Halliburton employee killed in Iraq

Will we see this in the mainstream news? The Agonist: Halliburton employee killed in Iraq.

The Debate

I haven't seen the Democratic candidates' debate yet. I taped it, and I'll watch it tonite or over the weekend. (From a local PBS channel at 11pm. And no one covered it live -- this is really lousy coverage of issues so important to an informed democracy by our "liberal media.")

Today I see news stories with headlines like "Democrats turn fire on Bush." So I'm thinking, a while back Bush was perceived as really popular, and the public was perceived as wanting to support war and tax cuts, so the campaign consultants were telling the manufactured candidates to act like Bush. But now Dean is really popular. So all the campaign consultants are telling their manufactured candidates to act like Dean. (Except, apparently, Lieberman's consultants, who are telling him to BE Bush.)

Rick Makes A Good Point

In his post Momentum, Rick Klau makes a good point. We've been hearing the bad news that 2/3 of Democrats can't even name a single one of the presidential candidates. (Thanks to the lousy coverage of issues so important to an informed democracy by our "liberal media.")

Rick points out:
"This presidential campaign is very, very different. We have candidates who are raising more money from more people than ever before (proving that people are interested in politics, and willing to put their money where their mouths are). We have campaigns who are redefining what it means to build grassroots organizations. And at a time when 2/3 of Democrats still can’t name a single candidate in the race, campaigns are turning out tens of thousands people to hear them speak."
That's right - never before have we seen crowds of 5,000 or 15,000 people turning out to see candidates before the first primary. This time, both Dean and Kerry have been drawing crowds like that! When people start to pay attention to the campaign, it's going to be just amazing!


"Chocolate Makers"

Not found in the regular US press anywhere (Washington Moonie Times doesn't count for anything), this from Hi Pakistan (also found it here):
In unusually blunt language that drew surprised gasps from reporters, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher scoffed at Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg for continuing to support the proposal that they first introduced at a mini-summit in April.

He described the April meeting as one between "four countries that got together and had a little bitty summit" and then referred to them collectively as "the chocolate makers."
I know this has been noticed in blogistan, but I was wondering if it made it into any regular press so I checked here.

This is really serious. This happened as part of the official State Department press briefing. Here is the actual transcript. Isn't this the kind of thing the public has a right to learn about? Isn't this the kind of information that helps us make informed decisions when we choose who our leaders will be?

Oh yeah, "chocolate makers," we're in a jam and need your help in Iraq.

Hartmann At Common Dreams

A Thom Hartmann article, Blood, Oil, and Tears - and the 2004 Bush Campaign Strategy:
"These former oil industry executives know their priorities. When George W. Bush spoke on national television to announce the start of 'war' against Iraq, he looked into the camera and asked to speak directly to the Iraqi people. He could have appealed to their nationalism, and asked them to join our soldiers (or at least not shoot at them) in toppling Saddam. He could have appealed to their knowledge of the peaceful side of Islam and asked them to go to their mosques, which we would protect from bombing, and pray for a quick resolution of the conflict. He could have apologized in advance for the death and destruction he was about to unleash on their land, that would kill many times more innocent civilians than died in the World Trade Center, and promise that the US would do our best to make it good after the war.

But these were not the things on Bush's mind. Instead, he said, 'And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells...' "
Good point.

Your Overtime Pay

This just came in:

My name is XXX and I work in the media outreach department of the AFL-CIO. I realize that you also think it is important to save overtime for 8 million working families and I was wondering if you would be willing to put our URL on your blog as a link for people to write their representatives to vote for the Harkin amendment.

The URL is www.saveovertimepay.org

Thank you.

In Solidarity,


How Much Harm Bush Has Done

What if...

What if North Korea, observing that our forces are stretched too thin in Iraq, completed a couple of their nuclear weapons, and sold one of them to al-Queda? What if the administration learned of this, and needed to warn the public and quickly draft and mobilize civilian defense forces to watch all of our ports and borders?

What if...

What if Libya or Iran or the IRA or the Aryan Nations was about to do something terrible and Bush needed to come to the public and ask for sacrifice and preparation?

Would anyone believe Bush, if he came to us with this?

What if this happened just before the election? Would anyone believe him? SHOULD anyone believe him?

The problem is that Bush did something like this, just before the LAST election, and used it to take the Senate and solidify the House, and then got us into a war, and gave fat war contracts to campaign contributors and family friends -- and now it turns out that it was all entirely based on forged evidence and lies and distortions.

The whole adventure was entirely for political and economic gain and not for reasons of national security. So he has used up all of the good will a President has. And he has completely politicized the national security arena.

Look at a thousand potential scenarios and think about the damage Bush and the right-wingers have done to the country with their lies and their military adventures.

What if...?

Pensions Again

I have occasionally (and here) written about the huge problem of underfunded corporate pensions.

There's a bit of news on this today: Underfunded Pensions Double in U.S.

Last Night's Dean Meetup

Following is an e-mail I just sent to a friend who asked about the Dean meetups:

This meetup was special. The next one will be the first Wednesday in October.

At the previous two meetups we did a special project of writing letters to voters in Iowa, then New Hampshire, because those are the states with the first primaries. Since then, and maybe partly as a result of these letters Dean has surged way out ahead in the polls in those states.

But this time we did something different. Let me tell you about it. Dean's campaign theme is "The Great American Conversation." The idea is to get Americans talking to each other again, as a community. So after finishing the usual meetup activities -- announcing campaign news, then asking people to come up and tell the crowd why they came (sort of like an AA meeting), then showing some short videos -- we took a break and then broke the group up into groups of 5-10 to just talk to each other about what is going on in America and how they feel about it, and what Dean's positions are on the issues. The idea is to get people used to talking about these things, so they will go out and start these kinds of conversations with other groups, and encourage THOSE people to do the same.

The bigger idea behind this is to change politics in America, and bring it back to being about regular people talking to each other and being involved. It went over so well that when the meetup ended, three of the tables all stayed just to keep talking. There were about 100,000 people signed up to attend meetups around the country last night, so there is a real potential for this to have an effect!

The Dean website is http://www.deanforamerica.com. Also there is a very interesting campaign weblog, which brings people into the campaign as participants, and people leave their own comments there: http://www.blogforamerica.com. To see comments, look at the bottom of each weblog entry and click where it says "Comments."


F**king Deregulation

The profit incentive: Hundreds of Rule Violations Tied to Possible Blackouts. What do you f**king expect? All deregulation means is letting corporate executives do whatever they want in order to pocket the most money.

I was home a couple weeks ago with a cold, so I was watching the cable news channels a bit. I came across Dennis Kucinich talking about the East Coast power blackout. I think it was Lou Dobbs, but I'm not sure. The anchor asked Kucinich what "incentive" energy companies would have to provide electricity to the public if they were regulated. Kucinich answered something along the lines of, "They're ENERGY COMPANIES! They're SUPPOSED TO provide ENERGY to the public. That's what energy companies are supposed to f**king DO!" (Emphasis added. Actually most of the words except 'the' and 'to' were added, but it loosely expresses the nature of what he said.) (Also: Good for him!)


What's all this crap about companies and executives needing "incentives" to do their f**cking jobs?

Oh yeah, speaking of doing their jobs, where were the FERC (That stands for F**king ENERGY REGULATION Commission) when these companies were violating these regulations?


Join A Union

New union welcomes all -- working or not
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is expected to announce in Detroit today the formation of a newfangled national labor union that is specifically for employees who don't have union representation at work.

Working America will serve as a voice for nonunion -- and even unemployed -- workers on labor issues such as jobs, health care and education, Sweeney is to tell the Detroit Economic Club during a luncheon at the Cobo Conference Center.

Unlike many unions, such as the UAW, Working America will not be industry- or workplace-based and will have no bargaining power. Instead, it will recruit members through a neighborhood-based, door-to-door campaign that the AFL-CIO tested in Cleveland and Seattle.

In August, the executive council of the AFL-CIO gave Sweeney authority to issue a charter to Working America on a provisional basis and to issue bylaws for the union, including an initial dues structure. Information about fees was not available Tuesday or on the group's Web site, www.workingamerica.org

The goal of the new union, though, seems to be less about money and more about promoting a social and political agenda for working-class people. So Working America may be likened to the AARP, which collects dues to advance its platform for retired Americans.

The AFL-CIO's push for the union comes as the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, and the union federation begins more loudly challenging President George W. Bush's record on jobs, the economy and other workers' issues.

"The overwhelming majority of working Americans rejects this anti-worker, antifamily agenda and is ready to overturn it, but lacks a movement to make its voices heard," the AFL-CIO said on its Web site, referring to the new union.
I'm joining!


The Magic 400,000

400,000 is supposed to be the magic number for "new jobless claims." New Jobless Claims the number that comes out on Thursdays, telling how many people filed new unemployment claims the prior week. 400,000 is a "rule of thumb number." They say if the number is above 400,000, the jobs situation is getting worse. Under 400,000 they say it's getting better. In other words, if the economy is not gaining or shedding jobs roughly 400,000 people are expected to lose their jobs and 400,000 other people will find new jobs every week.

So it turns out the magin number is really 357,000.

Some Math

I was reading this article, Combat wounds proving less deadly:
"American soldiers in Iraq are surviving combat-related injuries at a markedly higher rate than in past wars, according to a review of casualty figures from Iraq and other recent US conflicts."
I have a math degree. That means I know this means there are many more injuries happening per death in this Iraq qWagmire than we would tend to expect.

Update - I was right.
The number of those wounded in action, which totals 1,124 since the war began in March, has grown so large, and attacks have become so commonplace, that U.S. Central Command usually issues news releases listing injuries only when the attacks kill one or more troops. The result is that many injuries go unreported.
[. . .]
Fifty-five Americans were wounded in action last week alone, pushing the number of troops wounded in action since May 1 beyond the number wounded during peak fighting.
[. . .]
Since the war began, more than 6,000 service members have been flown back to the United States. The number includes the 1,124 wounded in action, 301 who received non-hostile injuries in vehicle accidents and other mishaps, and thousands who became physically or mentally ill.
It says something that the press is less afraid to report things like this.

This Is Heavy

"This Is Heavy" - That's 60's talk. Sorry. Anyway, this is worth reading. And look who wrote it! AVRAHAM BURG: A Failed Israeli Society Collapses While Its Leaders Remain Silent

This Will Be Interesting To See

Exit Polls From '02 Election to Be Released (washingtonpost.com).

I'll be especially interested to see the results from states like Georgia that were using electronic voting machines with no way to verify whether the machines recorded what the voter wanted, and where the election results did not reflect the polls just before the election.

Kerry Makes It Official

CBS News | Kerry Makes It Official:
"'In challenging times we need leadership that knows how to make America safer, that knows how to put America back to work,' Kerry told the crowd. 'The president has misled America and he has made our path more difficult as a result.'
[. . .]
"I reject George Bush's radical new vision of a government that comforts the comfortable at the expense of ordinary Americans," Kerry said. "George Bush's vision does not live up to the America I enlisted in the Navy to defend."
[. . .]
Kerry was joined by crew members of a Navy gunboat he commanded in Vietnam, where he won a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Introducing Kerry was former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam combat. It is all part of Kerry's core argument that his military experience gives him unique credibility among the Democratic contenders to confront Mr. Bush on national security issues.

"I am running so we can keep America's promise -- to reward the hard work of middle class Americans and pull down the barriers that stand in their way and in the way of those struggling to join them," Kerry said.
[. . .]
"Americans have always had the extraordinary courage to do what's right for the country," said Kerry. "He (Bush) has turned it into a game for the privileged."
And then the oops:
"Some in my party want to get rid of all tax cuts -- including those for working families," he said. "That's wrong. We need to be on the side of America's middle class and I've proposed a tax cut for them because it's the right way to strengthen our economy."
My plan was to blog Kerry's announcement, let him speak for himself, and congratulate him. I was so READY to give him a good day as he announces. And if the wins the nomination, to enthusiastically support him. And then he does that, and the nature of this blog post has to change because he slams other Democrats for doing the right thing. It's like the guy REALLY just doesn't get it. Dean was slamming other Democrats for NOT doing the right thing, for supporting the right's agenda of tax cuts and causing massive deficits and getting rid of the government so corporations could take over. But Kerry tries to distort Dean's position as a trick to get votes. The POINT of Dean's campaign is no more tricks to get votes, no more kowtowing to the right, adult responsibility with money, restore the soul of the Democratic Party... Kerry indicates here that he sees politics as posturing and playing to what he thinks the public wants to hear.

Update - Just to be clear, what Dean wants to do is repeal the Bush tax cuts. He doesn't want to get rid of "all" tax cuts, as Kerry said. And the Bush tax cuts didn't go to "the middle class' and certainly not to "working families." Kerry should pretend they did, just to get votes.


Who Is Our Economy For?

"If the idea is for business to employ as few people as possible and keep their pay as low as possible — well, how's that good for me? Who speaks for me?'"

Photo-Op Uh-Oh

I love this headline: Bush Visiting Union Workers for Labor Day. Especially when you remember that every time Bush shows up for a photo-op like this, something bad happens to whoever or whatever he posed with. If it's a special program for kids, they gut the program the next week. If it's a special forest program, we find out that the forest is going to be cut down.

And considering what Bush has ALREADY done to the labor movement, you really gotta worry about what's about to happen to the International Union of Operating Engineers.

You'd think that people would be figuring this out and not letting the guy come anywhere near them.