Post-Dispatch
04/09/2004


JEFFERSON CITY -- Gov. Bob Holden announced today that he was releasing $127 million in previously withheld funds for public schools and higher education institutions. The governor said a combination of positive budgeting developments---not improving state revenues--prompted him to make the decision.

Holden said the state could released the funds because:

--$50 million set aside for potential refunds in a pending court case would not have to be paid this year.

--$40 million had been saved by budget cutting in state government through fewer employees and administrative efficiencies.

--$36 million less than expected had been drawn down by taxpayers taking economic development tax credits.

--$8 million more than expected had come to the state in tobacco settlement money.

"I have said that I would release funding for education as soon as it is fiscally responsible to do so, and this new information makes that release possible," said Holden, a Democrat. "I am pleased to return these withholdings for the schools. However, this action does nothing to fix the harm our schools incurred when the Republicans in the Legislature voted to cut $155 million in education funding last year."

As governor, Holden is charged with balancing the state budget and not spending more than the state receives. He has the power to withhold funds appropriated by the Legislature if he believes revenues will be insufficient to support the appropriations. Holden had withheld about $115 million from elementary and secondary schools and $12 million from public colleges, universities and community colleges.

Republicans had been calling on Holden for months to release the school funds.

House Budget Committee Chairman Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, said Holden's announcement made this week a good one for Missouri schools, coming on top of the $146 million the House added to school funding when it passed the budget.

"I think education has done very well this week," Bearden said. He added that the explanations Holden used for releasing the funds "have been known for several months.

"The governor could have done it back in November when we started asking for him to," Bearden said. "It's been a long time, but it's here and it's money that now the schools can use whether this year or to put in the reserves for next year."

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, said he was pleased that the money had been released.

"We believe it is essential not only to approve funds for education, but also to assure those funds reach classrooms in Missouri," Kinder said. "I only wish that the funding would have been available at the beginning of the school year as it was appropriated instead of the beginning of summer vacation when it was released by Gov. Holden."

Paul Sloca, a spokesman for the Missouri Republican Party, said Holden had used Missouri children for political purposes.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

CITY OF ST. LOUIS SEEKS CHARTER REFORM

Prior to our picnic in Carondelet Park I invite all to hear the final report of ADVANCE ST. LOUIS beginning at 10:00 a.m. until noon in the Cafeteria of Forest Park Community College.

Then all of us good government believers should do all within our ability to get these recommendations adopted and enacted by the voters of St. Louis City.

Even if you do not live in the City, come and participate so that the city will not be the drag on progress in metropolitan St. Louis. I can vote on this, but I and my fellow city dwellers need your support.

COME ON DOWN BEFORE THE PICNIC TODAY MAY 8 ON SATURDAY MORNING BEGINNING AT 10:00 a.m.

Friday, May 07, 2004

JEFF SMITH FOR CONGRESS

Let me list the reasons why Jeff Smith should win the endorsement of Change for Missouri over 9 other worthy candidates:

1. Jeff has worked with and for Howard Dean.

2. Jeff already knows many of the Democrat leaders in Congress and lobbyists so he will be ready to serve the day he is elected.

3. Jeff is a fiscal conservative judging by his humble office in the heart of the City just 4 blocks from where we meet at Bevo Mill.

4. Jeff is a social liberal who cares about all regardless of gender, social standing, color, creed, sexual orientation, age,etc.

5. Jeff opposes the Patriot Act and all attempts by John Ashcroft to limit our freedoms.

6. Jeff is a teacher and on the Board of a Charter School that has won many awards and stresses education for all children who want to learn.

7. Jeff favors a single payer healthcare system.

8. Jeff is pro-choice and opposes all attempts to prohibit gay marriage through constitutional amendment.

9. Jeff is young enough to serve 20 years in Congress and retain his energy and zest for using government to help rather than harm.

10. Jeff is my friend and I am proud to be his friend.

The mess in Iraq bids fair to bring this presidency down. But who knows? Bush's poll numbers ought to be down around 3 percent, but he's still right up there near fifty. The moral is that we need to be attacking him on every conceivable front and a feisty fourth term representative from Colorado is doing that.

Diana DeGette is prodding the White House to change its stand on stem cell research and the environment. The stem cell research is especially interesting because two thirds of voters in swing states would like to see it changed.

DeGette, with a lot of help from Rep. Michael Castle, a Republican from Delaware, and California Republican Duke Cunningham, got 206 members of the House, including 36 Republicans, to sign a letter to President Bush criticizing his restrictive policy on stem cell research.

This is significant for two reasons: First, there is hard-wired partisanship on Capitol Hill that has completely annihilated any notion of a non-partisan issue. Second, the stem cell debate is closely tied to abortion, obviously the most volatile of all wedge issues; this is not the first place you might think to test the waters of bipartisanship. But we live for surprises in this town.


Another surprise is that Colorado, which Gore lost by nine percentage points in 2000, may be back in play. Find out the details by clicking here.



Thursday, May 06, 2004

OK, I have a couple of problems with the Carnahan congressional campaign as of late. First of all, I'm not happy with the explanation the Carnahan campaign has given for the Sam's Club expenditure on his FEC report. I'm sorry, but if a Democrat in THIS state doesn't know that ALL Walton based businesses are out of bounds, then someone needs their head examined. Who is the idiot that is not aware of the Wal Mart plight in America? Why are we not putting more of an effort to chase Wal Mart back over the Arkansas border?

I don't care how much money or sport franchises they have, if they are union busting, then they need to get out of Missouri, period.

Secondly, there are a few problems with the speech that Debra Carnahan gave last night. She has claimed Planned Parenthood has endorsed Russ. Where is the documentation? This is Missouri. Show me the Press release.

Finally, I take great offense at her blatant pandering and patronizing tone by the overuse of Howard Dean's name. Where were you during the primary? I know where Jeff was. You don't have the right to use his vision since you did not come out for him during the primary, and I don't care if your last name is Gandhi. I told Russ personally that he should reach out to us, and he chose to ignore what I had to say. You chose your lot, now live with it.

And what's this "was" thing? Howard Dean and his vision are very much alive. That vision lives within the membership of Change for Missouri. We demand respect, and not politics as usual.


Joe Bruemmer

I loved this post to Change for Missouri, so I asked the author, Greg Wiley , if I could post it here as well. Thanks Greg.

I took a few minutes to prepare a response to the "2004 Democratic Convention Program" which has been circulating on the web by republican "humor activists"

I just happened to have some insights into the Seminars being offered at
the 2004 Republican Convention. I heard they were getting a little
concerned about the "spontaneous grassroots" effort across the country
to wrest the control of the government from corporate interests.

Republican Convention Seminars:(Attend any 3 and receive 45 Continuing Education credits from Bob Jones
University)

Rule #1: The majority of people don't vote, and those that do, don't
know the issues: (always speak in 3 word sound bites)


Using your Opponent’s Strengths Against Him. (even the Pope’ made a
mistake, dig deeper you'll be rewarded)

Trashing War Heroes (example: John McCain "may" be suffering from his
years in prison)

Using Christian Right Telemarketers (they'll say or do anything, if
they're told it's “God’s Work”, - see John McCain, "Illegitimate
Children" Survey results)

Making the Most of Past Smear Campaign Dollars (see Ted, Hillary, Bill,
McGovern, Mondale, Johnson, Carter etc. . .)

Connecting your Opponent to Unrelated People & Events (Digital photo
manipulation: see Kerry/Fonda picture)

Using Corporate America to your Advantage: (see Ken Lay and Enron, World
Com, Halliburton)

Divorcing Yourself from Former Key Benefactors who get Caught: (see above)

Taking Care of Friends First: (whisking Osama bin Laden's family out of
the country - advising the Saud family before your Secretary of Defense)

Blaming Privatization and Corporate Manipulations of Markets on you
Opponent: (see successful California Governor recall)

Distancing yourself from your Gay Daughters: (christian “morals" and
"values” and the "Party" come before Family -- see Cheney, Gingrich et
al and Book of Leviticus for sound bites)

Investigate, Investigate, Investigate: (this distracts everyone from the
issues and cripples government – find something and Investigate)

Maximizing your Investments: (never, never, drop an investigation – the
truth is not the point – - you're crippling your opponents, hamstringing
government and the public is clueless)

Keeping the Facts at Hand: (write your 3 word sound bites on your hand)

How to move your Corporation HQ off shore to avoid taxes and still
maintaining Government Contracts: (see Moving Jobs Off-shore and PAC
Donation primers)

Tax Cuts: (reward your friends, cripple government, force privatization)

Blaming Deficit Spending on Democrats in a totally Republican
Government: (see above and Hall of Fame, "Tax & Spend", 3 word sound bite)

Moving the Tax Burden to Non Republicans (see above)

Corporate Welfare: (the only really legitimate welfare)

Convincing the Jobless that their Interests are the Same as Corporate
America: (see Rush Limbaugh et al)

Fundraising: (remember its all about marketing and that takes money – we
can buy anything)

Don't let the Truth get in your Way: (always repeat your 3 word sound
bites regardless of the question – maximize your investment – you'll
look consistent – you can say “your opponent waffled”, another good 3
word sound bite)

Rule #2: You don't have to Win to be President, just Close (the Supreme
Court now votes along party lines so we're in)

In honour of Harriett Woods, who came to our meetup last night to remind us all of the importance of relieving Kit Bond of his duties, I am posting the following quotes of hers that I have carried around for years.

The first one is her most famous:

You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims.

And my favorite, a Raisen in the Sun reference:

Senators, this nation can't afford a supreme court justice who fulfills his own dreams, but accepts detours and delays for those pursuing dreams of their own. We urge you to vote against the confirmation of Judge Thomas.
(September 20th, 1991)

Hmmm, can we think of anyone else that this would apply to? Let me think, oh yeah, the entire friggen Bush administration.

For the sake of you folks who don't live in St. Louis, here's an editorial you'll enjoy from this morning's Post-Dispatch. Click here. Naturally, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith aren't solely responsible for the mess in Iraq, but firing Cheney and Bush is up to the voters.

Now that John Kerry is finally going to roll out ads explaining his policies, jobs are bound to be on the agenda. He has a list of priorities that include raising the mininum wage and pegging it to inflation, giving a tax credit for college tuition, enforcing fair trade laws, and enacting various tax proposals meant to make outsourcing less attractive. His policy analysts might do well to take a look at "Outsmarting Outsourcing" in American Prospect Online. Here's a sample of what it has to offer:

Enforcement of the Wagner Act, which allows American workers a free choice to vote in a union, has become a joke. Employers find it cheaper to fire pro-union workers, hire fancy law firms to conduct union-busting campaigns, and pay the very infrequent fine.

One happy exception speaks volumes -- the successful struggle by the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees to turn Las Vegas into a union town. Today, the most humble workers in Vegas's hotels -- those who clean the rooms -- are paid middle-class salaries with health benefits and have career opportunities. They are becoming homeowners and starting to live the American dream. The higher labor costs are a drop in the casino bucket.

After all, no inherent economic logic required semi-skilled factory workers to earn middle-class wages.


Strong enforcement of the Wagner Act might inspire a lot more of that Las Vegas Hotel Workers' spirit. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Here's another priceless quote. This is getting way too easy, and way too much fun. This is Bush speaking to supporters at a campaign event:

"You have to work hard to get out the vote, and that's why they call it grass roots," Bush told a crowd of 10,000 at the Gardens. "I'm here to fertilize the grass roots."


He would be the expert on spreading the fertilizer...

We've all been so busy hating the Bushies, that we could use a break for positive news. So, I have some bits of good news that converge on each other. Today I'll describe one of them: an article in the May 3 issue of The New Republic about Kerry's campaign strategy.

Kerry's had Democrats worried because he hasn't been presenting the country with any positive vision of his ideas. He's been saving his money, spending just enough to defend himself from Bush's attack ads. And his defense, of course, has been augmented by the 527s, who have "spent at least $28 million in the last two months on ads attacking Bush."

But it's been a bloody attack for Kerry to weather these last two months. His "presidential campaign strategy echoes his days on that swift boat: He has spent the last eight weeks drawing enemy fire and taking hits." Bush has spent $100 million of his $184 million firing on Kerry.

The good news is that despite the avalanche of attack ads and before the positive ads have even started, Kerry and Bush are running about even. This contest is not going the way the Bush people had expected. Bush thought he had a winning strategy. He figured to be facing someone who had taken spending cap money and spent it all on contentious primaries. But Kerry didn't take the spending cap funds, and since Super Tuesday, March 2, online contributions have been pouring in. So instead of being broke and vulnerable, Kerry can expect to have $100 million to spend between March 2 and the convention at the end of July.

Meanwhile negative news from Richard Clarke, the Iraq war, and the 9/11 commission have done their damage to Bush, granting Kerry the luxury of this time to accumulate a war chest of his own. His strategy is a "large-scale version of rope-a-dope--allow your opponent to unload his most powerful punches as you hunker down and bide your time, waiting to unload in the next round, when the other guy has spent himself."

Now Kerry's positive ads are starting. He has about $60 million, which must be spent by July 29. At that point, he'll get a $75 million dollar check from the federal government to use for the rest of the campaign. Bush has about $75 million, but his money has to last until the end of August. At that point, he will also receive $75 million. "It is conceivable that, in the three months before the Democratic Convention in Boston, Kerry will spend more on advertising than Bush.

He will be trying to present himself as "presidential", which is, according to the firm that made the ads, "'a very high hurdle for challengers to get over.'" In response, Bush aired his toughest ad yet, "Doublespeak", which "features quotes from biting newspaper editorials criticizing Kerry." Bush, knowing he's vulnerable, must disqualify Kerry as a serious alternative, and Kerry must convince people that he IS a viable alternative.

Normally this battle would be fought in early spring. Let's hope that waiting until May was a wise move.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Let me introduce you to our subject of the day: Citizen Sam Fox. Sam Fox is important to St. Louis because of his many "charitable" works and his Management company, The Harbor Group. Here's how the Business Journal describes the business:

St. Louis-based Harbour Group is the sixth largest privately held company in St. Louis with an estimated $2 billion in revenue in 2002. The company is a holding company for various manufacturing and distribution firms.

Sounds like a really lucrative venture that could cater to say, companies who have been outsourcing and resembles the Halliburton subsidiary structure? It doesn't appear that the Harbour Group has been adversely affected by the Bush recession either, but you should look it up for yourself.

I consider Citizen Fox the de facto head of the Missouri Republican Party. I base this on his role as the central fundraiser for Bush/Cheney's Missouri re-election efforts. Every fundraiser that we have organized protests for Citizen Fox has turned out hundreds of thousands of dollars for. Citizen Fox also includes in his close circle of friends people like Bert Walker, Bucky Bush, Marilyn Schnuck, The Danforths (Citizen Fox works a lot with Washington University), and the other cronies that make up the organization known as "Civic Progress". If you didn't know, this cynically monikered organization is filled with the richest of the rich in St. Louis, and I would charge that they actually are the real "governors" of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.

There's a reason why I'm bringing this up. I learned a lot about politics from my father, and he has one rule that has remained a constant:

If you have to ask why, it's probably money.

A simple statement, yet it is profound in its' simplicity because you can see it the more you are educated and involved in your community. It is the name of the mountain I see that lies before our shared journey toward real social justice and an equitable society.

I am of the opinion that all our fights and struggles could come to victory if we address this particular group, expose them for what they are.

It has been reported that the Shrub is coming back to St. Louis in a few weeks, and we all know that there will be more appearances. Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein to "follow the money", and I think we should do the same. Citizen Fox and Civic Progress need to be sent a message that we find their stranglehold on our state and local politics intolerable and we mean business.

Let's propose some actions to send that message.

Sam Fox, (314) 994-0751, 10 Millstone Campus Dr, Saint Louis, MO 63146 Yahoo! Maps MapQuest

Joe Bruemmer

Under the heading "Still Our Man in Baghdad", the May 3 issue of The New Republic says that an ABC News poll:

contained the startling finding that Ahmed Chalabi, much beloved by the Defense Department and the vice president's office, is far and away the most distrusted politician in Iraq. Ten percent of Iraqis said they didn't trust Chalabi "at all"; only 3 percent said the same of SADDAM HUSSEIN. Nevertheless, Chalabi's neoconservative allies still cling to his Iraqi National Congress (INC) as the key to success in Iraq's democratic experiment, and the Bush administration seems to be pulling out all stops to ensure that the returned expatriate and his party are extremely well-positioned in the coming days.

The United States has given Chalabi:

*a treasure trove of files on Baathist figures--useful for blackmail

*$4 million for "intelligence"--we know from experience how reliable that's likely to be

*contracts for reconstructing Iraq

*the right to try Saddam Hussein

But, for all this support, what might we get? A government helmed by a political figure apparently so distrusted that it's doubtful he'll survive absent sizeable and sustained backing by the U.S. military. Is that what we want for ourselves--and for Iraq?

As I've said before, the Bushies have an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing.

Monday, May 03, 2004

When the scandal about abuse of Iraqi prisoners was just starting to break, my husband was reminiscing about his experience in the Marines back in the day--just before Nam heated up. He was stationed on the U.S.S. St. Paul. Aboard ship the Marines were in charge of the brig, and since Connie was the only PFC there who had taken the correspondence course in corrections, he was assigned to brig duty. When he arrived, the prisoners were cleaning out the bilges. The ship was on the equator and down below couldn't have been much under 120 degrees, so when the prisoners asked for water, Connie always let them have some. The corporal of the guard said they were allowed to drink water only on schedule, not on request.

Connie disagreed. These weren't felons. They were usually just run of the mill screw ups who'd screwed up once too often. Connie soon found himself before the captain, getting hell. He quoted the manual to the captain: "Prisoners are in the brig AS punishment, not FOR punishment." So much for brig duty.

We discussed the allegations that we'd just been hearing about Iraq. "Maybe brigs are more humane now," he said. "After all, soldiers today are better educated, better trained. But considering human nature, I doubt it. Look at how we treated our own over minor offenses." As the details come out, we find the lower nature of soldiers being given further impetus by those in command--FBI, CIA and other unnamed intelligence agencies.

The details are sickening, and those in The Guardian article Joe Bruemmer posted are especially graphic. But beyond the question of what happened is why it happened. One of the accused guards, Frederick, "makes clear that the abuse was not only for pleasure but was regarded as part of interrogations led by U.S. intelligence and private contractors in the prison." ("Private contractors"? No, they're mercenaries, and I agree with Joe that they should be outlawed globally.) But regardless of which particular villains are behind it, Amnesty International found a "pattern of torture." Of course, the U.S. top brass deny allegations of systemic abuse. Dan Senor says there will be a "full and aggressive" investigation. "Careers will be ended and criminal charges are going to be leveled." Umm-hmm.

Meanwhile the 30 year old man in an AP story this morning says he and others were humiliated, stripped naked and made "to feel as though we were women . . . and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman." Okay, he and other Muslim men lost most of my sympathy right there. But let's not stray too far from the point: he had been imprisoned twice and beaten under Saddam. He was grateful when the U.S. arrived. Now we have another enemy.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

Lt. Governor Race-Missouri

The candidates are both outstanding.

Bekki Cook is the former Secretary of State and from Cape Giradeau. As Secretary of State she replaced an impeached office holder and was appointed by Mel Carnahan. She immediately turned the office around and instituted the first website ever for this office.

She was reelected in her own right and has an excellent reputation.

Senator Ken Jacob is currently the Minority Leader in the Missouri Senate. As leader of the minority he has become an expert in filibusters to slow down Senate action on Catherine Hanaway's Missouri House cruel legislation cutting Medicaid and health insurance for kids. A recent example was adjourning the Senate for a day while Republican Senators were off the floor.

Ken was elected to the MO House in 1984 from Columbia and has served in the General Assembly ever since.

If the position were solely an Executive Position, Bekki Cook would be the best candidate. These functions include membership on the Board of Public Buildings, Board of Fund commissioners, MO Finance Development Board, MO Housing Development Commission, MO Rural Economic Development Commission and the MO Tourism Commision. The Lt. Governor also acts as Governor when the Governor is out of state and succeeds the Governor upon his death.

The other Major duty is to preside over the Missouri Senate on a daily basis. When the general assembly is controlled by Republicans, this duty is of great importance.

Due to the mean legislation now being enacted by Republicans, I believe Ken Jacob is the person we should support.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

All right, George, being omnipotent, I couldn't help but notice Frontline's program on your born again love of the three of us. I was embarrassed for you, George, and more than a little annoyed at the way you sully my reputation.

Let me enlighten you. Extramarital sex and drunkenness are way down on the list of things I disapprove of, a few miles below cheating on a national scale to enrich your already obscenely wealthy friends. Keep in mind what I told the rich young ruler, that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Furthermore, you're blithely degrading my creation. It's bad enough the damage that's already been done. How dare you make it worse! And then there's that war in which thousands of people are dying so you can strut around in a flight suit. And don't give me that business about Saddam being part of the axis of evil.

You just straighten up your own act. Stop lying hourly to hide all your many sins. Stop being so self satisfied and try a little REAL humility.

Here's the odd part. I laid it out in both Testaments how I wanted you to behave. How can you fail to notice how many commandments you break, on a grand scale, every day? How can you be so dense, George? How? Don't forget, Lucifer thought he was hot stuff, too. He and I came to a parting of ways, and right now you are strolling down HIS path, not mine.

GOD