For The Trees
Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
About the Authors:
BEST OF STF:
Articles not at STF:
The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors
On the Right and their communications infrastructure:
Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Ralph Nader is a Scab
John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Information Clearing House
What REALLY Happened
Links to Other Weblogs:
Fistfight Breaks Out Over Kerry Veterans:
"A member of a Christian group has been fired after allegedly punching several veterans marching for presidential candidate John Kerry in Monday's Harvest Festival parade in Windsor, Colo."In another news report today,
Vice President Cheney warned on Tuesday that if John F. Kerry is elected, "the danger is that we'll get hit again" by terrorists, as the Bush campaign escalated a furious assault on the Democratic presidential nominee that has kept Kerry from gaining control of the election debate.These are related stories. That kind of talk by Cheney is like instructions to the guy in the story above. If you BELIEVE the Vice President, John Kerry's candidacy threatens your life. If he wins, you and your children die. So what you must do goes beyond just voting against the guy, you are protecting your life, your childrens' lives, your country, and everything you believe in.
They are escalating the rhetoric, and the inevitable incivility is starting to break out at the fringes. How far will they take it?
The American Street
The American Street has a new look.
Texans for Truth as a hard-hitting ad asking where Bush was when he was supposed to be in the National Guard. Go see the ad and give them a few dollars to help get that ad on the air.
I'm watching Crossfire, and Tucker Carlson tells a whopping lie about Kerry, and I know that he knows it's a lie, and I wonder he gets out of it -- what role he sees for himself in Bush's brave new world -- that leads him to decide it is OK to just lie like that.
Then I remember the story the other day, where the guy says he was offered $200,000 a year FOR LIFE - even if he resigns - to become a propagandist for the Right. (That was big money 20 years ago.) Besides flat-out bribe money like this, there is a lot of other money floating around for "journalists" and others willing to sell themselves out. From a 1999 Salon article about "journalists" taking money from those they cover, in the form of "speaking fees,"
"The top echelon of Washington political reporters — Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, George Will, Andrea Mitchell and many others whose heads appear daily on the screen — receive from $10-$30,000 (in Cokie's case) per appearance from industry groups like the National Association of Realtors, the American Hospital Association, the Public Relations Society of America and the Mortgage Bankers Association."$30,000 FOR ONE APPEARANCE would very quickly pass that $200,000 per year. The story says that the three major networks stopped allowing their reporters to take these bribes from "those they may report on" but many of these "associations" are part of the Right's network. If the Chamber of Commerce gives you $30,000, and the Chamber is a huge Bush supporter, what is that going to do to your ability to report on Bush's absence from the National Guard? NONE of the groups paying these kinds of fees are "Progressive." If you are on the Right there is a lot of money out there, AND THEY ALL KNOW IT.
Want to see who is out there accepting speaking fees? Check here or here for a few.
I think that all of our media outlets owe us an explanation of who is taking money from whom. I'm talking about TV pundits AND GUESTS, columnists, op-ed writers, and every single person presented to the public as any kind of authority on any issue.
Remember what happened when there were few controls on those giving stock market advice to the public? The same sort of meltdown is happening to our democracy.
Update - A question for the comments -- What kind of right-wing hack would YOU be willing to become for $30,000-per-appearance plus $200,000 per year for life?
New Smear at Drudge
There is a new smear up at Drudge, saying kerry voted to ban a gun that he is shown using. Of course, the claim is a lie. But that doesn't matter, because the effect will be to reinforce the "flip-flop, say-anything" smear, as well as to send code-words to gun nuts that Kerry is against them.
Kerry voted for the Assault Weapons Ban, which Bush also supported. He is shown holding a standard shotgun. There is a convoluted explanation of why this is a gun that would have been banned, even though it really wouldn't have been...
Update - from the Kerry campaign:
"Let's do some straight shooting on the gun issue. John Kerry's opponents are worried because he's the first Democratic candidate to support Second Amendment gun rights and to be an avid hunter.
Bush Drinking Photo
Digby has a BIG find!
Then scroll down and read the next few posts, and watch the video one of them points to. It looks like Bush is drinking again - or worse.
Matt Stoller -- Why the Democratic Response to the Convention Failed:
"Anyone who complains that the Democrats 'aren't fighting back' should have been there at 10am every day of the week."
Introducing Labor Blog:
"Enter a new group blog on labor issues.
Hope the Kerry campaign uses this guy
West Virginia’s top Army Reserve spokesman says the Iraq war was a mistake, and President Bush should be voted out of office.
In a long interview with Gazette columnist Sandy Wells, Col. Lew G. Tyree of Charleston publicly revealed his feelings about the Iraq invasion, saying:
“I feel we were not told the truth. I do not think we should be there. America is in more danger now because we are using up a tremendous amount of human resources, the soldiers. We tend to ignore that there are well over 1,000 dead and well over 7,000 injured. We use many of the soldiers time and time again. Where are the replacements going to come from? We’re getting re-enlistments, but not recruits. Where is the strength for defending this country in another arena?”
The Stakeholder, from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a really good blog. It is a real blog, feels like a real blog, reads well, and on top of that serves one of the most important causes there is. So go read it.
They have also started an A/V blog. Go ask them where Episode 2 is.
Members of the Media
This story was released late Friday before Labor Day weekend, and was consequently not seen by many people. However, this is one of the most important stories of the year, so maybe in the interest of making sure your readers are INFORMED, you could repeat this story in tomorrow's papers: Medicare Premiums to Jump a Record 17%:
"In the largest increase in the history of Medicare, insurance premiums paid by elderly and disabled patients for routine care will rise 17% next year, the Bush administration said Friday. "
Winer on Miller's Speech
I just caught up to this from Dave Winer:
"The Zell Miller speech was a wakeup call. That wasn't an election speech, that was incitement to a lynch mob. Guess who's the guest of honor? Think about it. Why was the Miller speech so scary? Answer -- you're next. That's what Miller was saying. After this election we put on the brown shirts. I saw John McCain interviewed on NBC after the Miller speech. You could tell he was scared. They asked if he thought Kerry would make a good commander in chief, he said yes he would. That's the kind of candidate the Reps should nominate. Then after the election, win or lose, we won't have to have a civil war."
Dear Kerry Campaign,
Something I've been saying: People are scared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.
Update - Maybe I'm completely wrong. Also here, "Mr. Clinton ... told Mr. Kerry that he should ... focus ... on drawing contrasts with President Bush on job creation and health care policies..."
Also from that last reference -
"Among the better-known former Clinton aides who are expected to play an increasingly prominent role are James Carville, Paul Begala and Stanley Greenberg, campaign aides said."I'm happier now.
Update - But maybe I was right in the first place. This guy is saying what I was saying. "In fact, it's a no-brainer: somehow Kerry has to convince people that he can be trusted with national security and Bush can't — and if he doesn't, he's going to lose."
Keep Him Blogging
Everybody, please read John's recent "bleg" and help him keep blogging through the election. He's asking for a vote of confidence. He's a great blogger and he is saying things that are important.
On the right they make offers of $200,000 a year for life even if you resign. We've got to stick together and help each other out. We're all doing this for free or very little compensation, because we feel these are things that have to be talked about.
We Were Right
Once again events show that the instincts of "the blogosphere" are right on, while those of the Washington insiders are faulty.
From Newsweek's In Bush's Shadow: "
John Kerry wanted to hit back. It had been a miserable August as he took incoming fire about his military service from a gang of hostile Vietnam vets. But no, campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill and other staffers argued, the Swift Boat ads would blow over. Finally, Kerry had had enough. For three or four days, as he campaigned across the country, Kerry ripped into Cahill, furious that the mostly baseless attacks on his valor were driving his numbers down. 'He was very angry,' one old friend says. 'The calculation had been made that this wasn't going to hurt him.' "Not only were they unprepared for the inevitable big smear when it came, they thought they should not respond and that it would blow over.
Update - This means it's up to us - the grassroots. We must all redouble our efforts between now and the election. Registering voters, going door-to-door, talking to people, sending e-mails... Go to your local Democratic Party office and SIGN UP AS A VOLUNTEER! You know this is a crucial election and you know that it is important to the world, the nation, and YOU that Bush is removed from office. Your local Democratic Party office will be coordinating the efforts of volunteers so it is much more efficient to go there and sign up than to just try to do things on your own. IT IS SO IMPORTANT!
Do you have a bumper sticker on your car? It makes a difference. One of the Right's tactics is to demoralize Kerry supporters. But people SEE bumper stickers, and they make a difference. They tell people that Kerry has support. This is important, especially in an election where intimidation is a tactic. About half of voters support Kerry. If people see Kerry stickers on enough cars it encourages THEM to be more active and public with THEIR support!
I'll write more on this later. This article says what I've been saying for more than two years, so it's clear the author is brilliant.
Tentacles of Rage: The Republican propaganda mill.
More later, but look at the kind of money offered to people to become shills for the Right!
It was at Kristol's suggestion that I met a number of the fund-raising people associated with the conservative program of political correctness, among them Michael Joyce, executive director in the late seventies of the Olin Foundation. We once traveled together on a plane returning to New York from a conference that Joyce had organized for a college in Michigan, and somewhere over eastern Ohio he asked whether I might want to edit a new journal of cultural opinion meant to rebut and confound the ravings of The New York Review of Books. The proposition wasn't one in which I was interested, but the terms of the offer an annual salary of $200,000, to be paid for life even in the event of my resignation or early retirement—spoke to the seriousness of the rightist intent to corner and control the national market in ideas.$200,000 a year for life, even if you resign! Remember that Bill Bennett was gambling away MILLIONS in Las Vegas. Brock says he got book advances in this range as well. And, though he doesn't put a date on this, it implies it was the early 80's.
Now before you ALL go running off to find Scaife to ask for jobs making up stories that turn war heros into girlie-men, ... Oh, never mind, I'm just going to try to get there first. I just told my wife that number - for life even if he resigns - and she has decided we are on the wrong side.
That's how it works. These people aren't just paid... and using the term "well-paid" isn't sufficient. But at least now you know WHY they just lie.
Bush's Guard records missing / Saudi complicity in 9/11
I don't have anything against a negative campaign, but it wouldn't make any difference if I were, because that's what we're facing. So here are two units of dirt on the worst President in American history.
The military-service issue should really be pretty much irrelevant as far as I'm concerned, but the way it's developing, the man with the medals has come out looking bad, and the guy with the dubious, minimally-acceptable-at-best stateside service has come out unscathed. (But maybe Ben Barnes' testimony will change that. Here's a summary of the story.).
On the other hand, the 9/11 issue is a very serious one. Bush is campaigning mostly on 9/11, even though his pre-9/11 counter-terrorism record was horrible. (The 9/11 report does not spell this out in so many words, but the facts reported there lead to that conclusion.) The Senate 9/11 report was censored, and Bob Graham has written a book telling what was missing: a serious investigation of the role of high-level Saudis in 9/11. (Look here if you're intered in that topic).
These days publicity is everything and reality is nothing. It reminds you of those nightmare sci-fi dystopia movies. These issues are real, but you have to wonder how much traction they will get in our bought, cowed media. And at least 30% of the electorate is systematically misinformed and motivated mostly by liberal-hatred. They could care less about the Iraq War or any other serious issue.
Files missing from Bush's National Guard records:
The five kinds of missing files are:
_A report from the Texas Air National Guard to Bush's local draft board certifying that Bush remained in good standing. The government has released copies of those DD Form 44 documents for Bush for 1971 and earlier years but not for 1972 or 1973. Records from Bush's draft board in Houston do not show his draft status changed after he joined the guard in 1968. The AP obtained the draft board records Aug. 27 under the Freedom of Information Act.
_Records of a required investigation into why Bush lost flight status. When Bush skipped his 1972 physical, regulations required his Texas commanders to "direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination," according to the Air Force manual at the time. An investigative report was supposed to be forwarded "with the command recommendation" to Air Force officials "for final determination."
Bush's spokesmen have said he skipped the exam because he knew he would be doing desk duty in Alabama. But Bush was required to take the physical by the end of July 1972, more than a month before he won final approval to train in Alabama.
_A written acknowledgment from Bush that he had received the orders grounding him. His Texas commanders were ordered to have Bush sign such a document; but none has been released.
_Reports of formal counseling sessions Bush was required to have after missing more than three training sessions. Bush missed at least five months' worth of National Guard training in 1972. No documents have surfaced indicating Bush was counseled or had written authorization to skip that training or make it up later. Commanders did have broad discretion to allow guardsmen to make up for missed training sessions, said Weaver and Lawrence Korb, Pentagon personnel chief during the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1985.
"If you missed it, you could make it up," said Korb, who now works for the Center for American Progress, which supports Kerry.
_A signed statement from Bush acknowledging he could be called to active duty if he did not promptly transfer to another guard unit after leaving Texas. The statement was required as part of a Vietnam-era crackdown on no-show guardsmen. Bush was approved in September 1972 to train with the Alabama unit, more than four months after he left Texas.
Senator Bob Graham's new book claims Saudi complicity in 9/11:
In his new book, Graham claims the president coddled the Saudis and pursued a war against Saddam Hussein that only diverted resources from the more important fight against Al Qaeda. Graham was furious when the White House blacked out 28 pages of the inquiry's final report that dealt with purported Saudi links to the 9/11 plot. Graham says much of the deleted evidence centered around the activities of a mysterious Saudi then living in San Diego named Omar al-Bayoumi, whom Graham calls a Saudi government "spy." Al-Bayoumi befriended two of the key 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, when they first arrived in the country.
Revised 12:10 PDT / 6:34 PDT
S/M Politics: The Leper Lickers
This post was heavily edited after it was posted.
During the convention we were treated to the most vitriolic display of pure hatred I've seen since, as a tiny child, I sat with my terrified Jewish Grandma listening to Hitler make speeches. This was exactly the same kind of thing. The spewing of hatred, the adoring cheering audience. I'll never forget the expressions on those faces at the convention, eyes rolled heavenward as though in the presence of the Messiah.
This display of Republican hatred was set against a background of the drone of circling helicopters, scream of police sirens, as the largest army of police ever assembled threatened the citizens of New York. People were knocked to the ground when they came out of the subways at 42nd St. because they might be potential terrorists -- uh, I mean demonstrators. Nearly 2,000 terrorists -- well, that's what Bloomberg called them -- were illegally held for days in wire cages in filthy conditions, not allowed to make phone calls or see a lawyer, their names not released to their terrified relatives and friends. This is a big city with lots of crime. When someone vanishes for days, there's plenty of reason to worry.
So -- what's the hidden agenda? Why the public display of compassion and kindness, Compassionate Conservatism at work while shifting the tax burden to the middle-class, or what's left of it, creating astronomical deficits, declaring a war that can never end, the endless terror alerts, sending the best jobs overseas, keeping health care out of reach because of its cost?
The agenda is not hidden. They've been quite open and honest about it, every time they say they're "protecting" us, fathers take care of their children, but we've refused to see it, to believe they're a bunch of sadists just doing their thing. Reasonable people wouldn't act like that, would they? However, if the public's kids aren't dying in a war, Bush can't claim he must be re-elected because he's a wartime president. Never mind if the only possible purpose for that war has turned out to be political advantage at home. Who'd believe any administration could be that cynical? If the public is not kept in a constant state of fear, terrified of "them," the terrorists about to attack, terrified of losing their jobs, of economic ruin if they get sick, the public isn't going to need a Big Daddy promising to protect them. This is why we can never solve any social problems. Once solved, there's no need to keep Big Daddy around. That's how sadomasochism works. Create enough anguish, pain and suffering and you can get away with anything if your promises to end the pain sound sincere enough. Ah, sweet suffering!
Back in the good old Dark Ages, to which we are rapidly returning, there were lots of people who went around licking the sores of lepers to prove how much they trusted God to protect them. Some of them even got officially declared saints for it. That leper licking impulse is still with us. Licking lepers accomplished nothing for the lepers. Feeding them or giving them a comfortable place to live would have helped them. Making a public display of how compassionate the lickers were only benefitted the lickers. This pretense that Bush will solve all our problems, be a nice, kind Big Daddy is mere leper licking.
Moron brownshirt fucks defeat Matt Yglesias
Matt Yglesias has just closed down his comments section due to an influx of imbecile trolls sent by Matt's conservative employer, Hugh Hewitt. Kevin Drum is thinking about doing the same.
Before doing my customary rant, I will make one of my rare constructive suggestions. Kevin and Matt should deputize a few of their regulars to delete trolls. Not me, obviously, but someone nice and moderate who still has a vestige of a backbone.
Now the rant part: Matt and Kevin have always wanted to maintain a dialogue with the opposition, even though they have been given good reason to understand that the opposition is made up of angry, misinformed, dishonest people who hate us and want to destroy us by whatever means necessary. Sabotaging liberal comment boards, thus disrupting liberal communications and damaging liberal morale, is just one of their dirty tricks. There always have been trolls and wreckers on Matt and Kevin's comment boards, but they have refused to do anything about it.
This calls to mind Robert Frost's old quip that liberals are so open-minded that they won't even take their own side in a fight. Closing down the comments means that the terrorists win. Something of value was given up to the opposition because it was really too much of a nuisance to do anything to protect it from saboteurs.
Matt and Kevin's trolls often praise them for their open-mindedness, which they contrast favorably to other, small-minded "liberal echo chambers". And they reward Matt and Kevin by peeing on them. Trolls express their love and respect rather disgustingly.
Matt and Kevin, unlike me, are moderates who believe that the Democrats have to move to the center and generally accomodate themselves to the country's move to the right. But they have missed an important point. Dukakis didn't lose because he was too liberal. He lost because he responded feebly when the Republicans talked about raping his wife. He was a wimp.
Republicans admire predators and prey on what they see as weakness -- for example, openmindedness and fairness. They worship private property, but if you let them do so they will squat on your property and laugh in your face. And they really enjoy making bullshit arguments about free speech when you threaten to delete them -- not because they believe what they're saying, but because they think that it's funny when they use liberal ideas against liberals.
Matt and Kevin, of course, have been blessed by the print establishment, and both have stated that the blogosphere is really no big deal. And certainly, comments section aren't anything very important. So it's quite possible that pretty soon Kevin's comments will close down too, and one more common good will fall to the attacks of the angry, starved ghouls.
29% of Americans believes that France is an enemy of the U.S., like al Qaeda. We're really dealing with a vicious mob. Dealing reasonably with them is stupid. Banning trolls to keep the comment lines open is a small step in the direction of winning the election and defeating terrorism, but it's a necessary one, and you can't make the big steps if you won't take the small steps first.
Jay Rosen on Swift Boat coverage
Jay Rosen has a great piece up about the Swift Boat issue:
"There is a smear campaign launched against John Kerry. But that is not the only thing going on with the Swift Boat Veterans. The press may have knocked down the most serious charges. But the idea of the press as the great adjudicator has also been knocked down. "
Read the whole thing. The gist is that even though the legit press has theoretically published enough information by now to discredit the SBV's, it really didn't make any difference. The SBV smear is still alive among people who get their information from other, partisan channels which ignore or deny inconvenient facts.
It's worthwhile to read the comments too, for another sickening glimpse at mad-dog determination of the Kerry-haters.
New Article in Harpers
Harpers Magazine is over 150 years old. There was no internet way back then, and for Harpers, there still isn't. But the current issue is worth buying for a piece by Lewis Lapham: "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a Brief History".
I've only glanced at it so far, but it looks pretty good. I doubt that Dave will learn much from it, since it's in his own area of special interest, but most of the the rest of us will, and it's something you can show to people.
UPDATE: Read it here. Thanks to Jeanne at Body and Soul.
Truth Or Consequences
Everything I read today, people are discussing the role of truth in our democracy. This is in reaction to the Republican convention. It has been just such a shocking experience to see this unfolding. It is a jolt to see such dishonesty for a week, with such national prominence. (The vitriol is a topic for another piece - but let me mention that Miller challenging Matthews to a duel means he is saying he wants to kill him.)
Kerry has proposed $2 trillion in new spending? Kerry would ask the UN's permission before defending the country? Kerry wants to raise taxes? Kerry was against supplying the troops with weapons and even body armor? (My personal favorite was seeing Rove say to Blitzer that it had never occurred to him that the podium looked like a church pulpit!) One lie after another after another in a constant stream that battered our sense of reality.
The magnitude of it makes it difficult to step back and take this in. Has anything like this happened in America before? Have there ever been such blatant falsehoods projected to the public -- from the very top -- day after day, with no shame whatsoever? This is beyond even the lead-up to the Iraq war. This is just all-out, no apologies lying, by everyone involved, in front of and with the approval of millions. The press doesn't really stand up and challenge it -- no one in positions of authority does. People in positions of authority recognize now that they will lose their authority if they question what is happening. This is intimidation reinforcing the lying. (As with the lying, what will be the ripple effects of such widespread intimidation?)
Does truth matter? Does honesty matter? Are there consequences for lying? Or does the biggest lie achieve the biggest reward?
It kept me up last night. I couldn't sleep, wondering what it would mean if Bush can win this election with a campaign that is entirely lies. Worrying. Fearful. What effect must this have on the country and the long-term viability of our democracy? How can we survive this poisoning of our spirit and civility?
I believe it necessarily harms a person to lie, or to be associated with lies. It's like stealing. You lose yourself. What does it profit you to gain the whole world if you lose yourself? Are we watching as we lose everything?
Blog Hero Award
Stirling Newberry is hereby awarded the coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award for his post 1968, The Sequel. Excerpt:
"The military world is about lack of choices, the metropolitan world about multiplying them. The last thing that both agreed on was that Vietnam was a mistake, but their responses were completely different.and
In news the rule is that liberals will watch the news, and conservatives will watch conservative news. A liberal will watch to see what you think, the conservative will watch to see how much you agree with him. This is why the headline world is so far to the right even of the content. Consider this week’s Newsweek – it has an article which dishonestly tries to look at Bush in a "balanced" way – soft pedaling his unbroken record of sacrificing the national good for his own short term gain, but still admitting Bush does seem to have problems changing course until it is too late. The headline, however, does not even preserve this level of obsequious pandering – and instead proclaims in large letters "No Excuses!" with a determined Bush on the cover.and
Right now the Republican Party is not more numerous than the Democratic Party, but its lunatic fringe – wanting to repeal Darwin and Keynes, Einstein and Mahler – is much more numerous and much more plugged into the televsion. The consumer electorate – the consumerate – is incapable of knowing right from wrong. The media is incapable of telling the truth: we cannot say that America has committed war crimes in Iraq. We cannot say that America is now locked in a depression, no longer contracting, but never to reach the peak we had again unless we change policies.But, please, go read the whole thing.
As likely as not
Ruy Teixeira lifts the veil on pollsters' "likely voter" selection techniques.
Two Anti-Kerry Vets Tapped for VA Panel:
"Two former Vietnam prisoners of war who appear in ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) were appointed by the Bush administration to a panel advising the Department of Veterans Affairs "Quid pro quo.
Michael Moore's attempt to cover Republican convention sabotaged by security
Cursor, my own favorite one-stop web news source, has a special election page up called "Derelection 2004".
I highly recommend the new site. They've already found me this story:
"....Moore, who entered the building at about 9 p.m., was stopped several times as he made his way through the convention to a press table, where guards surrounded him. Security guards then blocked access to several rows of press tables for an hour while he remained in the building.Gallegos, who has overseen daily press credentials for each political convention since 1972, said the guards and New York City police had no authority to stop access for Moore, or close off a press area without proper cause. "Not since 1968 in Chicago did police get this involved in media access," Gallegos told E&P Thursday. "When you have the police force telling individuals what access they are going to have, and it is not based on a safety issue, that is scary."
Guantanamo on the Hudson
OK -- I've been an academic most of my life and now I'm going to be shrill and alarmist. We had better wake up and start paying attention to our civil rights. Here in New York, we don't seem to have any civil rights any longer. This is like Argentina or Peru back in the days when people just vanished and frankly I don't want to live in a third world country.
I have a beautiful, very sweet new cat. He was found by a friend in a bus depot. When she found him he was very sick. The vet she took him to thought his liver had been damaged by the oil slick on the floor of the depot. He almost died, but she nursed him back to health. He seems fine now, but has to have a special diet and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep the little guy healthy. Why am I telling you this? Because if that kind of contamination can make a cat sick, it can make a human sick.
Pier 57, which was used as a bus depot until recently, is where the demonstrators who were arrested were taken. My neighbor's daughter was arrested on Monday evening. Her mother was lucky. She'd gotten a call from her daughter saying she thought she was going to be arrested before she vanished. The other hysterical parents around here whose kids vanished got no calls. My neighbor's daughter didn't surface again until she managed to call her mother from Central Booking around 9:30 last night. She wasn't released until 11. When she got home she was covered with black oil from sleeping on the floor. It seems they did get some food now and then. I'd heard they hadn't.
It's illegal to hold people for more than 24 hours without arraigning them. People have a right to make a phone call, to see a lawyer, to have medical treatment. That's now a big joke. The almost 2000 who were arrested were denied access to phones, lawyers, medical treatment for up to 66 hours. I've heard on good authority that extra judges and lawyers had been appointed to process up to a thousand protesters a day, and sat in their court rooms with nothing to do. People arrested for committing real crimes were being processed through the system as usual, but not the demonstrators. State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo issued an order yesterday, over the protests of the city attorneys, that those who had been held beyond 24 hours be released by 5 PM. The city ignored this and has been held in contempt of court, ordered to pay $1000 per protester still being held. We'll see where this goes from here.
The protesters were held in wire pens set up inside Pier 57. Many were told they wouldn't be released if they didn't plead guilty. Many of the people arrested were innocent bystanders, some as young as 13, who were simply swept up in the crowd. Central Booking seems to have had the phones "off the hook." Desperate parents couldn't get through. Those who went to Central Booking were told there was no list of names of those held at the Pier. One mother was told by a clerk that they were planning to hold everyone until Bush left town.
Those held at the Pier were put into wire cages like those at Guantanamo -- thus the name given to the Pier -- but the conditions were worse. There were no cots or beds and few benches. People had to sit on the floor and sleep on the floor, in the oily filth. Bloomberg compared the demonstrators to terrorists, so it's clear what the city administration was thinking. That bastion of Bush style thinking, the Cato Institute, of all unexpected places, was quite right when they expressed their alarm about the Patriot Act. The term "terrorist" is so vague it can apply to anybody, even to 13 year olds riding their bikes, trying to get home. There's a hideous logic to Bloomberg and Kelly, the police commissioner, applying the Patriot Act to the demonstrators. In their minds, the law's there, and they used it. We can just kiss free speech and the rest of our civil rights good-bye. Say one word against the Bush administration and our rights are gone. I hope nobody gets sick from having spent days in those filthy pens in Pier 57. I hope they sue the city if they do, but I'd rather they not be damaged for life. It's bad enough that our government lied to us about the air quality at Ground Zero because a proper clean-up would have cost money and now hundreds of people's lungs are damaged for life.
I watched the last night of the Convention and then I watched Kerry's speech afterwards. I hope to God he will keep it up and that his finally getting tough and honest isn't too little, too late. I don't want to live in a country where people are treated like this.
I am an anti-intellectual Yahoo
This is a response to an academic scholar speculating that the Democrats might be better off if Kerry loses and Bush has to face the consequences of his mistakes. Contrary to my usual practice, I didn't become insulting, but I really should have.
I think that simple-minded Democratic partisans are in this case, as often, wiser than the sophisticated strategic thinkers. In fact, I think that sophisticated strategic thinking is one of the curses of the Democratic Party. When Enron was breaking I was told again and again that the wise Democratic strategists were waiting for the right moment to exploit the issue, but that moment never came. (The truth was that Lieberman and others were so implicated with Enron themselves that the issue was unexploitable for them. I often find it easy to understand why Nader went crazy).
The statistical distribution for political leaders is not a Bell curve. It's thick at the bottom and middle and thin at the top, like graphs of any other difficult accomplishment. There are many more 1's and 2's than there are 9's and 10's, and mediocrity is a considerable achievement.
There's also a disproportion between the good a good man can do (make significant finite improvements) and the bad a bad man can do (plunge the world into interminable war, destroy the world economy, exterminate a people, bring a civilization to an end). This is because there are lots of ways to do things wrong, and only a few ways to do things right, so a random or uninformed choice will normally be wrong. It's not a 50-50 split.
So the choice between a mediocre candidate and a bad one is really pretty large. Probably Kerry's a 5 or a 6, and Bush is a 3 at best, and (judging by Zell) more likely to move down than up. That's an enormous difference, and not one to play games with.
Today the shrill and alarmist are much wiser than the urbane and crafty.
Academic life has a taboo against substantive, decisive, concrete, practical thinking in favor of toying with interesting and ingenious conceptual abstractions. This is one of the reasons that a lot of Americans hate Democrats and liberals, and smug explanations that they're all just anti-intellectual Yahoos are nothing but self-serving denial.
After Bush's speech I'm going from channel to channel and it might just be a freak of coincidence but every single channel I flip to has a Republican commentator on, praising the speech. I was in the convention hall in Boston (watching them trying to get the balloons to drop) after Kerry's speech, so I didn't have the chance to see what the TV was doing. Did they have Democratic Party commentators on, praising Kerry's speech?
Bush Just Said
Bush just said, words to this effect, "We gave Saddam a final chance to disarm, and he refused. So I had to make a decision." And then he talked about how he had to "defend America."
Disarm? Saddam refused to disarm?
Question for Non-Californians
In California the Republican governor has frozen election funds that would normally be used "to train poll workers, educate voters or adequately monitor electronic voting systems." San Mateo Daily Journal:
"State and county election officials are negotiating use of federal election money after a portion of it was frozen last week by the Schwarzenegger administration."I'm wondering a\if anything like this is happening in any other sates? Is this part of a national voter-suppression scheme?
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service
Digby has a post up (referencing Ruy Teixeira) about a noticible recent trend of Democratic defeatism. I've been a nay-sayer myself at times -- I think that Kerry's media relations have been weak and inept, and I think that he was stupid to ask MoveOn to pull the Bush National Guard ad. But nonetheless, things look pretty good for Kerry. Bush has gained a few points, but there are always fluctuations in the polls. The only short-term changes that makes any difference are the ones in the last week of the campaign, and you only really find out about these when the votes are counted. As Teixeira points out, Kerry's still in good shape.
Morale is important, and a lot of Democrats have the morale of a whipped dog. Even well-intended nay-saying can have a bad effect, and we can expect tons of ill-intended naysaying on top of that. Which leads me to my main topic: trolls.
Why do trolls waste so much time making stupid posts on opposition sites? Are they just loony, pathetic, losers?
The answer may be yes, but it's not because they are trolling our comment threads. The purpose of trolling is to derail productive discussion and to hurt morale. Whether or not trolling is organized or not, and whether the trolls are paid or not, they are rational political operators who know what they're doing. They're disrupting the opposition.
(Some people pooh-pooh blogs and blog comments and laugh at the idea that organized disruption might take place. I personally think that some people are being silly. Websites play a significant role in the internal communications of the most committed Democrats, and the Republicans would not be foolish if they were to spend money disrupting them).
Today I've seen several threads that were half troll. The effect was depressing. This is an especially critical time, and I don't think that we really need to find out what Al and Adrian thought about Zell's speech.
The answer is easy: delete their posts. Ignoring them doesn't work. Ridiculing them and cursing them is more fun, but that doesn't really work either. Banning them can work unless they're IT-proficient, but deleting their posts is the only effective response.
No host has the obligation to allow anyone he doesn't like on his comments: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone". Anyone who feels like it run a forum open to all, but there's no obligation to do so. An internal center-left dialogue is a good thing, and certain people need to be excluded in order for that to take place. We have lots to talk about among ourselves, and morale-building is a good thing.
Policing a thread is work, but it can be delegated. Matt, Kevin, Atrios, and the others should give some of their regulars the codes required to delete hostile posts (Kos is a model).
You can expect them to whine about free speech and open debate, blah blah blah, things they don't care about at all, and accuse us of running an echo chamber. But let them whine elsewhere.
If Democrats can't defend themselves against feeble little moron shits like Al or Adrian Spidle, how can they defend the US against Osama?
Matt Stoller has been attending a Republican training session for GOP grassroots leaders. In one session they showed a focus group of women, and what they want from this campaign. It's well owrth reading. Also Jerome has his notes from another session. (Be sure to scroll down.)
Something I've been saying: People are scared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.
What Can I Say?
First, the WARNING FOR TODAY: The game plan keeps changing and the public is not being told what the new rules of the game are. If we were, they couldn't catch us breaking the rules we don't know about. If you are visiting or live in Manhattan, DON'T PHOTOGRAPH AROUND THE HARBOR, THE RIVERS, BRIDGES, OR ANYTHING TO DO WITH WATER. IF YOU DO THE COAST GUARD IS GOING TO GET YOU. This is part of the new security against "terrorism." Never mind how irrational this is, the tens of thousands of photographs that exist, that the New York City waterfront is a major tourist attraction, or that it happens to be very beautiful. This restriction may not end when the Convention ends.
Out of a sense of duty, I've been keeping track of the Convention -- and the demonstrations. First, the demonstrations. These have been greeted with the usual paranoia and overkill. Down by the WTC, where a group had negotiated with the police to march for a reading of the names of those killed in the attack and in the war in Iraq, it seems that someone stepped off the sidewalk curb. So having gone about half a block, not blocking any traffic, even on the sidewalk, the first three hundred were immediately arrested. I don't know the exact figure as of this Thursday morning, but as of yesterday roughly three times the number arrested in Chicago in 1968, at least 1600, had already been arrested. Some of the arrests were bloody but I don't know how many have been injured.
About something you'll see on TV -- the black guy stomping a policeman. Yeah, that's a real video. He did that. What you aren't going to see is the video of the policeman in plain clothes riding a motorcycle into the crowd and the terrified look on the faces of the people he was attacking. Nobody knew this was a cop, but, cop or not, he shouldn't have done that. Yeah, the guy shouldn't have stomped him once he was down, but pulling him off that motorcycle was self-defense, and defense of the rest of the people there. Real video can lie, too. You see the image, you believe it. Like with the Dean scream. It's wonderful what editing can do. I hope I get jury duty for that kid's trial.
The demonstrations have mostly been announced well in advance. At the NY Public Library, at 42nd St., a gathering place announced in advance, the police were ready. Not only was anyone who happened to be on the steps arrested, whether there to demonstrate or not, but people were knocked to the ground as they came out of the subways. The 42nd St. station is a major transportation hub. The routine used is to surround people with orange netting, sometimes keep them trapped for hours before arresting them. Those arrested seem to -- vanish. My next door neighbor's daughter called her mother Tuesday evening to say she thought she might be arrested. After that, nothing until late in the afternoon yesterday. We frantically called everywhere. Central Booking seems to have its phones off the hook. The lawyers supposed to look after demonstrators hadn't been allowed to talk to anyone. Her cell phone had been confiscated, she was finally at Central Booking when she called, she thought she'd be kept for at least 24 hours. I'm not sure she's home yet.
Meanwhile, demonstrators managed to get inside the Garden and disrupt the Convention at least four times yesterday. What kind of security is that? Paranoia, hysteria, intimidating and terrorizing people, public displays of how tough we are and how we mean business do not equal good security. Obviously, a well-trained terrorist could have gotten in there and killed people. That this didn't happen was pure luck, not good security.
As for the convention itself -- where's the beef? Day One -- our glorious president got us through 9/11. Yeah. After he finally surfaced, and I don't mean that seven minute delay so he wouldn't scare the school children. I mean the several days he was -- well -- not available for comment, and definitely not acting as Commander-in-Chief. Leadership. Courage and strength, eh? That seems to be the message we're supposed to take away with us. Giuliani managed to get to the WTC immediately, almost got himself killed. Even Pataki managed to show up and he had to come down from Albany.
Second day -- compassion. Yeah. You can tell when you're dealing with passive aggression because it makes you choke with anger you can't express because the other party's being so "nice". Republican delegates went around the city to teach us New Yorkers how to be charitable and do the compassionate conservative thing. Nice photo-ops. Painting walls in one of Carter's Habitat for Humanity houses, as though that's not a volunteer project, Serving food to Senior Citizens. Who did they think those people working next to them were, anyway? And the speeches -- Good God! The Muscle Man telling those unemployed because of Bush policies not to be girly men? Laura Bush (does she own any clothing that's not powder blue) telling us how sweet her husband is? We've already seen three years of this kind of compassion, thank you.
Third day -- pure, spitting hatred. The religion of hate. How is this different from the Islamic fundamentalists? I've never seen such hatred spewed in one place before. Even Hitler was FOR something, loved his Master Race, dogs, and blond children, So far as I can see, these people need an exorcism. The Devil's got em.
Obviously, I'm depressed. Can't wait for tonight's display! What are we supposed to take away with us? Oh, yeah. Leadership, courage, strength, compassion, vote for us, and the other side ain't go any of it. Hate, lies and deception. Outside on the streets, hate, paranoia, hysteria, macho men in uniforms with machine guns, attack dogs, no genuine security. This bunch is gonna protect us from terrorists? Terrorists are rational and intelligent. They are watching this sham and see the holes in it; the unprotected chemical plants, the rear of airports not guarded, wide-open ports, the vulnerable nuclear establishments, how easy it is to get into the convention hall.
And where's the social policy? So far as I can see, there isn't any. Carrying meals to the tables of Senior Citizens doesn't cut it, doesn't even look so good on TV. What about the elderly who can't get around and can't afford food or medicines? What about the homeless in a city where the average rent is $3000 a month for places I wouldn't put a cow in? What about health care, the failing economy, where's the plan? Lies and deception. Don't I realize that everything's coming up roses?
I can't eat roses. We'll see what tonight brings.
Now I'm going to do a complete flip-flop and say that I have realized that all the talk about Bush surging in the polls sounds like a classic Carl Rove scam to discourage the opposition and try to create a wave that Bush can ride.
I know, insider talk again. Let me explain. Bush's political advisor is a guy named Carl Rove. One of the tactics he employs is the old "bandwagon" effect. This is where you convince everyone that things are going a certain way, and when enough people start believing that, things DO start going that way. In the last election Rove even had Bush going to California in the final days to try to convince people that they were so sure they were going to win, even in California, that they would just give up... Because a campaign NEVER expends resources on states that are a lost cause. So by having Bush go to California, he was trying to get the press and the Democrats to believe that Bush was even going to win California.
So maybe the only surge happening is a surge of Rove-generated stories. And maybe I have fallen for it, and become discouraged about Kerry and the Swift Boat smear, and the ability of the public to detect blatant liars and reject them.
So very, very wrong
Can't say this too often (well, I could, but I won't)
I posted this as a comment over at BOPNews. I post a similar comment somewhere or other about twice a week.
I don't get it. Everybody continues to talk as though the media have somehow failed. They are lazy, or cowed, or "unable to frame", or working for evil editors ("Who are these editors?!") or maybe just feeling a bit under the weather.
But that is all a very basic and very dangerous delusion. They are doing their jobs very well. This is a competitive world, and careerists everywhere know that capital rules and labor is shit. They know what they have to do to keep their jobs, whether they are paid $80,000 or $80,000,000. They are doing a great job for their bosses.
Stop whining about the media. It's like whining about Halliburton. Like they care? Like it means anything that you disapprove of them? Jeeesh.
Billings (Montana) Gazette - Columbus swift boat vet angry about letter
[The article quotes a second swift boat vet, Bob Wedge, to the effect that he had not granted permission to add his name to the list.
Article "suspects the list was pulled from the Swift Boat Sailors Association, a nonpolitical, not-for-profit organization linking swift boat veterans."
In other words, the Swift Boat Veterans Against Kerry appear to be scum sucking liars.
Columbus swift boat vet angry about letter
By LINDA HALSTEAD-ACHARYA
Of The Gazette Staff
COLUMBUS - Swift boat veteran Bob Anderson of Columbus is ticked.
It bothers him that Sen. John Kerry's swift boat history has become such a political hot potato. But he's even more irritated that his name was included - without his permission - on a letter used to discredit Kerry.
[... continued ...]
Picking up the torch
Last night Ahnold told us about his political genesis. How he became a Republican. He watched on television, he said, Nixon debating Humphrey. His friend translated. And blah blah blah. One problem (as Randi Rhodes reminded us today) -- Nixon and Humphrey never debated.
It's heartwarming to some, I guess, to see that Ronnie's torch (of endless bullshitting and never getting called on it) has been picked up by another fantasy hero.
What Did Kerry REALLY Say?
I've been looking at the statements the Republicans are making about Kerry, and as I look into them every single one turns out to be either a flat-out lie, a deliberate misquote, a "doctored" statement, or at best a misleading distortion! Every single one!
Shouldn't this kind of absolute dishonesty from a President and his party be THE issue in the campaign? Lies, doctored quotes, outright distrotions, all repeated daily form the campaign of a President of the United States! What have we sunk to that such blatant, brazen dishonesty from the highest levels is not a national scandal?
Here is a Washington Post story documenting how Giuliani used dishonest Kerry "quotes" in his speech.
The most widespread example is the lie that Kerry said, "actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Yes, doctoring the tape - editing it down to just that part of what he said does make him sound two-faced. But in the ENTIRE statement, Kerry said he voted for the bill in a form WHERE IT WAS PAID FOR - and of course all the Republicans voted against that. And he voted against it in a form where the money was borrowed - which means taken out of the Social Security surplus -- your retirement funds. An LA Times story said,
"Kerry's staff said he was trying to indicate his support for an amendment funding the appropriation from increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans. When that amendment failed, he voted against the bill."In fact Bush threatened to veto the bill for similar reasons.
The next most-repeated lie is the charge that Kerry accused fellow veterans of committing atrocities. You can find the entire text of what Kerry said here, in How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last Man to Die in Vietnam?. There is also a Meet the Press transcript here. Since this is the basis of the Right's current campaign of slime against Kerry, it's a good idea to go read the entire thing, and understand what he REALLY said.
Loves Dogs, Hates Kerry: A Two-Prong Campaign Tactic, a story about how the Republican convention is almost all Kerry-bashing while the Democratic convention avoided similar mentions of Bush:
"Senator Larry E. Craig, an Idaho Republican, argued yesterday at a breakfast at the Harvard Club in Manhattan that Mr. Bush was edging up in polls precisely because of the continuing stream of attacks."And the Moonie Washington Times writes,
The word to Republican speakers at the national convention is that bashing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry is fine.HELLO! WAKE UP!!! We're WAITING for the Democratic Party to respond to the attacks! Kos, talking about how the TV coverage of BOTH conventions features mostly Republican commentators, says,
What the hell? Was it the DNC that dropped that ball? And if it wasn't them, and they were excluded by the networks, why haven't they been raising a stink about it?Salon, in They knew how to win. Does John Kerry?, says,
Over the years hardball-loving Republicans have done a masterful job of painting their opponents with a damning brush, the way the elder Bush easily wiped out a double-digit lead over Dukakis in 1988 by portraying the Massachusetts governor as a weak, out-of-the-mainstream liberal. In 2000, with the help of the press, they turned Gore into a duplicitous exaggerator.Have I said before that EVERYONE KNEW this is how the Republicans campaign? Have I said before that the Kerry campaign should have been preparing an effective response for two years now? Instead they waited two weeks after the Swift Boat smear started, did some REALLY GOOD responding for about two days, then dropped it. What happened to the threatened lawsuit?
I know, the election is still a ways off, and they don't want to drop the neutron bomb on Bush too soon. But responding to the smears and attacks is another story. They are letting the Republicans get away with this. Why?
Maybe they are afraid that Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them if they fight back.
Trolls For Hire
Recent experiences at Seeing the Forest have given us an idea. Dave, John and Richard have decided to hire out as trolls. (John and Richard don't know this yet.) We will show up at right-wing blogs and leave obnoxious comments for $2 each. (Richard will do it for $1 if he is allowed to mention torches, pikes or guillitines.)
Either way, please see John's recent bleg.
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