Monday, February 28, 2005

The Language Police: Gettin’ Jiggy with Frank Luntz

Published on Saturday, February 26, 2005 by
The Language Police: Gettin’ Jiggy with Frank Luntz
by Nancy Snow
Common Dreams
If you need any more confirmation that America is the numero uno propaganda nation, look no further than the GOP language meistro Frank Luntz, who has produced a memorandum of “The 14 Words Never to Use.” Thanks to the Internet and the blogosphere, we mere mortals can get our grubby mitts on what the conservative elite persuader Luntz is doing to scrub our brains free of individual thoughts.
Luntz teases, “This memo was originally prepared exclusively for Congressional spouses because they are your eyes and ears, a one-person reality check and truth squad combined…However, by popular demand, I have included and expanded that document because effectively communicating the New American Lexicon requires you to STOP saying words and phrases that undermine your ability to educate the American people. So from today forward, YOU are the language police. From today forward, these are the words never to say again.”
Parents and teachers, cover the ears and eyes of the young ‘uns, because this could get ugly. You may have to throw out those Dick and Jane readers and start anew. Consider the first word expunged from our memory—government. It’s such a bad word to Luntz that it must be replaced by Washington.....

Permission to Speak Freely

Permission to Speak Freely
A new crusade aims to protect conservative students from left-wing professors. But the real victim is robust debate—on campus, and beyond.
By Todd Gitlin
Mother Jones
March/April 2005 Issue
NOT SATISFIED TO CONTROL the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, the rest of the federal courts, most governorships and state legislatures, not to mention the most powerful amalgamation of capital and military force in the history of the world, not to mention Fox News, Clear Channel, etc., some of the right’s culture warriors are in an uproar about those redoubts of left-wing authority…the colleges....

If America Is Richer, Why Are Its Families So Much Less Secure?

Los Angeles Times reporter Peter G. Gosselin has spent the last year examining an American paradox: Why so many families report being financially less secure even as the nation has grown more prosperous. The answer lies in a quarter-century-long shift of economic risks from the broad shoulders of business and government to the backs of working families. Safety nets that once protected Americans from economic turbulence — safeguards like unemployment compensation and employer loyalty — have eroded or vanished. Familes are more vulnerable to sudden shifts in the economy than any time since the Great Depression. The result is a daunting "New Deal" for many working Americans — one that compels them to cope, largely on their own, with financial forces far beyond their control....

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Debtor Nation

Debtor Nation
By Susan J. Douglas, In These Times. Posted February 26, 2005.

Credit cards manage to further impoverish the poor, the working classes and women and are rife with hidden scams that benefit the financial institutions at our expense. The Bush version of Social Security will be just like this.
As the president and his corporate patrons seek to turn the management of Americans' retirements – a.k.a., our "golden years" – over to those highly trustworthy, humanitarian types on Wall Street, we should look at another model of how corporate America helps people manage their finances – the credit card companies – to get a glimpse of where we are headed.
Here are some of my recent favorite credit card gambits: The amount of time my credit card company gives me to turn around and pay the bill has shrunk to about two and a half weeks – otherwise, I'm late. The late fee I pay even if the check arrives one day late has, within two years, gone from about $20 to about $40. They have begun posting a payment due date that is a Sunday – when, of course, they don't do business – and if the check arrives Monday, you are docked the late fee plus all the interest. The interest rates, given what the rest of us get paid on our savings accounts and CDs, would make Shylock blush and certainly revive the word "usurious." Dare to miss a payment, and the company may raise your interest rate up to an outrageous 25 percent. And let's not forget that the financial institutions that issue credit cards are major Washington lobbyists and, thus, virtually unregulated....

The Downside of Democracy

 The Downside of Democracy
    By Juan Cole
    The Los Angeles Times

    Thursday 24 February 2005

What if the U.S. doesn't like what the voters like in the Mideast and beyond?

    With the emergence of Shiite physician Ibrahim Jafari as the leading candidate for Iraqi prime minister earlier this week, the contradictions of Bush administration policy in the Middle East have become even clearer than they were before.

    President Bush says he is committed to democratizing the region, yet he also wants governments to emerge that are friendly to the U.S., benevolent to their own people, secular, capitalist and willing to stand up and fight against anti-American radicals.

    But what if democratic elections do not produce such governments? What if the newly elected regimes are friendly to states and groups that Washington considers enemies? What if the spread of democracy through the region empowers elements that don't share American values and goals?

    The recent election in Iraq is a case in point. The two major parties in the victorious Shiite alliance are Jafari's party, the Dawa, founded in the late 1950s to work for an Islamic republic, and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, the goal of which can be guessed from its name. To be fair, both have backed away from their more radical stances of earlier decades. But both parties - and Jafari himself - were sheltered in Tehran in the 1980s by Washington's archenemy, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and both acknowledge that they want to move Iraq toward Islamic law and values.

    The victorious Shiite fundamentalists have already taken steps that may be making the Bush administration nervous. They made it clear that they would attempt to incorporate their paramilitaries into the new Iraqi army. SCIRI has the Badr Corps, made up of about 15,000 men under arms trained originally by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Dawa has its own paramilitary.

    The two parties also announced that they would try to bring into the government's armed forces members of the Al Mahdi militia of Shiite nationalist Muqtada Sadr, which have fought hard battles against the U.S. military in Najaf and elsewhere. Jafari has previously said that he hoped to bring Sadr into the Iraqi government. Jafari likewise has protested U.S. military action in Fallouja.

    In interviews, Jafari has warned against deliberate attempts to undermine Iraq's relations with neighboring Iran, which he has visited on several occasions for consultations since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

    To be fair, Jafari has emerged as a moderate and skillful politician, and his devotion to his faith should in principle be no more objectionable than Bush's own devotion to Christianity. Yet it certainly seems that his new government will adopt policies far less welcome in Washington than those of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

    In the current struggle over whether the fundamentalist Lebanese Shiite party, Hezbollah, should be designated a terrorist organization, it seems clear that both the Dawa and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq will side with Hezbollah.

    The fact is, democracy is an unruly process; it doesn't always yield the results we want or expect. Bush likes to talk in terms of good versus evil, to suggest that the forces of freedom and democracy are doing battle with the defenders of tyranny - but he should be aware that the world isn't always that simple.

    He should remember, for instance, the 2002 elections in Pakistan, pushed for by Washington, which produced an unexpectedly good showing for the United Action Council, a coalition of hard-line fundamentalist parties. Some of them had helped train the Taliban. They won 17% of the federal parliament seats, won outright in the Northwest Frontier Province and now govern Baluchistan in coalition. Their leaders argued that Al Qaeda was merely a figment of the U.S. imagination.

    A full disaster was averted in Pakistan only because the federal government was still dominated by military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Nevertheless, the United Action Council has attempted to impose a draconian version of Islamic law in the provinces it controls and has not been helpful to the U.S. in tracking down Al Qaeda operatives.

    Pakistan and Iraq are not the only countries where elections have had mixed results. Although the Palestinian elections in January were widely viewed as a success - producing a pragmatic prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas - remember that the radical fundamentalist party, Hamas, boycotted those elections. Then, less than three weeks later, local elections were held - and Hamas won decisively in the Gaza Strip, leaving it more influential than before and poised for even bigger wins in next July's legislative elections.

    And in recent years, democratization has also put Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament. Serbian nationalists have won seats in Belgrade.

    Are such outcomes acceptable to the Bush administration? If not, how will it respond? Given the war on terror, it is unlikely to simply take these electoral setbacks lying down.

    But if Washington falls back on its traditional responses - covert operations, attempts to interfere in parliamentary votes with threats or bribes, or dependence on strong men like Musharraf - the people of the Middle East might well explode, because the only thing worse than living under a dictatorship is being promised a democracy and then not really getting it.

    Juan Cole is professor of modern Middle Eastern and North African studies at the University of Michigan. He maintains a blog on Middle East affairs, Informed Comment.


    Go to Original

    Allawi to Challenge Shiite Candidate for Iraq Prime Minister Post
    By John Daniszewski
    The Los Angeles Times

    Wednesday 23 February 2005

A two-thirds majority is needed by Allawi, who holds the post as an interim leader, or the Shiite-led coalition's choice of Deputy President Ibrahim Jafari.

    Baghdad - One day after the dominant Shiite-led coalition unanimously nominated Deputy President Ibrahim Jafari to lead the new Iraqi government, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said today that he will stand as a rival candidate for the job and try to build a winning coalition by reaching out to other political slates.

    The bid by the secular Shiite Allawi against the religious Jafari, head of the Shiite-based Islamic Dawa Party, is a longshot because Jafari's slate holds a slight majority in the new National Assembly.

    But with a two-thirds majority needed for the prime minister's post, Allawi's effort marked the beginning of what could be a drawn-out sequence of negotiations among the country's political players. It is also a test of wills in which each slate with seats in the new assembly will seek to maximize its leverage and put its imprint on the makeup and direction of the government.

    Consultations reportedly were taking place today behind closed doors within Jafari's coalition, trying to come to consensus on its preferences of candidates for the country's main posts. Those jobs include president, two deputy presidents, speaker of parliament and key government ministries such as defense and internal security.

    Direct consultations with other parties, particularly the Kurdish Alliance, were expected to follow in a few days.

    As it stands, the United Iraqi Alliance, which nominated Jafari, holds 140 of the 275 assembly seats and would need to secure only 44 votes from outside its ticket to win the prime minister's job and form the government. Allawi's Iraqi List would need at least 144 votes from other slates to win.

    The United Iraqi Alliance's position also appeared strengthened by reports today that two small parties with assembly seats had joined it, giving it nine more votes, for 149 of the 184 votes needed for a two-thirds majority.

    The requisite majority is in easy reach for Jafari if his slate manages to work out a deal with either Allawi's list, which has 40 seats, or the Kurdish Alliance, which has 75. Leaders of the Alliance have said they would like to reach accord with both in order to form a government of national unity.

    They also wish to win support from Sunni parties that did not participate in the election (and therefore do not have seats in the assembly) so that the country's Sunni minority, which is the main base of the ongoing insurgency, will be more likely to participate in the political process.

    With either the Kurds or Allawi's slate in position as possible kingmaker, both insist they will hold out for key posts in the new government and guarantees on sensitive issues such as federalism and secular governance

    Jafari, a 58-year-old doctor, has signaled a willingness to work with others and moderate his party's Islamist platform to take into account the diverse views of secular and non-Shiite parties.

    However, the results of the historic democratic election Jan. 30, in which the United Iraqi Alliance won nearly half the votes and 140 out of 275 seats, means Allawi's list and the Kurds are too weak to construct a government on their own even if they pool their votes. Their only hope would be to secure large-scale defections from the Alliance.

    Although many Alliance members are more secular than Jafari, the unanimous front the group presented Tuesday in nominating him for prime minister suggested that a large-scale vote swing was highly unlikely.

    Veteran exile leader Ahmad Chalabi, Jafari's main secular rival within the Alliance slate, underlined Tuesday that the unity of the slate was now his main priority. Chalabi has been in a political feud with Allawi's camp, which seemingly would make any defection by him to Allawi more unlikely.

    Speaking at a news conference, Allawi gave no hint about where he expected to find the additional support. He said only that he seeks a "democratic coalition that believes in Iraq and its principles."

    As a secular politician who advocates a liberal model of government, Allawi might argue that he would be more appealing than Jafari to the United States, although it is unclear whether that would be a help or hindrance. He could also say that he would be more able to credibly reach out to Sunni elements who suspect Jafari of being tied to Shiite-led Iran.

    Allawi made such appeals during his campaign without success. Despite heavy advertising and high visibility, his slate won only 14% of the vote.

    With almost no chance of winning themselves, Allawi and the Kurds could together play the role of spoiler for the Alliance if they are not satisfied. While it is unclear what would happen if a stalemate occurred, the pressure to form a new government could force new candidates or new coalitions to emerge.

    Allawi has warned in recent days that the Shiites should not seek an Islamic government or undertake a blanket program of de-Baathification that could amount to a purge of Sunni Arabs, backbone of the Baath Party that dominated Iraq during Saddam Hussein's reign.

    Kurds also have demands. They include the largely ceremonial presidency for Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani, and promises that the Shiite alliance would not undermine Kurdish autonomy in the new Iraqi constitution to be written by a committee appointed by the assembly this year. They also will want the contested, oil-rich city of Kirkuk under Kurdish administration.

    Outside the national assembly, the new leadership will have to make peace with Sunni Arabs to stem the violence. The United Iraqi Alliance already has met with some Sunni scholars, the Iraqi Islamic Party and Arab nationalists to ask them to join in drafting the constitution, an Alliance spokesman said.

    Some Sunnis remain skeptical.

    "We are hearing that Iraqis are going to participate in the constitution, but so far no one has contacted us," said Mashaan Jaboori, a prominent Sunni politician from Mosul, which has become a hotbed for insurgent activity.

    "Nobody has approached us," he told Al Hurrah television today. "Maybe they are still too busy."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. t r u t h o u t has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is t r u t h o u t endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
© : t r u t h o u t 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Halliburton granted a $9 million performance bonus

AM Feed -- February 25, 2005
American Family Voices
Hot Topics
* Halliburton was recently granted a $9 million performance bonus by the Army. "Instead of withholding payments as the auditors recommended, the administration is showering Halliburton with million in bonuses," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). [link]
* The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently voted to allow controversial COX-2 drugs like Vioxx and Bextra to remain on the shelves, even as the medical community protested. Now it's been revealed that 10 of the 32 government drug advisers who voted on the matter had consulting ties to the drugs' manufacturers. Not surprisingly, they voted 9 to 1 to return Vioxx to the shelves and keep Bextra on the market. [link]
* A new group opposing President Bush's Social Security hijinks called Americans United to Protect Social Security has been formed, and it has a planned budget of between $25-$50 million. About 200 organizations will coordinate with the group, and Democratic lawmakers have pledged to help raise money. [link]
Who Says That?
"I'll ram my fist up your a**." – Colorado State Rep. Bill Cadman (R), to Democratic colleague Rep. Val Vigil, on the floor of the Colorado House.
Morning Snark
* Somewhere, between the Halliburton news and the spread of legislative profanity, Vice President Cheney is smiling. (Smirking, we mean smirking.)
* A $9 million performance bonus? Looks like Christmas came early for Halliburton. Or is it late? Who are we kidding – it's both.
Thanks to your enthusiasm, the first week of the AM Feed has been a success. We've appreciated all your thoughts, comments and suggestions – keep 'em coming! Also, we'd like to once again urge you to pass this along to anyone who might be interested.

Comments? Drop us a line at

Operation See No Evil

Operation See No Evil
by Hunter
Fri Feb 25th, 2005 at 11:53:44 PST
A must-read investigative report in the latest Newsweek has a few key graphs buried in the middle of the larger story about the CIA "charter service" that continues to ferry off-the-books prisoners around the globe to countries....

....If I were in the CIA right now, I'd be worried too. No direct access to the President. A boss who seeks to "streamline" the intelligence process by removing from that stream opinions contrary to the President's stated wishes. Increasing press awareness of an off-books operation that directly resulted in the torture and death of detainees, and the secret detention of untold others, all in violation of international laws. And an administration cabinet that looks, for all intents and purposes, to have been hand-chosen to further solidify all those initiatives.

Where's the off button?

Is the privatization scheme just a junk mail operation?

Is the privatization scheme just a junk mail operation?
Submitted by Matt Stoller on Fri, 2005-02-25 12:58.
A few weeks ago, we commissioned a research report on the funders of the Social Security privatization scheme. Our researcher went through the public tax records of every group involved in this right-wing scheme, and is writing a report on who's doing this and who's funding it. We're releasing the first installment today, on USA Next.
It appears that USA Next, the front group for Social Security privatization, was really just a junk mail and spam operation in disguise to benefit Richard Viguerie in the 1990s. It appears that it engaged mostly in scaring up donations from conservative activists before becoming a corporate shell for pharmaceutical industry and energy industry money and lobbying.
- "The United Seniors Association burst onto the political scene full grown from Richard Viguerie's head in 1992 with a piece of "fright mail" headlined "All the Social Security Trust Fund Money Is Gone!" and requesting a donation to support United Senior's efforts to "insure the rights and benefits of America's seniors are protected." It raised millions in its first year of operation, only to plow that money back into Viguerie's direct mail operations, renting mailing lists, paying "letter writers, printers, mailers and other subcontractors, always including Mr. Viguerie himself." Paying for direct mail was literally United Seniors' charitable purpose.....

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sign the petition: support access to quality care for all women

urging Congress to ban "drive-through" mastectomies — the practice in which women are forced out of the hospital sometimes only hours after breast cancer surgery. Sign our petition now to help end drive-through mastectomies once and for all.

Prophets Of Doom

Prophets Of Doom
The Coming Oil Crisis
Dan Ackman, 01.13.05, 6:00 AM ET
The world economy has gotten fairly comfortable with oil at $45 a barrel. But how will it react to paying $100 a barrel three years from now? Or $150 in five years?
That's what the future holds according to Stephen Leeb, president of Leeb Capital Management and author of The Oil Factor (Warner Books 2004). The result, Leeb says, will be double digit inflation--if we're lucky. If we're not, it will be a severe depression....

Sign the Iraq peace petition

Bring the troops home - sign the petition:

Full Petition Text:

Mr. President:
We urge you to end this war now. Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people. War is the wrong path. Too many lives have been lost already -- let our troops come home.

The incredible shrinking dollar

Mike Whitney: 'The incredible shrinking dollar'
Contributed by megsdad on Thursday, February 24 @ 10:00:34 EST
By Mike Whitney
The Bush Euro-junket is taking place just as the economic storm clouds are thickening over the Fatherland. On Tuesday the market plummeted another 175 points mainly due to soaring oil prices (tipping the $50 mark) and a surging Euro headed for the stratosphere. While Bush ambles around Europe waxing on about Camus and Voltaire, (I kid you not) America's tenuous economic plight is becoming alarmingly more apparent.
The world has taken stock of the administration's profligate spending and, now, Central Banks across the globe are shunning the dollar for the more stable Euro. The BBC says that a "poll carried out by Central Banking Publications found that 39 of the 65 banks surveyed were raising their Euro holdings, with 29 cutting back on the US dollar". Banks are voting with their feet, and the results may spell doom for the Bush plutocracy. As Paul Craig Roberts so aptly put it, "The world is tired of mopping up America's red ink".
At this point, it looks as though nothing short of an economic meltdown in America will deter from the administration from its war mongering Middle East.....

Swifties Slime Again

Swifties Slime Again
New York Time
Published: February 24, 2005
Instead of trying to destroy AARP, Republicans should be signing up the seniors' lobby to find Osama.
AARP's super-relentless intelligence network is certainly better than that doddering C.I.A's. Osama has to have turned 50, and AARP somehow knows where everyone who has turned 50 lives.
But no. The same Republicans who used to love AARP when it helped them pass the president's prescription drug plan now hate AARP because it is against the president's plan to privatize Social Security....

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Rise of Rove's Republic

The Rise of Rove's Republic
by Stirling Newberry
Tue Feb 22nd, 2005 at 08:12:40 PST
Most people in the outside world do not explicitly believe we are passing through a period of constitutional crisis. That an impeachment was run over a blow job didn't clue them in. That a president was installed by judicial fiat did not clue them in. That a war was launched which is, and was, essentially a giant looting expedition on the Treasury has not clued them in.
So what is going on? What is the thread that unifies Iraq and Social Security, the election crisis of 2000?
The process of American Constitutional change, and according to that process, the greatest dangers lie ahead, not behind us. ...

Monday, February 21, 2005

Teddy Roosevelt's Inaugural Speech Quoted

From T.R.'s 1905 Inaugural Speech -
"Yet, after all, though the problems are new, though the tasks set before us differ from the tasks set before our fathers who founded and preserved this Republic, the spirit in which these tasks must be undertaken and these problems faced, if our duty is to be well done, remains essentially unchanged. We know that self-government is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it. But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted and enlarged to our children and our children's children. To do so we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln."


A column by Janine di Giovanni
posted 17 February 05
Last November, I sat in Paris watching Yasser Arafat's funeral on CNN with my nine-month old son, Luca. It was the first time in more than a decade that I was watching someone else reporting the biggest story in the world, rather than being there myself.
And the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was an important story for me: professionally and personally. My first big assignment in the late 1980s was the first Palestinian intifada. My first book, Against the Stranger was about how the occupation affected ordinary peoples' lives. I walked into Jenin under Israeli tanks in April, 2002. And nearly six months pregnant, I sat on the floor in Gaza with kids who wanted to be suicide bombers before I had to be medi-vaced home. The doctors thought I might deliver my baby early.
Some people come of age in high school. I came of age in my 20s in the the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem, where I lived, writing my book, cared for by elderly Palestinian staff who treated me like a granddaughter. But now the biggest event in recent Palestinian history was unfolding: the death of Arafat and the emergence of a new leadership. And I was in Paris trying to teach my son how to play patty cake.
There was a time in my life when I slept with a pre-packed bag under my bed: satellite phone, flash light (a lucky charm I found on the 7th floor of the bombed out Holiday Inn in Sarajevo in 1992); a morphine-based injection (in case of gunshot wounds); photocopies of my passport; my sleeping bag.....

Sunday, February 20, 2005

CREATIVE CLASS: Yes, it is About the Artists: The Tacoma Story

CREATIVE CLASS: Yes, it is About the Artists: The Tacoma Story
by Sarah Kavage
Located at the southern end of Puget Sound, Tacoma has been trying to step out of Seattle’s shadow since the Gold Rush days, without much success. Whenever a renaissance seemed within its grasp, crime, scandal, or economic forces knocked the city back down.
Lately, however, Tacoma’s lengthy quest for revitalization finally has started to take hold. An economic development strategy that focuses not just on the arts, but also on the artists, has yielded $1 billion in public and private investment downtown in the last five years.
A Tale of Two Tacomas
Tacoma’s most visible revitalization has occurred in the city’s downtown core, largely by cultural and civic institutions. The showpiece of this “New Tacoma” is the dramatic waterside Museum of Glass, connected to the downtown by a 500-foot sky bridge designed in part by renowned glass artist and Tacoma native Dale Chihuly. The Tacoma Art Museum has expanded into a new facility next to the History Museum and the city courthouse. Martini bars, coffee shops, brew pubs, and other signs of yuppie-dom are springing up—as are parks, housing, a light rail line, a University of Washington branch campus, and a convention center. ...

Abandoned but not alone

Abandoned but not alone
By Thomas Oliphant
Boston Globe Columnist  |  February 20, 2005
FORGET Alan Keyes -- the right-wing tub-thumper, the talk-show noisemaker, the Republican pol, the conservative ''Christian," the dad who abandoned his teenager because she happens to be gay.
The person to care about and take an interest in is Maya Keyes -- the daughter, the young woman who got into Brown University, the kid who spent time teaching in India. Sadly, she is anything but a unique case of a budding scholar instantly impoverished by vindictive parents on the threshold of life.
On the brighter side, it turns out she is not alone, but in the embrace of an organization that was set up a few years ago to help in heart-breaking situations like hers. Thanks to The Point Foundation, she will make it to Brown after all. She will not only have financial aid, she will have at least one adult mentor to confide in as her undergraduate life unfolds.....

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Rove-Gannon Connection?

Rove-Gannon Connection?
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2005
Karl Rove (Photo: AP)
Karl Rove's hope to become a respected policymaker will be hampered if the dirty tricks from his political past are more apparent than his desire to spread liberty around the globe.
(CBS) Dotty Lynch is the Senior Political Editor for CBS News. E-mail your questions and comments to Political Points
Karl Rove took a victory lap at an SRO lunch at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington on Thursday. After a glowing introduction by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, Rove proclaimed "conservatism as the dominant political creed in America," but warned Republicans not to get complacent or grow "tired and timid." He recalled the dark days when the Democrats were dominant and cautioned that that could happen again if they let down their guard. The new White House deputy chief of staff also called on conservatives to "seize the mantle of idealism."
Tired and timid are two adjectives never applied to Rove. The architect of the Bush victories in 2000 and 2004 came through the ranks of college Republicans with the late Lee Atwater, and their admitted and alleged dirty tricks are the legends many young political operatives dream of pulling off. So when Jeff Gannon, White House "reporter" for Talon "News," was unmasked last week, the leap to a possible Rove connection was unavoidable.....

Friday, February 18, 2005

The New Thugs

Political Animal by Brian Morton
The New Thugs
Baltimore City Paper
During the Nixon administration, they called themselves “ratfuckers.” Run by Donald Segretti, they were the dirty tricksters that operated behind the scenes of the Republican Party. It was their mind-set that eventually created Watergate, as well as their downfall.
Since then, a new breed has arisen. The Reagan administration was their petri dish, the 1994 Newt Gingrich “revolution” their debutante ball. Gingrich himself provided their playbook, a 1990 memo with the Orwellian title “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” in which he told his acolytes to portray opponents as “sick,” “pathetic,” “incompetent” “traitors.” Setting the stage, he said in the memo to “apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals, and their party.”
The coaches who run Gingrich’s plays are well-known now: the late Lee Atwater and current Bush svengali Karl Rove. Atwater, known for running political campaigns designed to bring out the racist redneck vote—he helped former South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond win re-election several times—made the big time when he vowed to “make Willie Horton a household name” in the 1988 Bush-Dukakis election....

A hireling, a fraud and a prostitute

A hireling, a fraud and a prostitute
Bush's agent in the press corps has given spin a new level of meaning
Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday February 17, 2005
The Guardian
The White House press room has often been a cockpit of intrigue, duplicity and truckling. But nothing challenges the most recent scandal there.
The latest incident began with a sequence of questions for President Bush at his January 26 press conference. First, he was asked whether he approved of his administration's payments to conservative commentators. Government contracts had been granted to three pundits, who had tried to keep the funding secret. "There needs to be a nice, independent relationship between the White House and the press," said the president as he called swiftly on his next questioner.
Jeff Gannon, Washington bureau chief of Talon News, rose from his chair to attack Democrats in the Congress. "How are you going to work - you said you're going to reach out to these people - how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"
For almost two years, in the daily White House press briefings Gannon had been called upon by press secretary Scott McClellan to break up difficult questioning from the rest of the press....

What's IN and OUT

Guide to What's IN and OUT
American Family Voices
It's time for another edition of The Daily Reality Check's Guide to What's IN and OUT.
IN (the hot seat): Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday, and delivered a classic performance: terse, dismissive and haughty. In short, it was vintage Rumsfeld. What, you were expecting a little civility after Abu Ghraib and all those misleading war predictions? You thought perhaps Rumsfeld should act penitent? Dream on.
Instead, Rumsfeld cut the meeting short by announcing he'd be leaving at 1:00 pm, and not returning, forcing committee chair Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to apologize for his surly behavior. Of course, it's not like he was forthcoming during the time he did spend in front of the committee: He offered no timetable for the war, no thoughts on the number of insurgents, no comments on any agreements in Iraq, and no knowledge of budget cuts for veterans.
In fact, Rumsfeld claimed that he was "not familiar" with the cuts in veterans benefits mentioned by the committee. But he wouldn't even have to read the budget to know about it – all it would take is a quick scan of the news, and he would have come across headlines like this one from yesterday's New York Times: "Senators Question Adequacy of Bush Budget for Veterans."
Five veterans groups, including the American Legion, have complained about provisions in the new budget that force veterans to pay twice as much for prescription drugs, and force some to pay an additional fee of $250. Eligibility for nursing home care would also be restricted.
While Rumsfeld might not be "familiar" with the cuts, the multitudes of veterans now staring down increased costs and fees most certainly are. Read more here and here.
OUT (of support): Budget issues aside for the moment, the Bush White House has made another astounding decision with regards to veterans. A group of 17 American pilots who were captured and abused by Iraqis at Abu Ghraib during the 1991 Gulf War have been awarded nearly $1 billion in torture compensation by a federal judge – but this administration is standing in the way by arguing that the money belongs to the new Iraq.
"These resources are required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.
The irony levels in this case are compounded by the fact that last year, when backpedaling from the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld argued that the victims deserve compensation from the US.
Apparently the line is drawn when it comes to our own soldiers.
"Our government is on the wrong side of this issue. A lot of Americans would scratch their heads and ask why is our government taking the side of Iraq against our POWs," said Jeffrey Addicott, a former Army lawyer.
IN (need of a few good men and women): And the bad news on the recruiting front continues: five of the six military reserve units have failed to meet their recruiting goals for the first four months of the fiscal year. The Army Reserve and the National Guard were hit the hardest, largely due to the higher numbers of active duty soldiers who weren't permitted to retire to the reserve.
The Army said it plans to boost the number of recruiters, and increase bonuses for recruits.
Changing the Bush administration policy of waging war on false pretenses apparently wasn't one of the solutions discussed. Read more here.
OUT (of reasons): Remember all that talk of "draining the swamp" of terrorists by waging war in Iraq? It hasn't been around much lately, and yesterday, top US national security officials told Congress why.
"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-US jihadists. These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism," said CIA Director Porter Goss.
"Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," said Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In other words, instead of draining the swamp, we turned on a hose.
IN (need of a dictionary): Perhaps President Bush needs to brush up on the real meaning of "bipartisanship." After making perfunctory overtures following his second inauguration, he's completely abandoned any sense of reaching across the aisle. Case in point: Bush recently renominated extreme conservative William Pryor to hold a seat on the US Court of Appeals, even though the Senate didn't confirm him last term, and Bush used a back-door recess appointment to temporarily put Pryor on the bench.
"The Bush administration has again chosen confrontation over cooperation and ideology over moderation. The president's words about wanting to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats are ringing a little hollow at this point," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Thursday, February 17, 2005

George Bush: The Mulligan Man

Richard A. Stitt: 'George Bush: The Mulligan Man'
Contributed by richards038 on Wednesday, February 16 @ 10:41:46 EST
By Richard A. Stitt
Mulligan: a free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played.
Thus, Mr. Bush's propitious beginning in 2000 was launched with the aegis of several mulligans, courtesy of five partisan, activist, Republican U.S. Supreme Court lackeys.
Their decision, which stopped the full recount of all 67 Florida counties dead in its tracks, topped the previous dastardly Dred Scott U. S. Supreme Court decision in 1846 which declared that Scott was personal property and should remain a slave.
But four years later, Mr. Bush, in spite of catastrophic decisions that have driven our country to near insolvency and record debt with more confrontational gunboat policies, is being granted yet more mulligans to wreak further economic chaos and war.
Recently, we read where Bush plans to up the death benefits ante from $12,000 to $250,000 to entice more young men and women into reenlisting in the military and prepare for another assault against a more formidable enemy, Iran. He believes, like the rest of his war-monger administration, that war can be bought and paid for with a few extra dollars, unlike his Iraq War which he and Rumsfeld thought they could conduct on the cheap. Now, given another four more years, he has no problem relegating the morality and the cost of lives to a secondary and inconsequential role as reasons to achieve a Zeitgeist that eerily resembles the demise of Germany's Weimar Republic and the ascendancy of the Nazi Party. Complicit in this grand plan are the increasingly more gullible and indisputably right-wing leaning media and his loyalists in the rubber stamp Republican-controlled US Congress.....

The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show'

The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show'
Published: February 20, 2005
New York Times
THE prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time.
Let me explain.
On "Countdown," a nightly news hour on MSNBC, the anchor, Keith Olbermann, led off with a classic "Daily Show"-style bit: a rapid-fire montage of sharply edited video bites illustrating the apparent idiocy of those in Washington. In this case, the eight clips stretched over a year in the White House briefing room - from February 2004 to late last month - and all featured a reporter named "Jeff." In most of them, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, says "Go ahead, Jeff," and "Jeff" responds with a softball question intended not to elicit information but to boost President Bush and smear his political opponents. In the last clip, "Jeff" is quizzing the president himself, in his first post-inaugural press conference of Jan. 26. Referring to Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, "Jeff" asks, "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

If we did not live in a time when the news culture itself is divorced from reality, the story might end there: "Jeff," you'd assume, was a lapdog reporter from a legitimate, if right-wing, news organization like Fox, and you'd get some predictable yuks from watching a compressed video anthology of his kissing up to power. But as Mr. Olbermann explained, "Jeff Gannon," the star of the montage, was a newsman no more real than a "Senior White House Correspondent" like Stephen Colbert on "The Daily Show" and he worked for a news organization no more real than The Onion. Yet the video broadcast by Mr. Olbermann was not fake. "Jeff" was in the real White House, and he did have those exchanges with the real Mr. McClellan and the real Mr. Bush.

"Jeff Gannon's" real name is James D. Guckert. His employer was a Web site called Talon News, staffed mostly by volunteer Republican activists....

Bush administration blurs media boundary

Bush administration blurs media boundary
Controversy over a 'journalist' adds to the buzz about message control in capital.
By Gail Russell Chaddock | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON – First came video "news releases" produced by the Bush administration using a TV news format. Then came three conservative columnists who got big paychecks from federal agencies. Now, there's Jeff Gannon (not his real name), a journalist (maybe) who gained surprisingly easy access to the president, only to lob a sympathetically slanted question.
No evidence has surfaced that Mr. Gannon was directed by the White House, but the circumstances ignited a debate over the inner workings of the White House press room.
Presidents from George Washington on down have struggled with a news corps viewed as hostile. And in the age of television, the art of message management has been increasingly vital to the modern presidency.
But taken together, these recent controversies suggest that the Bush administration may be pushing that craft into new territory - and testing the limits of presidential public relations....

Alan Greenspan and the Meaning of "Trust"

Alan Greenspan and the Meaning of "Trust"
Greg Anrig, Jr.
The Century Foundation, 2/15/2005
When Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, it will be the first time he will comment publicly on President George W. Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security. Great weight will be given to his statements. But in light of Greenspan's long, tortured relationship with Social Security, his views should be treated with the same skepticism that Dr. Phil shows toward his guests.
Greenspan famously chaired a bipartisan commission that in 1983 issued recommendations for strengthening Social Security. Those reforms, which President Reagan signed into law in April of that year, made a promise to American workers: your payroll taxes will be increased in order to finance the build up of trust funds, which will secure Social Security benefits when you retire in the 21st Century. The Greenspan Commission's plan has worked even better than imagined, with projections today showing that promised benefits can be paid in full until 2052, according to the Congressional Budget Office.....

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tilting at Windmills

Tilting at Windmills
By Bill McKibben
Published: February 16, 2005
Johnsburg, N.Y.
FINALLY, American environmentalists have a chance to get it right about wind power.
News broke this week of plans for the first big wind energy installation in the Adirondack Park. Ten towering turbines would sprout on the site of an old garnet mine in this tiny town. They'd be visible from the ski slopes at nearby Gore Mountain, and they'd be visible too from the deep wild of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, one of the loneliest and most beautiful parts of New York's "forever wild" Adirondack Forest Preserve, the model for a century of American conservation. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a place better suited to illustrate the controversy that wind power is causing in this country.
I know the area well; I've lived most of my adult life in this part of the world, and I've skied and backpacked through the old mine and the woods around it, searched for (and found) lost hunters, encountered its bears and coyotes and fisher, sat on its anonymous peaks and knolls and watched the hawks circle beneath. In fact, this very wilderness - these yellow birches, the bear that left that berry-filled pile of scat, those particular loons laughing on that particular lake - led me to fall in love with the world outdoors.
Which is precisely why I hope those wind turbines rise on the skyline, and as soon as possible....

Tilting at Windmills

Tilting at Windmills
By Bill McKibben
Published: February 16, 2005
Johnsburg, N.Y.
FINALLY, American environmentalists have a chance to get it right about wind power.
News broke this week of plans for the first big wind energy installation in the Adirondack Park. Ten towering turbines would sprout on the site of an old garnet mine in this tiny town. They'd be visible from the ski slopes at nearby Gore Mountain, and they'd be visible too from the deep wild of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, one of the loneliest and most beautiful parts of New York's "forever wild" Adirondack Forest Preserve, the model for a century of American conservation. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a place better suited to illustrate the controversy that wind power is causing in this country.
I know the area well; I've lived most of my adult life in this part of the world, and I've skied and backpacked through the old mine and the woods around it, searched for (and found) lost hunters, encountered its bears and coyotes and fisher, sat on its anonymous peaks and knolls and watched the hawks circle beneath. In fact, this very wilderness - these yellow birches, the bear that left that berry-filled pile of scat, those particular loons laughing on that particular lake - led me to fall in love with the world outdoors.
Which is precisely why I hope those wind turbines rise on the skyline, and as soon as possible....

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon

After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon
By Jonathan Weisman and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 14, 2005; Page A01
For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.
Congress and the White House have become adept at passing legislation with hidden long-term price tags, but those huge costs began coming into view in Bush's latest spending plan. Even if Bush succeeds in slashing the deficit in half in four years, as he has pledged, his major policy prescriptions would leave his successor with massive financial commitments that begin rising dramatically the year he relinquishes the White House, according to an analysis of new budget figures. ...

The Fighting Moderates

The Fighting Moderates
New York Times
Published: February 15, 2005
he Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there," Howard Dean said in accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. "But there is something that this administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe."
Those words tell us what the selection of Mr. Dean means. It doesn't represent a turn to the left: Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense. Instead, Mr. Dean's political rejuvenation reflects the new ascendancy within the party of fighting moderates, the Democrats who believe that they must defend their principles aggressively against the right-wing radicals who have taken over Congress and the White House....

Monday, February 14, 2005

Being Howard Dean

Being Howard Dean
Give the chair a chance. You just might like what you see.
By Robert Kuttner
The American Prospect
Web Exclusive: 02.10.05
Howard Dean seems assured of becoming the Democratic party chairman when the Democratic National Committee votes Feb. 12. Is this a good or bad thing for the Democrats?
Conservative Democrats think it's a disaster. One Republican operative was quoted, (inevitably) "It's a scream!"
But there's a lot more to Dean than that one awful moment in Iowa, and the real story is rich and complicated.
Dean surprised Washington insiders showing that he had a great deal of early support among state party chairs. These people are not diehard lefties or fools. They want to win....

Social Security reform critics target N.Y. lawmakers

Sunday, February 13, 2005
Social Security reform critics target N.Y. lawmakers
By John Machacek
Poughkeepsie Journal
Washington bureau
New York's nine Republican members of Congress enter the debate on Social Security with big bull's-eyes on their backs.
With their potentially pivotal votes, they are targets of a statewide coalition of labor unions, community action groups and advocates for the elderly who are opposed to President Bush's plan to overhaul the government retirement system.
If the Republicans don't denounce efforts to privatize Social Security or reduce benefits, the coalition plans to use all the tools of a political campaign against them....

.....Richard Kirsch, executive director of Citizen Action of New York, said lawmakers should not thinke going to get a pass on the Social Security issue. ''There is a visceral reaction against privatization ... and people are ready to take action,'' he said.
Coalition leaders believe there are enough House Republican votes in New York and the Northeast to block any plan that would lead to cuts in guaranteed benefits for both younger and older workers.
Bob Master, the Communication Workers of America's legislative director for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said the 16 Republican House members in his three states are critical votes at a time when Republicans hold a 30-seat majority in the House.
''You flip 16 Republicans, then it's over,'' he said. ''We don't expect to get 100 percent of them to take the right position, but obviously we can put a very big dent in the president's base of support in the House right here in the Northeast.
Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Syracuse, and staffers for Boehlert have met with coalition members while others, including Kelly say they are willing to listen. But Rep. John Sweeney R-Clifton Park, says he won't if the coalition's efforts are ''going to turn into a circus of demonstrations'' over political points people want to make on the Social Security issue.
''I have heard their threats and my response to them is: ''So what is your plan to save Social Security?''' said Sweeney, a former state labor commissioner who received considerable union support in his 2004 re-election campaign.
''They have offered nothing but opposition. I am not interested in hearing that. I'm interested in solving problems.''...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A lesson in dishonesty

A lesson in dishonesty
By Thomas Oliphant
Boston Globe Columnist  
February 13, 2005
PRESIDENT BUSH'S latest, self-inflicted budget wound is more of a lesson in the dangers of partisanship than an example of the consequences of dishonesty.
To an extent, the White House is correct in its cynical remarks that the estimates of the real cost of the impending prescription drug benefit for retired people was low-balled at the time the system was enacted in 2003.
However, these remarks miss the most important point. The president had a choice that year, between a prescription drug benefit passed with the backing of leaders in both parties by a wide margin and one rammed down the throats of Republican lawmakers -- with the aid of cost estimates known by those who made them to be false -- and passed by the narrowest of margins.
Bush chose the latter course, and that is making all the difference....

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Let us consider the Rapture Index

'Let us consider the Rapture Index'
By Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Let us consider the Rapture Index. This is a real thing prepared by serious people. If it makes you laugh, you have not gotten the memo. You probably have not read any of the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series, the best-selling books in America today.
Those Left Behind are those who did not experience the Rapture, which is an instant in time when all the truly holy people are taken directly to heaven, leaving their clothes in small neat piles behind them. The rest of the ungodly losers are left to deal with natural disasters and wars and the armies of the Antichrist, after which they die in various colorful ways while the ranks of the saved watch with compassion tempered with an understandable sense of satisfaction.
The Rapture Index, as of this writing, stands at 153. Anything over 145 is labeled by the Rapture Actuaries as "Fasten your seat belts." In other words: Repent for the End Is Near. You may see all this for yourself at, should you think I'm making it up....

Friday, February 11, 2005

Bush's Class-War Budget

Bush's Class-War Budget
Published: February 11, 2005
It may sound shrill to describe President Bush as someone who takes food from the mouths of babes and gives the proceeds to his millionaire friends. Yet his latest budget proposal is top-down class warfare in action. And it offers the Democrats an opportunity, if they're willing to take it.
First, the facts: the budget proposal really does take food from the mouths of babes. One of the proposed spending cuts would make it harder for working families with children to receive food stamps, terminating aid for about 300,000 people. Another would deny child care assistance to about 300,000 children, again in low-income working families.
And the budget really does shower largesse on millionaires even as it punishes the needy. For example, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities informs us that even as the administration demands spending cuts, it will proceed with the phaseout of two little-known tax provisions - originally put in place under the first President George Bush - that limit deductions and exemptions for high-income households....

Thursday, February 10, 2005

`Jeff Gannon' and L'Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak

`Jeff Gannon' and L'Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak
by spiderleaf
Wed Feb 9th, 2005 at 17:04:12 PST
(From the diaries -- kos)

This diary condenses the huge and detailed timeline laid out in the previous diary "Plame leak timeline II".
It lays the case for the leak of the classified 2002 CIA memo to Gannon.
For all interested, please read the original diary as it contains facts, sources, etc.
Thanks to all for your help compiling this, thanks to Ambassador Wilson for filling in some holes and special thanks to Kiw for all her help tracking down leads.
And of course, SusanG, who started the ball rolling and continues to dig for the larger story.
As the Iraq war raged and as the truth surrounding the forged documents that claimed Saddam attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger emerged, a website and news organization came into being... Talon News (March 29, 2003)... owned by Within days `Jeff Gannon', a man with no journalism experience secured White House briefing room press credentials (April 3, 2003).....

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What We're Reading

What We're Reading
American Family Voices
Here's a quick look at some of the best articles we've come across lately. We hope you find them as enjoyable and/or enlightening as we did.
"Privatizing Social Security: 'Me' Over 'We"'

Benjamin Barber, author of "Jihad vs. McWorld," expounds on the real dangers of President Bush's plan to dismantle Social Security in this Los Angeles Times piece. Barber notes that the true cost of such a shift cannot be measured in dollars alone – it also weakens our collective social fabric by privatizing a public system.
"Let's Not Make the Same Mistakes in Iran"David Kay, former head of the Iraq Survey Group that led the hunt for WMD, cautions that the current events surrounding Iran offer "an eerie similarity to the events preceding the Iraq war." Kay warns that we must first remember and analyze what went wrong with the WMD predictions in Iraq, because that mystery still lingers. He concludes: "What is in doubt is the ability of the US government to honestly assess Iran's nuclear status and to craft a set of measures that will cope with that threat short of military action by the United States or Israel."

"Noble Ideals, Nasty Actions," and "Flip-Flopping on Social Security Linguistics" A two-fer from Molly Ivins, who keeps up her record of pulling no punches when it comes to this administration.
"Why Iraq is Still a Debacle"Arianna Huffington provides a sober reminder that the recent election in Iraq, while promising, does not offer an instant panacea. A successful vote doesn't cure the lack of progress in the reconstruction of Iraq, nor does it automatically provide the Bush administration with the exit strategy that they have been incapable of offering.
"Budget Shenanigans"Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant tackles President Bush's backwards budget in this piece. He writes: "Even a quick peek at the astonishingly dishonest federal budget the administration released yesterday shows that President Bush and his veep plan on leaving ticking time bombs behind when they get out of town four years hence."
"Race Bait and Switch"E.J. Dionne Jr.'s latest column in the Washington Post, in which he upbraids leading conservatives for so willfully and gutlessly playing the race card when it comes to confirming arch-conservative minority nominees.
"Spearing the Beast"Paul Krugman continues his assault on the Bush administration's Social Security overhaul in his latest offering. Krugman asserts that Bush's goal is ideological in nature: the conservative movement won't rest until government welfare programs have been fully gutted, and Social Security is the first step.

"Mr. President, Don't Forget Healthcare"Derrick Jackson reminds us that the American public has demonstrated its preference for supporting health care, even as this administration continues to ignore the problem and offer things like tax cuts for millionaires instead. President Bush virtually ignored the issue in his recent State of the Union address, and offered only a few vague proposals. Meanwhile, 45 million Americans are without health insurance. Talk about a crisis.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Budget shenanigans

Budget shenanigans
By Thomas Oliphant
Boston Globe Columnist  |  February 8, 2005
NO WONDER Dick Cheney swears he will never run for president. Even a quick peek at the astonishingly dishonest federal budget the administration released yesterday shows that President Bush and his veep plan on leaving ticking time bombs behind when they get out of town four years hence. By general agreement, the government's finances are lacking in elementary credibility. That's now. What is less well understood is how much of Bush's budgetary buffoonery is meant to become apparent after his successor is in office.
The first clue to the truth lies in a measure of the federal deficit this crowd adores obscuring but is forced by law to disclose. It's found only in a large table buried in the budget documents and estimates the government's operating red ink -- the amount by which spending exceeds revenue from income taxes and other fees. Last year it was far above the deficit figure that that typically makes its way into headlines -- $567 billion, compared with the "official" figure of $412 billion.....

Ann Coulter sticks her entire leg in her mouth

Doug Ireland: 'Ann Coulter sticks her entire leg in her mouth'
Posted on Monday, February 07 @ 10:13:31 EST

By Doug Ireland, Direland
Ann Coulter is a loudmouth ignoramus who spouts her outrageous nationalist inaccuracies on American television with little challenge from the empty talking heads who interview her. But she finally found someone to stand up to her, in Canada--and she was exposed for the arrogant fool she is. Interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Bob McKeown for the investigative TV broadcast "The Fifth Estate," which devoted an hour-long January 26 special to how U.S. media have been highjacked by conservative bullies, Coulter was berating Canada for not sending troops to Iraq when she displayed her empty-headedness in the following exchange:
Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"
McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."
Coulter: "I don't think that's right."
McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."
Coulter (looking desperate): "Indochina?"
McKeown: "Uh no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."
Coulter: "I think you're wrong."
McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."
Coulter: "I think you're wrong."
McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."
Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."
McKeown: "No."
Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."
McKeown tags out in script:
"Coulter never got back to us -- but for the record, like Iraq, Canada sent no troops to Vietnam."
You can see the entire exchange by clicking here.
Of course, Coulter was dead wrong.....

Monday, February 07, 2005

New Book: When Presidents Lie : A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences

When Presidents Lie : A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences
by Alterman, Eric
(PENGUIN USA, © 2004) 
     Lying has become pervasive in American life-but what happens when the falsehoods are perpetrated by the Oval Office? As the lies told by our government become more and more intricate, they begin to weave a tapestry of deception that creates problems far larger than those lied about in the first place. Eric Altermanrsquo;s When Presidents Lie is a compelling historical examination of four specific post-World War II presidential lies whose consequences were greater than could ever have been predicted. FDR told the American people that peace was secure in Europe, setting the stage for McCarthyism and the cold war. John F. Kennedyrsquo;s unyielding stance during the Cuban missile crisis masked his secret deal with the Soviet Union. Misrepresented aggression at the Gulf of Tonkin by the North Vietnamese gave LBJ the power to start a war. Finally, Ronald Reaganrsquo;s Central American wars ended in the ignominy of the Iran-contra scandal. In light of George W. Bushrsquo;s war in Iraq, which Alterman examines in the bookrsquo;s conclusion, When Presidents Lie is a warning-one more relevant today than ever before-that the only way to prevent these lies is Americarsquo;s collective demand for truth.

Nobles Need Not Pay Taxes

Published on Tuesday, February 1, 2005 by
Nobles Need Not Pay Taxes
by Thom Hartmann
A new aristocracy is taking over not just the United States of America but also the world. Proof of how far along it has come was in an article by Glenn R. Simpson in the January 28, 2005 edition of The Wall Street Journal.
"European countries have been steadily slashing corporate tax rates," wrote Simpson, adding, "...between 2000 and 2003, one nation after another has moved toward lower corporate rates with fewer loopholes."
On January 31, 2005, the Journal followed up with another story ("Tax Showdown Promised by EU Chief") pointing out that "...the new president of the European Commission launched a blunt attack on French and German efforts to end tax competition among European Union countries."
Ironically, EU leader José Manuel Barroso is also quoted in the Journal as saying: "Corporatist vested interests are the most important problem, be they from the left or the right."
This is more than just a tax cut story. It's about a fundamental shift in power and wealth from average people and the governments they had formed to represent them, to the capture of those governments and economic enslavement of their people by corporate aristocracies....

Bill Moyers: There is no tomorrow

Bill Moyers: There is no tomorrow
Bill Moyers
January 30, 2005
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.
Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."....

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The CEA Forecasts a *Big* Stock Market Crash

February 04, 2005
The CEA Forecasts a *Big* Stock Market Crash
Brad DeLong
For the past several years U.S. stock prices have averaged something like 60 times dividends--a very high multiple compared to the normal 25-30 or so found in U.S. experience. There are three theories as to what is going on: (i) the equity premium has fallen substantially, and so returns on stocks will average significantly less than the 6.5% per year of the past; (ii) economic growth is about to accelerate, and be noticeably faster than standard models suggest; and (iii) the stock market is about to crash.
The fact that economists are forced to choose from among these three options--for there is no fourth way out--has interesting implications for Council of Economic Advisors, "Three Questions About Social Security," February 4, 2005. That memo denies that the equity premium has fallen. It denies that future growth will be fast. And so we have the CEA forecasting a stock market crash....

Beyond Social Security

Beyond Social Security
By Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe Columnist  
February 6, 2005
IF THIS country had top-notch political leadership, we would not be looking at months of petty, partisan warfare over a puny topic like Social Security.
Instead we would be discussing something much bigger -- aging itself, its problems, opportunities, and costs. And that discussion would be taking place in the proper context -- of national priorities and mature relations among the generations.
Instead, the country faces the ugly prospect of a ''debate" about an ideological gimmick -- investment accounts -- that its proponents have finally acknowledged has no relation whatsoever to the long-range problems of the social insurance system it irresponsibly tinkers with....

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Tin Commandments

The Tin Commandments
Covet not the ass next door
by Alan Bisbort - February 3, 2005
There ought to be a law...
The World This Week
On a visit to Atlanta earlier this week, I noticed a new affectation sweeping the fringes of red culture. On placards the size of real-estate transaction signs, the Ten Commandments are posted in front yards, augmenting the "God Bless America" ribbons on the rear-ends of homeowners' SUVs.
This was not deep in the Dark Ages of red culture. This was not Cobb County, where these signs are no doubt mandatory and where the school board has placed anti-evolution stickers on biology texts. This was Southern suburbia, where I grew up, two counties removed from Cobb. To my surprise, I didn't find myself flinching in horror at the "hidden agendas" of the Ned Flanderses and Church Ladies compelled to make such public pronouncements of self-righteousness. Rather, I refamiliarized myself with the actual words of the Ten Commandments. It was then that I decided to see if the "values"-laden Republicans who lord over us and shove the commandments down our throats, actually adhere to their own preachings.
Need I add the obvious answer? Of course they don't! The Republican "values" crowd would be lost without their hypocrisies. Indeed, hypocrisy is the glue that holds America together. James Hillman nailed it in his recent book, A Terrible Love of War : "Hypocrisy in America is not a sin but a necessity and a way of life. It makes possible armories of mass destruction side by side with the proliferation of churches, cults, and charities. Hypocrisy holds the nation together so that it can preach, and practice what it does not preach."
Check out the commandments for yourself, found in Exodus, Chapter 20, 1-18.
­ "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
Moses (quoting God) told his people that they must stop worshipping false idols. I take this to mean that no other objects of worship besides God are allowed, including money, stocks, oil, real estate and Paris Hilton videos.....

A Whistle-Blower's Inside View of the Homeland Security Nominee

A Whistle-Blower's Inside View of the Homeland Security Nominee
Los Angeles Times
By Jesselyn Radack, Jesselyn Radack writes on legal ethics. She has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the Justice Department. Her website is
On Wednesday, in hearings on his nomination to be head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff had this to say: "If you are dealing with something that makes you nervous, you'd better make sure that you are doing the right thing. And you'd better check it out…. You had better be very careful to make sure that whatever it is you decide to do falls well within what is required by the law."
I could hardly believe my ears.
In 2001, Chertoff was the head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and I was legal advisor to the department on matters of ethics. When I "did the right thing," and gave the department advice that conflicted with what it wanted to hear, I was forced out of my job, fired from my subsequent private sector job at the government's behest, placed under criminal investigation without any charges ever being brought, referred for disciplinary action to the state bars where I'm licensed as a lawyer, and, so I've been told as I've been searched time and again at airports, put on the "no fly" list. ...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The State Of George W. Bush

The State Of George W. Bush
By David Corn, The Nation. Posted February 3, 2005.

Whether speaking about the Iraq war, gay marriage or Social Security, in his State of the Union the president re-affirmed that he does not reside in a reality-based community.
George W. Bush knows what to do with a bully pulpit. From the days of Thomas Jefferson to those of William Taft, the State of the Union was a written message delivered by presidents to Congress. Woodrow Wilson turned it into a speech. Subsequent presidents used the State of the Union as a high-profile opportunity to promote their political agendas.

Bush went beyond that this evening. He produced grand and effective political theater. In the middle of the address, he transformed the war in Iraq — which even after the historic election there arguably remains his largest liability — into a single, powerfully poignant moment. Exploiting the tradition of inviting symbolically significant guests to sit with the First Lady, Bush introduced the mother of a US Marine killed in Fallujah and an Iraqi human rights advocate whose father had been assassinated by Saddam Hussein and who had voted in Sunday's election....

Nine Things President Bush Won't – But Should – Say in Tonight's Speech

Daily Reality Check
Nine Things President Bush Won't – But Should – Say in Tonight's Speech
President Bush has undoubtedly received no shortage of advice on what to include in tonight's State of the Union address. Nevertheless, we've decided to provide some helpful tips of our own – even though you'd be more likely to find WMD in Iraq than any of our suggestions in Bush's speech. That's why we're offering the "Nine Things President Bush Won't – But Should – Say in Tonight's Speech."
1. "Last year I promised the troops that my administration would 'give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror.' I haven't followed through, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's comment about going to war 'with the Army you have,' didn't help matters. I've asked him to resign."
Although President Bush made the requisite overtures to the troops during last year's State of the Union address, it was Rumsfeld's blunt and tactless comment that revealed this administration's real approach.
2. "I haven't figured out how to pay for my Social Security privatization scheme."
While the White House has spent most of its time figuring out how to sell its plans (Let's call them "private accounts" – no, "personal accounts"!), they haven't even bothered to try to figure out how to foot the bill. Early reports indicate that the Bush administration is simply planning to hide the estimated $1-2 trillion price tag by not including it in budget deficit projections.
3. "Last year, I called on Congress to make my tax cuts permanent 'for the sake of job growth.' The truth is that my tax cuts haven't created nearly as many jobs as my administration repeatedly predicted."
President Bush's misleading rhetoric on the economy has taken a back seat to higher-profile misleading comments he's made recently on Social Security and the war in Iraq. But that doesn't mean he's giving up on making his tax cuts for the rich permanent. (He simply won't talk about how the immense price tag will cause the deficit to explode.) The fact of the matter is that, according to research from the Economy Policy Institute, Bush's tax cuts failed to meet job growth predictions in all but two states – Hawaii and Wyoming.
4. "I just wanted to let everyone know – we haven't forgotten about Osama bin Laden."
Bush omitted mention of bin Laden in last year's State of the Union address, even though it was primarily focused on foreign policy and the War on Terror.
5. "I acknowledge that there is a health care crisis in this country, and I pledge to help the 45 million Americans without health insurance."
While the Bush team has worked feverishly to fabricate a Social Security crisis (even though the program will remain fully solvent for almost another 40 years), America is experiencing a real health care crisis right now. And yet, President Bush has been nearly silent on this issue. If only there was a solution that involved increased fees for Wall Street…
6. "Some of you are probably still wondering about the Valerie Plame affair, where someone in my administration leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent as political payback. Some of you have forgotten about it, meaning that my strategy of burying it just might be working."
Remember the Plame affair? We haven't heard much about it lately, but that doesn't erase the fact that this administration engaged in a dirty political trick simply to warn Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, not to speak out against the Bush team.
7. "I have a definite plan in Iraq. Let me now explain it to you, point by point."
Ok, even two years later, this is still just wishful thinking on our part. Unfortunately.
8. "As the leader of my administration, I take full responsibility for our unethical practice of paying journalists to act as spokespeople for our policies."
Bush has wrongfully won praise for his decision to end this practice. Wrongfully, not because it's a bad call on his part (it isn't, he finally made the right move), but A) it never should have happened in the first place, and B) because he heaped all the blame on his subordinates, like Education Secretary Rod Paige, and didn't own up to it himself. Quite frankly, this isn't consistent with his cherished image as a "strong leader.
9. "I don't have a real plan to balance the budget. I was just funnin' around during that election."
Finally, President Bush should level with the American people about this: balancing the budget isn't on his administration's list of priorities. It should be, but it's not. First, they turned a $127 billion surplus into record deficits. Then, they tried to win praise by promising to cut those self-created shortfalls by half in five years. Now, it already looks like that can't happen. Already this year's estimated deficit of $427 billion is much higher than the White House claimed it would be last summer. Now reports indicate that the president's budget will virtually freeze non-defense discretionary spending – squeezing government programs instead of cutting those ridiculous tax cuts. It's classic "starve the beast" conservative mentality – but it's not leading to lower deficits for two reasons: A) Bush hasn't been able to freeze spending – he hasn't vetoed a spending bill sent to him by the Republican Congress yet, and B) his tax cuts for the rich are so expensive, they're blotting out everything else. And let's not even get started on the trade deficit…
What do these nine statements have in common? They require President Bush to go on television and level with the American public – something that he has proven utterly incapable of doing on virtually every issue he's been confronted with (or, in the case of Social Security, created). It would be nice to think that Bush would come clean on all these issues, but the odds are better that he'll be the first president to deliver a State of the Union while wearing a flight suit.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Election déjà vu

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
Election déjà vu
Iraq election heartwarming, but haven't we been here before?
AUSTIN, Texas -- Here's hoping.
The trouble with being a congenital optimist is that gloom-mongering feels so uncomfortable. The election in Iraq Sunday, like the one in Afghanistan last year, was moving, inspiring and hopeful. When there's a ray of light breaking through in a dark sky, I'd much rather concentrate on the ray than the black clouds.
But mitigating my optimism is the fact that I've been around for a long time. Not that longevity is any guarantee of wisdom, but it does provide perspective. I can remember when they had elections in Vietnam that looked hopeful in 1967. I can remember the elections in El Salvador in 1984. And I remember last year's election in Afghanistan, with the almost unbearably moving sight of Afghani women coming out to vote. Still, it didn't kill off a single raping warlord, did it?
In Iraq alone, we've been through "mission accomplished," then the violence would end once we captured Saddam Hussein, then the all-important handover of sovereignty that would make all the difference and next the destruction of Fallujah that was going to break the insurgency. (Well, it did destroy Fallujah.) Someday, we will actually capture al-Zarqawi, and I bet we find that doesn't make much difference, either....

Fox bully is crybaby on Canada

Feb. 1, 2005. 07:12 AM
Fox bully is crybaby on Canada
O'Reilly wailing about CBC `vicious attack'
Toronto Star
Fox News star Bill O'Reilly is a big fat baby.
Friday night, he wah-wah-wahed on his top-rated cable news show about last week's edition of CBC's the fifth estate.
The U.S. is at war, the Iraqis were voting, social security reform is a huge issue and this guy devotes precious TV time to denouncing Canada, Canadians and CBC, repeating the same tired and untrue lines about how Fox had been "banned" here.
"The Canadian government gives these people $1 billion of Canadian tax money, and the Canadian government is at fault here for allowing this kind of stuff to go on," he railed.
Titled "Sticks and Stones," the hour-long fifth estate report focused on the highly polarized political discourse in the U.S., devoting about 10 minutes to the loudest mouth of them all, O'Reilly.
O'Reilly, who can dish it out but can't take it, complained to his viewers that it was "dishonest" and "a vicious attack."
This from the guy who invented vicious and dishonest attack TV? and other watchdog groups have meticulously documented his distortions and deceptions.
CBC had a Friday night follow-up on The National by Neil MacDonald, who laughed off O'Reilly's contention that the public broadcaster was running scared now that Fox News is available in Canada....

What I Heard about Iraq

What I Heard about Iraq
Eliot Weinberger
London Review Of Books
In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq’. I heard him say: ‘The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: not that damned many.’
In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.’
That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programmes.’
In July 2001, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.’
On 11 September 2001, six hours after the attacks, I heard that Donald Rumsfeld said that it might be an opportunity to ‘hit’ Iraq. I heard that he said: ‘Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.’...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Train wreck of an election

Train wreck of an election
By James Carroll  |  February 1, 2005
Boston Globe
IN THINKING about the election in Iraq, my mind keeps jumping back to last week's train wreck in California. A deranged man, intending suicide, drove his Jeep Cherokee onto the railroad tracks, where it got stuck. The onrushing train drew near. The man suddenly left his vehicle and leapt out of the way. He watched as the train crashed into his SUV, derailed, jackknifed, and hit another train. Railroad cars crumbled. Eleven people were killed and nearly 200 were injured, some gravely. The deranged man was arrested. Whatever troubles had made him suicidal in the first place paled in comparison to the trouble he had now.
Iraq is a train wreck. The man who caused it is not in trouble. Tomorrow night he will give his State of the Union speech, and the Washington establishment will applaud him. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead. More than 1,400 Americans are dead. An Arab nation is humiliated. Islamic hatred of the West is ignited. The American military is emasculated. Lies define the foreign policy of the United States. On all sides of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there is wreckage. In the center, there are the dead, the maimed, the displaced -- those who will be the ghosts of this war for the rest of their days. All for what?
Tomorrow night, like a boy in a bubble, George W. Bush will tell the world it was for "freedom." He will claim the Iraqi election as a stamp of legitimacy for his policy, and many people will affirm it as such. Even critics of the war will mute their objections in response to the image of millions of Iraqis going to polling places, as if that act undoes the Bush catastrophe....

Economic Futures

Death Bet Advice
by Ian Welsh
Every time Stirling, Oldman or myself write something related to the Death Bet and the current twilight zone the US economy finds itself in, one of the inevitable questions is "that's nice. What do I do to prepare myself?" This is that article. But let's caveat it. I'm not an investment professional, I don't know you or your specific circumstances, I'm not personally rich, I could be wrong, free advice may well be worth what you're paying for it and if you're reading this in a couple years - it's hopelessly out of date. Use your own common sense.
Death Bet Revisited The death bet scenario is one in which the US dollar melts down. At the current time the US is soaking up about 75% of the interest in the world (maybe more) - including the drug money. Any major power can take the dollar down any time it chooses to do so, and even if none of them choose to a private investor panic or the laws of gravity will probably take it down eventually anyway. When it goes the US economy is going to go with it - interest rates will have to be radically increased, the budget will break, there will have to be a drastic curtailment of imports, the housing bubble will burst, and so on. It'll also, very likely cause a world wide depression.
Leaving One option is to leave the US. Unless you're on the no-fly list you should think carefully before doing so - leaving your support network is often a mistake, Americans are going to be unpopular in many places and really, nowhere's not going to get hit, though some places will get hit less. If you do decide to leave there are basically two options - 1st World and 3rd....