For The Trees

Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

About the Authors:
Dave Johnson
John Emerson
Richard Reich
Thomas Leavitt


Recent Posts:
Moved to Seeingtheforest.com
This Blog Has Moved
Democracy Arsenal
Thought Crimes
Think Progress
Bill Bradley Describes VRWC in NY Times Piece Toda...
Blog Change Coming Friday
How the Liberal Media Myth is Created
Interest Rates
Finally Leaving Blogger


BEST OF STF:

Dave's:

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
Getting Rolled

Other:

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
Get Active
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
Moon Bush
Ralph Nader is a Scab


John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
Bandar Bush
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)
Zizka Sampler


News Sources:
AlterNet
BuzzFlash
Common Dreams
Cursor
Drudge Retort
Information Clearing House
Smirking Chimp
TruthOut
What REALLY Happened

Links to Other Weblogs:




2/19/2005
 



Creating Movements

This is written in response to Chris Bowers MyDD post, Structural Flaws. Chris is writing about a New Republican piece by John Judis, titled Structural Flaw.

In a quick summary toward the points I want to make, Judis wrote,
"Liberalism's success ... was based primarily upon ... [including] popular pressure from below..."
and later,
"Business also joined the battle for ideas, funding new public policy groups and think tanks that issued reports ... arguing that government regulation and high taxes and spending were responsible for the country's economic slowdown. These ideas found a receptive audience among the country's opinion-makers. ... These attitudes permeated public opinion, particularly in the late '70s. The public ... became skeptical about taxes and regulations and any new program that appeared to be based on government expansion. "
So we know that Judis understands that "popular pressure from below" drives the success of political movements, and that the Right invested in changing public attitudes, which over time has paid off with votes. But, reading the piece, I get frustrated because I don't see what I think is an important component of what could be done to reverse things. By saying that a national upheaval similar to the 30s and 60s "doesn't appear imminent" he seems to pass over the idea of making it happen."

The way the Right made it happen was by building organizations designed to persuade the public. It worked. It was very expensve and took time, but it worked. This should be understood as investment in our future.

This is on my mind because I have been thinking about President Clinton's "triangulating" strategy. I think Clinton looked at the politics of the 90's and devised some brilliant tactics for dealing with the way things were and the reality of the moment. Yes, much of the pubic had been convinced by right-wing persuasion that government was bad, free-market bypassing of democracy was good, etc. So Clinton worked with that, even hijacked some of the Right's rhetoric (and corporate money) and turned it against them. It was a brilliant tactics to declare "the era of big government is over" and it gained political advantage for Democrats at the time, but things like that sacrificed the future to the Right.

So I think he missed the very important component of also working to change the way things were. He did little to put in place, fund, and grow vehicles for changing that reality, like think tanks and media to counter the Right's machine. His "third way" worked poitically for the day, but ate the seed corn. There was no component of investment in the future.

In Chris' post, he says he "would like to present the outline of a program to structurally alter the electorate and the institutions that shape opinion that I believe would allow for the desired increase in liberalism and decline in conservatism nationwide" and gives us four points toward this end: Countering The Republican Noise Machine by "altering the content of existing outlets of political information" and " the creation of new outlets"; Structural union reorganization to increase organizing to drive up union membership; Election reform to reduce mass disenfranchisement, influence of money and gerrymandering; and The fostering of new mass membership organizations bringing "new types of civic and grassroots organizations that will serve as outlets of information, action and coordination."

While I agree with all four points I would ask Chris to elevate and elaborate on what he means by the "institutions that shape opinion" component, and "the distribution and dissemination of political thought". The Right has been pounding the public with their ideological messaging, using advanced persuasion techniques, for decades. Ad

Marketing works. But for it to work, we have to reach the public instead of just talking to each other. For example, environmental groups have to reach out and talk to people who are not members of environmental groups, and they have to do it in a way that regular, working people who do not pay a lot of attention to issues like global warming and who think they want and need SUVs can relate to, and say it using words they will agree with, and nod their heads, and say "that makes sense." But doing that takes a special kind of comunication, that is put together by studing how those people "hear" information, and what factors are involved in making it "stick." So I think that existing Progressive organizations should consider whether they are effectively reaching new people, and reaching them with effective, modern marketing techniques.

But along with asking existing organizations to change the content and targets of their own communications, I think we also need to start building and funding organizations that do nothing but reach the general pubic - in places like Kansas and Alabama - with pro-Progressive messages. Thes eorganizations would specialize in studying the "target demographic" to learn Progressive values and ideas are better for the public-at-large, and we need to start explaining that again, almost from scratch.


 



The Creation

Whiskey Bar: The Creation of Gannon




2/18/2005
 



Another Corporate Poison

Somehow Blogger just ate more than an hour's work. The following is based on an early start:

Take a look at this from today's news, Lead in Environment Causing Violent Crime - Study:
"Lead left in paint, water, soil and elsewhere may not only be affecting children's intelligence but may cause a significant proportion of violent crime, a U.S. researcher argued Friday."
WHY is there so much lead in our environment? Take a look at this 2000 special report from The Nation, The Secret History of Lead,
How did lead get into gasoline in the first place? And why is leaded gas still being sold in the Third World, Eastern Europe and elsewhere? Recently uncovered documents from the archives of the aforementioned industrial behemoths and the US government, a new skein of academic research and a careful reading of that long-ago period's historical record, as well as dozens of interviews conducted by The Nation, tell the true story of leaded gasoline, a sad and sordid commercial venture that would tiptoe its way quietly into the black hole of history if the captains of industry were to have their way.
It's a long, comprehensive article, well worth reading. To encourage you to follow the link and read more I'll provide a summary here.

In 1826 the first prototype internal combustion engine burned alcohol and turpentine. Gasoline used in engines caused a "knock" problem which means it ignites too soon. By 1917 it was understood that use of grain alcohol as a fuel solved the problem of "knocking," and that mixing alcohol with gasoline also worked. "Henry Ford built his very first car to run on what he called farm alcohol."

Anyone could make alcohol from grain for use as a fuel. And it is a renewable resource -- you can grow more grain yourself. But GM had a patent on the use of lead in gasoline, which meant it could make money on every gallon sold. And gasoline is non-renewable -- a company can buy up the oil fields and control distribution. "... any idiot with a still could make it at home, and in those days, many did. And ethanol, unlike TEL [lead tetraethyl], couldn't be patented; it offered no profits for GM." According to the article, even though it was believed that lead burned in engines would pass into the environment and poison people, "With a legal monopoly based on patents that would provide a royalty on practically every gallon of gasoline sold for the life of its patent, Ethyl promised to make GM shareholders--among whom the du Ponts, Alfred Sloan and Charles Kettering were the largest--very rich." So they started manufacturing TEL for gasoline.
In August, Du Pont's TEL plant opened at Deepwater, New Jersey... Less than thirty days would pass before the first of several TEL poisoning deaths of workers there would occur. Not surprisingly, given Du Pont's stranglehold on all local media within its domain along the Delaware, the deaths went unreported.
More reports of poisoning came in.
GM hurriedly contracted the US Bureau of Mines in September 1923 to explore the dangers of TEL. Even by the lax standards of its day, the bureau was a docile corporate servant, with not an adversarial bone in its body. It saw itself as in the mining promotion business, with much of its scientific work undertaken in collaboration with industry. The bureau's presumptive harmlessness notwithstanding, to its written agreement with GM was nonetheless added a remarkable proviso, that the bureau "refrain from giving out the usual press and progress reports during the course of the work, as [GM] feels that the newspapers are apt to give scare headlines and false impressions before we definitely know what the influence of the material will be."
Later, after forming a joint venture with Standard Oil, the Bureau of Mines contract was modified:
In one of its first official acts, the newly formed Ethyl Gasoline Corporation evinced renewed sensitivity to spin (not to mention a justifiably elevated level of paranoia) by insisting that its contract with the Bureau of Mines be modified yet again, to reflect that "before publication of any papers or articles by your Bureau, they should be submitted to them [Ethyl] for comment, criticism, and approval." Thus, as the public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz have observed, the newly formed Ethyl Corporation was given "veto power over the research of the United States government."

Well, the story of government and corporate complicity in keeping information about the dangers of lead in gasoline continued for decades. Example, "No sooner had the EPA announced a scheduled phaseout, setting a reduced lead content standard for gasoline in 1974, than it was sued by Ethyl and Du Pont, who claimed they had been deprived of property rights. In that same year, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit set aside the EPA's lead regulations as 'arbitrary and capricious.' "

Today we learn that the lead in the environment, brought to us by corporate crime, may be a primary cause of America's violent crime. Does this all sound a lot like the shady way the Bush administration makes sweetheart deals with its corporate cronies? Well, the Republicans would tell you that the business of America is business, and placing restrictions on corporations costs us jobs and hurts the economy. For decades the Republicans have articulated their ideology of "free markets" and deregulation of companies. And as result, we seem to have returned to the days when the government exists to protect corporate and wealthy interests from accountability to the public.

Blogger ate so much more that I had written and there is so much more in The Nation's report. So go read The Secret History of Lead and learn about one more way that the scourge of corporatism poisons our bodies and our country.


 



Blinding As Torture Technique

At TalkLeft: Detainee Blinded at Guantanamo,
"They held both of his eyes open and sprayed it into his eyes and later took a towel soaked in pepper spray and rubbed it in his eyes."
Go read WHY he was at Guantanamo.


 



Admitting Prostitutes To White House Part Of New Outreach Program, Officials Say

At The American Street




2/17/2005
 



Watch for Republican Sleeze

Just a quick note to point out something important I noticed on the news. The Repugs are starting a campaign to link Bush's plan to give "visitor" status to immigrants as a way to solve the illegal immigrant problem and allow them to work legally with what they are trying to sell as the Social Security "crisis". Yesterday they were arguing that since the "visitors" would pay taxes and the illegal immigrants don't, this would help pay for social security.

Don't let them get away with this. The "visiting" immigrants will have to go back where they came from. They would not be able to become citizens, live here, and eventually collect social security. If they won't be able to collect social security, they should not have to pay into the social security retirement system.

I fought this same battle in Iowa and then in Michigan years ago. My husband was a graduate student. In both states I worked for the state university and was required to pay into the state retirement fund. At the same time I was not allowed to register to vote because, since my husband was an out-of-state graduate student, I couldn't be considered a citizen of the state. I argued that they couldn't have it both ways. Either I was not a citizen of the state and shouldn't pay into the state retirement system because I'd never be able to collect, or I was a citizen and should be allowed to vote. In Iowa I didn't have to pay because I wasn't a citizen of the state, and I couldn't register to vote. In Michigan I did have to pay and could register to vote. The Repugs are setting up exactly the same problem if they pass their "visiting" immigrants bill. Don't let them have it both ways.

This morning I watched Greenspan being questioned by Congress. One of the topics brought up was the question of whether reforming the immigration laws to allow more immigrants to enter and hold low-paying jobs wouldn’t “help save Social Security.” It was not made clear whether the question was about immigration in general or Bush’s special visitor’s plan, but by the way it was presented I’m assuming it was the Bush plan. Sure, if immigrants are working, paying taxes, and will be able to become citizens who will eventually be able to receive Social Security benefits, they should make payments into Social Security. If not, that’s another matter entirely. You really have to pin these guys against the wall to be sure you know what they’re talking about.


 



Watch Your Back (Volume 5)

I still don't think that liberals and Democrats have any idea what's facing them. Below are a series of posts I made at Crooked Timber . I'm just republishing them almost verbatim because I have some other things going on right now. I also participated in a debate on Matt Yglesias's site which was entirely taken over by trolls. Ivy League liberals are really too nice to live.

People have to figure out that we're dealing with enemies, and vicious ones. This is not business as usual.

The original question was, "Why are liberals so feeble in dealing with the viciousness of the opposition?"

ONE

“Maybe it’s because, like Max Sawicky suggested, we dislike being assholes.”

Max should speak for himself.

I’ve thought for a decade that civil discussion of politics is no longer possible in the US. Liberals pitifully look around for dialogue partners, and what they get is stubborn, incorrigible gameplayers who are willing to affirm any sophistry and deny any fact.

In other circumstances the odious bigmacattack will self-righteously demand fairness and civility from others, but he personally is not capable of it and doesn’t try. Mentally the guy seems to function at the level of a football fan talking trash.

I date the end of civility from Newt Gingrich’s accession as Speaker of the House. Newt made a large number of over-the-top, scurrilous, ludicrous, dishonest smears of the Democratic Party, and that worked very well for him.

Some purported Republican moderates and rational conservatives are just stealth Republicans doing as much damage as possible in disguise. Others are pitiful lackeys who are in denial about the actual nature of their own party. Cutthroat movement conservatives run the Republican Party and the US, and the rest of them are just deluded irrelevancies.


TWO

My favorite example of Gingich’s nastiness was his attempt to blame the Democrats for the fact that Susan Smith murdered her two children.

Completely unjustified and loathsome, of course, but the kicker is that Smith had been sexually molested by her stepfather, Beverly (sic) Russell, who was a Moral Majority functionary and a member of the South Carolina Republican Party Central Committee.

Except for Robert Scheer, no one picked up the story. If the party affiliations had been the opposite, Gingrich and Smith would be linked in everyone's mind, like Mary Jo Kopechne and Ted Kennedy.

I, personally, like the odious bigmacattack, am willing to be an asshole. But the Democratic party to which I nominally belong is incapable of functioning in the real world of today.

THREE

The treason talk is not new. But since Bush won, it’s spreading into more respectable conservative circles. There’s blood in the water, and the people who call themselves conservatives want it all. Now.

Talk to me in a couple years, but I expect that the treason talk is going to become reality, with actual prosecutions (not necessarily specifically for treason) and physical attacks. It will start with strongly antiwar people who aren’t even Democrats, but the Democratic Party will always be in the sights.

I don’t actually think at all well of Ward Churchill, but I now regret attacking him a week or so ago. He’s just the first of a long list of names that they’re going to go after. They’re smart enough to attack the least appealing individuals first, in a classic salami-slice operation.

If I turn out to be wrong in this, I will be very happy and will let the whole world insult me with impunity.




 



More Lies

Go to THE BRAD BLOG and read the stories there, scrolling down, about how the US Government has used the SAME PHOTOS as "evidence" that Iraq, then North Korea, then Iran were building nukes. (The photos have, of course, started disappearing from government websites without explanation.)


 



Gannon -- Who Else?

I don't usually read Maureen Dowd anymore, but this was recommended, and it's good:Bush's Barberini Faun:
"I know the F.B.I. computers don't work, but this is ridiculous. After getting gobsmacked by the louche sagas of Mr. Guckert and Bernard Kerik, the White House vetters should consider adding someone with some blogging experience."
In case any readers don't know what we're talking about, Gannon is the alias used by a fake "reporter" for "Talon News" whose day job was a "military prostitute." He was given access to the White House, the President and secret CIA documents that identified the person in charge of keeping terrorists from obtaining nukes. (Think how much some countries and terrorists would have paid for that information! And a PROSTITUTE has access to it!)

The Bush Administration refuses to look into this or explain how it happened. The Republicans in Congress, of course, refuse to look into this - and they have the power to block the Democrats from effectively looking into this. The Republican Justice Department, of course, won't look into this. And, except for some columnists, much of the mainstream press is avoiding this. Dowd writes,
With the Bushies, if you're their friend, anything goes. If you're their critic, nothing goes. They're waging a jihad against journalists - buying them off so they'll promote administration programs, trying to put them in jail for doing their jobs and replacing them with ringers.
Meanwhile the Right's noise machine is trying to deflect the story and make Gannon out of be a victim of "liberal bloggers" who are invading his "personal life." (I'm not sure someone's day job is their personal life...) This seems to be providing effective cover for those who don't want to look deeper into what is going on in this "Party over country" White House.

And it keeps growing. It now turns out that this guy Gannon was already working in the Press Room BEFORE "Talon News" even existed! Representative Louise M. Slaughter just released a press release titled, "Rep. Slaughter Demands Answer: Why was Jeff Gannon in the White House Before Talon News Even Existed?", asking
"It has been a week since I wrote President Bush seeking answers in this matter. I have not yet received a reply. With each new revelation it becomes more and more clear that the relationship between the White House and Jeff Gannon was anything but typical," said Slaughter. "It is time for this Administration to stop the stonewalling and come clean with the American people," she added.
Update - Frank Rich writes in the NY Times,
By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news.
And, did I mention, it looks like Gannon was in the White House BEFORE Talon News even existed. Was Talon set up to give him a cover?

Imagine a scenario where a spy penetrates the highest levels of our government by pretending to be a right-wing ideologue. Wait -- looks like that has happened, too. More than once! But how many times has it happened? Who else? We asked "Who else?" about the first reporter being paid taxpayer dollars to spread right-wing propaganda, and that turned out to be only the tip of an iceberg. The Gannon story demonstrates that there are a number of things going on about which we should be asking, "Who else?"

And, finally, Digby hints at the emerging question.


 



Gannon's sex, lies and video tape: whys and why nots

Why was Jeff Gannon, aka James Dale Guckert, so reluctant to give his real name? And why is the Right virtually beside itself to deflect criticism of Gannon? We now know the answers --the pictures that reveal more than his privates -- they show the glaring hypocrisy of Conservatives and Christian Righties who denounce gays and thunder away at out-of-wedlock sex and can’t even handle seeing the breast on a bronze statue of Justice.As bloggers now know from the 162,000 references to Guckert/Gannon on the web, he has bared it all on the internet (warning-this AMERICAblog site is not worksafe). Even the staid Washington Post is tut-tutting, warning readers that these are not the kind of photos you want to view in mixed company. The hypocrisy came to head with a post by Susan G on DailyKos of Guckert/Gannon’s self description:
I'm a man who is white, politically conservative, a gun-owner, an SUV driver and I've voted for Republicans. I'm pro-American, pro-military, pro-democracy, pro-capitalism, pro-free speech, anti-tax and anti-big government. Most importantly, I'm a Christian. Not only by birth, but by rebirth through the blood of Jesus Christ.

I don't think being a conservatiave Republican, much less a Christian, includes urinating and getting an erection front of a camera and posting the photos on the web to solicit sex. Thus the question: why is the Right – and especially the Christian Right -- defending him instead of drumming him out of the party (and presumably out of whatever church he belongs to). Could the problem be a few other inconvenient facts, like the report on World o' Crap that Gannon/Guckert accused Democrats of working off DNC talking points while he was cutting and pasting RNC talking points into "news" stories. Or on the same post that he was subpoenaed to explain how he obtained a copy of a secret State Department Report claiming that Ms. Plame arranged an assignment in Niger for her husband -- an accusation and a document the CIA denies ever existed (for a full interview with Ambassador Wilson on his interview with Guckert/Gannon, see the same DailyKos post by the incredibly enterprising Susan G).

And finally, why haven't the Democrats launched the kind of full frontal assault on the White House Press Office over Gannon/Guckert that the Republicans launched on Clinton over Monica -- and the Republicans didn't even have pictures! At the very least, putting the President in the room with an apparent gay prostitute using a false name is a violation of security protocols. Gannon/Guckert is sex lies and video tape that exposes Republican and Christian Right hypocricy in so many ways. Why not use it?






2/16/2005
 



Funds for Koufax

The people who put on the Koufax Awards for Progressive weblogs might have to shut down due to shortage of funds. There is a donation button at Sisyphus Shrugged - good works made easy.


 



New Repug Trick

Just a quick note to point out something I noticed on the news this morning. The Repugs are starting a campaign to link Bush's plan to give "visitor" status to immigrants as a way to solve the illegal immigrant problem and allow them to work legally with what they are trying to sell as the Social Security "crisis". This morning they were arguing that since the "visitors" would pay taxes and the illegal immigrants don't, this would help pay for social security.

Don't let them get away with this. The "visiting" immigrants will have to go back where they came from. They would not be able to become citizens, live here, and eventually collect social security. If they won't be able to collect social security, they should not have to pay into the social security retirement system.

I fought this same battle in Iowa and then in Michigan years ago. My husband was a graduate student. In both states I worked for the state university and was required to pay into the state retirement fund. At the same time I was not allowed to register to vote because, since my husband was an out-of-state graduate student, I couldn't be considered a citizen of the state. I argued that they couldn't have it both ways. Either I was not a citizen of the state and shouldn't pay into the state retirement system because I'd never be able to collect, or I was a citizen and should be allowed to vote. In Iowa I didn't have to pay because I wasn't a citizen of the state, and I couldn't register to vote. In Michigan I did have to pay and could register to vote. The Repugs are setting up exactly the same problem if they pass their "visiting" immigrants bill. Don't let them have it both ways.




2/15/2005
 



Nutty Wingnuttery

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) starts tomorrow. This is absolute wingnuttery at its nuttiest. And there are bloggers covering it! There is a blog aggregator here: CPACBloggers - Bloggers Cover CPAC 2005. (A blog aggregator puts up all of the posts from all of the bloggers who are there, all in one place.)


 



Communicating With Journalists

John at AMERICAblog has a post, The Nation on Gannon/Guckert, where he writes,
Which brings me to another point. We ought to be nicer to some of the journalists. Nicer doesn't mean letting them get away with shit. It means not responding to them like Freepers every time we get ticked at something they write our don't write. I recently traded emails with one well-known journalist who has gotten a lot of emails from lefties criticizing him. Not that the criticism wasn't deserved - I think some of it was, in terms of how he handled the issue in question - but the criticism, and he sent me copies of the emails, were pure freeper. They were nasty, they were vulgar, they were uncalled for. Especially with this journalist. I'd rather not name names, but he wasn't exactly Ann Coulter.

All I'm saying is that, oddly enough, a lot of these journalists do actually read their email. They get your messages. I get your messages. Don't assume that just because you email someone "famous" or whatever that he or she isn't reading what you write. A lot of times they are. And at least in the case of journalists who tick us off, short of Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity, the soft touch can still win the day with these guys. Hell, even Bill O'Reilly likes me, and I like him too (don't get on my case), and as a result, there have been times when he was downright good on gay issues (he said he wouldn't object if gay marriage were legalized, he supports non-discrimination laws including gays, etc.)

My point is that you'd be surprised that journalists are people too, and a lot of time a lot of thoughtful emails might just get them thinking twice about something they've written or said or done. Telling them to fuck off may feel good, but it doesn't really achieve anything, other than convincing them that we're as bad as the freepers.



 



Deflections

what skippy says.

If you are following the Gannon story - the right-wing fake "reporter" who was somehow able to infiltrate the White House using an alias, even gaining access to the President and classified CIA documents - then you know that the whole right-wing machine is now saying this is all an attack by "liberal BLOGGERs" on the guy's "private life." Wow. This is how the supposed National Security crowd - "keep us safe" and all that - react. Do they demand that this huge hole in our national security be closed? Do they demand that someone answer for this? OF COURSE NOT! They use it as an opportunity to attack "liberals" while just making things worse.


 



"I don't expect Religious Right voters to ever grasp how fully they are used by Republicans."

Kos says it well:
I don't expect Religious Right voters to ever grasp how fully they are used by Republicans. The GOP is more interested in Wall Street than in their religious supporters. Hence, their priorities will be things like privatizing social security and capping tort awards against crooked corporations.

Gay marriage? Abortion? Those won't be important until mid 2006, when Republicans talk the talk to gain those votes. But when it comes time to walk the walk? Their priorities are elsewhere.



 



Standing Firm Against the Right

Krugman today, in The New York Times >The Fighting Moderates:
"By standing firm against Mr. Bush's attempt to stampede the country into dismantling its most important social insurance program, Democrats like Mr. Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer have, at a minimum, broken the administration's momentum, and quite possibly doomed its plan. The more time the news media spend examining the details of privatization, the worse it looks. And those Democrats have also given their party a demonstration of what it means to be an effective opposition.

[. . .] For a while, Mr. Dean will be the public face of the Democrats, and the Republicans will try to portray him as the leftist he isn't. But Deanism isn't about turning to the left: it's about making a stand."



 



"Guckert Gets FOIA'd"

Over at The Stakeholder: Guckert Gets FOIA'd. To fill you in, Guckert is that fake reporter who had access to the White House and the President, and received classified CIA documents that identified the CIA's person in charge of stopping terrorists from obtaining nukes. Everyone in the Bush administration is denying they let him in. So Congressman John Conyers Jr., and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter have sent a letter asking for Homeland Security records on security procedures, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In other words, "How did this guy get this kind of access?" I suspect they won't get them.

From the letter (but read the whole thing):
Recent news reports indicate that James D. Guckert, a Republican activist gained access to the White House press briefing room and Presidential press conferences in violation of standard security procedures and was allowed to work under the assumed name, "Jeff Gannon."

[. . .] We are concerned that such an individual was allowed within a few feet of the President when the public is routinely disallowed any possible contact with either the President or the White House. We understand that your security policies are developed in conjunction with the White House and want to ascertain your respective roles in this decision as it appears to deviate significantly from heightened security measures you have employed recently.
They can't get this info as members of Congress, so how are they going to get it as members of the public using existing laws? Over and over again we learn that it doesn't matter what the law is; The Party doesn't want Congressional oversight.


 



Now It's Comedians

News employees have been targeted by the right for saying things the Right doesn't like. Radio hosts like Howard Stern. You can think of others. But now comedians?

(Also see the post below the linked post.)




2/14/2005
 



Is There Still Any Question?

Go read about how Bush Labor Department Puts Wal-Mart in "Privileged Position" and the follow-up at Labor Blog.

The Labor Department finds Wal-Mart guilty of several violations, including violations of child labor laws. As punishment the Labor Department imposed a fine so low that actually encourages future violations, and then pays Wal-Mart by agreeing that from now on they will tell them when a complaint is filed, who filed the complaint, and then give Wal-Mart 15 days notice if they are thinking about investigating. In other words, good-bye complainer.

Is there any QUESTION at this point that the nature of our government has changed fundamentally? This government sees its job as protecting the rich and large corporations from the public.


 



Domestic Military Psy-Ops?

Heard about that false "reporter" working in the White House using an alias, spreading right-wing stories, obtaining classified CIA documents? At Crooks and Liars, a hint...

Could be nothing. Could be something.

Update - Or, did the White House give a special "every day" pass, access to the President, and secret CIA documents - naming the agent in charge of keeping terrorists from obtaining nukes - to a phony right-wing "reporter" who was a gay military prostitute?

(You know, this morning I try out an Ann Coulter/Drudge insinuation style ... and by afternoon reality just beats me down. You just CAN'T come up with stuff as wild as the things this crowd is actually doing.)

Let Digby say it:
I don't have a clue. But, I do know that if this were 1998, we'd be knee deep in congressional investigations into the gay hooker ring in the White House. Every news crew in the DC area would be camped out on JimJeff's front lawn. A wild-eyed Victoria Toensing and panting Kelly Ann Fitzpatrick would be crawling up on the Hardball desk rending their silk teddies and speaking in tongues while Matthews'exploding head spun around on his shoulders.

[. . .] Sadly, I think it's entirely likely that they didn't know about this until today. It is impossible to believe that the secret service and the FBI would allow a known prostitute to have access to the White House after 9/11. If they did, then our national security is in very deep shit. Come to think of it, it's also pretty scary that they didn't know. What's up with that?
Didn't know? How could they not know? You can't just get into the White House and ask the President questions, or get hold of secret CIA documents naming the agent in charge of keeping terrorists from obtaining nukes. Can you?


 



Kevin Caves

Hey Kevin, I have a better idea. How about we lower the retirement age back to 65, pay for that by raising the "cap" that lets rich people out of the payroll tax - the largest tax most of us ever pay, then repeal Bush's tax cuts for the rich, and just leave the best government program in history alone. It works. It works fine. There is no crisis.

Why did you fall into the Right's "need to fix Social Security" and "privatization of Social Security is the answer" traps? WTF happened to you? All you did was reinforce the lies.




2/13/2005
 



Wow - From The Right

Wow. Is there a break forming on the Right? Take a look at We Have Nothing to Fear but Bush Himself. Excerpts,
You see, the facts that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis' homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy to Iraq."

[. . .] The Bush administration, which already held the world record as the most deluded government in history, has now taken denial to unprecedented highs by blaming Syria and Iran for its "Iraqi problem." Why didn't Americans realize that it is dangerous to put a buffoon in charge of the US government who hasn't a clue about the world around him, what he is doing or the consequences of his actions?

[. . .] What is the point of the Bush administration's bellicosity when it has been conclusively demonstrated that the US has insufficient troops to successfully occupy Iraq, much less Syria and Iran? The American people should be scared to death that they have put in power such deluded people."
The author, Paul Craig Roberts, was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.


 



The Genius of Rove

This image shows you what we're up against..



 



Moon Bush

The Farmer has a post about Iran/Contra felon and Bush Administration member Elliot Abrams and his association with Rev. Moon, titled, "managed democracy"... ...and Elliot Abrams dances in the Moon-light. Excerpt:
Sun Myung Moon, 1987:
"There are three guiding principles for the world to choose among: democracy, communism and Godism?It is clear that democracy as the United States knows and practices it cannot be the model for the world."


Well, that doesn't sound very "patriotic" or freedom loving or democracy spreading does it? Hey?, where did all the Jesus shouting treason police wingnuts go? Where are all the hoots and monkey noises from the Cult of the 'W' Stofstrupp about the death of western civilization and Christianity when this diseased theocratic fascist cult-toad lets one rip? Huh? Where's all the foot stamping outrage! at the fawning exploits of Elliot Abrams. Oh yeah, I forgot. When it comes to guzzling the Moon-shine the right-wing faithful are all lined up at the back porch door; tin cups in hand.

It's a good thing the "True Parent" hadn't suggested that he was a model for some character from Love Story, or some similar horrible deception like that. For surely, had that been the case, the ferocious media sniff-dogs would have been at his heels like hyenas onto the scent of a wounded wildebeest.
I love this post. And why is it that the associations between the Bushes and Moon, and the Right and Moon are not talked about more widely? Is it one of those things that is just so weird that people think it couldn't be true? (Like the idea that the leaders of a country would make up lies to convince their people to go to war against another country?)

Remember the STF rule: when Republicans accuse others it's a good bet THEY are doing what they are accusing others of. And now they accuse others of being "against God" and of undermining Christianity, and things like that... while in cahoots with Moon the whole time. From the Farmer's post:
Grover Norquist and the College Republicans circa 1980's Robert Parry writes:
In the 1980s, Norquist was a leader of the College Republicans when they were getting subsidies from the secretive fortune of Sun Myung Moon, a South Korean theocrat whose organization has a long track record of illicit money-laundering. Moon was pumping tens of millions of dollars into American conservative organizations and into the right-wing Washington Times.

Some Republicans raised red flags, citing Moon’s history of brainwashing his disciples and his contempt for American democracy and individuality. In 1983, the GOP’s moderate Ripon Society charged that the New Right had entered “an alliance of expediency” with Moon’s church.

Ripon’s chairman, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, released a study which alleged that the College Republican National Committee “solicited and received” money from Moon’s Unification Church in 1981. The study also accused Reed Irvine’s Accuracy in Media of benefiting from low-cost or volunteer workers supplied by Moon.

Leach said the Unification Church has “infiltrated the New Right and the party it wants to control, the Republican Party, and infiltrated the media as well.” Leach’s news conference was disrupted when then-college GOP leader Grover Norquist accused Leach of lying.

For its part, the Washington Times dismissed Leach’s charges as “flummeries” and mocked the Ripon Society as a “discredited and insignificant left-wing offshoot of the Republican Party.” [For details on Moon’s ties to the GOP and the Bush family, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Over the next two decades, with billions of dollars from the likes of Rev. Moon and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the conservative media infrastructure grew exponentially, becoming possibly the most potent force in U.S. politics. - [see following link for source]
I'm quoting from Farmer's work a lot here, so I guess it's time ot send you over there to read and to follow the links.




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