Zizka's Vanitysite.net has a story about the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arresting some environmental activists for sabotaging logging trucks.

You gotta go read this one. Zizka writes, "Anyone who believed that the FBI and the Bush Administration would not abuse the blank check they were given by the Patriot Act and the War on Terrorism should now realize that these new powers will be used entirely freely, whether or not the case in question has anything to do with real terrorism. Nobody should really be surprised."


OK, TBOGG earned a place in the Essential Links. They pointed me at what they said was the coolest website they have ever seen.

Funny at TBOGG

Funny poem over at TBOGG. A sample,
A is for Ashcroft, the Crisco-anointed

B is for Bush, not elected. Appointed

C is for Condi, she missed all the clues

D is for daughters who sure like their booze
Go take a read.

Go See

Go on over to Maru's WTF and scroll down to Thursday's picture (the links aren't working right.) Then scroll down to the "With All Due Respect, Mr. President" poster.

Planet Swank

Have I mentioned Planet Swank? I've been meaning to. Read his discussion of Christopher Hitchens and Iraq here.

Overwhelm as a Tactic

A while back I wrote a piece called Overwhelm, in which I wrote, Some days the bad news flys at you so fast ... it seems like the Bush strategy is to overwhelm people by doing so many bad things that you lose track and give up... I've been trying to pin down what it is about this, it seems like an effective tactic.

Today I saw a piece by Ted Rall, titled Permanent Revolution, that explains it.
... Bush's biggest cribbing from the Hitler playbook is "permanent revolution." Developed by socialist theorist Leon Trotsky in 1915 and applied by such totalitarian masters of control as Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, permanent revolution is the pinnacle of the art of mass distraction--one continually changes the subject of debate by striving for new goals that are always just beyond reach. The idea is diabolically simple: by the time people start grumbling about the problems created by your Great Leap Forward, you're causing new difficulties with your Cultural Revolution. Opposition takes time to materialize; taking the nation from one crisis to the next neutralizes your enemies by focusing them against initiatives you've already abandoned.

On the domestic front, Bush has launched so many political offensives that it's impossible for what's left of the left to launch a coordinated resistance. Fast-track signing authority for free trade, expanded tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while running up the deficit, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rounding up detainees and depriving them of due process, unraveling environmental regulations, union-busting, curtailing privacy rights--any one of these full-scale assaults would require a full-court press by liberals to block or overturn.

In a blizzard of legislative and regulatory activity, virtually everything on the right-wing wish list is now being proposed. Previous presidents spaced out their initiatives in order to build popular support; Bush prefers to leave elected representatives out of the equation. The more legislation he throws at the wall, the more he'll get passed--and the more people will forget that his is an illegal regime.
Please go read this piece.

My Faith in Economists...

PART of the confusion in yesterday's employment numbers is explained at the end of this NYTimes story.
Still, economists agreed that September's household survey, which showed a gain of 711,000 jobs, was far too optimistic. About half of the increase came from the survey's overestimation of the number of teenagers who would quit their jobs at the end of summer. When fewer teenagers than usual left the labor force in September — perhaps because the economy made summer jobs hard to find — the Labor Department's seasonal adjustment counted a large increase in jobs.
OK, it's complicated. They measured about 350,000 fewer teenagers leaving jobs at the end of summer than usually leave jobs at the end of summer, so they chalked it up as teenagers taking 350,000 NEW jobs that opened up.

What REALLY happened was that at the BEGINNING of summer 350,000 fewer teenagers than usual were able to find jobs, so they couldn't be leaving them at the end of summer. I mean, DUH! What were these people thinking? They said the numbers looked this way because 350,000 teenagers took jobs at the end of summer.

What do teenagers do at the end of summer? They go back to school. But the economists didn't think of that. Not a good day for the reputation of economists. Perhaps they are more than a little out of touch with "regular people."


Here's a good one to test out the new COMMENTS capability!

Today's San Jose Mercury News contains the following letter,
[A previous letter writer] could not be more disingenuous. His analogy is flawed. A more accurate and truthful analogy would be:

I have a dispute with a man in another city. Over the years, we have not only traded threats, but we physically fought over his having broken in and plundered my neighbor's home.

Over the years, the police have been called out but there was nothing they could do. This man is known to have killed members of his own family and has experimented with weapons on his neighbors. This man has a reputation throughout the city of being insane, unpredictable and dangerous. He surrounds himself with armed gangsters. He supports the local gangs and pays them to commit murder and mayhem. This man is known to be experimenting with dangerous chemicals and at the same time, continues to threaten me and my neighbors. I am convinced this man at some point in the future will kill me and my family.

Am I justified in buying a weapon and traveling to this man's house to shoot him dead before he comes after me? You bet. In fact, the law would probably find me justified in killing him. That is what the Bush Doctrine is about.
Never mind that this wild analogy falls apart in several ways. I think it is irresponsible for this newspaper to publish such a letter. You get a letter from a guy fantasizing that a guy across town means him harm, claiming this justifies his buying a weapon and shooting the man dead. You don't PUBLISH a letter like that, you take it to the POLICE! Publishing it puts the paper's credibility behind the notion that such action is justified. Nuts reading this might believe the information is correct and act on it.

I think this shows what could happen to the world if Bush gets his way. A "pre-emptive strike" against Iraq tells India to go ahead and invade Pakistan, China to invade India or Taiwan, etc.


I'm trying out comments here for the first time, so please help me test them.


Over at Eschaton

Over at Eschaton they've got a good discussion going in the comments attached to the posting, talking about how the Republicans are going after Democrats as unpatriotic, and "hating America" and the rest of the stuff they're spewing. (Should I start having comments here?)

Here's my contribution, posted both there and here (but spellchecked here ;-) :

It's worth noting that the very core of the Republican Party now encourages & even pays good money to get this stuff out to the public. TownHall.com is part of the Heritage Foundation - go see their links to Coulter, etc. Listen to Limbaugh's vicious hate attacks on people - yet the Vice President was on his show recently. Bush put several of the nastiest anti-Clinton people into policymaking positions, and he has rewarded the people who physically attacked the vote counting in Florida.

This is clearly part of their strategy. There's no way around that at this point. It must serve their purposes so they do it. It is not a lot different from the brownshirts attacking rallies of your opponents, and serves much the same purpose. But this kind of stuff encourages a violent, hateful segment of society, and encourages others in that direction. This stuff is what got McVeigh fired up - and now their star Anne Coulter says she only wishes McVeigh had bombed the New York Times building instead!

The times have become rather scary. When you see your opponents using these tactics - this is way beyond Nixon - you start thinking about what might be coming if they aren't stopped. If you REALLY mean it when you say they are fascists, you need to start thinking about how to protect your family.

Today's Google Experiment

Back in the Reagan days I used to spend time arguing online with right-wingers (on CompuServe! - I even had a back-and-forth with Limbaugh once.) I used to research budget numbers and other statistics to refute the right-wing arguments, like "tax cuts cause revenue to increase," "welfare causes women to have more babies," and of course the old Republican standard, "blacks are less intelligent than whites." (I was working on a never completed book.) Eventually I came across a website of a guy doing very similar work - Steve Kangas and his Liberalism Resurgent pages. He was even in the same town as me, although I never met him.

So for today's Google experiment, let's look up Steve Kangas, author of the Liberalism Resurgent website. Scroll down and look at some of the references.

Don't miss this great page.

And ESPECIALLY don't miss this one and this one.


I need an economist to write to me and explain today's jobs report. The press is reporting good news - unemployment went DOWN to 5.6% from 5.7%, while the economy LOST JOBS.
The U.S. economy shed jobs in September for the first time in five months, the government said on Friday in a report that highlighted the uneven pace of the U.S. economic recovery. Payrolls outside the farm sector fell by 43,000, in contrast to the 5,000 gain private economists had predicted, the Labor Department said. But in another unexpected development, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in September from 5.7 percent in August.
I had understood that if the economy lost jobs in this report, this was the worst possible news, that we're heading for a dubya-dip recession or worse. September marked the first payroll decline since a 21,000 job loss in April.

But then there's this. Offsetting some of the gloomy news in the September figure, however, was a sharp upward revision in August payrolls to a 107,000 gain from a previously reported 39,000 increase. Did YOU see any of those jobs where YOU are? Certainly not here.

And one more thing. He said that recently, the household survey has been boosted by the number of teenage workers who have held on to their summer jobs, rather than leaving the workforce as many do in the fall. What ever happened to SCHOOL?


Oppo Costs Money

Why is someone doing extensive opposition research on Barbara Streisand? It isn't cheap. The work required to do this kind of full-time digging into your past, your finances, etc. costs money. The message is that WHOEVER YOU ARE, if you come out publicly against Bush, the Republican Machine will commence with their world-famous character assassination.

Gotta Go Read

You're dismissed from Seeing the Forest class early today so you can go read "Oil Be Seeing You" over at MaxSpeak.
The print media have published maps showing the build-up of U.S. military bases in the 'oil patch' running from Saudi Arabia through Iraq and the "stans." What's in prospect here is a geo-strategic interest in dominating a region, not simply grabbing a concession in Iraq. No specific oil asset (or means of conveyance, like a pipeline or port) is the lynchpin for the policy. It's the whole shootin match. The world economy depends on the output of this region for the foreseeable future. There could hardly be a larger prize.
We'll be checking so don't use the time to skip out and smoke a joint in the parking lot.

And the Check Goes To...

Not waiting for Congress to actually PASS the bill (who needs Congress, anyway), and not worried at all that the press might point out that the program is nothing more than a funding channel for the Republican Party (forget about government funding for religion - that was only the cover story), Bush has started handing out "faith-based" checks. And the first check goes to ... THE CHRISTIAN COALITION!

A while back I wrote about the Cato Institute getting the HUGE government contract to provide oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve...

I wonder if the Democrats in the Senate are going to hold hearings. NAH!

Hope You're Sitting Down

A new book published by the Republican Machine accuses "Democratic operatives and journalistic naysayers" of "questioning the administration’s every move."

OK, calm down. Yes, I know this exactly describes happened to Clinton, and I know that this is the thanks that the Democrat leadership gets for supporting the President after 9/11 and continuing to support him now. Never mind truth. Never mind reality. This is a tree. Don't let it get to you. See the forest - this is what the Republican Machine DOES. The trees will drive you absolutely crazy.

Remember, watch what they DO, not what they SAY. And remember, when the Republican Machine accuses the Democrats of something you can bet that it's because it's something the Republicans are doing. Like when Bush said, "The Gore campaign will say anything and try to win at any cost."


Skippy Said It

Skippy wrote what I was going to write. So go read it here. (Also here, an earlier story that is in the same vein.) And he even left out that auto sales dropped last month and home foreclosures are at a 30 year high. I can't bear it either.

After reading Skippy, go here.

More Ranting

I wrote earlier about a "BILLIONS of dollars spent by small cadre of ideologues."

Here's what I'm saying. You open your newspaper and see an op-ed piece, and it's by a "scholar" from some "institute" somewhere, maybe the Hoover Institute. Then you read a column on the same page by maybe George Will or Mona Charen that says something similar about the same subject. Then you open a magazine and there's an article that uses the Heritage Foundation as a source. Later you watch Fox TV and see a couple of guys, one from Americans for Tax Reform and another from the Center for Security Policy. Then you change the channel and a speaker from Capital Research Center is talking. You turn on the radio and it's Sean Hannity or Rush and they're quoting from a report from Southwest Legal Foundation or Free Enterprise Partnership. You see that Congressman Delay is speaking. You buy a book published by Regenry Publishing, by a scholar from the Manhattan Institute. You get on the web and check the Drudge Report and there's a story on the UPI wire service saying the same things. All of them saying something similar on the same subject.

So maybe you think you've just heard opinions from 10 or 13 different sources. Sounds like there are a lot of experts who are in agreement that something is a certain way. And after enough of this it is very hard to think that things are a different way, since so many experts from so many different directions have this opinion.

Maybe they're saying, "Social Security is going broke," or "public schools are failing." These are things that have become "conventional wisdom" because everyone has heard these things over and over from so many sources over so many years that everyone KNOWS they're true.

Guess what. You have just heard from Richard Mellon Scaife, maybe the Bradley Foundation and maybe one or two others. That's all. (Look them up here.) You DIDN'T hear a number of different "voices" - you heard a lot of voices all paid to say the same thing in creatively different ways, and with tons of cash put into making them seem like credible experts.

Non-war Scenario

Picture a non-war scenario. The election proceeds with war issues masking economic problems and Republicans pick up the Senate, gaining them a majority in both houses, plus the Presidency. They continue reshaping the entire government in the libertarian vision, making the tax cuts permanent (shooting to hell any change of ever getting the government out of debt or paying the Social Security of the boomers when it comes due), get rid of any remaining environmental regulations & any other regulations that corporations don't like, get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, etc., pass the faith-based funding initiative giving tax funds to Republican backers. Lucrative government contracts of course continue to be awarded to key Republican funders. Etc.

Meanwhile suppose U.N. inspections in Iraq find very little, or nothing & it turns out that the war thing really WAS a sham to boggle the election, with Bin Laden now forgotten and Israel-Palestine a complete mess.

So there we would be with two elections now behind us where the Democrats would have won but for Republican lies and manipulations, the prior Democratic Presidency destroyed by a carefully planned and well-funded plot. There we would be with the country evenly divided but the Republicans only involving their party and their wishes, taking nothing the Democrats or the public say into account. There we would be with these "movement conservative" Republicans continuing to transform the government into a libertarian image of a country ruled by the rich, while masking their agenda from the public.

As I've been documenting and will continue to research and post here, this is the result of BILLIONS of dollars spent by a small cadre of ideologues with a long-term hidden agenda. If this sounds paranoid and conspiratorial, go do your homework ("Best Of" links on the top left of this page). They really HAVE spent billions getting here, and billions buys lots. They really DO have weekly meetings to cordinate their activities.

If this doesn't make you mad ...
After Bill Clinton won the presidency, conservative Republicans feared that they would be reduced again to an embattled minority. To prevent this, a group of political operatives, journalists, lobbyists, and politicians began meeting in several, interconnected groups to plot a comeback. Key players included Norquist, Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, talk show host Rush Limbaugh (who maintained a Washington office), the editors of The American Spectator and The Washington Times, Paul Beckner of Citizens for a Sound Economy, Georgia Senator Paul Coverdell, Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich, and Texas congressmen Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. Norquist convened representatives from many of these groups--including the National Right to Life Committee--at a regular Wednesday meeting. Another group that included business lobbyists met under the auspices of Beckner and Coverdell. During Clinton's first two years, their principal aim was to block the president's proposal for national health insurance by any means necessary, including the spread of scandalous rumors.
They really do meet weekly to coordinate their activities and message. The Republican Party coordinates with the NRA, Christian Coalition, Limbaugh, Washington Times and all those right-wing front groups...

Spelling Checkers

Hey, how come Blogger Pro's spelling checker doesn't know "Blogger," "bloggers" and "blogs"?


Noted in this morning's New York Times,
As criticism of the weekend bombing raids around Basra, in southern Iraq, reverberated through foreign capitals, the White House today pressed ahead on multiple fronts to win United Nations support for a toughly worded draft resolution calling on President Saddam Hussein to disarm immediately or face a full-scale military attack.
Reverberating through foreign capitals -- and not even barely reported in the press at all here in the U.S.

Bloggers knew. But do YOU know anyone who knows that we have been conducting bombing raids on Iraq? Tell everyone you know that they should read blogs. (Especially this one.)


Pension Problem News

The corporate pension problem that I've been writing about is starting to reach the mainstream press. Today's San Jose Mercury News has a story about the problem.

What's going on is that companies are underfunding their pension plans, and as the article says, this is an "accounting time bomb". When stocks were rising the holdings of pension funds were sufficient to pay upcoming pensions without the companies contributing from revenue, so the companies were able to report higher profits. Now stocks are down so the will companies have to make up the difference. But they are allowed to estimate a return on their investments as part of calculating whether they have enough saved to pay for future retirees - and they are using unrealistic return estimates like 10%. Can YOU get 10% on your money these days? The companies are saying they can.

And even with those estimates they are going to have to come up with a ton of cash after this year ends, which will mean they will report lower profits, which will further depress the market, which will reduce the holdings of the funds, etc. From today's story:
Countless investors could be surprised when Fortune 500 companies finally acknowledge problems. ``Keep an eye out as we break past the end of the year,'' warned Adrien LaBombarde, who helped write Milliman's pension study. Pension problems ``will be 10 times bigger at the end of the year, when the financial statements start showing this.''

Uh Oh

I just read a scary article about abrupt climate change.
The very recent freshening signal in the North Atlantic is arguably the biggest and most dramatic change in ocean property that has ever been measured in the global ocean. Already, surface waters in the Greenland Sea are sinking at a rate 20 percent slower than in the 1970s.
You should read it, too.


Atrios pointed me to P.L.A., where there is an excellent piece on Bush's ("divider-not-uniter") divisiveness, plus some follow-up at Green[e]house Effect.

Don't forget that the Republican Machine launched a campaign to blame clinton for 9/11.

What If We're Wrong?

Lately I've been hearing the Republican machine cranking out a rebuttal to the "there is no evidence" argument - as in, "there is no evidence of any imminent threat from Iraq, nothing has changed in years, why now?"

They answer, "What if you're wrong?" Republican Sen. Inhofe said this today on CNN, responding to Sen. Feinstein.

This is similar to the old anti-Clinton argument, "The lack of any evidence of any wrongdoing is proof of a massive cover-up."

Do we start attacking countries BECAUSE there is no evidence that there is an imminent threat, because we might be wrong about that? Should even Canada be worried about us?