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:
Oliver Willis is blogging up a storm over the news that the Bush administration has been illegally paying journalists and PR firms big bucks to sway the public toward their policies. (Never mind the speaking fees, free travel, etc. that corporations and trade associations give to journalists...)
So it seems like a good time to remind readers of this story. The Bushies awarded the contract to supply oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to one of the core funders of the Right. What a coincidence! At a time when oil prices are higher than ever, many have questioned why the government wouldn't at least put a hold on oil purchases -- not to mention pumping some oil OUT of the reserves to lower demand. But that would mean that Koch gets less of our money to put to use funding the Right! Well, it isn't about the interests of the people of the country, it's about the interests of The Party.
Local Boy Makes Really, Really, Really, Really Good!
Blogger Tom Burka, in NY Times, The New York Times > Opinion >Washington Week in Revue. It's a humor column, so you serious, serious Seeing the Forest regulars will probably want to skip it.
Torture Is So Last Year -- Now It's Death Squads
Pentagon May Use Death Squads in Iraq:
"Now, Newsweek has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported 'nationalist' forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.I'm actually too upset to comment on this. I keep writing something, deleting it. It's fear. Laws just don't matter. ALL the checks and balances have been removed. And if they are willing to do it there ...
Iran Government Censors Blogs:
"Friends in Iran, journalists and technicians, are saying that judiciary officials have ordered all major ISP to filter all blogging services including PersianBlog, BlogSpot, Blogger, BlogSky, and even BlogRolling."What were our troops fighting for, again?
Correction - Oops. I screwed up. I mistook IraN for IraQ. Well at least I didn't invade and kill tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of people and destroy America's credibility.
I think I've found a pretty good definition of what some of us characterize as "Washington Democrats." Tim Grieve, in Salon's Not with a bang but a whimper sums up what it is about the "Washington Democrats" that bothers me:
"And the Republicans weren't the only ones who seemed to give the protest short shrift. Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, took to the floor to criticize Boxer for facilitating the protest, saying she would undermine the country's confidence in its democracy if the protest were to succeed and the election were thrown to the House of Representatives. And while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid ultimately spoke of the need for election reform, he spent much of the protest debate on the other side of the aisle, kibitzing with Santorum and a few other Republican senators.It doesn't matter where you stand on whether the Ohio vote produced legitimate results. When a substantial block of your party feels strongly about something like this, you don't mock them, you treat them with respect and take the issue seriously. The grassroots and the "netroots" don't feel that we are taken seriously by the "Washington Democrats."
I think the problem is that many of these Representatives and Senators probably don't KNOW how so many people they represent feel about issues like this! My recommendation is that the DNC have someone on staff who writes up a daily digest that is delivered to Congressional offices? They could start with the Daou Report.
Update - I have heard the argument that this only gives Republicans an opening to overturn election results next time should a Democrat win while Republicans still control the Congress. This is what I call the "Democrats who are afraid that Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them" syndrome. If the Republicans are going to try to overturn a Democratic win, they're going to -- it's what they do, and they don't do the things they do in reaction to Democrats. They do them because they are pursuing an aggressive offense strategy, and it is working.
PrivatizeThis.com :: Don't Let Bush Gamble with Your Retirement!
Government Paying Journalists To Promote Right-Wing Policies! Are They Paid To Promote Bush, Too?
"Our" government is paying big money to journalists to promote right-wing legislation. Think about that for a minute.
White House paid commentator $240,000 to promote No Child Left Behind
"...the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the [NCLB] law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same."This $240,000 bribe is ON TOP of what the guy makes for his show, speaking fees, OTHER bribes, etc.
The contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."MAY be illegal? Is there any question about it? The government is giving money to journalists to promote legislation that is before Congress? And with that kind of money being handed out I wonder if this journalist - or any other journalists receiving or hoping to receive payoffs will EVER question anything Bush does? This explains a LOT!
This humble blogger wants to know, what OTHER payoffs to journalists are being handed out by the Bush administration? Did journalists receive money from the government to promote the Iraq war? To help the Swift Boat Vets smear Kerry? This $240,000 was a direct payoff from the government itself. But what about other kinds of payoffs? Corporate and trade association speaking fees are payoffs. Exclusive retreats are payoffs. Gifts, dinners, travel ... there are may ways to pay people off.
Government payments to journalists is obviously, flatly, blatantly illegal. But is there a chance that the Bush Justice Department will investigate? Is there a chance that the Republican Congress will investigate? The Republican FBI? And here is the real laugher -- with $240,000 payoffs to journalists in the air, how many "journalists" will look into this? We'll have to wait and see.
Because this government payoff story places all journalists under suspicion I think it would be a good idea for all journalists to disclose whether they have received speaking fees, gifts, travel, etc. from any interest group of any kind. But that's just me.
Tucker Carlson to be ousted from CNN
Apparently CNN’s viewers have had it with right wing shouter Tucker Carlson and “shout shows” in general. TV insider blog Cynopsis reported this morning that the bow-tied Carlson has been told his contract will not be renewed, and that his program vehicle, Crossfire, will be canceled. Crossfire itself is getting tired and Carlson's conservative rants and half-truths have not pulled viewers away from Fox to boost its slumping Nielsen viewership ratings. Carlson, who had to eat his words on air when his prediction that Hillary Clinton’s book would bomb bombed, has been petulantly complaining about his TV exposure and rumors are that he will move to the more right-wing friendly MSNBC to fill Deborah Norville's spot at 9 pm at the end of the month. A bad trade for MSNBC viewers but a good one for the CNN audience. Now if only he would vacate PBS. Email PBS CEO Pat Mitchell at email@example.com and suggest that if Carlson is not good enough for CNN, he is darn sure is not good enough for PBS.
Seeing The Forest Nominated For Best Group Blog
Wampum: The Koufax Awards: Best Group Blog
The other day I wrote that the media had been fooled again - that the Republican "reversal" on ethics rules actually wasn't. It was a trick. The new rule -- the supposed "reversal" -- does the following:
Rules Committee member Louise Slaughter of New York (Democrat) says,
"This package represents a very serious and grave threat to the credibility and integrity of this institution. And sadly, is being forced upon the Congress and the American people for the benefit and protection on one man, Tom DeLay."The rules package is set to be debated before the full House this afternoon. A vote for adoption will follow. If you live in a Republican district, call your representative today and complain about this! If they think the public is paying attention, it could make a difference!
DNC Candidate Roemer, Please Explain
Tim Roemer is one of the candidates for DNC Chair. Here's something I came across, Roemer's bio at the Mercatus Center:
Tim Roemer is a distinguished scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and president of the Center for National Policy.Is that THIS Mercatus Center and George Mason University? (Also, see this and this.)
Update - I was rushing out the door when I wrote that. I think I should explain in greater detail why I think this is important, so I'll try to do that in this update. What I probably should do is write a new post from scratch...
At Seeing the Forest I write about the Right's network of organizations, and how they influence our politics by influencing public attitudes as well as setting up channels to influence politicians themselves. Some of these organizations are set up to "educate" opinion leaders and public officials on why they think right-wing ideology offers better solutions to public policy problems. (I'm trying to paraphrase typical right-wing wording...) Without going into detail, let me just say that their solutions are not always what you and I would consider to be in the best interest of the public-at-large. For example, their "market solutions" often translate to "one-dollar-one-vote" corporate-oriented policies -- as compared with boring, old-fashioned, democratic "one-person-one-vote" solutions that require such pesky oversight provisions as transparency, accountability, public consensus, equal opportunity, serving all citizens equally, etc. -- all those things the Right calls "inefficient" and "bureaucratic..."
The Mercatus Center, for example, at George Mason University describes itself as promoting the
"use of market-based tools and analysis to discover workable solutions to pressing economic and governmental problems"And just look at who is funding them, as well as the amounts! (Click here, and see the reports linked at the end of this post, for some background on who these funders are and what they stand for. Carthage Foundation is a Richard Mellon Scaife (more here) foundation, for example.)
As I wrote above, before this update, Tim Roemer is "a distinguished scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University." Roemer's bio at Mercatus also says,
"Roemer is a key spokesperson for the Mercatus Center's Capitol Hill Campus outreach and education program, which seeks to improve public policy outcomes by teaching economics and policy analysis to congressional staff."One of the ways the Right "educates" public officials, opinion leaders,etc., is to send them to expensive "retreats" at exclusive resorts, nice hotels, etc. where they are wined and dined and treated to first-class amenities. (This is not unlike the technique of giving free trips to people to attend presentations for time-share retreats or condos.) For example, the Right sponsors retreats for judges that have caused some controversy when reported. (See also here, here, here and here.) Following is the text of an e-mail Roemer recently sent out to Congressional Chiefs of Staff, inviting them to a retreat:
Subject: 2005 Chief of Staff RetreatA flyer for the retreat says:
The Mercatus Center provides lodging and meals for all Retreat participants and their guests. In addition, we will provide complimentary transportation to/from Philadelphia via select Amtrak trains. Information on these trains will be posted here as the retreat draws closer.I'm not saying there is anything illegal here. But I am saying that this sounds suspiciously like other activities of the Right that have come to light, designed to spread right-wing ideological influence.
Here are some things that this humble blogger would like to know. What will be going on at this "retreat?" What kind of "sound economic thinking" is a right-wing-funded organization going to be promoting at the retreat? What sort of "Social Security, tax and pension reform" is a right-wing-funded organization going to be promoting to Democratic Chiefs of Staff? Who is funding this retreat (and why?)? And, most important to me, what is a candidate for head of the Democratic Party doing working for this crowd? Anyone interested in the race to become head of the Democratic National Committee deserves answers to these questions, and a full explanation.
I would also be interested in knowing if any Democratic Chiefs of Staff have accepted the invitation!
For those interested in more infomation about the right-wing organizational infrastructure see the tables of contents of reports here and here. While these reports are written for trial lawyers and teacher unions, their intent is to describe the Right's infrastructure of advocacy/communication organizations, who is funding it, what their goals are, and looking at what we might do to counter this effort and recover our democracy. See also: A collection of links to articles, reports and resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.
(This update was revised at 5:30pm PST.)
My Moral Values
My Moral Values
Orcinus worries about where things could go:
"My very clear impression of the rank-and-file American right is that many if not most of them, at the behest of their leaders, now believe that opposing George W. Bush and the Iraq War, as well as his handling of the War on Terror, is an act of genuine treason worthy of the ultimate social condemnation, including incarceration and execution. They feel not only vindicated but profoundly empowered by the election result, empowered to silence their opposition, by force if need be."I've been noticing this in the tenor of posts and comments at right-wing sites but especialy on the radio, saying us Progressives hope America loses in Iraq and siding with Saddam or bin Laden, that we hope our troops get killed, that we are helping undermine troop morale... If you have relatives or friends in Iraq, and you believe this stuff, what is it encouraging you to do?
The leadership of the Right certainly isn't asking them to tone it down or to stop. Have you heard Bush condemn such talk - ever?
From a comment following the Orcinus post I discovered this piece at the Libertarian Lew Rockwell site:
"Year's end is the time for big thoughts, so here are mine. The most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.This from the head of a Libertarian think tank! There's more there, worth reading. So go read. An alliance between Progressives and Libertarians to fight the Republicans?
At American Street
I have a post up at American Street, titled The Gap, about the information gap that exists between boggers, blog-readers, and Washington Democrats.
And it is surprising how so many Washington Democrats seem so ill-informed about so many of the issues, or so out of touch with things that every single Progressive blogger and blog-reader understands. How many of them understand that the Republican Social Security proposal phases out Social Security? But webloggers and their readers know this.
Journalists challenge Fox, threatened with $1 million legal bill
TV Spy’s ShopTalk reported Monday that two TV journalists have challenged the license renewal of WTVT Fox-13, charging that it deliberately broadcast false news reports about Monsanto’s secret use of potentially cancer-causing growth hormones in milk. Reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson filed the petition Monday against Fox’s Tampa station after a Florida Appeals Court overturned a $425,000 jury award to them and then ordered them to pay court costs and issued rullings allowing Fox to seek $1 million in legal costs from them for defending itself against their Whistleblower lawsuit. The court said broadcasting false news reports is not a crime, striking grounds for their suit. The journalists are appealing.
Their petition to the Federal Communications Commission to deny the station's license renewal includes evidence that the station’s managers repeatedly ordered them to distort a series of news reports about Monsanto’s secret use of the artificial hormone in dairy cattle throughout Florida and nationally. The reporters charge that station executives demanded their news stories be falsified to avoid a lawsuit by Monsanto and potential loss of advertising from the dairy industry. The petition also charges WTVT violated federal rules by removing complaints about the hormone story from its files.
Progressives should jump in and help because (1) the Appeals Court’s finding that it is not illegal for Fox or any other TV outlet to broadcast news that is patently false gives all corporate media an on-the-record license to lie, and (2) the Court's ruling that Whistleblowers who lose a suit can be sued for huge legal bills by the companies they are suing shuts down a powerful tool for kicking corporate media in the teeth when they do lie. This is a big-stakes case and these two have been fighting it mostly alone for years. (They received a Goldman Prize in 2001 for reporting the story and fighting Fox and Monsanto.) They need money, volunteers, and moral support. If they lose this one, Monsanto can poison us all it wants and Fox can fool us with impunity. Full details of their case, the Appeals Court order for them to pay, their challenge to Fox 13’s license renewal, and how you can help can be found here.
Clear Channel Stations' enlarge your breasts contest
Radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. ran a Christmas contest in which stations granted breast enlargement surgeries to women in four cities. In the "Breast Christmas Ever" contest, 13 women were awarded the procedure after writing essays to the stations explaining why they wanted larger breasts. Click here to add your complaints to those going to the FCC.
Media Fooled Again
By now you're read that the Repubicans "backed down" on their ethics rule changes. Well, no. They changed the rules to prevent ANY ethics probes of ANY Repubicans, ever:
"Five members of each party serve on the House ethics panel and under the current system, a tie vote would launch an ethics probe. Under the new rule, a tie or failure to make a decision within 45 days would mean no action would be taken."
Why Not Oppose Gonzales?
The Bush administration has nominated Alberto Gonzales to be our Attorney General. Gonzales is one of the people behind the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also asserts that "quaint" international law does not apply to the United States, and that United States law does not apply to President Bush. From Gonzales Torture Memo Controversy Builds:
The Justice Department in 2002 asserted that President Bush's wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Gonzales, while at the White House, also wrote a memo to President Bush on January 25, 2002, arguing that the war on terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."The article says, "The Democrats have not yet decided whether to try to block Gonzales' confirmation."
OK, I know that some of you, and some on your staffs, read Seeing the Forest. Here's what I don't get: What do you get out of failing to oppose Gonzales' nomination? Is it that you're afraid that Rush Limbaugh is going to say bad things about you if you oppose him? Are you worried about how the media will portray you, maybe say you are "obstructionist?" Are you afraid that you'll be portrayed as "anti-Hispanic?"
Here's what I think YOU don't get: THIS IS ALL GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! Rush Limbaugh IS going to say bad things about you. The Right-wing echo-chamber WILL portray you as obstructionist. They WILL portray you as anti-Hispanic. THEY WILL DO AND SAY THESE THINGS NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! And, the irony is, these past several years have shown that the more you cozy up to their side, the more they will do this to you, because it shows them that you think you are vulnerable and afraid of your constituents. This is their strategy of strategic lies, and the way you are going to get past it is by embracing truth and righteousness instead of worrying about how you will be "portrayed." The "portrayal game" is over and you lost. Get past that. Start doing the RIGHT thing and the truth of your righteous acts will shine through the fog. Your constituents want "tough and principled."
A "West Wing" for the Pentagon
NBC ordered a pilot from Jerry Bruckheimer called E-Ring (Warner Bros. TV) yesterday, focusing on the inner workings at the Pentagon. The idea was created by David McKenna, who wrote the script, and Ken Robinson a former Green Beret who consults for CNN on terrorism and military intelligence. McKenna also wrote S.W.A.T., Blow, and Get Carter. NBC describes "E-Ring," as a" West Wing" set at the Pentagon . Robinson has been fairly even-handed at CNN, once telling Wolf Blitzer that , “…we can't treat al Qaeda like it's the boogeyman and stop living. But there has to be vigilance.” The show could be an opportunity for Progressives to ramp down the fear and claims of endless war on terror trumpeted by the Administration and the Conservative echo chamber, or it could devolve into a “desert western” with good guys catching Muslim terrorists by trampling civil rights. Progressives with
More on Americans missing in the tsunami
Some trolling Rethuglicans jumped on me for my cynicism about Administration motives in not preparing the American people for traumatic casualty counts in the tsunami. Get a life, one advised. I'd be curious as to how such folks would have reacted to the suggestion, Get a life, after 9-11.
Well, Powell, one of the few grown-ups in the Administration, has touched this political hot potato.
"The number of private citizens or citizens unaccounted for still lingers around 4-5000," he said, adding the figure was based on phone calls from relatives or friends inquiring about their whereabouts.
Mr Powell said this did not mean they were necessarily casualties in the catastrophe.
But he added: "We can't ignore the very distinct possibility that there are Americans within this number who have lost their lives. We just don't know that".
Recall there has only been one missing victim recovered alive in the last 24 hours.
Is It Time?
It might be the right time to start another Mac software company. What would you like to see on a Mac? Would you pay actual money for it?
When Good Empires Go Bad
In The Left Coaster: Successful Societies, Mary writes about why societies fail. Then in More on Declining Empires, soccerdad adds ... more. Good reads.
From this astonishingly dishonest Washington Post story:
"In just 14 years, the nation's Social Security system is projected to reach a day of reckoning: Retiree benefits will exceed payroll tax receipts, and to pay its bills the system will have to begin redeeming billions of dollars in special Treasury bonds that have piled up in its trust fund. To redeem those bonds, which represent money taken in years when Social Security ran a surplus and used for other government operations, the federal government would likely have to cut other programs, raise taxes or borrow more money."Let me translate this into "regular people" terms:
In just 14 days your bank faces a day of reckoning: your mortgage payment is due. You have spent the money, so the bank must lay people off, cut vacations and eliinate health insurance in order to reduce their financial requirements."What's REALLY happening? In just fourteen years, the full impact of Bush's tax cuts become clear. The money that paid for these tax cuts -- which went primarily to the rich -- was supposed to be saved for your retirement. That retirement money came from taxes on incomes below $75,000-$85,000 (depending on the year). A tax on the middle class and poor, that was handed to the rich.
The most obvious solution is to increase taxes on the rich to pay back what was taken from your retirement money and given TO the rich. Duh. So instead smoke, sand, dust, fog and anything else they can think of are being thrown into the air to keep you from realizing what has happened to your retirement money.
Spent the day in Santa Cruz. One great thing about Santa Cruz is you can listen to KPIG on the radio. KPIG is a country/ reggae/ Grateful Dead/ folk/ rock/ bluegrass/ hippie/ dope-smoking-redneck-hippie kind of station -- playing music that you just will not hear on the kind of corporate Clear Channel-style station that saturates most "markets." (You're a "market," not a person.)
KPIG was the very first radio station on the internet but had to stop when the new royalty rules killed free online radio simulcasts. More on that here. (You can listen online if you have AOL or RealAudio RealPass.)
While we were driving home they played this song by James McMurtry, "We Can't Make It Here"
Vietnam Vet with a cardboard signYou can download this song here for free!
What about American Tsunami Casualties?
Well the Swedes have declared a day of mourning for the Swedes who died in the tsunami. The Germans are preparing their citizens for the worst. The American government, concerned as always more about image than death and suffering, has acknowledged 12 American dead, and advises the thousands of Americans missing to call Mom as soon as possible.
Yeah, right. Why does this picture remind me of the Administration allergy to the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq? Cover up the bad news as much as possible. Keep voters from the truth, so the Rethuglicans and friends can keep their lock on power and continue looting the country.
When are we going to have a government that gives a d*mn about the American people?
It's a shame, a real shame.
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