Choosing a Candidate

Liberal Oasis has a great post on choosing a candidate to support.

As for me, I just got back from an excellent Dean house party.


Hate Mail

I've been getting some hate mail since posting this about the Green Party sign that disrupted Governor Dean's candidacy announcement.


A Comment I Posted

Over at Brad DeLong's, on the effects of the Bush tax cuts:
OK, so the effects of the tax cut are not what the Republicans said they would be. It isn't about creating jobs, etc.

With everything Republicans SAY these days, you have to put your hands over your ears, and look at the effect of their ACTIONS to discern why they are doing something. What they SAY is just a smokescreen - a diversion. The EFFECT of these tax cuts is that the government has to borrow perhaps $400 billion this year, and maybe even more, and continue to do this every year from now on. This means we won't be able to pay Social Security, Medicare, or do anything else the government needs to do. And it means we'll instead be paying out massive debt interest checks to ... well guess who! (Over $300 billion interest payments this year.)

Maybe what the tax cut DOES is why they DID it.

Corrupted Absolutely

Read this story to understand the extent of the absolute, flat-out, wide-open, blatant, bald-faced, unhidden, shameless, arrogant, complete and total corruption of the Republican Party.

God Said

Zeitgeist has a piece with an Israeli newspaper claiming a quote from Bush saying directly that God told him to strike al-Queda.

Income and Taxes

New York Times story, Very Richest's Share of Income Grew Even Bigger, Data Show:
The 400 wealthiest taxpayers accounted for more than 1 percent of all the income in the United States in the year 2000, more than double their share just eight years earlier, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. But their tax burden plummeted over the period.
But wait, there's more:
All of the I.R.S. data is based on adjusted gross income, the figure reported on the last line on the front page of individual income tax returns.
This is a very important point in any discussion of income and taxes. This is the ADJUSTED income AFTER DEDUCTIONS. Here is a bit about why this matters:
The figures do not include the incomes of the many wealthy Americans who use shelters to reduce their reported incomes below the level of the top 400.

In 1999 and 2000, for example, William T. Esrey - then the chief executive of Sprint, the telecommunications company - earned more than $150 million in stock option profits, lofting him onto many lists of the best-paid corporate managers.

That income might have put Mr. Esrey in the I.R.S.'s top 400 taxpayers. But, as later came to light, Mr. Esrey bought a tax shelter from Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, designed to let him delay reporting the profits for tax purposes until the year 2030. Sprint's board forced Mr. Esrey to resign in March after he acknowledged that the shelter was the subject of an I.R.S. audit.
Got that? This is the income that they could not hide from taxes. There could be a tremendous amount of income that is not included in reports like this one. So when you hear right-wingers complain that the poor, suffereing rich pay a high percentage of income taxes, remember that the share of income they receive is also high, and even the shocking studies showing that the very richest are bringing in extremely high incomes - an ever higher proportion of the country's wealth - don't report the income that is sheltered from the IRS. This report, for example, saying that only 400 people receive over 1% of all the income in the United States, is skewed because it only report SOME of the income they receive!

The concentration of wealth and how it is affecting the economy is a great subject for discussion.

Oh yeah, one more thing from the story:
A second report that the I.R.S. will make public today shows that the number of Americans with high incomes who pay no taxes anywhere in the world has reached a record. In 2000, there were 2,022 Americans with incomes of more than $200,000 who paid no income tax anywhere in the world, up from just 37 in 1977, when the report was first issued.


An E-Mail I Received

I received the following e-mail, and am passing it along:
As some of you already know, two weeks ago I turned in my official letter of resignation at work. Monday was my last day as a software engineer. What now, you might be asking?

I have never been a Democrat and I have never supported the local members of the Democratic party. I never cast a vote for Bill Clinton. Yet I, like many others in this nation, Republican and Democrats alike, feel the right wing ideologues currently in charge of our country have gone too far.

For the first time since 1929, the right wing of the Republican Party controls all three branches of the government. What have they given us? Fiscal conservativeness? A balanced budget amendment? No. They have given us the largest budget deficit in U.S. history so that the people who ran Enron can receive tax cuts. Rather than balancing the federal budget they are repealing the estate tax, which affects only the top 2% of America. When pressed to instead raise the bar for the estate tax exemption to $4 million permanently, they have instead chosen to repeal it altogether. They talk about Homeland Security, while at the same time their budget policies are forcing communities all over the country to lay off police officers and fire fighters. They talk of "No child left behind" while teachers across the country are being laid off due to lack of funding. They talk of the "Clear Skies Initiative" which allows polluters to dump more toxins into the air. They pass a "Patriot Act" that compromises the Constitution by eliminating "Due Process of the Law", gutting the 4th Amendment, and allowing the government to conduct surveillance of any U.S. citizen with reduced checks and balances. They talk about "revisionist history" while leading conservative pundit Ann Coulter releases a new book arguing that Senator Joe McCarthy was "misunderstood" and a saint!

Some of you may have heard about the recent FCC vote on media ownership. FCC Chairman Michael Powell, against the wishes of over 95% of the Americans who wrote in on the issue, voted to raise the restriction on ownership limits on television and media. Republicans often argue for free markets, yet this is not just another market. Media is the fundamental vehicle for our constitutional and human right of free speech. This is why moderate Republicans led by John McCain have teamed up with Democrats to fight to overturn this decision.

The Republican Party used to be the party of fiscal responsibility and patriotic duty. Although these people are members of the Republican Party, they ARE NOT REPUBLICANS.

Some of you may have heard of Howard Dean, the 12 year former Governor of Vermont, who yesterday officially announced his candidacy for President of the United States. As Dr. Dean said in his speech yesterday, 'President Kennedy challenged us to "pass the torch to a new generation of Americans." And so, we must issue that challenge again.'

For the next year and a half, I am going to be joining 38,000 volunteers from around the country who want our country returned to us. For too long, my generation has sat on the sidelines and not engaged in the political conversation in this country. We have avoided talking about politics with our friends, our family, and especially our parents, out of fear that they may not feel the way we do. It is time for this to end.

Some of you may have heard of Dean and support his ideas, yet do not believe he can win the nomination. Well, Governor Dean recently won the Wisconsin straw poll. He is a frontrunner in all of the major polls. Last Thursday, I witnessed the Governor giving a speech to the San Francisco Bar Association that left the entire 500+ attendance audience on their feet clapping and cheering. Dean is slated to win the online MoveOn.org primary, the leading online organization of my generation, by such a wide margin that the other candidates have begun to question its legitimacy for the sole purpose of discrediting its obvious significance.

And the media? Fox News reported there were 1500 people meeting up yesterday to support the Governor's declaration when there were really closer to 30,000. Newspapers around the country sought to de-legitimize our movement by reporting that "at least 2500 people" (AP) or "more than 1000" (LA Times) showed up for the declaration, when the Burlington fire marshal himself closed down the entrance to the square because the crowd had grown to over 5000. The Bush administration, sensing a growing political force, attempted to monopolized the media by holding a policy speech at precisely the same time that Governor Dean was announcing his candidacy.

The media is not going to educate us. They are not interested in promoting a civic debate. They are not going to help us maintain a vibrant democracy. Yet we have a weapon far stronger than they do: the Internet.

Please, read the Governor's speech and look into the issues yourselves. Get involved. Attend a local Meetup event. Make your own voice heard. If you are a member of MoveOn, vote for the Governor by the end of today.

We have the power to win this battle, but we must do it ourselves.

Chris Zychowski
Great letter. (Actually no one is expected to win the MoveOn primary.)

By the way - a few hundred readers are going to be asking -- just WHERE is that software engineer job opening up?


Dean On Meet The Press

I just watched the tape of Gov. Dean on MTP. I thought Russert was just fine, and did a good job. He was doing his job, getting answers for his viewers, asking tough questions, and nothing is wrong with that. I only wish that at least ONE reporter would have asked - or will EVER ask - Bush similarly tough questions! I think there is a scandal that they do not and the public is right to be demanding a press that does its job!

To me, Russert wasn't hostile, he was tough. I think if you are going to be on Meet the Press for an hour you ought to be prepared for the questions that opponents are throwing at you in the press. As they say, this is the big leagues. I don't think you should have stock-prepared answers that you repeat over and over, but I don't think you should be trying to find words to answer questions that obviously are going to come up. It is not unfair for Russert to ask about things people are writing, and because these things are appearing in the press - fairly or unfairly - Dean should be able to respond. This is nothing compared to what's coming from the Right and I have supported Dean because he said he is going to fight back.

In the military questions I think Russert asked appropriate questions and was fair. He said he was asking the questions to which people are going to want to know the answers, and he was right. I'm surprised if Dean does not have someone around him who anticipates questions like these and prepares him to answer. I think he has a great point that it is 6 months from the first Democratic primary - but on the other hand he has himself an hour on MTP to respond to the things that have been thrown at him lately, so he might have been better prepared. Bush was an ignorant guy who was finally convinced to do his homework on the campaign trail. I don't want Dean to get a rep as a smart guy who doesn't do his homework. (Also Dean missed a big opportunity to point out that Bush was aWol.)

His answer to the gay marriage question was the correct legal answer, which is good. But for a minute it looked like he was trying to avoid saying something that would alienate middle America rather than leading people toward the humane position. But he recovered and recovered well.

All that said, I think Dean did a good job, could have been better, and that he will learn from this. I understand the situation with his son had just occurred and that certainly cut into preparation time and threw him off balance a bit. There's 6 months before the first primary. I trust this guy, I agree with most of his positions. I feel that he is a natural leader. He even got me thinking about the death penalty with his answer on that question, so I respect his position. (I support the death penalty in only one circumstance - a person who has killed, is repeatedly violent in prison, and is obviously and seriously dangerous to the life of prison guards. I think the only ethical position there is to support the death penalty or guard that prisoner yourself. I could be convinced that I'm wrong.)

Candidates at MoveOn

I've been reading all the candidates' replies to MoveOn's questions. I have to say ALL of their answers are great, and informative! (Except Lieberman - see below.) Also, their statements to MoveOn members an be found by clicking on their pictures here.

There is a Lieberman statement but the page has this statement regarding his participation in the questions: "The Lieberman Campaign opted not respond to the MoveOn interview."


A speech by Senator Byrd that every American should read. Send it to your friends and family.
It is in the compelling national interest to examine what we were told about the threat from Iraq. It is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was faulty. It is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was distorted.

Mr. President, Congress must face this issue squarely. Congress should begin immediately an investigation into the intelligence that was presented to the American people about the pre-war estimates of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the way in which that intelligence might have been misused. This is no time for a timid Congress. We have a responsibility to act in the national interest and protect the American people. We must get to the bottom of this matter.
Well, Mr. President, this is no game. For the first time in our history, the United States has gone to war because of intelligence reports claiming that a country posed a threat to our nation. Congress should not be content to use standard operating procedures to look into this extraordinary matter. We should accept no substitute for a full, bipartisan investigation by Congress into the issue of our pre-war intelligence on the threat from Iraq and its use.
And there is no possible reason an Amdinistration would not want to get to the bottom of what happened ... unless...

Please read the whole speech. We're witnessing history shaping up here.
Mr. President, the American people have questions that need to be answered about why we went to war with Iraq. To attempt to deny the relevance of these questions is to trivialize the people's trust.

The business of intelligence is secretive by necessity, but our government is open by design. We must be straight with the American people. Congress has the obligation to investigate the use of intelligence information by the Administration, in the open, so that the American people can see that those who exercise power, especially the awesome power of preemptive war, must be held accountable. We must not go down the road of cover-up. That is the road to ruin.

Gary Hart

Gary Hart has some good posts up.
But the war on terrorism is now the excuse for America to assume imperial powers and to employ those powers even when our traditional allies oppose our actions. The war on terrorism is fundamentally altering our global policies. We have discarded our half-century reliance on the Atlantic Alliance for collective security. We have marginalized the United Nations at the precise time it should have been empowered to undertake peacemaking roles. And we have alienated key regional powers, including Russia, China, and India, at a time when we should be encouraging them to assume greater responsibilities for regional stability.

All this has transpired in the space of a few months without congressional hearings or review, any comprehensive statement by the administration, serious editorial discussion, or public debate over this new foreign policy. Throughout American history major departures in foreign policy have been the occasion for lively, even contentious debate. This has not been the case as the war on terrorism morphed into the centerpiece of a new imperial foreign policy.
And a great supplement to what I wrote the other day:
Second, we've had satellite surveillance of Iraq for many years. Either destruction or movement of large quantities of weapons of mass destruction (many barrels; many trucks) would have been detected. Let's quit pretending that these weapons, at least in the quantities that we've been warned about (and not to say the delivery systems that were being urgently built, so we were told), have become part of an international shell game. No one in the intelligence community believes that, and neither should we.
Thanks to uggabuga, who got it from Roger Ailes, we find this in the Washington Post:
In a U.S. News & World Report column about frivolous lawsuits, owner Mort Zuckerman serves up a couple of doozies:

"A woman throws a soft drink at her boyfriend at a restaurant, then slips on the floor she wet and breaks her tailbone. She sues. Bingo -- a jury says the restaurant owes her $100,000! A woman tries to sneak through a restroom window at a nightclub to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She falls, knocks out two front teeth, and sues. A jury awards her $12,000 for dental expenses."

Great stuff -- and, unfortunately for Zuckerman, totally bogus. Two Web sites -- StellaAwards.com and Snopes.com -- say the cases of the soda-slipping Pennsylvania woman and the window-wriggling Delaware woman are fabricated, and no public records could be found for them.

Zuckerman has plenty of company. A number of newspapers and columnists have touted the phantom cases since they surfaced in 2001 in a Canadian newspaper.

Ken Frydman, Zuckerman's spokesman, did not dispute that the pair of cases in the column two weeks ago were imaginary, but would not address whether the magazine will publish a retraction.

"These cases were reported in a variety of other reputable publications, such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the London Telegraph, and Mr. Zuckerman could have cited dozens of other cases," Frydman says. "Few Americans would disagree with the proposition that there are far too many frivolous lawsuits filed."

In a letter to the magazine, Mary Alexander, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, chides Zuckerman for using "phony, nonexistent lawsuits that have been widely exposed as 'urban myths' to justify his assault on our legal system."
Does anyone remember when President Clinton was accused of selling plots in Arlington Cemetery? (Especially read this.) When the story was shown to be fabricated (it was in a Moonie magazine - Insight) one pundit wrote that it was a justified story because it "sounded like something Clinton could have done."

Totally fabricated "news" reports are OK, because they fit the line that someone is paying to drive into the public mind. Would it be interesting if we learned that the same people (search for "tort") who are behind the anti-Clinton efforts were also funding the tort reform movement?

By the way, why is this Zuckerman story fabrication somehow different from that Blair did at the NY Times? Why are ANY of the reporters and pundits who went after Clinton still employed?


Dirty Tricks & Differences

I'm watching Governor Dean's declaration of candidacy on the web, and have to make one comment. I see that the Green Party is practicing Republican-style dirty tricks. They're trying to ruin his announcement by holding up a giant Vote Green sign right behind him, so it's the backdrop that everyone sees. Nasty. I think it says a lot about the Greens that they emulate the Republican model of no respect for others.

Another thing I notice is that there are no goons "escorting" the sign holder away from the camera's view. We all know what would happen if someone tried this at a Republican rally. I wonder what would happen if Dean peop-le tried this at a Green rally? We don't know because they haven't - in fact they have reached out to the Greens.

Update -OK, I was unfair to the Greens there. It was one or two people holding up that sign, not the Green Party. I was trying to provoke a couple of regular Green commenters I have here, but I was a little too harsh. Sorry. And the darn comments aren't even working today anyway.

How To Counter The Right

Over at The Left Coaster they're continuing the discussion of how to get a moderate/progressive message out. Go have a read and leave a comment.

Here's a comment I left: (EDMMLB -- Edited to make me look better.)

Reply to CTDem2 - "Toss a thousand coins, and 700 come up heads; the next thousand coins will probably bring the average closer to center."

Not if someone is catching the coins in the air and then placing them on the ground heads up. This is the analogy to what the right is doing to our society.

Societies do not self-regulate. In fact, once the mechanisms for moderation are removed - as has happened here with the right wing takeover of the press, the courts and the media, history shows that they become more extreme.

We're all going to have to donate our time, energy and money to combating the right and restoring moderating influences to our society. It isn't going to happen by itself.

Reply to comment from pessimist -- I don't think the fault lies with the Democrats. Politicians respond to the public. The right changed the PUBLIC, and that is how they took over the Republican Party. They were able to do this because Scaife and a few others stepped up to the plate and provided the money. On the moderate/progressive side our philanthropists are NOT funding the kind of organization that can make a difference - except in the case of Podesta's American Majority Institute. But while that is a very necessary component of what we need to do, it is a short-term, "hot issues" Washington-focused organization. This is much needed, but without working to change the broad, general public it is only going to fight a defensive action to try to hold back the onslaught.

What we need is for our philanthropists to step up to the plate and start funding organizations that work over the long term to change the public BACK to moderate/progressive principles. We need a Scaife of our own, and a few others, to start funding progressive ADVOCACY organizations, that work to change the broad, GENERAL public back to progressive principles of helping each other, supporting equality and democracy, respecting community, supporting collective bargaining, and other ways that people work together to combat the influence of money. This means things like working in the South and the Midwest and churches - advertising at auto races, football games, writing general-interest books, producing movies, etc.

It's a big task, but the model is in front of us. The right has been successful and we can look at how they did it. They build their system over time using a trial-and-error approach. By following the model they have developed we can take advantage of what they have learned and get this going in a much shorter time.

One thing we need to do is recognize just how broad the right-wing infrastructure is. The people you see speaking on TV are FUNDED. People like Bill Bennett are FUNDED. The organizations that promote their ideas are FUNDED. Their activists are FUNDED! And this is what WE need as well!

But there is MORE money on the moderate/progressive side - and there are MORE people. The problem is that our philanthropists are funding narrow-focus environmental programs, etc. This is great, but with the right's attack going on it's almost useless - a waste of money. If they would divert 10-20% of that funding to building a broad progressive infrastructure similar to the right's, developing public support of progressive principles in general, then this public support leads to progressive candidates getting elected - and even leads to environmental organizations, etc. having a broader base of funding support - all of which leads to the accomplishment of the very goals that the original narrow-focused programs were trying to achieve! It is an INVESTMENT and it will pay results. So the philanthropic community - the foundations, etc. - need to wake up and see that their money is wasted without building broad public support for progressive principles.


No Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq

The Wurlitzer is trying out the focus-group tested "he hid them or moved them out of the country" excuse for no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) being found in Iraq. I want to remind you of something. Before the war, when the inspectors were still in Iraq, the Bush people were saying that they needed to be able to talk to scientists in private, with their families protected, so the scientists could feel safe telling them what they knew.

Well, now we control Iraq (mostly), and we're not only able to protect the scientists and their families, we're certainly offering unbelievable rewards to anyone who can bail Bush out and provide evidence of WMD. So far no scientists, no technicians, not even any anthrax-lab janitors have come forward to say that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We haven't found any storage locations, not even recently emptied. We haven't found any labs. No trucks for moving them to war zones. No remotely guided aircraft. No soldiers who talk about having seen stockpiles of curiously guarded bombs or shells. No anything. Nowhere. Nothing.

Whatever the reason we got into this war - intelligence failure, people hearing what they want to hear, intelligence agencies ordered to manipulate information, manipulation of our entire intelligence process by Iraqi exiles, flat-out lying by fanatics intent on starting a war for geopopolitical conquest, or just an old-fashioned scam to seize the oil, loot the country and give lucrative construction contracts to cronies - we have invaded a country that did not threaten us, we're stuck there now with soldiers dying and this will go on for years, the world hates us, and the government and the administration have no credibility left.

It is urgent that we remove this President from office and begin attempts to repair the damage.

Why Bush Must Be Removed -- A Comment I Left

Here's a comment I left, to this post over at Daily Kos: (edited to make me look better)

When a President of the United States comes to the public and says there is a threat and he needs our support to deal with it, then we gotta go along. He might be right. He might know something we don't. It's the President's job, so we gotta trust him on this. It's our security, and our lives on the line.

So if a President abuses this, or even uses this incompetently, where does that leave us? Breaking down the trust between the public and Office of the President on this kind of thing it opens us up to doubt or cynicism if there is a next time. This endangers the country.

There is no question that the Office of the President was misused over the Iraq issue and over national security issues. Calling for a war vote before the election was an abuse - it necessarily brought politics into the issue when it could have been avoided. Creating the Department of Homeland Security the way they did was pure politics. Saying there was an imminent threat from Iraq when, at the very least, the intelligence did not support such a claim, opens the public up to doubt the next time a President needs to protect us from an ACTUAL threat.

This is why this President must be removed from office. He has broken the bond of trust between the public and the Office of the President on the most critical issue, and politicized the process, and this has placed us all in danger should there be an ACTUAL threat to our nation and our lives in the future.

Update - this continues in the post above titled, "No Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq."

Pundits and Blogs

I read the San Jose News on paper, then onto the web and read the NY Times and the Washington Post every morning. I read the professional high-paid pundits like David Broder. Usually, they are a yawn. (Krugman's never a yawn, but his day job isn't pundit.)

And then I read things like this post, Dwarves and Midgets by Steve Gilliard over at Daily Kos. Compare this GREAT piece to the tired inside-the-beltway crap you read from the professionals, who are pulling in hundreds of thousands a year. There just is no comparison. That's "old media." Blogs are new media.

Reading some of the great stuff I find on weblogs feels a bit like when Clinton won in 1992 and we all felt so good about a new generation taking over from the tired old politics-as-usual crowd. Blogging isn't a new generation, it's a new way of expressing opinions. New media. I think if Gilliard got a job as a pundit making hundreds of thousands he would probably become a tired boring David Broder. (Wow a number of bloggers are pissed at me now! They were hoping blogging would take them to the top-tier make-a-million level.)

Anyway, good post, Steve.

He's Baaaack

Digby's Back!