This Is "Reporting?"

NY Times today, in After 19 Years in Senate, Kerry of Today Is Far From Kerry of 1985:
"When he first entered the Senate, in 1985, John Kerry was a proponent of a nuclear arms freeze and he joined other liberal Democrats in challenging numerous elements of President Ronald Reagan's military expansion. He called the build-up unnecessary and said some of the weapons systems were useless.

Mr. Reagan's military expansion was subsequently credited for helping hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union."
WTF??? It was? Credited by who? The Soviet Union did not increase their spending by one thin dime in response to Reagan's huge military buildup. It had nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This is a good example of how lies, repeated over and over, become "conventional wisdom."


Some Facts on the Spanish Election

The hawks' interpretation of the Spanish vote is mostly wrong.

First, several days before the bombing the election was already very close (42 - 38) and trending toward the Socialists. Second, the biggest issue for the voters who switched was the aggressive dishonesty of the Aznar government, which went so far as to mislead the U.N. and German police officials. Third, while Aznar's party did support Bush in Iraq, its counterterrorism policy per se was not very good. And finally, the Socialists are not planning to surrender to terrorism; they are simply rejecting Bush's leadership and his discredited strategy.

The Spanish Socialists are not alone. They were followed almost immediately by several Central American countries and South Korea. President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland meanwhile expressed serious doubts about the way the war had been sold. (Kwasniewski's initial statement had said that Poland might withdraw from the coalition, though a later statement, which presumably had been made under pressure, declared that Poland would stay.) And finally, the Dutch are also showing signs of restlessness.

Furthermore, during the controversy about Kerry's claims of foreign support, any one of the coalition members could have come forward to make clear that it was Bush whom they supported. But no one did -- not Tony Blair, and not even Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who met with Bush recently.

The hawk's conclusion is that the formerly plucky Spaniards have been mysteriously transformed into loathsome Old European appeasers -- and that Western civilization is doomed. A more reasonable conclusion is that Bush's Iraq-based counter-terrorism strategy has almost no international support, and should be replaced by a different and better counter-terrorism strategy. It's Kerry's job to make that case.

(Searching "Aleksander Kwasniewski" in Google News seems to show that the Polish story didn't get much coverage in the US, and that the later statement of Polish support got more coverage than the earlier expression of doubt. So it never really happened.)

Bloggers of the World Unite!

Bloggers of the World Unite!



Where's The Party?

Salon's War Room agrees with me about Kerry's bad week, so they must be brilliant:
"But this isn't just Kerry's problem. It's a party problem, and one for anyone who wants to see new leadership in Washington. Which begs the question: Where are Kerry's surrogates? Where is the unified Democratic Party we heard so much about during the primaries? Howard Dean came out to support Kerry on Wednesday, and ended up generating controversy by suggesting Bush's war in Iraq led to the Madrid bombings. Dean later clarified the remark and reporters chased Kerry until he distanced himself from Dean."
Yes - where is the party? As Atrios pointed out yesterday (also agrees with me, therefore also brilliant) in the post United They'll Stand
"The Democrats have about 250 members of Congress. They have numerous official and non-official allies. They need to figure out how to use them to run this campaign in the 24/7 news cycle in a media landscape which is much more fractured than it was back in 1992. At any point in time, they need to have dozens of people ready to fan out to every possible media outlet and perform the inverse judo flip any time the Bush machine turns on the slime. There should be a small army, including a couple top generals, ready to lend their voice on any subject at any time. They should be briefed and prepped with the latest talking points, and they should be out there screaming them at every opportunity."
So how about it? WHERE"S THE PARTY?

Here's A Way To Help

Earlier I asked how we can get the word out about Bush's lies? Here's one way, but only if you send them some moolah: MoveOn.org Voter Fund.

Go watch their Polygraph ad, then send some MOOLAH to help them get it on the air!

The Media Fund

This is a group running ads in swing states, attacking Bush: Make America Work For Us. Go throw them some money! And watch their ads.

Chickenhawk Alert

Over at Altercation today:
"And speaking of Cheney, did you know that he received four 2-S draft deferments -- granted to students -- from 1963 through 1965 while he was a student at the University of Wyoming. He married Lynne in 1964, and was thus banned from the draft.

But in October 1965, the Selective Service announced that married men without children could then be drafted. Exactly nine months and two days later -- on July 28, 1966 -- his first child was born. Cheney hadn't waited until her birth before he sought a 3-A deferment classification -- given to those with dependents. He did so when Lynne was only 10 weeks pregnant."

In Salon: Bush's war on truth

Salon.com News | Bush's war on truth:
"The Bush campaign is twisting the meaning of a quote from Sen. John Kerry to the breaking point, making it clear that the president and his supporters will not allow facts to get in their way."
Yes, we know. He lies. They just lie.

But so what? You and I, we read weblogs, so we know all about this. The public doesn't know it, and hardly anyone is telling them. Weblogs don't count. You and I are in an "echo chamber;" WE know things, so we assume everyone does. In fact, what we know and understand is very different from what the rest of American knows and understands. Remember, the most recent polls still show that half of all Americans think that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks, had WMDs and that we found them. Every time someone calls Iraq part of the "war on terror" this just confuses matters further. This is a "frame" they have put together, and each time it is repeated it reinforces itself.

The Right has the entire AM radio band broadcasting 24/7 telling America how Kerry and Democrats lie to them, and that "the liberal media" should not be trusted, especially if they report things that are bad about Republicans -- like that they lie. The far right has FOX News and the NY Post and Drudge and most of the TV pundits and most of the newspaper pundits, and ALL the Republicans all repeating the same line over and over. And then, the rest of the media is "centrist" which means they don't want to appear "extreme" by pointing out where the President is lying. This is not to mention those in the mainstream corporate media who are not rightists but are outright spouting a pro-Bush line.

In fact, the Bush people are so brazen and sure of themselves that President Bush said the other day, I think if you're gonna make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts. Imagine what universe America lives in when the Bush people can get away with saying that KERREY needs to back up his accusations with facts!

So how do we get more and more people checking "progressive" news sources, so that they will learn about what is really going on? The news is here, but we have to get people to it.

Voting Machines

People For the American Way has come out for verifiable voting machines. See Protecting the Integrity and Accessibility of Voting in 2004 and Beyond. Item 2 is "Voters must be able to independently and privately cast and verify their ballot."

Ah, there’s culture and then there’s agriculture...

You know, living in the heartland, here in Bush’s America (Missouri narrowly went for Bush in 2000 but my county is in the rural northern part of Missouri that votes Republican), sure does lead to some interesting experiences.

We often hear about the importance of values and education here in Bush’s America. Well, listen to this story about the value placed on education in my little town, a town, I remind you, with a university in it no less.

Anyway, our local high school team has made the state final four tournament. I was appalled to discover yesterday that the school district decided that, by golly, they’d just take TWO DAYS OFF so that everyone could go down to Columbia and watch the game.

Yes, you read that right, boys and girls. The local school district took two days off from school because the team made the final round of the state tournament. Anyone see anything the slightest bit wrong with that? What kind of message do you send to kids when they get days off from school essentially to celebrate the basketball team’s achievements?

I mean, let’s be honest, the high school kids aren’t going to miss much losing two days of school there (it’s high school for goodness sakes) – but the elementary and middle school kids too? Are you kidding me?

This whole thing led one of my colleagues at work to quip that we should get a local referendum passed renaming the School District the “____________ (town’s name withheld to protect the innocent) Athletic Club.”

Well last night I went to a church function and made a few sarcastic remarks and boy did I get a response. I found out a bunch of people planned to go to the games. My remarks were most certainly NOT appreciated by a lot of people there.

Of course, at least one person seemed to agree with me and even quipped “Well, it does seem a bit much. What if they lose on Thursday and therefore don’t play on Friday? Is everyone just going to dutifully just come back and go to school on Friday?” I responded “No. That will be an official day of mourning.”

The most awful part was when I got in the car after this function and my nine-year-old son, Michael, who had heard all of this, said “But Dad it is important. It’s why Maryville is known.”

You can imagine my response. I won’t share that lecture with you too.

And I'm not even a particularly anti-sports or anti-athletics person at all. It just seemed so out of proportion to cancel school for the basketball tournament.

But, you know what, this really is an important question. Is this the sort of vapid culture and fake commitment to education that exists here in Bush’s America?

"No Child Left Behind" – at least when the team bus leaves for Columbia, huh?


Something more serious: Coca-Cola's union busting campaign in Columbia continues.

[See the full details on my personal blog - said posting includes a sample letter to Coca-Cola's top management via their PR person. This is only the latest in a long string of vicious human rights abuses by the Coca-Cola company's local proxy in Columbia. Please write - the only way we'll preserve our standard of living and rights in the workplace here in the United States, is to ensure that those abroad have the same freedoms. Your letters could mean the difference between life and death for these workers. -Thomas]

Dear Friends,

This morning, Monday March 15, Coca-Cola union workers
in Colombia began a hunger strike in front of the Coke
bottling plants in Barrancabermeja, Bogotá,
Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Medellín, and
Valledupar. Juan Carlos Galvis, vice president of the
local union in Barrancabermeja, has said, “If we lose
the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our
union, next our jobs and then our lives.”

On September 9, 2003, Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola’s
largest Colombian bottler, closed the production lines
at 11 of their 16 bottling plants. (The Coca-Cola
Company shares several board members with Coca-Cola
FEMSA and owns 46.4 % of its voting stock.) Since then,
they’ve pressured more than 500 workers into
“voluntarily resigning” from their contracts in
exchange for a lump-sum payment. Most of the union
leaders have refused to resign and the company has now
escalated the pressure against them. On February 25,
the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection (Labor)
authorized Coca-Cola FEMSA’s plans to dismiss 91
workers - 70 percent of whom are union leaders. This is
Coca-Cola’s effort to essentially eliminate the union.

The Campaign To Stop Killer Coke supports the union’s
call for Coca-Cola FEMSA to relocate those workers to
other positions within those plants or to transfer them
to other plants. This is what the company is required
to do, according to Articles 18 and 91 of the current
collective bargaining agreements. In January, a
Colombian judge also ordered the company to do this for
the workers at the plants in Barrancabermeja and

On behalf of the workers and their families, please
send the strongest possible message to The Coca-Cola
Company in Atlanta and Coca-Cola FEMSA in Colombia.
Here are sample messages and contact information, along
with a communication that was issued by the union this

In Solidarity,

Ray Rogers
Campaign To Stop Killer Coke

Please read on...

--Thomas Leavitt

A world of difference: Brits make fun of FCC/American Puritanism.

Here's a link to a commercial being broadcast by Channel 4 in the U.K. - the participants, many of whom are famous, are asked to say their favorite cuss words on camera (it says something that this is simply unimaginable in the U.S.). It's bloody good fun!


Note: this commercial is likely to land you in hot water if your workplace is corporate or uptight.

I heard about this on Dave Farber's Interesting People mailing list. This, along with Declan McCullagh's Politech mailing list (see below), qualifies as the two most essential bits of reading available anywhere.

See the original posting for more detail.

--Thomas Leavitt

They simply can't stop lying.

Joshua Micah Marshall agrees with me: "They simply can't stop lying."

New MoveOn Ad

MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action.

I think people might have to explain to regular Americans who this is in the ad, what he's being caught at, and why this is is so important, but so be it. Pass it along!

Important To Read This

This just out from Media Transparency. The Apparat -- George Bush's Back-Door Political Machine
"...a vast machine that ... has "played a critical role in helping the Republican Party to dominate state, local and national politics." It is now operating at full throttle to keep Bush in office.

Though its activists like to call themselves conservatives, there is nothing they wish to "conserve" beyond their power, status, and wealth. They are right-wing radicals who have stolen the GOP away from the true conservatives who once dominated it."
Please go read this. It talks about how and why the Right is so powerful now, and how "behind-the-scenes" forces are working to keep the Right in power.

Update -
"The architectural shape of the right-wing counter-establishment resembles the apparatus that ran the Soviet Union. The Russians called it the "apparat" -- a vast bureaucratic web of power that housed the organs, official and unofficial, of the ruling Communist Party.

It included the administrative departments that fictively ran the Soviet government. In fact, the party ran it all. Its ruling Politburo and Central Committee were paramount. The Soviet apparat was headed by a privileged ruling class, the nomenklatura, manned by a faceless army of bureaucrats, the apparatchiki.

[. . .] The American apparat of the far right can be viewed as a variant of the Soviet model - amorphous in overlapping functions at the top but monolithic in its aims. It is an external government that guides the federal government. In a stunning sense, it is counter-revolutionary and anti-Constitutional.
The American apparat has learned from the failures of the Iran-Contra and Watergate operations, which functioned within the government, and were thus subject to governmental oversight and correction. Not so the apparat. With its operations spread over a spectrum external to government, it attracts neither official nor media attention. It operates invisibly -- in the open.

[. . .] Like its Soviet counterpart, the American apparat is also a closed society, largely unelected and unaccountable to the body politic, and casts its penumbra upon the White House. As in the former USSR, there is little discussion or debate. Loyalty is absolute -- "you are either with us or you are with our enemies." Under Bush and Cheney, brisk exchanges of view, the engine of policy formation in prior administrations, are discouraged. Cabinet meetings are scripted for a president unprepared for spontaneous exchanges (as revealed in documents posted by Ron
Suskind, that were used to research his best-selling The Price of Loyalty).
The endgame for the apparat is a one-party state in which elections project only a vestigial appearance of democratic process. It is run, in effect, by the ruling oligarchy, whose members are beholden only to the apparat.

[. . .] The apparat's media-attack organizations are charged with keeping journalists in line, mobilizing the base to wage harassment campaigns against media organizations and reporters they dub as too "liberal." Journalists who dare criticize the Administration are priority targets for abuse. For that reason, among others, Americans learn almost nothing from mainstream media about the apparat, whose media-attack operations effectively silenced Hillary Clinton's charges of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" operating against her husband's administration."
Bloggers -- PLEASE point to this story! Everyone should read this.


I see a story this morning that almost brings me to tears: Kerry Doesn't Share Dean's View on Spain,
"Presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday he does not share fellow Democrat Howard Dean's position that President Bush's decision to send troops to Iraq appears to have been a factor in the Spanish train bombing."
Even though, as Dean had pointed out, THE BOMBERS say they did it because of Iraq:
A man who identified himself as an al-Qaida spokesman said on a videotape that the bombings were in retaliation for Spain's backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The Republican statement asks Kerry to repudiate Dean, and others who "blame America" for the attacks by opposing Bush's war on Iraq:
"If Senator Kerry understands the nature of this threat and the need to take on terror, then he should immediately repudiate these troubling comments, and stop all efforts on behalf of his surrogates to blame America for these attacks," said Racicot, former governor of Montana.
And then Kerry DOES repudiate Dean (and me, and all the others who oppose Bush)? Like I said, brings me to tears. It was a short throw-away story, maybe I read it wrong. Maybe Kerry actually stood up for Dean, and me, and criticized Bush's war on Iraq for contributing to what happened in Spain, and the story had it wrong.

BuzzFlash Message to John Kerry: It's the Golden Hour of Opportunity, Define Bush or Be Defined by Him. There is No Option "B."

Update - I think a good answer for Kerry would have been, "I don't believe that a mature person in a position of responsibility would say something as stupid and dishonest, or would accuse a respected national leader like Howard Dean of blaming America. Statements like that divide us and diminish America, and I am surprised that you would repeat it. So I am not going to respond."


March 31

If you still don't know who Randi Rhodes is, here she is on CNN today kicking the living crap out of an admittedly third-string wingnut radio goon:

COLLINS: Let's go ahead and get to the crux of the issue, and I want to hear from both of you on this. Do voters, though, when it comes down to it, do they actually go to the ballot box and pull a lever on any of the issues that they have heard on the airwaves?

Michael, why don't you go ahead and take a shot at that?

SMERCONISH: No. Heck, no.

Talk radio listeners are not lemmings. They're not out there as automatons following the instructions of Rush or Sean Hannity of someone else. It's more like a gathering place, talk radio, for like- minded individuals who are there to be informed.

And let me just say to the woman who is seated there with you that it's not as if I have to check a box on my employment application as to whether I'm a liberal or a conservative to get hired. If you can generate ratings and revenue, no one cares what you look like. No one cares what you sound like. And they don't care what your politics are.


RHODES: Michael, you don't generate either. You're No. 18 in your marketplace, and you're working.


RHODES: I'm a liberal working for Clear Channel, and I had to be No. 1 every single book, 12-plus, No. 2, 25-54, which is the big money demo, as you know, in order to keep my job working for them.

And I have kept my job through ratings and revenue. And guys like you just are copycats. That's all you've done, was get on the conservative gravy train.


SMERCONISH: If there were a demand for liberal talk radio, it would be on the air already. It's not. No one has heard of any...

RHODES: March 31, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Please give me a moment to respond to you.

RHODES: No, because I've heard this argument over and over.


RHODES: March 31 in major markets across this country.


COLLINS: The viewers haven't had


COLLINS: Michael, go ahead and let him finish.

SMERCONISH: If you listen to her, you see why nobody wants to listen to liberal talk radio in this country. That's it.

RHODES: That's it. Nobody wants to listen to you.

COLLINS: To the both of you, thanks so much, I think.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

COLLINS: Randi Rhodes, Michael Smerconish, thanks once again for joining us.

RHODES: March 31.


COLLINS: To the both of you, thanks, guys.

Yeah, March 31!

Aristide to Jamaica

(Via Amy Goodman/Reuters/Le Monde)

They Just Lie

Hesiod spots a big fat Bush lie. Someone has changed a story in order to smear Kerry as weak on terrorism, when it is actually Bush who did the bad deed. He's outraged. He counters with the truth.

Kash spots that decisions in the bush admin. are made "according to political calculations instead of according to the advice of specialists." He is shocked.

Bush is making stuff up and lying, and everyone is surprised and shocked and outraged. And everyone counters with the truth and argues the finer points and tries to disprove each claim.

But what is happening is that while we're all chasing down each and every particular of each and every lie, the general public is hearing over and over again a much broader theme. They're hearing that they should be suspicious of Kerry. For example, today they are hearing the lie that Kerry "voted against American troops," and "did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and would have given reservists and their families better health care" and all kinds of just the nastiest stuff.

Listen, there is something we all need to get through our heads. They just lie.

If the Bush people did a focus group and found out that people would vote against him because he owns a miniature green Chinese monkey with an earring, THEN WE WOULD BE HEARING THAT KERRY HAS A MINIATURE GREEN CHINESE MONKEY WITH AN EARRING! They are making it up, they are lying, they are going to say and do ANYTHING. OK? They just lie. Get used to it.

They just lie. So don't be surprised and don't be shocked. And most of all, don't start responding by trying to disprove their charges and going through all the points and specifics and particulars! YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT THE CHARGES THEY WILL MAKE TOMORROW AND NEXT WEEK ARE FALSE. OK?

They just lie. What have I been telling you since day one of Seeing the forest? THEY JUST LIE. See the forest, don't get bogged down with trees. See the bigger picture. If you get all bogged down trying to argue each point or disprove each lie you are going to be 100 lies behind by the time you refute the first point of the very first lie.

They just lie. Remember the lead-up to Iraq, all nicely timed for the 2002 election? They just lie. Remember what they said about why we need tax cuts? They just lie. Remember what they said about Al Gore? They just lie. Remember what they said about Clinton?

They just lie. We know it. So when do we figure out that they just lie? When we do figure it out, THEN maybe we can start responding effectively, instead of getting all bogged down in the lies each and every time. The public needs to understand that they just lie, and the things they say should just be ignored. THAT is where we should be spending our time.

(Does repetition work? Tell me what they do.)

Interpreting the Spanish Vote

I've spent a fair amount of time in the last couple of days following the reactions to the Spanish vote. A few observations:

1. The hawks are convinced that the Madrid bombing justifies everything Bush ever did (and nullifies all criticisms of him), and they are enraged when anyone disagrees. (No one else can exploit this tragedy, though; just them).

2. In the world of the hawks, the most vicious chauvinism is right beneath the surface. A few days ago, Spain was our brave ally. Then, right before the election, about 10% of the voters switched parties, and Spain was instantly relegated to that loathsome, detestable hellhole: Old Europe. (Expect to start hearing lots of weird ethnic slurs about Don Quixote, Don Juan, beans, garlic, greasy mustaches, etc., etc. They'll probably mix in a lot of Mexican stuff too -- because, really, who cares?)

3. Many of the hawks primarily just want to vent, and they believe that jumping to conclusions is tough, macho, and sexy. For example, there are good reasons to believe that Aznar's party was voted out mostly because of its dishonest insistence that the Basques were responsible for the bombing, rather than because of its stance on the Iraq War per se.* But the hawks leaped gleefully to the most invidious conclusion that they could: that Spain has surrendered to the terrorists.

So whatever allies we still have in the world should clearly understand that, in the eyes of America, they will be counted among the good guys only as long as they obey us completely.

4. Hawks are completely committed to the Bush brandnaming of the War on Terror, and anyone who proposes an alternative brand will be regarded as a quisling appeaser. No criticisms of his approach are to be allowed.

5. Hawks have a complete and utter contempt for Democrats and liberals, and nothing we say to them will be listened to. We're just a bunch of weenie America-hating pacifists who don't care at all if hundreds of innocent people get killed.

6. As long as the War on Terrorism lasts, all elections should be decided based on what we guess that Osama wants -- we should just vote for the opposite. (However, the idea that Osama wants Bush re-elected, in order to "sharpen the contradictions", is too ridiculous even to think about).

And since the War on Terrorism, which isn't against any specific enemy, can't possibly ever be won (Osama is irrelevant, they're still saying), we should plan for terrorism to be the only real political issue for the rest of our natural lives.


We will never make the hawks happy and shouldn't try, but Kerry definitely needs to get out in front on the counter-terrorism issue. Bush's Saudi ties make him extremely vulnerable, and Kerry should show no mercy. The Bush-Saudi connection is pretty good political red meat, but it also can be the basis for a valid and powerful criticism of the inept and misdirected Bush strategy.

Beyond that, if a terrorist attack occurs on American soil, as it very well might, Kerry has to be ready and waiting. We can be sure that Bush will exploit the tragedy to the hilt, and while we shouldn't sink as low as we can expect him to do, we need to take the battle to Bush and put him on the defensive where he belongs. Otherwise we can kiss the election goodbye.

*Of course, the hawks just spent the last year explaining that Bush's lies about WMD were really perfectly OK, so they might have trouble believing that Spanish voters really do get angry when they're lied to.

How often have we heard this?

People looking for work this spring could find the strongest U.S. job market in more than three years, even as companies remain reluctant to hire, a new survey shows.

Roughly one in four employers plan to add workers in the second quarter of the year to keep pace with increased demand for their products or services, according to a survey of 16,000 businesses by Manpower Inc., set for release Tuesday.

"Someone looking for a job no doubt will have an easier time now than in recent memory, than in the past two or three years," said Jeffrey Joerres, Manpower's chief executive officer and chairman. "It's still going to be difficult in that companies are going to begin this process very cautiously."

Substantial job growth will come if companies fulfill their hiring projections for the quarter, he said.

The survey found 28 percent of companies expect to hire more people in the second quarter, while 6 percent intend to cut jobs. The rest anticipate no change or are uncertain about hiring prospects from April to May.
Now, hold on a minute.

I'm no math whiz but doesn't that mean that this survey demonstrates that 72% of employers (the overwhelming majority -- three out of four in fact) have no hiring plans or, worse yet, plan to lay off some workers?

So how is that good news? Sounds like a pretty flaccid job market to me!

Is it my imagination or is this yet another transparent attempt to pump up Dear MisLeader's poll numbers?

Does anyone happen to know how much money Manpower or people associated with Manpower have given to W's campaign in the last four years?

The Big Flap

This is a big deal, all over the airwaves, pushed by the Bush people. And it would be so simple to respond.

Bush Prods Kerry to Name Leaders Who Want Him Out:
"'If you're going to make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you've got to back it up with facts,' Bush told reporters during a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has said he had met with leaders who told him 'you've got to beat this guy' because of unhappiness over U.S. foreign policy. "
Something like this: President Bush is asking me to betray world leaders by revealing confidential conversations we have had, and says I should do so for political purposes. No wonder they've gotten things into such a mess.

New Bush Ad

New Bush Ad Attacks Kerry on Iraq Vote:
"Ratcheting up his criticism of John Kerry, President Bush accuses his Democratic rival of voting against American troops in a new television ad that begins airing Tuesday.

"Few votes in Congress are as important as funding our troops at war. Though John Kerry voted in October 2002 for military action in Iraq, he later voted against funding our soldiers,'' the ad says.

The 30-second ad labels Kerry "wrong on defense'' and claims that the Massachusetts senator did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and would have given reservists and their families better health care."
This is nasty, lying stuff here, and it makes people like me angry and looking for ways to fight back. With this stuff going on, why don't I hear Kerry calling for all Democrats to send him $100 so he can effectively respond? So what if it's Dean's idea? 2 million Democrats sending him $100 each is $200 million to fight back!

I suggest as a response: Why is the President dividing us in time of war, when we most need to stick together?

Just As Bush Said

The NYT/CBS Poll -- Nation's Direction Prompts Voters' Concern, Poll Finds:
"while the public has doubts about Mr. Kerry's political convictions"
Bush has been repeating that Kerry takes both sides on issues. Now we have polls feeding this message back from the public. Do not underestimate the ability of the Right to plant messages in the brains of large segments of the public. From the story,
Already, most voters think Mr. Kerry is a politician who says what people want to hear, the poll found, rather than what he believes — the line of attack Mr. Bush has used against him in speeches.
And for my Green friends:
The candidacy of Ralph Nader looms as a potentially lethal threat to Democratic hopes of regaining the White House: With Mr. Nader in the race, Mr. Bush leads Mr. Kerry by 46 percent to 38 percent, with Mr. Nader drawing 7 percent of the votes.
No question about it, Nader throws the election to Bush. Do you guys LIKE seeing American imperialism, global warming, massive military spending increases, tax cuts for the rich, and all the rest? Is that what you WANT? It's certainly what you'll GET!

"Spain in perspective"

Over at This Modern World, Tom has posted a letter from Spain that does a good job explaining why the elections went the way they did. Apparently the government tried to blame the ETA (and discredit anyone saying different) even though it was becoming pretty clear it was an al-Queda attack, because the conservative government wanted voters to associate ETA violence with the Socialist party. (I guess they thought it would reinforce a campaign accusing them of being "weak on terrorism.")
"After more than 30 years of ETA terrorism, many people thought at once that this murderers well known to the Spanish people had caused the massacre. But well-informed people immediately noticed it was a classical "Chechen attack", completely different of what ETA has done up to today and essentially identical to the Moscow subway attack several weeks ago. This caused some turmoil, specially when a pro-ETA spokesman made the point. Some minutes later, Interior (Security) Minister Angel Acebes declared openly that the authors were ETA and anyone denying it was a "miserable".
Doesn't this sound a lot like our Republicans? Deny the obvious and call the opposition names for daring to point out what is in front of everyone's faces, because it contradicts their party line?
"Now let me explain to you this turmoil. ETA is an independentist Basque terrorist group who declares itself "marxist-leninist". The Conservative government of José María Aznar has fought hard to combat it while avoiding any concession to moderate Basque nationalists, saying that the only possible way to manage the issue is "the hard one". Some weeks ago, a member of the Socialist / Nationalist coalition Government in Catalonia met ETA representatives and the Aznagovernmentnt used this to proclaim that Socialist weren't hard enough against ETA since they shared government in Catalonia with a guy that spoke to terrorists. If the authors of the carnage were ETA, Aznar government would have been reinforced in their opinion that against those beasts, only force can solve the problem and the Socialists and their Nationalist friends were too weak to do it.

But if the authors were Islamic, a very different panorama arose. The opposition in Spain against Bush's war in Iraq was very important. I don't know if it reached 90% as it has been stated in this groups, but there surely was a wide majority against a conflict that common Spaniards didn't buy. There were massive demonstrations, with several million people in them, against the involvement of Spain in the war. In despite of this, José María Aznar government went to war with Bush and Blair. Many people went home thinking "this guy is involving us in a madmen's war that we don't want and will provoke bloody consequences". If Islamics blew the trains, it was a strong confirmation of this position, something that could only focus anger against Aznar's Government.

. . . The Government stuck to the ETA hypothesis trying to avoid this probable electoral damage. They must have thought that using their massive media control they could cover it up for four days, until election's aftermath. Government-controlled public and private televisions, radios and newspapers broadcasted once and again "it was ETA", but each minute less people was buying it. It has been said that workers of some of this media were near to revolt because of the pressures to avoid the Islamic hypothesis (today, EFE -Spanish state press agency- workers' unions have asked for the immediate resignation of their boss because of this)."
The public was already sick of the government for its lies about Iraq and support of Bush, and this crystallized opinion. Note that "media not controlled by the Government" played a very important role.
"But then, media not controlled by the Government started broadcasting the Islamic hypothesis and how the controlled media were manipulating the whole issue. In a matter of hours, Spain was bipolarized, with thousands seeking information in Internet and sending it via SMS to their friends. IMHO, the Government went mad and commited suicide in this moment. They agreed there were "Islamic clues" but said once and again it was ETA although the mass crime was claimed three times by Al-Qaeda and there were several tapes (two or three, still unknown) with Islamic messages claiming "Operation Trains of Death" in Madrid and threatening "Smoke of Death" in Italy and "Winds of Death" in the USA. Millions began to think they were being lied, with the blood of 200 Spaniards still warm. SMS messages with the truth spreaded very quickly (I received about 50 from about 40 different sources). In workers' districts through the country, people began to protest beating pans in the windows and shouting "they make wars, we suffer them", "we are not puppets" and "Spain is not to be lied". Others demonstrated before Aznar's party offices in different cities singing "Liars, liars!" and "Culprits, culprits!" [all emphasis mine - DJ]
The public resented the conservative government's attempt at manipulating the election through the media and voted them out.

In other words, the government acted exactly like the Bush administration is acting, and an event crystallized this in the voters' minds just in time for the election. But according to this source, the real difference it made was that people who typically do not vote decided they had enough and showed up. That is what made the difference.
"Aznar-Rajoy's party lost about one million votes. Not much, it's true, given the situation. But three million voters arose essentially from disenchanted abstentionists to nail them. And almost all of these voters supported the Socialist Party, the main opposition group that had spoken openly against the Iraq war and was also denouncing the media manipulation. This inverted completely the results, where Rajoy had started as favorite. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, not Mariano Rajoy, will be the next president of Spain."
And, finally, he ends the letter with,
"Sorry for my English if it sounds a bit strange, I can't practice it often."
Hey, pal, don't worry. This is Seeing the Forest. Grammar, spelling, even coherence are strictly optional.

You and I get to pay for Janklow's negligence

Holy cow!

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (AP) -- Bill Janklow was on duty as South Dakota's congressman when his speeding car collided with a motorcycle last summer, meaning federal taxpayers would pay any civil damages arising from the fatal crash, a prosecutor has concluded.

U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger's decision came in connection with a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the former congressman and governor by the motorcyclist's family.

In concluding that Janklow was on duty at the time of the accident, Heffelfinger filed a notice Monday asking that the case be moved from state to federal court, and the federal government be substituted as the defendant for Janklow.

Randy Scott, of Hardwick, Minnesota, was killed August 16 when his motorcycle struck the back of a car Janklow was driving. Janklow spoke earlier that day in Aberdeen and was returning to his home near Brandon when the accident happened.

Lawyer Ronald Meshbesher, who represents the Scott family, said he'll try to keep the case in state court where, unlike federal court, the family could win punitive damages.

"I'm not sure what duty he was doing for the taxpayers of the United States or the state of South Dakota by driving 80 miles an hour through a stop sign," Meshbesher said. "And quite frankly, if he was politicking before it happened I'm not sure that's considered to be on duty."
You're kidding me, right?

Ah, isn't it great that Republicans take personal responsibility so seriously!


Taxes and Jobs

Cross-posted at American Street

Scenario One:

Government man, handing briefcase full of cash to business owner: "Here’s a briefcase full of cash. Go hire more people."

Business owner: "Well, we don’t really need anyone right now, but thanks very much for the cash."

Scenario Two:

Business owner: "Gosh, there sure are a lot of people coming in to buy today."

Owner’s spouse: "You nitwit, don’t you see that people are turning away because of the line that has backed up? Each time that happens you lose another $25!"

Business owner: "You’re right, Honey. Maybe I should go to the bank and borrow some money, or sell our car or something so we can hire a couple extra people."

Scenario Three:

Business owner: "You know, if I hired a few more people to work on the shop floor, we could produce many more of our product. We’re selling everything we can make now."

Owner’s spouse: "But Honey, if you made more money you’d have to pay part of it out in taxes. You know how bad that is."

Business owner: "You know, you’re right again, Honey, I think we should just put this company out of business because we’re making too much money, which means we have to pay part of it in taxes!"

In the Washington Post today there's a story that says a lot about how people in Washington and the media think these days. Link Between Taxation, Unemployment Is Absent:
"It has become conventional wisdom in Washington that rising tax burdens crush labor markets. Bush castigated his political opponents last week for "that old policy of tax and spend" that would be "the enemy of job creation."

Yet an examination of historical tax levels and unemployment rates reveals no obvious correlation."
Actually an examination DOES reveal an obvious correlation, but not the one of the “conventional wisdom” referred to in this aticle.

So what “conventional wisdom” are they referring to?
"Republican economists -- and White House officials -- contend that higher marginal tax rates stifle business investment, hiring and the desire to work. . . . "The bottom line is, cuts in taxes lead to economic growth, which leads to improvements in the labor market to levels that are better than they otherwise would have been," said Mark J. Warshawsky, acting assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy."
"But finding the proof in historical data is difficult, conceded Eric M. Engen, a Republican economist at the American Enterprise Institute. . . . Still, Burtless noted, some prominent conservative economists, including Harvard University's Martin S. Feldstein, predicted wrongly that the Clinton tax cuts would choke off the 1990s recovery and kill jobs, while the millions of new jobs that Bush said his $1.7 trillion in tax cuts would generate have not materialized. The historical disconnect does not stop there."
It's "conventional wisdom” that tax cuts create jobs. (As contrasted with government programs to create jobs... perhaps employing people to retrofit buildings to be energy efficient...) But I think we know where that kind of “conventional wisdom” comes from, don’t we? It comes from right-wingers repeating a carefully crafted phrase over and over, and creating an atmosphere of intimidation and character assassination that makes people afraid or uncomfortable arguing the other – the people’s – side.

The great Thom Hartman wrote a piece the other day, Democracy - Not "The Free Market" - Will Save America's Middle Class. I don’t want to quote from it too much because I want you to go read the whole thing. In fact, go to his website and read some of his other writings as well, and listen to his radio show. In this piece Thom writes,
"Here are a couple of headlines for those who haven't had the time to study both economics and history:

1. There is no such thing as a "free market."

2. The "middle class" is the creation of government intervention in the marketplace, and won't exist without it (as millions of Americans and Europeans are discovering).

The conservative belief in "free markets" is a bit like the Catholic Church's insistence that the Earth was at the center of the Solar System in the Twelfth Century. It's widely believed by those in power, those who challenge it are branded heretics and ridiculed, and it is wrong.

In actual fact, there is no such thing as a "free market." Markets are the creation of government.”
"Markets are a creation of government, just as corporations exist only by authorization of government. Governments set the rules of the market. And, since our government is of, by, and for We The People, those rules have historically been set to first maximize the public good resulting from people doing business.

If you want to play the game of business, we've said in the US since 1784 (when Tench Coxe got the first tariffs passed "to protect domestic industries") then you have to play in a way that both makes you money AND serves the public interest."
"Of course, they can't explain how it was that the repeated series of huge tax cuts for the wealthy by the Herbert Hoover administration brought us the Great Depression, while raising taxes to provide for an active and interventionist government to protect the rights of labor to organize throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s led us to the Golden Age of the American Middle Class. (The top tax rate in 1930 under Hoover was 25 percent, and even that was only paid by about a fifth of wealthy Americans. Thirty years later, the top tax rate was 91 percent, and held at 70 percent until Reagan began dismantling the middle class. As the top rate dropped, so did the middle class it helped create.)"
So maybe there IS a correlation between taxes and jobs and the economy, but not the one the right-wing clucks want you to believe.

Some previous thoughts and questions... largely (and obviously) off the top of my head. Just to get people asking questions instead of accepting "conventional wisdom." Economists will tell me where I'm wrong.

Who pays taxes now?

Do tax cuts “create jobs?”

Do tax cuts increase government revenue?

Do taxes “take money out of the economy” as Bush likes to say?

Do companies pass taxes on to their customers?

Tax cuts or spending increases?

And, of course, the most dangerous question, "Who is our economy FOR, anyway?"

Almost $80 Million

Look how much your own government is spending on Bush's re-election effort, and this is for just the ONE campaign that we know about! It adds up to almost $80 million leading up to the election to promote Bush's Medicare bill to seniors! The ad campaign is being done by the Bush campaign's own ad agency, which means they not only get the $$ for doing this campaign, but also the commission - $12 million - for placing the ads. Nice work, if you can get it -- and you can't.

U.S. Videos, for TV News, Come Under Scrutiny:
"Other documents suggest the scope of the publicity campaign: $12.6 million for advertising this winter, $18.5 million to publicize drug discount cards this spring, about $18.5 million this summer, $30 million for a year of beneficiary education starting this fall and $44 million starting in the fall of 2005."



I have set up a Kerry donation page, with the Kerry campaign icon on the left side of the page. Click it to donate. Even if it is just a dollar or two, get in the habit.

Don't like the nasty "Kerry will send terrorists after your children" theme of the Bush ads? Well, Kerry can't respond unless you send some money to pay for the ads. Think about this, if all 200 million readers of Seeing the Forest just donate $1 each...