Sunday, July 31, 2005

Yes, indeedy, Matt Blunt is playing with the big boys now.

With her usual whimsical flair, Molly Ivins zeroes in on a common initial reaction to John Roberts:
My first reaction to Roberts was: "Sounds like that's about as good as we can get. Quick, affirm him before they nominate Bork, Bolton or Pinochet." A conservative with good manners and no known nutball decisions or statements on his record? Hey, take him. At least he's not (whew!) a member of the Federalist Society.

The reason Ivins thought Roberts wasn't a member is that he sorta, kinda "forgot" to mention it. Actually, he was on the steering committee of the Federalist Society in '97-98.
So Roberts already looks disingenuous at best, and then the White House ups and decides it's entirely too risky to let the public in on his record as a government lawyer and refuses to release documents requested.
Excuuuuuse me, that is public record. Roberts worked for us, he was paid by the taxpayers, this is not a matter of national security. Where does this White House get off pulling this kind of stuff? Right away, it looks like they're trying to cover something up. Lawyer-client privilege? Are they nuts? Everyone's first reaction is, so what's he guilty of?

What he's guilty of is being a member of an ultra-conservative, extreme right wing organization:
Alfred Ross, of the institute of Democracy Studies, explains that "...if one goes through the publications of their practice groups, one can only gasp not only at the breadth of their agenda, but the extremism of their ideology."
The society has argued for the abolition of the Securities and Exchange Commission, severely limiting the Environmental Protection Agency, and rolling back gender equity laws (Title IX) and voting rights law. Its publications have criticized teaching evolution and attacked the principle of separation of church and state.
According to Ross, they recently launched a state judicial selection project to try to dominate the state, as well as federal, bench. This is all standard, ultra-right-wing claptrap. It's all about control.
If we can't shake loose the actual records on John Roberts, we certainly should pay attention to the group he's most identified with.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

217-215. That's how close the CAFTA vote was in the House. It would have been defeated without the help of 15 "Democratic" turncoats. Jonathan Tasini's article "Spanking the CAFTA Fifteen" explains why the vote matters and what labor should do about the defectors.
The treaty, like NAFTA before it, sucks jobs out of our economy. As William Greider pointed out a couple of weeks ago: "Germany and Japan, despite vast differences, both manage to keep advanced manufacturing sectors anchored at home and to defend domestic wage levels and social guarantees." We don't. Tasini is on the same protect our jobs page as Greider:
Trade is not just a single issue. So-called “free trade” is shaping the economy, here and abroad—it is the central issue upon which other economic policy issues revolve. To overlook a politician’s vote on trade means turning a blind eye to the legislative tool most responsible for shifting the power of self-determination from the hands of citizens to the corporate boardrooms of global capitalism.

Tasini notes that the national president of the fire fighters' association organized a protest against CAFTA. Instead of shrugging the treaty off as not affecting the jobs of his union members (firefighting cannot be outsourced), he understood that the loss of jobs helps push down wages and benefits throughout this economy.
But what's done is done. Maybe so, but if labor had taken action to punish renegade Democrats after NAFTA, maybe, twelve years later, CAFTA wouldn't have passed. Tasini recommends a spanking:
... For God’s sake, shouldn’t we at least cut off money to people who won’t stick up for the future economic livelihood of millions of workers?
Labor must declare immediately that unions will deny the CAFTA 15 their support. That means that, come campaign season, the CAFTA 15 will not find a single check in their mailboxes, nor receive an endorsement to grace their campaign literature, nor count on union members to make the thousands of phone calls or house visits that turn out voters. Let’s find primary opponents for each one.
Few politicians are guided by deep principle. Most understand one thing: power. And, just as important, once tasted, the absence of power is an enormously effective motivator. Nothing focuses the mind of a politician more than the thought of losing his or her seat. If labor had taken out one or two Democrats who voted for NAFTA more than a decade ago, I suspect that the CAFTA 15 might have numbered two or three—or maybe none.
The time for hardball politics is now.

Note: Ike Skelton is the only Missourian on the list.

"They keep talking about drafting a constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore."
George Carlin

Thursday, July 28, 2005

PAY ATTENTION. Heed and act on the following Free Press letter. (Pardon my imperious tone, but this issue is critical.) I've boldfaced the two most important paragraphs in the letter.
By the way, before you contact the FCC, you might want to review the information about Comcast in the July 18 blog.
If you're fed up with constant cable rate hikes, poor service and a lack of local and independent programming, the FCC needs to hear from you -- right now.
The FCC may allow the three largest cable companies to control up to 90 percent of the cable TV and broadband market in the United States.
Cable costs are growing at more than five times the rate of inflation. But giant cable companies aren’t content to merely gouge you. As they control access to more American homes, big cable will have final say over the shows and channels you can watch.
In the future, video, telephone and Internet services will all be provided via the same "pipes." Giants like Comcast and Time Warner -- which are poised to get even bigger if the FCC approves their takeover of Adelphia -- are positioning themselves to be the ultimate gatekeepers of the media you’re allowed to access and create.
Tell the FCC not to give more monopoly control to cable giants.
The FCC needs to hear from you. Act now to stop the consolidation of the cable industry.
Robert W. McChesney
Free Press
P.S. The FCC needs to hear from thousands of concerned citizens. Please forward this message to everyone you know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Katha Pollitt of The Nation is forcing me to eat some ill-considered words. On July 11, I wrote: "Call me a shortsighted if you will, but abortion is a minor issue. In fact, if Roe v. Wade were reversed, Republicans would suffer. Their main snare for suckering people away from the Democrats would evaporate." Don't bother calling me shortsighted. I'll do it for you.
As Pollitt pointed out, overturning Roe would open the issue in fifty state legislatures. If you think the nation's divided over abortion now, wait till you see that brouhaha. Sure, New York and California would legalize abortion and many others would not. In fact, that was the trend in 1970. New York was easing its ban on abortion, which meant that well-to-do women, no matter where they lived, could travel and get one, but many poor women were out of luck. The disparity is what drove the court to rule as it did in 1973. If Roe were overturned, the same disparity would exist again, with consequences not just for the women involved. I've reported on this blog before that a study done by two university social scientists discovered that twenty years after Roe, the crime rate dropped across the nation. Forcing women to have children they don't want or can't adequately care for has consequences for all of us.
We can't hand the right Roe v. Wade in hopes of watching them stew in their own juices. We're going to have to fight to keep it and find ways to talk to all those who aren't right wing zealots. In that regard, I think Howard Dean has the idea. On May 25, I quoted him:
When I campaigned for this job [as DNC Chair], I talked to lots of Democrats. And there are significant numbers of pro-life Democrats in the South. And one lady said to me, you know, “I’m pro-life. I don’t like abortion. I would never have one. I would hope my daughter would never have one. But, you know, if the lady next door got herself in a fix, I’m not sure I should be the one to tell her what to do.” Now, we call that woman pro-choice, but she thinks of herself as pro-life. The minute we start with the “pro-choice, pro- choice, pro-choice,” she says, “Well, that’s not me.”
But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is “Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets,” then that pro-life woman says “Well, now, you know, I’ve had people try to make up my mind for me and I don’t think that’s right.” This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds: the politicians or the individual. Democrats are for the individual. We believe in individual rights. We believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. And that debate is one that we didn’t win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.

We must argue our case with tact and shrewd tactics--and hope that the Court doesn't do a 180 on abortion.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Beth Maskow wanted you to see E.L. Doctorow's critique of Bush's uncompassionate conservatism. I especially appreciate Doctorow's final sentence.
An Essay on President Bush and Death --- by E.L Doctorow
Edgar Lawrence Doctorow occupies a central position in the history of American literature. He is generally considered to be among the most talented, ambitious, and admired novelists of the second half of the twentieth century. Doctorow has received the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howell Medal of the
American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the residentially conferred National Humanities Medal.
Doctorow was born in New York City on January 6, 1931. After graduating with honors from Kenyon College in 1952, he did graduate work at Columbia University and served in the U.S. Army. Doctorow was senior editor for New American Library from 1959 to 1964 and then served as editor in chief at Dial Press until 1969. Since then, he has devoted his time to writing and teaching. He holds the Glucksman Chair in American Letters at New York University and over the years has taught at several institutions, including Yale University Drama School, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of California, Irvine.

I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be.
On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.
But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn.
He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead men and women who wanted to be what they could be.
They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life...they come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.
How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it.
So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options, but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.
This president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing --- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate.
And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children.
He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead; he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty; he does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance; he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills; it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does not feel.
But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.
And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it. But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneously aroused over-soul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world most of the time.
But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.
The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.
Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective war-making, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I seldom care for puns, but the one in the title of Greg Palast's column about Judy Miller uses wordplay to emphasize truth:

Tell us your "source," Judy
Not published in The New York Times
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
By Greg Palast

The only thing more evil, small-minded and treasonous than the Bush Administration's jailing Judith Miller for a crime the Bush Administration committed, is Judith Miller covering up her Bush Administration "source."

Judy, Karl Rove ain't no "source." A confidential source -- and I've worked with many -- is an insider ready to put himself on the line to blow the whistle on an official lie or hidden danger. I would protect a source's name with my life and fortune as would any journalist who's not a craven jerk (the Managing Editor of Time Magazine comes to mind).

But the weasel who whispered "Valerie Plame" in Miller's ear was no source. Whether it was Karl Rove or some other Rove-tron inside the Bush regime (and no one outside Bush's band would have had this information), this was an official using his official info to commit a crime for the sole purpose of punishing a real whistleblower, Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband, for questioning our President's mythological premise for war in Iraq.

New York Times reporter Miller and her paper would rather she go to prison for four months than identify their "source." Why?

Part of her oddball defense is that The Times never ran the story about Wilson's wife. They get no points for that. The Times should have run the story with the headline: BUSH OPERATIVE COMMITS FELONY TO PUNISH WHISTLEBLOWER. The lead paragraph should have been, "Today, Mr. K--- R--- [or other slime ball as appropriate] attempted to plant sensitive intelligence information on The New York Times, a felony offense, in an attempt to harm former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who challenged the President's claim regarding Iraq's nuclear program."

A Karl Rove or Rove-like creature peddling a back-door smear doesn't make him a source. Miller's real crime is not concealing a source, but burying the story. A reporter should never, ever give notes to a grand jury, but this information is something The Times owes the public, not the prosecutors.

Why didn't The Times run this story? Why not now? Who are they covering for and why?

Maybe the problem for The Times is that this is the same "source" that used Miller to promote, as fact, her ersatz report before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam truly had nukes and bugs and chemicals he could launch at Los Angeles. That "source" too needs publication, Judy. ....

Miller and The Times have been all too willing to play Izvestia to the Bush's Kremlinesque prevarications. And that is what Miller is protecting: the evil called "access."

Might I add that Judy Miller, far from being the only one who commits this journalistic sin, is only one of that cowed group called the mainstream press.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Besides Rove/Plame, another "old news" story is coming to a head. Daily Kos reprinted these paragraphs from The Boston Herald, May 8th, 2004:
Signaling the worst revelations are yet to come, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the additional photos show "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman." [...]

The unreleased images show American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys, according to NBC News.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the scandal is "going to get worse" and warned that the most "disturbing" revelations haven't yet been made public.

Notice the date: 2004. The administration has so far managed to censor those pictures, and in this country (unlike others around the globe) the media refuses to discuss the issue without the pictures. In the blog "Sodomizing Children. For Freedom." Kos bemoans the way our press hogties itself:
I'm tired of all of it. Just tired. I'm tired because the rest of the world has known this for a year, and we refuse to discuss it in this country. And in truth, we can't discuss it in this country without the (heavily censored) pictures, because without the pictures, the horrible, horrible actual pictures, the loathsome, brick-stupid f---ing news media doesn't see a story. And without the pictures, every bloated, pill-popping, corpse-like Rush Limbaugh clone in America will continue to claim it's all lies, all exaggerated, all phony.

Because, God f---ing knows, we would never even abuse even an inanimate Koran, and God help you if you report such a thing without the very pictures to see it happening before your eyes.

So why don't we have the pictures? A year ago, five civil rights groups sued to make them public and have been frantically held off in court since then. In June the administration asked to be given a month to redact the faces of those in the videos to protect the innocent. When the month was up, the administration asked that the videos not be released for the sake of safety for the individuals involved. The court has not ruled on that yet. Knowing the photos will inevitably come out, some Republican senators actually want to legislate stiffer rules for humane treatment of prisoners. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and John Warner plan an amendment to the $442 billion defense bill, but BUSH THREATENS TO VETO THE BILL if any such amendment is attached. Kos again:
Yes, according to the Bush administration, any attempts by Republican senators to legislate against, say, the sodomizing of detained children are unduly infringing on the president's fight against terrorists.

Senator Talent, who is on the Armed Services Committee (and has presumably seen the pictures), has had nothing to say about the issue, nor has Bond. But you can put in your two cents and see that our senators hear it. The People's E-Mail Network (PEN) is circulating a petition. (You'll have to erase my info.)
Let's see: Rove/Plame, the horrors of Iraq, the Downing Street Memo and now this. How many elements does it take to make a perfect storm?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

In case your eyes glazed over when you began reading the news article Friday about China floating the yuan (or in case you knew enough not to start reading it), here's a left-wing, down-to-earth economist,Greg Palast, to give you the scoop.
Friday Jul 22, 2005
by Greg Palast

In case you haven't the least idea what the heck it means for China to "float" its currency, let me put it in the language we economists use: China's float don't mean squat.

Yet our President, a guy whose marks in Economics 101 are too embarrassing to publish here, ran out to hail the fact that buying Chinese money will now cost more dollars.

The White House line to the media, swallowed whole, is that by making Chinese money (yuan) more expensive to buy with dollars, Americans will buy fewer computers and toys from China -- and US employment will rise.

This will happen when we find Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Economics Lesson #1: You can't change the value of goods by changing the value of the currency on the price tag. As my comrade Art Laffer wrote me, "If cheap currency makes your products more competitive, all automobiles would be made in Russia." Driven a Lada lately?

Economics Lesson #2: Don't take economics lessons from George Bush. Or Milton Friedman. Or Thomas Friedman. What that means, class, is don't believe the big, hot pile of hype that China's zooming economy is the result of that Red nation's adopting free market economic policies.

If China is now a capitalist free-market state, then I'm Mariah Carey. China's economy has soared because it stubbornly refused the Free – and Friedman-Market mumbo-jumbo that government should stop controlling, owning and regulating industry.

China's announcement that it would raise the cost of the yuan covered over a more important notice that China would bar foreign control of its steel sector. China's leaders have built a powerhouse steel industry larger than ours by directing the funding, output, location and ownership of all factories. And rather than "freeing" the industry through opening their borders to foreign competition, the Chinese, for steel and every other product, have shut their borders tight to foreigners except as it suits China’s own needs.

China won't join NAFTA or CAFTA or any of those free-trade clubs. In China, Chinese industry comes first. And it's still, Mssrs. Friedman, the Peoples’ republic. Those Wal-Mart fashion designs called, chillingly, "New Order," are made in factories owned by the PLA, the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army.

In an interview just before he won the Nobel Prize in economics, Joe Stiglitz explained to me that China's huge financial surge -- a stunning 9.5% jump in GDP this year -- began with the government's funding and nurturing rural cooperatives, fledgling industry protected behind high, high trade barriers.

It is true that China's growth got a boost from ending the bloodsoaked self-flagellating madness of Mao's Cultural Revolution. And China, when it chooses, makes use of markets and market pricing to distribute resources. However, Chinese markets are as free as my kids: they can do whatever they want unless I say they can't.

Yes, China is adopting elements of "capitalism." And that's the ugly part: real estate speculation in Shanghai making millionaires of Communist party boss relatives and bank shenanigans worthy of a Neil Bush.

It is not the Guangdong skyscrapers and speculative bubble which allows China to sell us $162 billion more goods a year than we sell them. It is that China's government, by rejecting free-market fundamentalism, can easily conquer American markets where protection is now deemed passé.

And that is why the yuan has kicked the dollar's butt.

America’s only response is to have Alan Greenspan push up real interest rates so we can buy back our own dollars the Chinese won in the export game. The domestic result: US wages drifting down to Mexican maquiladora levels.

Am I praising China? Forget about it. This is one evil dictatorship which jails union organizers and beats, shackles and tortures those who don't kowtow to the wishes of Chairman Rob -- Wal-Mart chief Robson Walton. (Funny how Mr. Bush never mentions the D-word, Democracy, to our Chinese suppliers.)

Class dismissed.

P.S. My apologies that yesterday's "New Rules" link didn't work. I just discovered that it didn't, so if you'd like to listen, use this link, then scroll down to Maher's picture and click on New Rules.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Aside from The Daily Show, the most amusing and honest take on modern politics is Bill Maher's "New Rules". If you've never heard a segment, give yourself a humor break. (Parental Warning: There's one objectionable word in here, so if you object to cussing, you might want to pass.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree
with them."
- George Bush

I realize that not everyone is talented with language and that there are many kinds of intelligence. Any car mechanic can make me feel like a dolt. So I ask myself, do statements like the one above prove that Bush is stupid? He's smart enough to play the good ole boy to perfection. He's smart enough to follow the advice of smart slimeballs like Rove. After he blew the first debate last fall, he shaped up and acquitted himself much more convincingly in the last two.

Obviously Bush's grip on the language is tenuous, one of the few things about him that amuses me. But it isn't proof positive that he's stupid. His self-righteous arrogance, on the other hand, is less amusing, and about that trait I have no doubts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

America has more than a trade deficit; it has a truth deficit. So says William Greider, writing in The New York Times.
You can't keep spending more than you earn. It's as true for nations as it is for any household, and other advanced nations DON'T. The U.S., though, not only spends more than it earns, it has refused to talk about the problem. When Warren Buffett warned that the United States is on its way to being, not "an ownership society" but "a sharecropper society", Washington elites ignored him. But the truth has a way of insisting on being noticed. "Now that [our debt] is too large to deny," Greider says, "they concede that the trend is 'unsustainable'. That's an economist's euphemism which means: things cannot go on like this, not without ugly consequences for American living standards."
In one sense, only Americans are suffering from this trade (and truth) deficit.
Western Europe, whatever its problems, manages economic policy to maintain modest trade surpluses. Japan manages to insure far larger surpluses in recessions (its export income subsidizes inefficient domestic employers). China strives to acquire a larger, more advanced industrial base at the expense of worker incomes and bank profits. Germany and Japan, despite vast differences, both manage to keep advanced manufacturing sectors anchored at home and to defend domestic wage levels and social guarantees. When they do disperse production and jobs overseas, as they must, they do so strategically.

By contrast, Washington gives our multinationals a free hand, so they are raking in the profits. Wages here suffer as jobs are outsourced to the poorest countries without regard for the consequences on our economy.
American producers are generally free - and even encouraged by Washington - to shift production to low-wage locations. Companies regularly use this cost-cutting technique as a competitive weapon without regard to the domestic consequences. The practice works for companies and investors, but not so well for a nation.

Our country is like others worldwide, though, in one important respect: wages are depressed across the globe even as more and more capital accumulates in the hands of a few. As John Kenneth Galbraith once noted: "Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason." It is myopic not to pay workers enough so that they can afford to purchase your goods. It's stupid to let your greed destroy your market. Greider feels that "governments must together shift the balance of power so labor incomes can rise in step with rising productivity and profits." In order to prevent global recessions and financial crises, the United States needs to lead in giving workers the world over a bigger share of the pie; and for its own good, the U.S. needs to rein in the damage our multinationals are doing to our citizenry.
Unfortunately, since our government is controlled by myopic corporations, such reform is unlikely.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hundreds of lobbyists, acting as pimps for corporate America, have designed a series of new bills and Republican whores in Congress are ready to prostitute themselves by voting in favor of them:
Let's consider first the prospective loss of hundreds of thousands more American jobs. CAFTA is NAFTA extended to the bottom of Central America, with results just as detrimental to our workers as the Clinton trade treaty was. The House is scheduled to vote on CAFTA July 28. You can let your representative know what you think of this bill by clicking here.
Then there's the Energy bill, which has two provisions that will cost ordinary taxpayers a hunk of change. The first is repeal of PUHCA. I'll let Molly Ivins explain it:
We are about to repeat one of the huge mistakes of the 1920s and '30s because we have forgotten why PUHCA (pronounced Pooka) was instituted in the first place. PUHCA is the Public Utility Holding Company Act, passed in 1935, which prevents concentration of ownership of power plants. Both the House and Senate versions of the energy bill contain a repeal of PUHCA.
As Kelpie Wilson points out in an article for Truthout, "For 50 years we have had reliable, cheap electric power that has allowed strong economic growth, and no PUHCA-regulated energy holding company has ever gone broke."
PUHCA was partially repealed in the '90s, and even that much deregulation was part of what led to Enron, Westar and other slight mishaps.
PUHCA puts utilities under strict regulation by both state and federal governments. It restricts ownership of utilities to public or private companies that are in the business of producing power.
The most likely candidates to take over power companies are the big oil companies, now awash in cash. There goes the electrical grid: Why fix it when you can charge more for doing nothing?

And speaking of all those oil profits, the framers of the Energy bill are determined to protect every last cent of it for Exxon and Mobil. The People's E-Mail Network (PEN) explains the second trick the whores will turn:
This year again the administration is trying to deliver a huge payoff
to their corrupt oil company campaign contributors, absolving them of
any future liability for polluting our water supplies with MTBE, an
insidious smelly solvent infiltrating water systems all over the country.
Let me get this straight, the oil industry, which is rolling in so much
windfall profits cash that their biggest problem is they don't know what to do
with it, THAT oil industry can't afford to clean up after their
environmental disasters? This measure barely passed the house but not in the
Senate and will now be settled in conference.

PEN makes it easy to register a protest on these two issues.
And finally, to make it easier for Republicans to continue getting elected so that they can do the bidding of their procurers, they are rolling back the campaign finance laws on soft money. Public Citizen has the story:
This legislation not only would legalize unlimited “soft money” once again by repealing parts of the recently passed Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, it would even erase some of the critical reforms enacted in 1974 after the Watergate scandal. Richard Nixon and Tom DeLay would both love this bill.
Here’s one flagrant example: Currently, wealthy individuals can give a total of no more than $101,400 to all candidates and parties in a two-year election cycle. The Ney-Pence-Wynn bill would raise this limit to $3 MILLION – a 30-fold increase. Imagine the corruption that a lobbyist for the big drug companies or the energy industry could buy with that kind of money!

Mainstream media usually just love a good sex scandal, but they won't touch these. I read about them on the internet, not in the newspaper. The brother and sister who got kidnapped in, what was it, Montana? The Post is still writing about them, but the New-Pince-Wynn bill? Nada.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Now that I've started typing this, I've finally closed my mouth, but I was agog at a Common Dreams article that United for Peace and Justice e-mailed. (By the way, United for Peace and Justice is one of the organizations mentioned in a news article today about how FBI anti-terrorist units monitored protest groups before the Republican convention last summer.)

Below is a summary of the article:
COMMENTARY: Comcast & Symantec blocked pro-impeachment e-mail without telling anyone
Written by Abe DeJamminen
Sunday, 17 July 2005
Will you receive this and be able to read it? -- It all depends on the whims of the gods at Comcast and Symantec, it turns out. -- David Swanson, a co-founder of After Downing Street and a writer and activist, discovered last week that Comcast was, without notifying the parties concerned, blocking "any Email with '' in the body of the Email," on the grounds that they had received thousands of complaints (of which they refused to produce even one). -- As a result, the effort to organize July 23 impeachment houseparties has been significantly impeded. -- Since "Comcast has a near monopoly on high-speed internet service in much of this country, including much of the Washington, D.C., area," writes Swanson, "Many members of the media and many people involved in politics rely on it. . . . Comcast effectively censors discussion of particular political topics, and impedes the ability of people to associate with each other, with absolutely no compulsion to explain itself." ...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

An article in the Sunday New York Times describes the shift among Washington Democrats toward consciously framing ideas in order to stop two Republican initiatives in their tracks:
By the time Washington's attention turned to the Supreme Court earlier this month, rejuvenated Democrats actually believed they had developed the rhetorical skill, if it came to that, to thwart the president's plans for the court. That a party so thoroughly relegated to minority status might dictate the composition of the Supreme Court would seem to mock the hard realities of history and mathematics, but that is how much faith the Democrats now held in the power of a compelling story. ''In a way, it feels like all the systemic improvements we've made in communications strategy over the past few months have been leading to this,'' Jim Jordan, one of the party's top strategists, said a few days after Sandra Day O'Connor announced her resignation. ''This will be an extraordinarily sophisticated, well-orchestrated, intense fight. And our having had some run-throughs over the past few months will be extremely important.''
The most critical run-through for Democrats, in light of the test ahead, was the defense of the filibuster, and for that reason, it offers some useful clues to how Democrats may try to frame the Supreme Court fight as well. The battle began late last fall, when Senate Republicans, feeling pretty good about themselves, started making noises about ramming judges through the Senate by stripping Democrats of their ability to filibuster, a plan the Republican senators initially called ''the nuclear option.'' The fight was nominally over Bush's choices for the federal bench, but everyone knew it was in fact merely a prelude to the battle over the Supreme Court; the only way for Democrats to stop a confirmation vote would be to employ the filibuster.
In January, Geoff Garin conducted a confidential poll on judicial nominations, paid for by a coalition of liberal advocacy groups. He was looking for a story -- a frame -- for the filibuster that would persuade voters that it should be preserved, and he tested four possible narratives. Democratic politicians assumed that voters saw the filibuster fight primarily as a campaign to stop radically conservative judges, as they themselves did. But to their surprise, Garin found that making the case on ideological grounds -- that is, that the filibuster prevented the appointment of judges who would roll back civil rights -- was the least effective approach. When, however, you told voters that the filibuster had been around for over 200 years, that Republicans were ''changing rules in the middle of the game'' and dismantling the ''checks and balances'' that protected us against one-party rule, almost half the voters strongly agreed, and 7 out of 10 were basically persuaded. It became, for them, an issue of fairness.
Garin then convened focus groups and listened for clues about how to make this case. He heard voters call the majority party ''arrogant.'' They said they feared ''abuse of power.'' This phrase struck Garin. He realized many people had already developed deep suspicions about Republicans in Washington. Garin shared his polling with a group of Democratic senators that included Harry Reid, the minority leader. Reid, in turn, assigned Stephanie Cutter, who was Kerry's spokeswoman last year, to put together a campaign-style ''war room'' on the filibuster. Cutter set up a strategy group, which included senior Senate aides, Garin, the pollster Mark Mellman and Jim Margolis, one of the party's top ad makers. She used Garin's research to create a series of talking points intended to cast the filibuster as an American birthright every bit as central to the Republic as Fourth of July fireworks. The talking points began like this: ''Republicans are waging an unprecedented power grab. They are changing the rules in the middle of the game and attacking our historic system of checks and balances.'' They concluded, ''Democrats are committed to fighting this abuse of power.''
Cutter's war room began churning out mountains of news releases hammering daily at the G.O.P.'s ''abuse of power.'' In an unusual show of discipline, Democrats in the Senate and House carried laminated, pocket-size message cards -- ''DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY, AGAINST ABUSE OF POWER,'' blared the headline at the top -- with the talking points on one side and some helpful factoids about Bush's nominees on the other. During an appearance on ''This Week With George Stephanopoulos'' in April, Senator Charles Schumer of New York needed all of 30 seconds to invoke the ''abuse of power'' theme -- twice.

The article is lengthy but thought provoking and informative. For example, the author, Matt Bai, wonders whether the Democrats' desire for quick fixes is tempting them to oversimplify Lakoff's ideas and even whether Lakoff himself contributes to that tendency. Furthermore, Bai submits the possibility that Democrats need better policy ideas than they have had and that no amount of linguistic facility will compensate for a dearth of ideas. For example the 1994 Republican "Contract With America" offered provocative ideas like reforming welfare and slashing budget deficits. The current Democratic agenda is vaguer, for example making health care affordable for everyone and fully funding education. Bai likens those plans, metaphorically, to a cotton ball--same old familiar fluff. Who could disagree with those proposals, but what do they really mean?
I don't necessarily agree with Bai's criticism, but I appreciated his thoughtful approach to a crucial subject, so I found his article worth taking the time to read carefully.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A classic novella called "The Picture of Dorian Gray" depicts a beautiful young man who never ages. On an easel in his studio sits a self portrait, always covered. As the years pass, only the portrait shows Dorian Gray's true age and his corrupt soul. Our wholesome-looking, handsome young governor reminds me of Dorian, handsome and every bit as corrupt.
This month alone he has signed three bills that hurt consumers and protect his business cronies. A Post-Dispatch editorial condemns them:
GOV. MATT BLUNT poked consumers with his bill-signing pen this week, and quite a few ordinary Missourians will be yelling ouch because of it.
The governor signed into law a bill that will help squeeze low-price discounters out of the home real estate business. He signed another that will make it harder for new home buyers to sue builders. And he topped it off with another that will help insurance companies hide misdeeds from nosy reporters and plaintiffs lawyers.
In all, it was a grand slam for business lobbyists in our state capital.

Blunt is even thumbing his nose at his own legislature by vetoing an ethics bill they passed overwhelmingly. Since he's due up before the Ethics Commission next month on a campaign finance beef initiated by the State Democratic Party, Fired Up theorizes that he's making a political point before facing the tribunal for accepting an illegal contribution from his Transportation Commissioner, Mike Kehoe:
By vetoing their bill, Blunt was flexing his gubernatorial power in full view of the Ethics Commission. If he can kill their legislation, what else could he do to them? Perhaps the Commission will think twice before taking enforcement action against Blunt and Kehoe.
And what if the Commission hangs tough, does its job and holds Blunt and Kehoe responsible for their illegal activity? Blunt's veto last week provides him his talking points: "The Ethics Commission's action today is petty retribution for my recent veto of their flawed legislation.”

Then there's all the pork he's shoving at Johnson Controls, but I'll spare you the details. Let me just say that this is the Show Me state and Blunt is showing us exactly how corrupt he is. He flaunts it and turns arrogant when State Auditor Claire McCaskill tries to do her job. Again, Fired Up:
State Auditor Claire McCaskill met with Gov. Blunt yesterday in an attempt to get his Department of Revenue to stop stonewalling on her requests for information.
McCaskill's office is aggressively monitoring the Blunt Administration, just as she did the previous three Democratic administrations. The whining of the Blunt folks to the contrary is just that, political whining.
The Blunt Administration simply does not believe that they are accountable to the public for their actions. They give away contracts to their buddies, and then if someone wants to know if they gave state equipment too, Blunt's people ask in a huff, "Why is that any of your business?"

During the legislative session, Blunt's flagrant disregard for most Missourians registered in the consciousness of voters. His approval ratings plummeted to 33 percent. Unfortunately, his latest sins are getting less press. He's edged up to 35 percent.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Arianna Huffington neatly exposes Bush's schizoid thinking about terrorism:
Well, there goes that theory...
Odds are we probably won't be hearing for a while the Bush mantra that the reason we're fighting them over in Iraq is so we don't have to fight them here at home. For the last few months, this ludicrous shibboleth has been the president's go-to line -- his latest rationale for slogging on in Iraq.
Here he was on July 4th: "We're taking the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home." ...
The attacks in London proved how absurd this either/or logic is when fighting this kind of hydra-headed enemy.
Not only was this flypaper theory empirically disproved by the London carnage, it directly contradicts the president's other most often used justification for the war -- that we invaded to liberate the Iraqi people. So let me get this straight: we invaded them to liberate them... and to use them as bait to attract terrorists who we could fight on the streets of Baghdad rather than the streets of London and New York?

Actually the "fight-them-there-so-we-don't-have-to-fight-them-here" canard is just a corollary of the bigger lie: "They hate us because of our freedom." Tony Blair echoed that thought after the London bombings when he said "They will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear." Mr. Blair, they don't give a good hoot about destroying what you hold dear. That's not why they bombed you. They're not trying to destroy your liberty or ours. They're trying to get us out of their part of the world.
The Post-Dispatch recently made that point clear by citing University of Chicago political scientist Robert A. Pape, whose new book:
Dying to Win: the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, reports the results of the first systematic survey, funded in part by the Department of Defense, of all 315 suicide terrorist attacks that occurred between 1980 and 2003.
His conclusions:
--Religion is often used as a tool for recruiting by terrorist organizations but is rarely the root cause of terrorism.
--The overwhelming majority of suicide terrorist attacks are not expressions of blind hate but instead the manifestation of political objectives, most often the expulsion of foreign armies of occupation.
--The U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states was the most important factor spawning the 9/11 attacks.
--The "sustained presence of heavy American combat forces in Muslim countries," including Iraq, "is likely to increase the odds of the next 9/11.

Four sentences sum up Pape's conclusions, and yet getting that simple message through the thick skulls of Bush and Blair is like trying to prevent some catastrophe in a bad dream, one where our leaders stride with bland smiles toward doom while we slog through waist-high wet cement, screaming with silent voices. Maybe one of these nights, that nightmare will turn to sweet dreams: I'll reach George Bush, shake the living bejeebers out of him, and awaken him to the nightmare he has created, a nightmare in which thousands of deaths have served only to heighten the tension and hatred between Muslims and Westerners.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mainstream media, owned by the wealthy, has always dragged its feet about exposing the high crimes and misdemeanors of those in power. They and the ruling elite had about fifty "smoking guns" regarding Watergate before--fearful of serious public disorder--they decided to "discover" THE tape that was used to impeach Nixon. Everybody had known Tricky Dick was guilty. That was old news.
Thirty-one years later, with another presidential felon still in office, the media is doing a foot-dragging redux, claiming Bush's misbehavior is just an old story. I mean, everybody knew he was fibbing about trying to avoid war with those U.N. sanctions. Quit making such a commotion about it.
Some of us aren't having their soothing, parental attitude. With the blogosphere fomenting unrest, the press is having a harder time stonewalling us with the "old story" line. In fact, has collected more than 500,000 signatures to an impeachment petition. They hope to have at least twice that number before September 24. That's the date for which they and anti-war groups have obtained permits for a mass protest on both sides of the White House. said in their most recent newsletter:
[R]ecent polls show a dramatic spike in support for impeachment. According to the most recent Zogby Poll, 42% of voters - 25% of whom consider themselves Republicans - would support impeachment if Bush lied about Iraq. The tide is clearly turning, but we need to work with ever-greater vigor.

If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition.

Monday, July 11, 2005

From the inception of this nation, an undercurrent--sometimes a powerful undertow--of disagreement has tugged at us about the wisdom of giving ordinary people too much power, and nowhere has that conflict been more apparent than in the Supreme Court. The Federalists felt that Hamilton had it right when he told Washington, "Sir, your people is a beast." So they were gratified when a unanimous 1803 Supreme Court decision in the case of Marbury v. Madison took power from the legislature, the people's representatives, and gave it to the Supreme Court. The constitution had not granted that court the power to decide which laws were or weren't constitutional. The Court, under the Federalist Chief Justice Marshall, decided that the Supreme Court DID have that power. In other words, the court rewrote the constitution by fiat. Jefferson was horrified. He wrote Abigail Adams that if the court was filled by the wrong people, "it would make the judiciary a despotic branch."
But for better or worse, the Court prevailed on this issue. It surely did lasting damage to our democracy, for example, when it ruled that corporations be granted protection as "persons" under the fourteenth amendment. The fourteenth was written after the Civil War to grant blacks the rights of citizenship, but at the end of the nineteenth century, the Court allowed corporations to hijack the amendment, gaining rights as individuals that were corrosive to our economy and our democracy.
Since the New Deal era, on the other hand, the Court has often affirmed the rights of ordinary citizens and so gained the support of political liberals. Many of us are puzzled, therefore, and even outraged, at right-wing carping about "judicial activism". And indeed, if the courts were packed with conservative judges, no doubt right-wingers would zip their lips on this issue. In the meantime, though, they want to roll back the judiciary to pre-Marbury v. Madison days. For example, the Post-Dispatch printed a letter that said, in part:
When the Constitution in its original meaning does not speak to an issue (and that includes most of the great social and moral issues of our day), then the issue belongs in the Legislative Branch, where we the people can debate the matter and make decisions. As things now stand, we the people have to sit and wait for the latest edict to come down from nine unelected, in-for-life individuals to determine how millions of Americans will live their lives.

If Bush succeeds in appointing two more Scalia-style judges to the Court, we lefties will be singing this letter writer's tune. And I'm not particularly worried about abortion, either. Call me a shortsighted if you will, but abortion is a minor issue. In fact, if Roe v. Wade were reversed, Republicans would suffer. Their main snare for suckering people away from the Democrats would evaporate.
No, what concerns me is the damage that a more pro-corporate Court could do. Even more potentially disastrous than that are the fascist leanings of Gonzales and other right-wing ideologues. Thomm Hartmann, in a Common Dreams column titled "Supreme Court--Media Ignores Possible 'Fascist' Play" warns of something far more dangerous than abolishing the right to abortion:
An administration that can use the final imprimatur of the Supreme Court to "disappear" dissidents, corral Democratic Party campaigners into "free speech zones" with guns and bayonets, and declare a perpetual "war on terror" to prevent any investigations of its failures and crimes doesn't need to worry about the politics of abortion. Or John Conyers snooping into voting machine irregularities in Ohio. Or any other political debate, for that matter. ...
Thus, the nomination of Gonzales, or another candidate with strong fascistic leanings but no clear abortion record, will probably be trumpeted in the mainstream corporate media as a triumph of "moderation" on the part of Bush ....
In fact, it could mark the end of our 200+ year American experiment in democracy.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

David Corn, the D.C. editor for The Nation, wrote this morning on his blog:
July 10, 2005
The Newsweek story I described below is out. Reporter Michael Isikoff has obtained a copy of an email that Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper sent his bureau chief, Michael Duffy, on July 11, 2003--three days before conservative columnist Bob Novak first published the leak that outed CIA officer Valerie Wilson/Plame. In that email, Cooper wrote that he had spoken to Rove on "double super secret background" and that Rove had told him that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's "wife...apparently works at the agency on wmd issues." "Agency" means CIA. Read the full Newsweek piece here, and read my item below on why it is so important. There now is clear-cut evidence that Rove was involved in--if not the chief architect of--the actions that led to the outing of Plame/Wilson. If he's not in severe legal trouble, he ought to be in political peril. I explain in full the ramifications of this smoking email below.
July 9, 2005
Time to get ready for the Karl Rove frog-march?
I don't usually log on Saturday evenings. But I've received information too good not to share immediately. It was only yesterday that I was bemoaning the probability that--after a week of apparent Rove-related revelations--it might be a while before any more news emerged about the Plame/CIA leak. Yet tonight I received this as-solid-as-it-gets tip: on Sunday Newsweek is posting a story that nails Rove. The newsmagazine has obtained documentary evidence that Rove was indeed a key source for Time magazine's Matt Cooper and that Rove--prior to the publication of the Bob Novak column that first publicly disclosed Valerie Wilson/Plame as a CIA official--told Cooper that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife apparently worked at the CIA and was involved in Joseph Wilson's now-controversial trip to Niger.
To be clear, this new evidence does not necessarily mean slammer-time for Rove. Under the relevant law, it's only a crime for a government official to identify a covert intelligence official if the government official knows the intelligence officer is under cover, and this documentary evidence, I'm told, does not address this particular point. But this new evidence does show that Rove--despite his lawyers claim that Rove "did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA"--did reveal to Cooper in a deep-background conversation that Wilson's wife was in the CIA. No wonder special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pursued Cooper so fiercely. And Fitzgerald must have been delighted when Time magazine--over Cooper's objection--surrendered Cooper's emails and notes, which, according to a previous Newsweek posting by Michael Isikoff, named Rove as Cooper's source. In court on Wednesday, Fitzgerald said that following his receipt of Cooper's emails and notes "it is clear to us we need [Cooper's] testimony perhaps more so than in the past." This was a clue that Fitzgerald had scored big when he obtained the Cooper material.
This new evidence could place Rove in serious political, if not legal, jeopardy (or, at least it should). If what I am told is true, this is proof that the Bush White House was using any information it could gather on Joseph Wilson--even classified information related to national security--to pursue a vendetta against Wilson, a White House critic.

Scott McClellan has called any idea that Rove was involved "ridiculous" and Bush publicly said that if anyone in his administration was responsible he would "take care of that person". (Wink, wink.) So IF the press doesn't simply ignore or downpedal this information, the situation should be embarrassing, to say the least. Of course, so far not one member of the White House press corps has asked McClellan diddly about the hot rumors on Rove, so the mainstream press could choose to cop out once again.
Corn emphasizes another much-speculated on legal angle to this story:
And there's another key point to consider: whether Rove told the truth when he testified to Fitzgerald's grand jury. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has acknowledged that Rove appeared before the grand jury, and Luskin has said that Rove did speak to Cooper prior to the publication of the Novak column. But what did Rove tell Fitzgerald and the grand jury about this conversation with Cooper? And--here's the big question--does Rove's account jibe with the new documentary evidence that Newsweek is scheduled to disclose. If it does not, Fitzgerald would have a good start on a perjury charge against Rove.
At a public meeting in the summer of 2003, Joseph Wilson, responding to a question about the leak, quipped that it would be interesting "to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs." He then had to pull back from that comment and concede he had no evidence to support his hunch that Rove was one of the leakers. (By the way, Novak cited two unnamed Bush administration officials when he published the Plame/CIA leak.) With Newsweek's latest article, we may be getting closer to frog-marching time.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Progressive magazine prints a monthly column of short, wry news items under the heading "No Comment". Three of this month's items caught my eye:
A pair of scientists has named new species of slime mold beetles after George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. The conservative entomologists say this is a tribute. "I'd be honored to have a slime mold beetle named after me," scientist Kelly Miller told The Salt Lake Tribune.

An army recruiter left an intimidating message on a potential enlistee's cell phone in an attempt to sign him up. He said it would be a violation of federal law if the prospect did not show up to a meeting, which is untrue. "You fail to appear, and we'll have a warrant," he said, according to KHOU-TV in Houston, which obtained the voice mail message.

Hard-core porn producer Mark Kulkis and porn star Mary Carey will attend a National Republican Congressional Committee event called the "President's Dinner and Salute to Freedom," reports The Washington Post. "I'm especially looking forward to meeting Karl Rove," said Carey. "Smart men like him are so sexy." In a press statement, Kulkis said, "Republicans bill themselves as pro-business. Well, you won't find a group of people more pro-business than pornographers."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We need to turn Missouri blue before the following declaration takes effect:
Dear Red States,
We're ticked off at the way you've treated California, and
we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own
country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon,
Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and
all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial
to the nation, and especially to the people of the new
country of New California.
To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the
slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.
We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.
We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and
entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the
tax revenue. You get to make the Red States pay their fair
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than
the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families.
You get a bunch of single moms.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of
80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90
percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the
nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines
(you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of
all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of
the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and
condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard,
Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to
cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their
projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S.
mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent
of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists,
virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh,
Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite. Thank you.
Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe
Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe
life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or
gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53
percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of
you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals
than we lefties.
By the way, we're taking the good pot, too.
You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.
Author Unknown in New California

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I'm going to post this news release from Jack Cardetti at Missouri Dems, then I'm going to wash my hands to make sure none of the stink is clinging.
Jefferson City, MO --- The person Gov. Matt Blunt put in charge of recruiting new businesses and jobs to Missouri has previously been criminally convicted of theft. As Missouri’s Director of Business Development and Trade, Randa A. Hayes oversees millions of dollars in public funds that are used as incentives for businesses to move to Missouri or to expand in the state, as well as the state’s international trade offices.
In 1997, Hayes, then going by her maiden name Randa A. Ismail, spent time in jail after being charged in Cook County, Illinois with two felony counts of theft, two felony counts of forgery, and one misdemeanor count of theft. She later reached a plea bargain and pled guilty to misdemeanor theft and paid more than $36,000 in restitution.
“Matt Blunt has made Missouri the laughing stock of the country by sending a criminal to recruit businesses to this state,” said Missouri Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti. “Gov. Blunt should immediately fire Randa Hayes and disclose to the taxpayers what he knew about her background.”
In an apparent attempt to conceal this information from the public, the court file was ordered sealed on May 31 of this year. Therefore, details of Hayes’ theft and forgery are now hidden from the public.
“The public has a right to know if the Blunt administration had anything to do with covering up this embarrassing episode,” Cardetti said.
Despite Hayes’ graduation from law school, she was unable to receive her law license in Illinois or Missouri. Both states have minimal ethical standards that must be met before an applicant can be seated to take the bar exam.
Although the Missouri and Illinois Bar Associations didn’t see fit to give Hayes a law license, Gov. Matt Blunt has given Hayes plenty of responsibilities in his administration. Besides overseeing the Division of Business Development and Trade, Hayes currently manages the Hawthorn Foundation, which is a private 501 c (6) corporation, whose investors include many of Missouri's most prominent corporations and business leaders, according to the Department of Economic Development’s web site.
Hayes also staffs the state’s Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission, which Blunt appointed only after the Pentagon announced recommendations to close several Missouri military installations, potentially costing Missouri 3,700 jobs.
“Gov. Blunt needs to assure taxpayers that public funds were not misused under Randa Hayes’ watch at the Division of Business Development and Trade and the Hawthorn Foundation,” Cardetti said.
While Hayes lacks the experience of the state’s previous Director of Business Development, who was selected from a national search of economic developers, she more than makes up for it in political connections. Her husband, David Hayes, is an alderman for the city of St. Peters. Also, according to Blunt’s campaign web site ( Hayes hosted a $50,000 fundraiser for Blunt last fall.

The July 4th St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an editorial that was a history lesson, describing the depths of deprivation and uncertainty that Yankee soldiers suffered during the Revolutionary War. My husband, Connie, who is as suspicious of military glory as he is about the religious right (see July 1st blog), wrote the Post-Dispatch, presenting another point of view:
Dear Editor,
After reading the July 4th editorial in Monday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch extolling the courage of George Washington and his commanders, I could almost hear the fife playing and the roll of the drum. I was about to reach for my combat boots and pre Vietnam M-1 rifle when I remembered how some of Washington's troops were treated after the Revolutionary War. Troops expecting to be rewarded for their efforts in the War for Independence instead found themselves hauled into debtor's courts. Because they had not been paid regularly during the war, many of them were unable to pay their property taxes and were forced to sell their belongings for a pittance of what they were worth. At first they tried to reason with the new government but found no ally in their Commander in Chief. Instead they faced the new government's militia. With these thoughts in mind, I found the martial music waning. I dropped my rusty rifle and slumped back into my easy chair. Besides, I thought, Canada and Australia achieved independence without warfare.

Cornelius P. Alwood

Monday, July 04, 2005

This Rove/Plame story is nothing as simple as "Rove leaked the name. That's a felony." Having said that, though, I'll add that Rove seems to be in water so hot it's close to the boiling point.
Time magazine is giving up reporter Matt Cooper's notes, and they will show that Rove talked to Cooper about the matter three or four days before Novak's story broke. What's less clear is whether Rove, at that point, identified Plame as an undercover CIA agent. Before Cooper's story appeared, Novak outed Plame, but Novak is not the one on the special prosecutor's hotseat because he apparently made some kind of deal with the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. What Novak gave him, nobody knows. In the meantime, Rove has testified before a grand jury and maintains that he did not leak the Plame information. Newsweek's online magazine has the story.
Joshua Marshall's Talking Points Memo makes a trenchant observation about the direction of the grand jury investigation. He believes it's implicit that:
the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald is after Rove for some felony arising out of the case (perjury after the fact? conspiracy?) but not the immediate and original act of leaking the name.
There's one other point worth noting here. As we've seen, federal law recognizes no reporters' privilege or confidentiality. But if recollection serves, there are DOJ guidelines which say that prosecutors should exercise a great deal of discretion when trying to compel testimony from journalists. They're not supposed to do it just to tie up a few loose ends, but only if there's real and significant crime they're trying to prosecute. And before they do so, they're supposed to have exhausted all other possible ways to get at the information. ...
So just a question: Would Fitzgerald have pushed to get Cooper and Miller in the slammer if some other party in the White House weren't in a lot of trouble?

Looking ahead, how will Bush react to the headlines? He's famous for (misplaced) loyalty. Why else would Rumsfeld still be in office? Even if Bush weren't so bullheaded, he could hardly just dump his deputy chief of staff. Bush hates to look craven and, besides, Rove is like J. Edgar. You know he's got enough dirt on this White House to bury them six feet deep. We'll see if the bad publicity forces Rove out. Aside from collateral damage to Bush's image, Rove's resignation would be about the most felicitous consequence we Dems could hope for. After all, if he is charged with some felony, I see a pardon in his future.
So let's hear it for collateral damage. RAH!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A quirky little blog called "Oliver Willis: Like Krytonite to Stupid" says the story is about to break that Karl Rove leaked the Plame identity. Willis has good sources. Here's what he says:
Frog March Watch
July 2nd, 2005 | 1:05 pm
Short version: In retaliation for Joe Wilson debunking the Bush administration’s war claims, an administration official outed his wife’s classified position to members of the media. Apparently said official is going to be revealed as Karl Rove, who seems to have sworn under oath that it wasn’t him. Also known as perjury.
Lawrence O’Donnell has more.

Go to the website. He gives links to his sources, and they look convincing.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Last May, I wrote:
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. Kristoff pointed out: "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."
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. For example, they slit the chadors up the leg to the hip and sew elastic around them under the bust. Kristoff wryly observes that "young women in such clothing aren't getting 74 lashes any more — they're getting dates."

But despite changed attitudes toward the West among the youth, the mullahs aren't giving up the top dog slot without a struggle. They engineered the recent election to give themselves absolute power. The problem is that, if one includes those who boycotted the rigged voting, seventy percent of the electorate doesn't want the mullahs in power and ignoring their wishes carries consequences. First, it has created the most serious rift among the ruling mullahs since the revolution. Perhaps even more important will be the economic consequences. Because of high unemployment, Iran needs large infusions of capital, but the new president has criticized stock markets as gambling, something that has no place in a true Islamic society. The day after Ahmadinejad's election, the Iranian market took its biggest plunge ever. If the mullah's policies create a continuing downward economic slide, it'll be harder for them to keep their grip on power.
The hardliners are determined to stay on top, but they should take care lest they find themselves astride an untamed stallion with the bit in its teeth.
By the way, do you notice any parallels between their hardliners and ours?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Apropos of the recent Supreme Court decision on The Ten Commandaments, my husband wants to know why nobody fights to post the Beatitudes in public places.