Blog Visiting

I discovered Quest for Balance today.


Uppity Negro is finally added to my Essential Links.

Oh My God!

I apologize that I don't remember which weblog pointed me to The Beast's 50 Most Loathsome People in America 2002. I opened that page for later reading. Now I've read it, and please go scroll down to number 16 and read the one about Ari Fleischer. Here's a taste:
"He is a brazen challenge from the tri-laterals and Bildenbergs, etc., that they know that we, as the TV umbilical-cable-dependent, won't do anything to jeopardize our little no-compulsory-military-service, double-mocha-under-a-self-contained, climate-controlled indoor-suburban-shopping-theme-park-with-a-Botox-safety-net dream."
Read the rest. Read the whole list. #1 is ... well, of course.

Clipper Chip

The Bush Administration is now proposing a plan to monitor your internet use and enabling them to more easily intercept your e-mail messages.
"The official compared the system to Carnivore, the Internet wiretap system used by the F.B.I., saying: "Am I analogizing this to Carnivore? Absolutely. But in fact, it's 10 times worse. Carnivore was working on much smaller feeds and could not scale. This is looking at the whole Internet."
Check out this 1997 speech by then-Senator Ashcroft. The reason I'm writing now is that this speech was a flat-out lie. It was part of the ongoing right-wing campaign to discredit President Clinton among groups that would be his natural supporters - in this case discrediting him among internet users by claiming the Clinton Administration wanted to read their e-mail. In the speech Ashcroft says,
"The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications. The FBI wants access to decode, digest, and discuss financial transactions, personal e-mail, and proprietary information sent abroad -- all in the name of national security. To accomplish this, President Clinton would like government agencies to have the keys for decoding all exported U.S. software and Internet communications."
Let's look at what was going on. At a time when anyone could listen in on any phone call or e-mail message because no one was using encryption, the Clinton Administration was proposing to implement a universal encryption chip, called the "Clipper Chip," into all phones and computers, so that our phone and computer communications would be secure and no one could listen in except law enforcement - with a warrant. The Republicans intentionally spread the ridiculous lie that this was an attempt to listen in on our communications. Because of the cynical, suspicious anti-government environment that Republican messaging had created this lie caught on.

The basis for the Republicans' smear was that the Administration had a plan to allow law enforcement officials to break the code if they obtained a warrant. (Nothing would stop people from using their own encryption if they wanted to.) Ironically, this was specifically so they could listen in on potential terrorists. This is what the Republicans claimed was Clinton planning to listen in! Now remember, without the chip the government theoretically could listen in on any communications, because no one was using encryption. Clinton's plan to keep people from being able to listen in was described as a plan to listen in, and people bought it.

And because they were able to block this chip, no one is encrypting now. In fact, this is the very reason why the Bush plan is so dangerous! This new Bush plan to monitor all of our internet activities is possible BECAUSE they blocked Clinton's universal encryption chip. It just makes you want to scream.

Knowing that The Bush Administration is now proposing a plan to monitor our internet use, and even to monitor all of our e-mail messages, and this is possible because he was able to block Clinton's plan to get us all using encryption, read the rest of his speech. It's almost comical if only it weren't so terrible.


Thanks, CalPundit

for pointing me to this at D-Squared Digest: (scroll to Thursday, Dec. 18 - the links there are not working)
"Wouldn’t the political case for free trade be strengthened if one, just one American university took the opportunity to sack its professor of Economics and replace him with an Indian professor of Economics on half the wages? Just to sort of show willing, really."
Kind of hits home here in Silicon Valley.

Just Around the NEXT Corner

Echoing all the other predictions over the last couple years of a coming recovery: Prosperity is just around the NEXT corner.

Except for this,
The department said first-time jobless claims during the week ended Dec. 14 totaled 433,000. While that was down 11,000 from the prior week, it handily topped Wall Street economists' forecasts for 408,000 claims and remained above the 400,000 level that economists say signals stalled job prospects.
Saying it a different way, 400,000 is roughly the line where more jobs are being lost than gained in our economy.

And then there's this,
While consumer optimism strengthened, new orders for capital goods fell last month, which implies a recovery in the manufacturing sector will be delayed into next year amid a generally lackluster economy, he said.
Well, maybe the corner after that.


There's an article over at AlterNet, U.S. Intervening Against Democracy in Venezuela

Race and Republicans

Former Republican Rep. Pete McCloskey, writes about the history of the Republican "Southern Strategy," in today's SF Chronicle.

Voting Machines

I hope everyone got the point of this piece by Atrios the other day. Extreme partisan right-wing "Christian Nation" fanatics have been buying up the companies that make the voting machines.

Read this too, and get scared - and pissed off.

Here's a whole collection on this topic.


I want people to read "Don't Blame the Democrats" so in the left column I set it apart, put stars around it, and made it red. Read the earlier "Funding Progressives and Moderates" piece that is points to, as well.

I think it's important to all of us that we understand how to get out of this mess the right has us in. My recommended formula: Learn how the right became so effective, and then do that.


Carter's "Malaise" Speech

By now you've probably figured out that I'm not 25 because I'm old enough to remember some things. I remember Jimmy Carter. Today I was thinking about Carter's famous "Malaise Speech." (He actually never used the word "malaise," that was spin attached later.) Two sources I have located for reading the speech are here and here.

To understand the speech you've got to understand the times. (There's a good writeup on the context and background here.) The country had gone through the assassinations of JFK, RFK and King and the race riots. Also VietNam, Watergate, the Nixon Pardon, the "Church Committee" revelations of CIA assassination and government overthrow plots, and FBI spying and covert actions (more here) against Americans for political (always pro-right-wing) reasons. And, of course, the energy crisis.

But there's another thing that, looking back now, it is much easier to see than it was at the time. Carter was being attacked in a new way, by the newly-formed web of right-wing organizations funded by a few extremely wealthy individuals, corporations and foundations, and employing many of the CIA's covert-government-destabilization experts that Carter had fired following the Church committee hearings that exposed so much CIA wrongdoing. On top of the turmoil of the previous years the country was being subjected for the first time to a well-funded campaign of well-crafted anti-government and extremely partisan anti-Carter messaging. This kind of mean-spirited, harsh, extreme, cruel, mocking, ridiculing partisan attack that we're so familiar with today was not something that the public had been exposed to on such a scale in the 1970's. Until this time the country held together and worked with their leadership - you can feel so much of that attitude in Carter's speech.

In the speech he says,
"As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions."
Later, smug commentators would call Carter "naive."

One of Carter's areas of major legislative accomplishments was his comprehensive energy policy, and getting the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax passed to finance it. This made him some serious and wealthy enemies.

I discovered a great source for info on Carter here,
"Carter gained a reputation for political ineptitude, even though his actual record in dealing with Congress belied that image. His success rate in getting presidential initiatives through Congress was much higher than that of his predecessors Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and successors Reagan and Bush. One might expect a president with a majority in Congress to do better than presidents facing the opposition party majorities. But Carter was also close to Johnson’s success rates, and higher than Kennedy’s record. Carter did not like to bargain and remained arrogant and aloof, but at the end of the day, he usually wound up with much of what he sought from Congress. His major problem was that the perception of his leadership did not correspond with the reality of his performance."
We know now where "perception problems" come from, huh? Especially when you go up against entrenched interests like the oil companies.

They're Trying so Hard

The "Kerry haircut" story didn't fly. Now they're trying this - pointed to by Drudge with the headline, "Columnist Recounts Objectionable Kerry Quips..."

You'll see these daily soon, looking for something that will stick. And something will - that's how it works - and they're really good at it. People will remember the headlines and say, "I can't vote for Kerry, he says objectionable things."

Remember how they did it to Clinton? A new accusation almost every day. Remember the one accusing him of "selling Arlington Cemetery plots," and how, when it was revealed as yet another lie, one columnist defended the story because it "sounded like something Clinton could have done."


Bringing Back the Violence of the Past

The history of U.S. interference in Latin America is not good. I'm talking about a reign of torture and murder.

After Nixon and Kissinger helped Pinochet to take over in Chile there was a reign of terror. In Argentina's "Dirty War" it was the "Disappeared." Terrible human rights abuses in Honduras. In El Salvador it was the "Death Squads." In Nicaragua the Contras killed thousands of civilians! And there is so much more that happened.

Now we're at it again, and it's being run by the same people, (more here, and here,) involved in the terrible violence of the 80's.

It's time to become informed on events in Venezuela. Start by learning about the history of the "secret wars" of the 80's. And don't forget Iran/Contra (more here). This is a horrible chapter of America's history and it looks like the Republicans are bringing it back. Remember, Ollie North is a hero to this crowd!

A personal note - researching this brought back memories of this period. I'm sick to my stomach now, thinking about the horrible crimes these people committed and got away with. (Some pardoned by Bush 1.) To think that events like these could happen again is terrifying.

Update - another story here about Bush giving jobs to people involved in past crimes in Central and South America.

More Venezuela

A comment following the entry below referred me to El Sur, which is an excellent source of info on the situation in Venezuela. In addition to Through the Looking Glass, The Watch has also been following events in Venezuela. It's time to pay attention to this story.



I've been thinking about Venezuela, and then I come across this at Through the Looking Glass. My thoughts? This looks like a classic CIA destabilization operation, coming right on the heels of the recent clumsy US-backed coup attempt.

Update - I had the wrong link posted for this. Some bloggers put their links at the start of entries, some at the end, and I grabbed one from the end which was really the start of the next piece.


Free Pie writes that Iraq isn't likely to use smallpox as a weapon because they aren't vaccinated.

Think about this. In a few months WE WILL be vaccinated.

Lefty Weblog Awards

P.L.A. has launched the Koufax Awards "for the best of left of center blogs".
"We will accept votes by comment or email. A Blue Ribbon panel consisting of Arthur Anderson, Katherine Harris and Ken Lay will tabulate the results. Ari Fleischer will announce the winners shortly after the turn of the year. If we can locate one, each winner will receive a free link to Sally Fields’ Oscar acceptance speech (“you like me, you really like me…”).

If you have any categories you think should be included, please send them along with your votes by email or comment."


I hope everybody regularly reads The Hamster!

The Poor Should Pay More

Instead of commenting myself on the Washington Post story about the Bush Administration saying how the poor should pay more taxes, I'll let this guy say it.


Rich against Poor

I came across this excellent analysis, Rich against Poor by Douglas Rushkoff.
"But I think what the US current regime exposes through its policies and actions is a much less complex and more typical struggle: rich against poor. The Bush regime's economic, environmental, and military adventures can all be understood quite easily as the maintenance of the short-term interests of the wealthy over the long-term interests of the poor."
Really worth reading! Go check it out.

Update! - Oops, the link is fixed now.

The Party of the Confederacy

There's an informative May 15 BuzzFlash piece about the Republicans becoming the Party of the Confederacy here.

Don't Blame the Democrats

Everyone is blaming the Democrats for not offering voters a clear vision of their policies and programs. But I don't think that the entire burden should rest on the politicians.

The Republicans have in place a broad "idea development and communication infrastructure" that has successfully moved the public to the right. This involves "think tanks" like the Heritage Foundation supplying position papers, talking points and commentary that goes through a marketing department and are endlessly repeated to the public through so many channels, from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News to the Washington Times. This communications machine has been called "The Mighty Wurlitzer."

After the public has been barraged with the messaging from The Mighty Wurlizter, the Republican politicians step in and harvest the results.

Here's how the right manages to have such an infrastructure in place, while progressives and moderates are left struggling with each other and barely getting their messages out to the public. There's a lot of money out there on the right, but there's also a lot of moderate and progressive money out there. The difference is that the right uses its money to provide general operating funding to organizations that exist to come up with ways to convince the public to vote Republican. The moderates and progressives have traditionally provided money for specific programs with the intent of doing good in specific ways. This is a huge difference. The idea is that this program money is more results oriented, but look at the results. The right uses this machine to get politicians elected that carry out their agenda, which involves dismantling almost everything that the moderates and progressives have been funding. When this happens, the moderate and progressive money is wasted.

Return on investment. So this difference can be looked at as an ROI problem. The return on investment of moderate and progressive program funding is low, because it was not designed to counter the current destructive opposition from the right. Moderate and progressive funding needs to start taking this into account, and building an infrastructure that reaches the general public with messaging that moves underlying attitudes back toward moderate and progressive principles. This would provide an environment where moderates and progressives can get public support to protect the programs that are so important to all of us.

It's not up to the Democrats (or the Greens) to build this infrastructure. It's up to US. Of course, go here to find out more about how this can be done.

Update - I posted a previous entry on this topic here.