Friday, March 31, 2006

New Orleans:

The Keys to the City
Philadelphia Enquirer
Richard Florida
Jan. 22, 2006

Debate has swirled for months now on the role that federal, state, and local governments and leaders should play in the rebuilding of New Orleans. To be successful, it must surely get the basics right - but it has to do more than patch up buildings and infrastructure.

The real key lies in recapturing the very soul of this great city - its unique culture, authentic quality of place, and incredible openness to diversity and self-expression. Rebuilding New Orleans as a sustainable, inclusive, and creative community will not only ensure its own success, but also provide a much-needed model for all 21st-century cities.

Do the people of New Orleans want a solution like that? We certainly know what they don't want. Residents reacted angrily, shouting "over my dead body," on Jan. 10, when the city's commission unveiled its long-awaited proposal. Under the plan, many neighborhoods would have four months to come up with community restructuring plans or face the bulldozer.

Not surprising. The commission's top-down plan failed to take into account the most important facets of New Orleans' life: the incredible urban fabric of its neighborhoods and the energy of its people. Fortunately, a Soul of the City survey, conducted by Gallup in May and June, before Hurricane Katrina hit, sheds important light on what New Orleans residents value most in their lives and their city.

While experts have made much of this city's supposed fraying social fabric, New Orleans respondents to the Gallup survey registered the highest level of satisfaction with their personal life of the more than 20 major American metros surveyed. A remarkable 53 percent of residents - young and old, rich and poor, black and white - said they were "extremely satisfied" with their day-to-day lives - higher than in New York, Boston, San Francisco or Washington.

In the haste to focus on the

"big things" like repairing the Superdome and bringing tourists back, leaders are neglecting the subtler, more important questions of authentic quality of place and self-expression that serves as the underlying fabric and soul of any great city. This underlying soul is precisely what provides such an impressive level of life-satisfaction to New Orleans' residents and is what city leaders need to better understand to rebuild the city successfully.

Churches and religious institutions are among the cornerstones of New Orleans' soul. Sixty-one percent of New Orleans residents said they spend time in worship, prayer or meditation every day, and an astounding 56 percent said they had attended church in the last seven days, higher than in all other cities surveyed. If rebuilding is to be successful, it is critical that every effort be focused on reopening these churches as community centers of faith, spirituality and community connection.

Interestingly, another key lies in this city's famous nightlife, which residents view as an equally crucial asset. This goes far beyond Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. The city's myriad jazz clubs, neighborhood bars and taverns are sites of musical innovation, joyful celebration and community. They allow people to be themselves and - alongside the neighborhood churches - weave into the intricate fabric of "third places" (places outside work and home) where people congregate to have fun, express themselves and connect.

The city's great universities - from Tulane to the University of New Orleans and more - have just begun to welcome back students for the new spring term. They must remain at the core of this community resurrection effort. Residents felt the "quality of colleges and universities" - along with its churches and religious institutions - was the most important factor in choosing a place to live and work.

Indeed, the Gallup survey shows that two key issues make people satisfied with their city, likely to recommend it to others, and likely to stay for the foreseeable future. The first one is its capacity for diversity and self-expression: its openness to people regardless of race, ethnicity, age, family situation, or sexual orientation. The second is its "quality of place," its overall aesthetic and physical beauty, air and water quality, great open space, and authentic neighborhoods.

The rebuilding effort cannot neglect New Orleans' impressive natural environment, public parks, bustling boulevards, and historic neighborhoods. According to the Gallup poll, the "beauty and physical setting of the city" and the "availability of parks and green space" are among the things that matter most to New Orleans residents.

The people of New Orleans were far more satisfied with their personal lives than with the city itself, according to the Gallup survey, a sharp contrast to respondents from cities like New York, Austin and Denver, in which personal life and city satisfaction were more closely aligned. Crime and safety are an issue: New Orleans needs to be made safer and more secure than it was before if it hopes to attract huge numbers of people. Politically, the city must get its house in order and end its long legacy of political corruption, infighting and inefficiency.

The city was moving in the right direction before Katrina struck. While residents felt the hangover from the historical heritage of political corruption (45 percent of residents say city government has low ethical standards), a large majority felt their leadership was moving New Orleans in the "right direction."

On a visit to the city in August, I was struck by the large number of professional ex-pats who had been attracted back to New Orleans because of that change of direction. Tremendous enthusiasm was being generated by the efforts of Greater New Orleans Inc., Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, and others to spur the development of dynamic creative-industry clusters around the region's technology base, universities, tourism, and music and film industries. The city's cultural commission, led by jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, continues to stress the importance of music and cultural expression to New Orleans' authentic soul.

The people of New Orleans know what they want. More than just reconstructed levees, a refurbished downtown, or even rebuilt homes, they want the soul of the city back. Their insights - both angry and enthusiastic - remind us of the underlying source of resilience that really rebuilds fallen cities: the people. Let's hope that their leaders will understand this, and provide us all with a compelling model of a creative, prosperous and sustainable city.


To view Richard Florida's Web site, go to

For the reconstruction effort in New Orleans, go to

For New Orleans photographs by Tom Gralish, go to
Richard Florida ( is author of "The Flight of the Creative Class."

End of the Affair Behind Unraveling Of DeLay's Team

End of the Affair Behind Unraveling Of DeLay's Team, A Jilted Fiancée
Breakup of Ex-Aides Shook Group Tied to Abramoff; The Prosecutors Move In Ms. Miller's Tearful Apology
March 31, 2006; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- The engagement of Emily Miller and Michael Scanlon was supposed to mark the coming out of a new Washington power couple.

The two had met on Capitol Hill, where they worked as press secretaries to Rep. Tom DeLay, the feared Texas Republican. They got engaged in September 2001 on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., and planned an August 2002 wedding. As the date approached, Mr. Scanlon bought a $4.7 million oceanside mansion and guest house, formerly part of the DuPont estate, in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He furnished it down to the monogrammed towels and presented it to his bride-to-be.

Then, with the wedding a few months away, he called off the engagement and started dating a 24-year-old waitress.

Mr. Scanlon and Ms. Miller, now both 35 years old, were among a tight-knit group of aides who helped Mr. DeLay rise to the pinnacle of Capitol Hill in the 1990s and cement his power as House majority leader. Some of those aides provided a link between their boss and Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist.

The end of the engagement was part of that group's unraveling -- which has had significant consequences for official Washington. The aides have since turned on one another, feeding the ethics scandal surrounding Mr. Abramoff that now roils the capital. Mr. Abramoff has admitted he directed Native American clients to pay huge sums to Mr. Scanlon's public-relations firm. Mr. Scanlon secretly gave Mr. Abramoff half of his profits.

Prosecutors came to Ms. Miller to help them build a case that drove her ex-fiancé to plead guilty, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mr. Scanlon's testimony in turn helped force Mr. Abramoff into a guilty plea. Another former DeLay aide, Tony Rudy, has been cited by prosecutors in the investigation. Now Washington is wondering whether prosecutors will use testimony from Messrs. Scanlon and Rudy to go after Mr. DeLay, who has resigned as majority leader....

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Saudi Arabian Breakfast

My Saudi Arabian Breakfast
By Chad Heeter

Friday 24 March 2006

Please join me for breakfast. It's time to fuel up again.

On the table in my small Berkeley apartment this particular morning is a healthy looking little meal - a bowl of imported McCann's Irish oatmeal topped with Cascadian Farms organic frozen raspberries, and a cup of Peet's Fair Trade Blend coffee. Like most of us, I prepare my breakfast at home and the ingredients for this one probably cost me about $1.25. (If I went to a café in downtown Berkeley, I'd likely have to add another $6.00, plus tip for the same.)

My breakfast fuels me up with about 400 calories, and it satisfies me. So, for just over a buck and half an hour spent reading the morning paper in my own kitchen, I'm energized for the next few hours. But before I put spoon to cereal, what if I consider this bowl of oatmeal porridge (to which I've just added a little butter, milk, and a shake of salt) from a different perspective. Say, a Saudi Arabian one.

Then, what you'd be likely to see - what's really there, just hidden from our view (not to say our taste buds) - is about four ounces of crude oil. Throw in those luscious red raspberries and that cup of java (another three ounces of crude), and don't forget those modest additions of butter, milk, and salt (another ounce), and you've got a tiny bit of the Middle East right here in my kitchen.

Now, let's drill a little deeper into this breakfast. Just where does this tiny gusher of oil actually come from? (We'll let this oil represent all fossil fuels in my breakfast, including natural gas and coal.)

Nearly 20% of this oil went into growing my raspberries on Chilean farms many thousands of miles away, those oats in the fields of County Kildare, Ireland, and that specially-raised coffee in Guatemala - think tractors as well as petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides.

The next 40% of my breakfast fossil-fuel equation is burned up between the fields and the grocery store in processing, packaging, and shipping.

Take that box of McCann's oatmeal. On it is an inviting image of pure, healthy goodness - a bowl of porridge, topped by two peach slices. Scattered around the bowl are a handful of raw oats, what look to be four acorns, and three fresh raspberries. Those raw oats are actually a reminder that the flakes require a few steps twixt field and box. In fact, a visit to McCann's website illustrates each step in the cleaning, steaming, hulling, cutting, and rolling that turns the raw oats into edible flakes. Those five essential steps require significant energy costs.

Next, my oat flakes go into a plastic bag (made from oil), which is in turn inserted into an energy-intensive, pressed wood-pulp, printed paper box. Only then does my "breakfast" leave Ireland and travel over 5,000 fuel-gorging, CO2-emitting miles by ship and truck to my grocery store in California.

Coming from another hemisphere, my raspberries take an even longer fossil-fueled journey to my neighborhood. Though packaged in a plastic bag labeled Cascadian Farms (which perhaps hints at a birthplace in the good old Cascade mountains of northwest Washington), the small print on the back, stamped "A Product of Chile," tells all - and what it speaks of is a 5,800-mile journey to Northern California.

If you've been adding up percentages along the way, perhaps you've noticed that a few tablespoons of crude oil in my bowl have not been accounted for. That final 40% of the fossil fuel in my breakfast is used up by the simple acts of keeping food fresh and then preparing it. In home kitchens and restaurants, the chilling in refrigerators and the cooking on stoves using electricity or natural gas gobbles up more energy than you might imagine.

For decades, scientists have calculated how much fossil fuel goes into our food by measuring the amount of energy consumed in growing, packing, shipping, consuming, and finally disposing of it. The "caloric input" of fossil fuel is then compared to the energy available in the edible product, the "caloric output."

What they've discovered is astonishing. According to researchers at the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Agriculture, an average of over seven calories of fossil fuel is burned up for every calorie of energy we get from our food. This means that in eating my 400 calorie breakfast, I will, in effect, have "consumed" 2,800 calories of fossil-fuel energy. (Some researchers claim the ratio to be as high as ten to one.)

But this is only an average. My cup of coffee gives me only a few calories of energy, but to process just one pound of coffee requires over 8,000 calories of fossil-fuel energy - the equivalent energy found in nearly a quart of crude oil, 30 cubic feet of natural gas, or around two and a half pounds of coal.

So how do you gauge how much oil went into your food?

First check out how far it traveled. The further it traveled, the more oil it required. Next, gauge how much processing went into the food. A fresh apple is not processed, but Kellogg's Apple Jacks cereal requires enormous amounts of energy to process. The more processed the food, the more oil it required. Then consider how much packaging is wrapped around your food. Buy fresh vegetables instead of canned, and buy bulk beans, grains, and flour if you want to reduce that packaging.

By now, you're thinking that you're in the clear, because you eat strictly organically-grown foods. When it comes to fossil-fuel calculations though, the manner in which food's grown is where differences stop. Whether conventionally-grown or organically-grown, a raspberry is shipped, packed, and chilled the same way.

Yes, there are some savings from growing organically, but possibly only of a slight nature. According to a study by David Pimentel at Cornell University, 30% of fossil-fuel expenditure on farms growing conventional (non-organic) crops is found in chemical fertilizer. This 30% is not consumed on organic farms, but only if the manure used as fertilizer is produced in very close proximity to the farm. Manure is a heavy, bulky product. If farms have to truck bulk manure for any distance over a few miles, the savings are eaten up in diesel-fuel consumption, according to Pimentel. One source of manure for organic farmers in California is the chicken producer Foster Farms. Organic farmers in Monterey County, for example, will have to truck tons of Foster's manure from their main plant in Livingston, Ca. to fields over one hundred miles away.

So the next time we're at the grocer, do we now have to ask not only where and how this product was grown, but how far its manure was shipped?

Well, if you're in New York City picking out a California-grown tomato that was fertilized with organic compost made from kelp shipped from Nova Scotia, maybe it's not such a bad question. But should we give up on organic? If you're buying organic raspberries from Chile each week, then yes. The fuel cost is too great, as is the production of the greenhouse gases along with it. Buying locally-grown foods should be the first priority when it comes to saving fossil fuel.

But if there were really truth in packaging, on the back of my oatmeal box where it now tells me how many calories I get from each serving, it would also tell me how many calories of fossil fuels went into this product. On a scale from one to five - with one being non-processed, locally-grown products and five being processed, packaged imports - we could quickly average the numbers in our shopping cart to get a sense of the ecological footprint of our diet. From this we would gain a truer sense of the miles-per-gallon in our food.

What appeared to be a simple, healthy meal of oatmeal, berries, and coffee looks different now. I thought I was essentially driving a Toyota Prius hybrid - by having a very fuel-efficient breakfast, but by the end of the week I've still eaten the equivalent of over two quarts of Valvoline. From the perspective of fossil-fuel consumption, I now look at my breakfast as a waste of precious resources. And what about the mornings that I head to Denny's for a Grand-Slam breakfast: eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage? On those mornings - forget about fuel efficiency - I'm driving a Hummer.

What I eat for breakfast connects me to the planet, deep into its past with the fossilized remains of plants and animals which are now fuel, as well as into its future, when these non-renewable resources will likely be in scant supply. Maybe these thoughts are too grand to be having over breakfast, but I'm not the only one on the planet eating this morning. My meal traveled thousands of miles around the world to reach my plate. But then there's the rise of perhaps 600 million middle-class Indians and Chinese. They're already demanding the convenience of packaged meals and the taste of foreign flavors. What happens when middle-class families in India or China decide they want their Irish oats for breakfast, topped by organic raspberries from Chile? They'll dip more and more into the planet's communal oil well. And someday soon, we'll all suck it dry.

Chad Heeter grew up eating fossil fuels in Lee's Summit, Missouri. He's a freelance writer, documentary filmmaker, and a former high school science teacher.

Bush Was a Failed President From the Start

Stephen Schlesinger

Bush Was a Failed President From the Start
Huffington Post

President Bush's presidency was sinking precipitously shortly before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On August 27, 2001, the Zogby survey reported that the President had only a 50% positive rating and a negative rating of 49%. Thirteen days later, on September 9th, a Washington Post-Gallup poll gave him somewhat better stats - 55% approval and 41 disapproval, but the polling by the Post and Gallup showed that the unfavorable view of Bush in September actually had increased by10% increase from August.

What these surveys suggest is that eight months into Bush's controversial ascension to the presidency he was already wearing thin his welcome with the American people. This was at a time when his relations with Congress were tense and Democrats had regained control of the Senate. Despite Bush's success with his tax cut bill, he was in a public fight over stem cell research, followed by education, immigration and the question of the Social Security "lockbox." And he was simultaneously pressing for a retrogressive domestic agenda.

After the shocking assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Zogby showed Bush's popularity soaring to 82% positive and only 17% negative. The Washington Post-Gallup poll had Bush even higher in the eighties. From then on -- really until this year -- Bush maintained a plus rating with the American people, almost solely tied to 9/11. Like America's mayor, Rudy Guiliani, who on 9/10 had been one of the most unpopular leaders ever of New York City, Bush was elevated to political nobility by Bin Laden kamikazes.

The image of Bush fighting back - something, by the way, which any American president would have had to have done under the same circumstances or he certainly would have faced impeachment - allowed Bush to catapult over the failures of his first eight months, and push forward an agenda that, under other conditions, might have been rejected as reactionary. And, in 2002, despite a threadbare domestic record, Bush was able to increase Republican margins in the Congressional elections. In 2003, of course, he launched his war on Iraq, despite outright opposition by the UN, his inability to find weapons of mass destruction, his lack of success in connecting Hussein to Al Qaeda, the looting and mayhem that followed Saddham's downfall, and the insurgency that sprung up thereafter......

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The continued madness of King George

The continued madness of King George

Mar 28, 2006, 07:40
Capitol Hill Blue

With all the public furor over his use of the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, and the near-mutiny in the Republican party over his high-handed approach to the Presidency, you'd think George W. Bush might have learned a thing or two about the dangers of arrogance.

Nah, not our despot-in-chief, King Dubya. When he signed the extension of the USA Patriot act into law, he added his own "addendum" to the law that says he doesn't have to tell Congress a damn thing about what he and his storm troopers are up to when it comes to abusing the expanded police powers included in the bill.

After the public ceremony, Bush issued a "signing statement" that reiterated, in effect, Bush's belief that the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper" and he does not feel constrained by law or obligated by provisions of the act that require he inform Congress in a timely manner on just what the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other parts of his American Gestapo are up to when it comes to snooping into the private lives of Americans....

....Bush's actions are just another example of a madman who appears determined to destroy the Constitution and a country called America. Unfortunately, this madman will continue to wreak havoc until somebody puts a stop his insanity.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Slipperier Slope

Slipperier Slope
Posted by James Wolcott

..."From Beijing to Dubai, there is a growing undercurrent of economic anti-Americanism. The irony of it all is truly extraordinary: The US has the greatest external deficit in the history of the world, and is now sending increasingly negative signals to two of its most generous providers of foreign capital -- China and the Middle East. The United States has been extraordinarily lucky to finance its massive current account deficit on extremely attractive terms. If its lenders now start to push back, those terms could change quickly -- with adverse consequences for the dollar, real long-term US interest rates, and overly indebted American consumers. The slope is getting slipperier, and Washington could care less."....

John Sweeney Paid Wife on Commission for Fundraising

(March 25, 2006 -- 11:54 PM EDT)
Talking Points Memo

On the front page of tomorrow's Washington Post, Jeffrey Smith has a lengthy and detailed article about how Tom Delay's one-time Chief of Staff and later lobbyist/advisor, Ed Buckham, used the US Family Network as a front group for the purpose of laundering money from Jack Abramoff's clients into Buckham's own hands.

The broad outlines of the story aren't different from what we already knew -- largely from Smith's December 2005 piece on the same subject. But he provides copious new detail about the audacity of Buckham's own methods of personal enrichment and fairly brazen violation of at least the US tax code.

For my money, the most shocking relevations are still those uncovered in Peter Stone's recent (print only) piece in National Journal (summarized here by Paul Kiel). Using the US Family Network front, DeLay and Buckham arranged officials favors for shadowy Russia 'energy and security' executives in exchange for large cash payments laundered through US Family Network.

One nugget to consider. Like Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) and Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), Buckham siphoned off funds off of political contributions and converted them into personal income by having his wife take 'commissions' for a nominal role as fundraiser. Her cut was 10%.

In 1997, for instance, on $524,975 contributed by a handful of Abramoff clients, Wendy Buckham pocketed $43,000 in 'commissions.'

-- Josh Marshall

Sweeney is featured at --- see article below

John Sweeney Paid Wife on Commission for Fundraising
By Paul Kiel - March 22, 2006, 2:00 PM

Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), like Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), paid his wife on commission for campaign fundraising, a highly unusual arrangement that means that the Sweeneys benefitted personally from every contribution. Ethics experts we spoke to earlier this week about Doolittle's wife said that they'd never heard of a similar arrangement. Well, we found one. And it might explain why the Justice Department recently examined Sweeney's financial records.

Like Doolittle's wife, Sweeney's wife Gayle Ford had no known prior fundraising experience before working for her husband's campaign. Her rate, 10 percent, was more modest than Julie Doolittle's 15 percent, but her company Creative Consulting has made a substantial income since 2003 from Sweeney: $49,209 in fees variously described as "fundraising" or "consulting" on FEC reports.

Details of the Sweeneys' arrangement come from a piece last year in Albany's Times Union. Sweeney's spokesperson Melissa Carlson confirmed those details and told us that there was nothing remarkable about his wife's work, saying that a number of members of Congress have family members on their payroll. She also said that the 10 percent fee was standard for what people in the business make, and that Sweeney's wife "knows the people in the community in our district" and only does fundraising there - they have another fundraiser who works in D.C.

It's true that a number of Members have family on the payroll, but this is the only example that we could find, besides Doolittle, of a family member being paid on commission.

There is another respect in which the Sweeneys resemble the Doolittles. Doolittle has refused to disclose Julie Doolittle's other clients, but the ones we know about are Jack Abramoff and Ed Buckham, two lobbyists. And Gayle Ford's only other work was for Powers, Crane, & Co., a lobbying firm. Also known as PCC Consulting, the Albany-based firm represents a number of clients lobbying the federal government. How much Ford earned from that work isn't disclosed in House records.

Last year, two aides from the Justice Department pulled the financial disclosure records of Rep. John Sweeney, along with those of a number of other lawmakers and aides. The others made sense as possible subjects of interest in the Abramoff investigation, but Sweeney didn't. What was the Justice Department investigating? We couldn't figure it out.

Carlson had no explanation for why the Justice Department might be examining Sweeney's records, only saying that "they are public records, anybody's free to examine them" and that "many people do look at them."

Now, are we sure that this is why the Justice Department is looking at Sweeney? No. But it's been repeatedly reported that lawmaker's arrangements with their wives interest investigators, as with Tom DeLay's wife Christine, who worked for DeLay and for Buckham.

And certainly this is a stronger explanation than idle curiosity.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The American Theocracy

The American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips

....Because survey takers do not always pursue explanations, this book will venture some. Reckless dependency on shrinking oil supplies, a milieu of radicalized (and much too influential) religion, and a reliance on borrowed money--debt, in its ballooning size and multiple domestic and international deficits--now constitute the three major perils to the United States in the twenty-first century.

Shouldn't war and terror be on the list? Yes--and they are, one step removed. Both derive much of their current impetus from the incendiary backdrop of oil politics and religious fundamentalism, in Islam as well as the West. Despite pretensions to motivations such as liberty and freedom, petroleum and its geopolitics have dominated Anglo-American activity in the Middle East for a full century. On this, history could not be more clear.

The excesses of fundamentalism, in turn, are American and Israeli, as well as the all-too-obvious depredations of radical Islam. The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two prsidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S. history.

When Would Jesus Bolt? Evangelicals leaving the GOP

When Would Jesus Bolt?
Meet Randy Brinson, the advance guard of evangelicals leaving the GOP.
By Amy Sullivan
Washington Monthly

The Republicans were filibustering the Bible bill. On a Tuesday afternoon in early February, Republican legislators in Alabama took to the crimson-carpeted floor of the state house to oppose legislation that would authorize an elective course on the Bible in public high schools. The recommended curriculum for the course had been vouched for by Christian Right all-stars like Chuck Colson and Ted Haggard, but so far as Republicans were concerned, there was only one pertinent piece of information about the bill: It was sponsored by two Democrats. And now Republicans were prepared to do everything in their procedural power to stop it, even if that meant lining up to explain why they could not—could not!—stand for this attempt to bring a class about the Bible into public schools.....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bush just can't stop lying

Bush just can't stop lying

Capitol Hill Blue
Mar 22, 2006, 07:38

Americans who tuned in for one of President George W. Bush's rare press conferences saw a cornered animal trying to squirm his way out of trouble by doing what he has always done - evading the truth.

Bush's attempt to showcase himself as a leader who could handle tough questions from the press corps fell just as flat as his unscripted town-meeting style appearance in Cleveland the day before.

His eyes darted from side-to-side as he fielded questions about his real reasons for invading Iraq. He stammered. Stalled. Used the word "uh" more times than a suspect caught red-handed. He still claimed his reasons for invading Iraq were just, even though those reasons have been proven wrong. He claims the war can be won, a view not shared by many of his generals. He claimed a lot of things - few of them true.

"President Bush exhibited symptoms of pathological prevarication," says Dr. Stephanie Crossfield, a psychologist who treats people who have trouble telling the truth and who watched Bush's performances on Monday and Tuesday at my request. "His eye movements, gestures, and changes in voice tone all display traits of consistent evasion of the truth."

This isn't the first time I've asked Dr. Crossfield to study a politician. She watched several of former President Bill Clinton's press conferences and came to similar conclusions about Clinton disassociation with reality.

When studying a subject, she watches the eyes.

"Eye movement is difficult to control," she said. "You find that the eyes dart away in specific patterns when a person is not telling the truth. The President's eyes dart a great deal. He is not comfortable facing the truth."

Dr. Justin Frank, author of the book, Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, agrees with Dr. Crossfield.

"President Bush marches deeper and deeper into a world of his own," says Dr. Frank. "Central to Bush's world is an iron will which demands that external reality be changed to conform to his personal view of how things are."...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From Teapot Dome to Gale Norton

From Teapot Dome to Gale Norton
By Kelpie Wilson
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Sunday 19 March 2006
The rights of the public to the nation's natural resources outweigh private rights.
-- Teddy Roosevelt

Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded.
-- John Muir

As the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding's presidency was one milestone in the history of American resource piracy, the tenure of Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior is surely another.

Harding's Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, failed in his scheme to sell off the Teapot Dome oil reserves and pocket the money. He was prosecuted and sentenced to a year in prison. Gale Norton's timely exit on the heels of the Abramoff scandal that implicates top Interior Department officials could mean that she is worried, but it is not likely that she will face any prosecution for her giveaways to industry.

Harding, like G.W. Bush, had little regard for proper English - Harding called for a return to "normalcy," while Bush says we should not "misunderestimate" him. On Harding's death, the poet E. E. Cummings said: "The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead." But just as Bush surpasses Harding as a mangler of language, so the Bush administration far outstrips the Harding administration in the game of looting.

Gone are the days when corrupt officials took payments in "little black bags," as Albert Fall received his $100,000 payment for the Teapot Dome oil lease from Harry F. Sinclair. Fall also received a shipment from Sinclair of "six heifers, a yearling bull, two six-months-old boars, four sows and ... an English thoroughbred horse."

Today our new reality is that the tycoons and the officials are actually the same persons, or at least part of the same hive. Like insects that go through a complex life cycle from larva to pupa tof egg-laying adult, people like Gale Norton and her deputy secretary Stephen J. Griles will go from lobbyist to regulator to corporate board member. At every stage of the life cycle they have one purpose: to direct the flow of resources back to the corporate nest.

And so, when Norton claims she is leaving the Interior Department to set "new goals to achieve in the private sector," you know that she will be well supplied with hogs, heifers and whatever lucrative lawyering job she wants.

Gale Norton's number one tool, which she used like a common thief slips a credit card up a door jamb to spring a cheap lock, is the ideology known as "Wise Use." The "Wise Use" doctrine is founded on anti-government rhetoric that advocates eliminating any environmental regulations that might restrict economic development. Because she was so well known as a "Wise Use" ideologue, only John Ashcroft was a more controversial cabinet appointment in Bush's first term.

During her tenure as Secretary, Norton advanced this agenda through regulatory rollbacks, suppression of science, preferential treatment, and collusion with industry. For the most part, she was unable to enshrine "Wise Use" principles in regulations, with the exception of her new National Park Service regulations.

Norton proceeded to revamp the Park Service regulations despite the lack of any identified need for new rules. Now in the final phase of adoption, the new directive drastically changes the mission of our national parks from preservation to commercially sponsored recreation. If these rules are adopted, park managers won't be able to prevent development that harms wildlife and other natural features, and corporate logos will spring up like daisies.

These rules also require newly hired staff to take what amounts to a loyalty oath to the policies of the current administration. A loyalty oath may be the solution to the sticky problem of science that Norton kept running into. When her agency biologists reported that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would harm caribou, Norton rewrote the report before submitting it to Congress. She also suppressed a finding by the US Fish & Wildlife Service that new Army Corps rules for permitting development would devastate wetlands.

In fact, Norton created a climate of intimidation at the Interior Department that functions almost as effectively as an unconstitutional loyalty oath would: Last year the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility took a survey of Fish & Wildlife Service biologists and found that more than half of the respondents said agency officials had reversed or withdrawn the biologists' scientific conclusions under pressure from industry groups.

Lying to Congress and suppressing scientific findings. How is it that these are not prosecutable offenses?

In 2001, Oregon potato farmers in the upper portion of the Klamath River suffering from a prolonged drought demanded that the Interior Department give them water dedicated to fish. Gale Norton complied, and in 2002, at least 35,000 salmon died at the mouth of the Klamath. The Klamath runs are now so low that the Fisheries Service is preparing to close the salmon fishing season, ruining a $150 million dollar industry. Gale Norton is responsible. Why can't she be indicted for ruining a precious and irreplaceable natural resource?

Norton's supporters, like the National Association of Manufacturers, praise her primarily for her role in opening up the West to massive amounts of new energy development. Interior Department staff began referring to Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico as the "OPEC states," as the drilling permits multiplied and flew through the bureaucracy with minimal review and consultation with local citizens.

Norton's own proudest accomplishment, she says, was implementing her "four C's" program - a supposedly new approach to public involvement that included "communication, consultation and cooperation, all in the service of conservation."

Unfortunately, the four C's seem only to apply to industry and not to local people. Take for instance the town of Grand Junction, Colorado. Last September the BLM informed the city that a few hundred acres in the town's watershed used for drinking water supplies would be offered for oil and gas drilling. Then in December, at the end of the public comment period, the BLM told the town that actually several thousand acres would be leased for drilling. The agency withheld the information because it would otherwise "taint" the competitive bidding process. The town does not want any drilling at all in their watershed. Why can't Gale Norton be indicted for destroying a town's water supply?

I can testify that the same process is happening in BLM's western forest lands where, on orders from Gale Norton, the BLM is tossing the Northwest Forest Plan out the window and preparing to log every last old growth forest that they manage in Washington, Oregon and California. Many public meetings are held, but they are all a waste of time because the communication, consultation and cooperation are not intended for local people but only for the timber industry.

Under Gale Norton's leadership, the Department of Interior has become nothing less than a big box store for the mining, timber, oil, gas, and coal industries. As CEO, Norton has eliminated all rivals to give her corporate customers "low, low prices every day." Meanwhile, fish and wildlife and all the rest of us who need clean air and water underwrite the true cost.

Bush's new nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, is known for his animosity toward protecting the last wild roadless areas in Idaho. Unless something changes in Congress or the White House, unless Gale Norton is somehow made to pay the price for her looting of public resources, there is no doubt that he will keep the store open for business.

Kelpie Wilson is the t r u t h o u t environment editor. A veteran forest protection activist and mechanical engineer, she writes from her solar-powered cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon.

How to spot a baby conservative

How to spot a baby conservative
KID POLITICS | Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional. Future liberals, on the other hand ...
Mar. 19, 2006. 10:45 AM

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective....

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lessons of Iraq War Start With US History

Lessons of Iraq War Start With US History
By Howard Zinn
The Progressive

Tuesday 14 March 2006

On the third anniversary of President Bush's Iraq debacle, it's important to consider why the administration so easily fooled so many people into supporting the war.

I believe there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture.

One is an absence of historical perspective. The other is an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism.

If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. But if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have lied to us, we will not be fooled again.

President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn't that Mexico "shed American blood upon the American soil" but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.

President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that he really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Wilson lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the rising American power.....

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Connecting the Poor

March 1, 2006
Connecting the Poor
How Selling Technology in Emerging Markets Can Help Bridge America's Trade Gap
By Shamarukh Mohiuddin and Julie Hutto

Editor's Note: The full text of this policy report is available in Adobe PDF format, only. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)


American exporters have been struggling for half a decade. Even in high-technology industries, where exports grew rapidly in the 1990s, the United States has often been outpaced. Recovery will require macroeconomic policy shifts and measures to more fully open traditional export markets in rich, highly developed countries. But there are other, more imaginative options beyond either of these. In particular, the United States can begin cultivating new markets among the world's poor.

Some U.S. technology firms are already thinking in those terms. They are looking not only at high-end and maturing markets in Europe, Japan, and China's fast developing industrial sector, but also at underdeveloped regions that in recent years have been demonstrating unexpectedly high demand for technology products, especially for information and communication technologies (ICT). President Clinton recognized a similar phenomenon inside the United States when he launched his New Markets Initiative in 1999, arguing that "our greatest untapped markets are here at home" -- in poor neighborhoods, rural areas, and reservation lands, which together represent an annual income of $85 billion. Speaking of these communities' "enormous untapped potential" and applauding the "visionary" businesses already operating in them, Clinton proposed a set of incentives to spur investment and growth there.

A similar but even larger opportunity now exists abroad, in the villages and low-income urban neighborhoods where the world's 4 billion poor people live. Some new thinking about trade policy can help them speed development and join the global economy, and also help the United States begin to bridge its trade gap.

Download the full text of this report.

(PDF)Download the full text of this report. (PDF)

Shamarukh Mohiuddin is a research associate in PPI's Trade, Foreign Policy, Energy & Environment projects. Julie Hutto is a Master's candidate at the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a former research assistant in PPI's New Economy & Technology Project.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Day of Reckoning for the Current Occupant

Day of Reckoning for the Current Occupant
By Garrison Keillor
The Chicago Tribune

Wednesday 15 March 2006

Spring arrived in New York last week for previews, a sunny day with chill in the air, but you could smell mud, and with a little imagination you could sort of smell grass. I put on a gray jacket, instead of black, and went to the opera and saw Verdi's "Luisa Miller," a Republican opera in which love is crushed by the perfidiousness of government. A helpful lesson for these times. I am referring to the Current Occupant.

The Republican Revolution has gone the way of all flesh. It took over Congress and the White House, horns blew, church bells rang, sailors kissed each other, and what happened? The Republicans led us into a reckless foreign war and steered the economy toward receivership and wielded power as if there were no rules. Democrats are accused of having no new ideas, but Republicans are making some of the old ideas look awfully good, such as constitutional checks and balances, fiscal responsibility, and the notion of realism in foreign affairs and taking actions that serve the national interest. What one might call "conservatism."

The head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan, Lt. Gen. William Odom, writes on the Web site that he sees clear parallels between Vietnam and Iraq: "The difference lies in the consequences. Vietnam did not have the devastating effects on US power that Iraq is already having." He draws the parallels in three stages and says that staying the course will only make the damage to US power greater. It's a chilling analysis, and one that isn't going to come from the Democratic Party. It's starting to come from Republicans, and they are the ones who must rescue the country from themselves.

I ran into a gray eminence from the Bush I era the other day in an airport, and he said that what most offended him about Bush II is the naked incompetence. "You may disagree with Republicans, but you always had to recognize that they knew what they were doing," he said. "I keep going back to that intelligence memo of August 2001, that said that terrorists had plans to hijack planes and crash them into buildings. The president read it, and he didn't even call a staff meeting to discuss it. That is lack of attention of a high order."

Over the course of time, the Chief Occupant has been cruelly exposed over and over. He sat and was briefed on the danger of a hurricane wiping out a major American city, and without asking a single question, he got up from the table and walked away and resumed his vacation. He played guitar as New Orleans was flooded. It took him four days to realize his responsibility to do something. When the tsunami killed 100,000 people in Southeast Asia, he was on vacation and it took him 72 hours to issue a statement of sympathy.

The Republicans tied their wagon to him and, as a result, their revolution is bankrupt. He has played the terrorism card for all it is worth and campaigned successfully against Adam and Steve and co-opted whole vast flocks of Christians, but he is done now, kaput, out of gas, for one simple reason. He doesn't represent the best that is our country. Not even close.

He openly, brazenly, countenanced crimes of torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. He engaged in illegal surveillance, authorized the arrest of people without charge and "disappeared" them to foreign jails. And he finagled this war, which, after three years of violence, does not look to be heading toward a happy ending. And now it's up to Republicans to put their country first and call the gentleman to account.

The Current Occupant is smart about handling a political mess. The best strategy is to cut and run and change the subject. You defend the Dubai ports deal in manly terms until you lose a vote in a House committee and then you retreat - actually, you get the Dubai people to do it for you - and that's it, End of Story.

Harriet Miers was fully qualified one day and gone the next. Social Security was going to be overhauled to give us the Ownership Society, and then the stock market went in the toilet and Republicans got nervous, and suddenly it was Never Mind and on to the next new thing.

Let's bring the boys home. Otherwise, let's send this man back to Texas and see what sort of work he is capable of and let him start making a contribution to the world.

Garrison Keillor is an author and the radio host of "A Prairie Home Companion."

Learning about a great downtown

Learning about a great downtown

Gary Ferguson
Ithaca Journal stories/20041013/opinion/1403201.html


What makes an outstanding downtown? What can we Ithacans learn from other successful downtowns that might help us build a stronger, more vibrant center?

The Ithaca Downtown Partnership has launched an ongoing initiative to study best practices from communities regarded as possessing outstanding downtown centers.

We will be inviting representatives from some of these select communities to visit Ithaca. They will share their stories with us. Sponsored by our "Friends of Downtown" program, the first of these stories will be presented tonight, when Teresa Sparacino of State College, Pa., visits Ithaca.

Sparacino is executive director of the State College Downtown Improvement District, regarded by many to be the best small-city downtown in Pennsylvania.

The Friends of Downtown program will also sponsor future sessions. Plans call for bringing to Ithaca experts from such cities as Boulder, Colo., Burlington, Vt., and Manayunk, Pa. to describe their programs and discuss their plans and challenges. The public is invited to participate in these presentations to the fullest extent possible.

As we begin this series on great downtowns, let me offer my own short list of top five attributes that may contribute to creating and sustaining outstanding downtowns.

First, downtowns should be memorable places. Quite often, this is simply not the case. The Third Street pedestrian mall in Santa Monica, Calif. is one such place. I vividly recall the seemingly non-stop music from street performers throughout the mall, even on a Sunday evening. I also recall the large topiary statues of dinosaurs located at the entrances to the pedestrian mall, post-card quality symbols of their downtown.

Second, downtowns should have pedestrian orientations. They should be places where you would want to leave your automobile and explore on foot. The unique, one-of-a-kind artistic benches of downtown Chattanooga, Tenn. need to be experienced as a pedestrian, not as a motorist.

Third, great downtowns stimulate our many senses. They offer a collection of colors, shapes and designs to engage our sight. They offer up sounds and smells that captivate.

Fourth, great downtowns have a number of contiguous traffic generators -- attractions that lure and entice visitors. These attractions act as magnets drawing people into the downtown experience.

Attractions can be wide and varied, ranging from retail businesses, to eating and drinking establishments, to museums, cultural institutions and entertainment venues.

The more attractions and the greater their proximity to each other, the more dynamic the downtown. Contiguity is key. Unless traffic generators are close together, they lose much of their attractive powers.

Fifth, great downtowns tend to be dense, multi-functional areas. Density provides a critical mass of activity and life. It also encourages multi-functionality, where many different uses occur simultaneously. Dense, mixed-use areas exude a different aura than single-purpose areas. This is the difference between a truly great urban place and a shopping mall or office park.

As we listen, share and learn from other communities, we will be able to verify and hopefully add to initial list of attributes of outstanding downtowns. Our goal is to examine "best practices" from around the country and apply their lessons here in Ithaca.

The first session will be held from 7:30-9 p.m. tonight at the downtown Holiday Inn at 222
. Cayuga St.

Sparacino will provide an overview of downtown State College along with a discussion of the plans and projects they are undertaking to ensure that they remain a strong and vibrant center.

Among these projects are a downtown multiplex cinema and market-rate housing. I encourage the public to learn with us by attending these Friends of Downtown "Outstanding Cities" presentations.

Ferguson is director of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Going from bad to worse

Going from bad to worse
March 15, 2006 04:14 AM /
The Rant
Capitol Hill Blue

Nearly three years ago the United States of America took the unprecedented step of invading a country that posed no immediate threat to our security, launching a war based on fabricated intelligence, false assumptions and outright lies.

Today, as that country plunges headlong into civil war, our leaders continue to fabricate claims of improvements, make false promises of progress and lie outright about our prospects. Their missteps have cost thousands of American lives along with the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

Because of the Iraq war, America is less safe than before September 11, 2001, more reviled throughout the world as an arrogant bully that ignores its own self-professed concern for human rights, integrity, and a laughing stock among the intelligence agencies of other nations.

While the Bush administration claims progress, insurgent attacks are on the rise and Iraqis, in general, are worse off then they were before the U.S. invaded three years ago.

The Brookings Institution, which tracks progress (or the lack of it) in Iraq, reports power outages plague the country and fewer Iraqis have electricity now than before the war. Fewer have access to clean water or a sanitary sewer system....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Follow the money

Follow the money
March 14, 2006 07:25 AM / The Rant .


An old rule that prosecutors follow when it comes to tracking criminal activity is "follow the money."

In most cases, money is both the cause and effect of illegal activity.

Same for politics.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may be under indictment for campaign finance abuse and a central figure in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal but that hasn't stopped political action committees from handing over $1,096,457 for his 2006 re-election effort along with another $1,839,803 from fatcat individual GOP contributors.

In fact, DeLay's re-election run is currently the most expensive House campaign for this year's mid-term election. DeLay has raised $2.97 million - nearly $1.5 million more than his opponent, Democrat Nick Lampson.

Over in the Senate, Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign war check tops $35 million - far more than the $118,387 raised by Republican John Spencer. In Pennsylvania, where the Senate race is far more competitive, Republican incumbent Rick Santorum has raised more than $14 million and Democrat Bob Casey $5 million.

In both New York and Pennsylvania, Federal Election Commissions records show more than 70 percent of the funds raised and spent in the Senate races come from individuals and organizations outside the state.

"(Former Speaker of the House) Tip O'Neill used to say all politics is local," says political scientist George Harleigh. "That's not true when it comes to financing campaigns. Most big dollar Senate and House campaigns today are financed heavily by individuals and groups from outside a state or Congressional district."...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Senator Reid: Oh the shame of it all

Senator Reid: Oh the shame of it all
Mar 12, 2006, 06:25
Capitol Hill Blue

Senate minority leader Harry Reid said Saturday he was "ashamed for our country" after visiting the thousands of FEMA-owned mobile homes lined up at Hope Airport that have yet to be used as shelters for hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast.

"I can't imagine that we could have a sea of 11,000 mobile homes sitting there, rotting, while people around the country can't find a place to live," the Nevada Democrat said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said that it was unable to put the trailers to use because federal regulations prohibit placing them in flood plains, and many of those needing shelter after the hurricanes are in areas classified as flood-prone.

Cost estimates for the trailers have ranged from $350 million to $800 million....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Why did J. Kenneth Blackwell seek, then hide, his association with super-rich extremists and e-voting magnates?

Why did J. Kenneth Blackwell seek, then hide, his association with super-rich extremists and e-voting magnates?
Posted on Friday, March 10 @ 10:11:59 EST
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Columbus Free Press

The man who stole the 2004 election for George W. Bush -- Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell -- has posted a picture of himself addressing the white supremacist ultra-right Council for National Policy (CNP). He then pulled the picture and tried to hide his participation in the meeting by removing mention of it from his website,

First discovered by a netroots investigator, Blackwell's photo at the CNP meeting was found on Blackwell's website on Monday, March 6. Then it mysteriously disappeared.

Blackwell has ample reason to hide his ties to the CNP. When the Free Press investigated the CNP and its ties to the Republican Party, Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates told the paper that the CNP included "a former Ku Klux Klan leader and other segregationist policies." Berlet emphasizes that these "shocking" charges are easy to verify.

Berlet describes CNP members as not only traditional conservatives, but also nativists, xenophobes, white racial supremacists, homophobes, sexists, militarists, authoritarians, reactionaries and "in some cases outright neo-fascists."

Some well-known figures affiliated with the CNP include Rev. Jerry Falwell, anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly and the Rev. Pat Robertson. But its the lesser-known CNP mainstays that are more indicative of the organization's politics. They include:

• Richard Shoff, a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Indiana.
• John McGoff, an ardent supporter of the former apartheid South African regime.
• R.J. Rushdoony, the theological leader of America's "Christian Reconstruction" movement, which advocates that Christian fundamentalists take "dominion" over America by abolishing democracy and instituting Old Testament Law. Rushdoony's Reconstructionalists believe that "homosexuals . . . adulterers , blasphemers, astrologers and others will be executed," along with disobedient children.
• Reed Larson, head of anti-union National Right to Work Committee.
• Don Wildmon, TV censorship activist and accused anti-Semite.
• Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North, Major General John K. Singlaub and other principals from the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Investigative reporter Russ Bellant, author of OLD NAZIS, THE NEW RIGHT AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY; THE RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT IN MICHIGAN POLITICS; and THE COORS CONNECTION, told the Free Press that the "membership of the Council comprises the elite of the radical right in America."....

.... Toward that end, the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature has passed a series of laws making it virtually impossible to monitor electronic voting in the state, or to challenge the outcome of a federal election here. The Free Press has also learned that county election board officials, in Blackwell's employ, have stripped nearly a half-million voters from the registration rolls in the key Democratic urban areas of Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati.

None of this has been seriously challenged by Ohio or national Democrats. And with Blackwell in the governor's mansion, in control of the state's vote counting apparatus, the Democrats will have virtually no chance of ever retaking control of the Ohio legislature, Congressional delegation or, for that matter, the White House.

Small wonder the powerful right wing extremist Council on National Policy would overlook its racist history to embrace an African-American like J. Kenneth Blackwell. Small wonder, also, Blackwell might want to hide what will certainly be a powerful and profitable association for him in his rise to the Ohio governor's mansion … and beyond.

Enough of the D.C. Dems

Enough of the D.C. Dems
Posted on Saturday, March 11 @ 08:45:13 EST
Molly Ivins
The Progressive

Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don't know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don't jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can't see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can't even see straight.

Look at their reaction to this Abramoff scandal. They're talking about "a lobby reform package." We don't need a lobby reform package, you dimwits, we need full public financing of campaigns, and every single one of you who spends half your time whoring after special interest contributions knows it. The Abramoff scandal is a once in a lifetime gift--a perfect lesson on what's wrong with the system being laid out for people to see. Run with it, don't mess around with little patches, and fix the system.

As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:

1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it's a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.

2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.

3) Single-payer health insurance.

Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, "unpatriotic" by a bunch of rightwingers.

Take "unpatriotic" and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? "Unpatriotic"? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.

This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.

Who are these idiots talking about Warner of Virginia? Being anodyne is not sufficient qualification for being President. And if there's nobody in Washington and we can't find a Democratic governor, let's run Bill Moyers, or Oprah, or some university president with ethics and charisma.

What happens now is not up to the has-beens in Washington who run this party. It is up to us. So let's get off our butts and start building a progressive movement that can block the nomination of Hillary Clinton or any other candidate who supposedly has "all the money sewed up."

I am tired of having the party nomination decided before the first primary vote is cast, tired of having the party beholden to the same old Establishment money.

We can raise our own money on the Internet, and we know it. Howard Dean raised $42 million, largely on the web, with a late start when he was running for President, and that ain't chicken feed. If we double it, it gives us the lock on the nomination. So let's go find a good candidate early and organize the shit out of our side.

A search for jobs in some of the wrong places

Posted 2/12/2006 8:23 PM

A search for jobs in some of the wrong places
By Richard Florida
President Bush's plans to generate jobs by giving greater emphasis to math and science education and injecting more money into research in the physical sciences have much to commend them.

But our political leaders are missing the bigger picture. Though it's crucial to invest in math, science and engineering, as the president outlined in his recent State of the Union address, there are other fields that hold more promise.

While the U.S. economy will add more than one million computer and engineering jobs, health care and education are expected to generate more than three times as many jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Prefer a more artistic career? Our economy is poised to create new forms of entertainment, from rock 'n' roll and hip-hop to film and video games. Indeed, over the next 10 years, jobs in art, music, culture and entertainment will grow twice as many as jobs in engineering will.

Creative-sector boomlet

In a broader creative sector, the United States will add 10 million jobs over the next decade. These jobs require knowledge and ingenuity, and span fields from science, technology and entrepreneurship, to art, design and entertainment to finance, law and health care.

From 1980 until 2014, the creative sector will generate more jobs than in manufacturing and other blue collar work today.

Prefer interacting with people? Another field with increasing job potential is the service economy, which includes retail salespeople, food-service workers, customer-service representatives and waiters and waitresses. Yet the president failed to mention this sector. Perhaps that is because these jobs pay a third of those salaries in the "creative economy" and half of what manufacturing workers make.

As the country loses another half million high-paying manufacturing jobs to automation, improved efficiency and outsourcing, our labor market is splitting into two economic classes: high-skilled, high-paying creative work and lower-paying service work. More research spending or improved math and science education would not be enough to address the growing failure of our economy to replace high-paying blue-collar jobs with high-paying work for less-skilled people.

Improve service sector

To truly generate good jobs, the president must make the service economy a centerpiece of his agenda. It means getting beyond the conventional wisdom that all service jobs are condemned to low pay and poor working conditions.

The service economy is in the midst of a revolution. Our retailing giants increasingly dominate global markets. An increasing number — such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, REI and Best Buy — are dramatically improving pay, benefits and working conditions to harness the creativity and ingenuity of their workforce to make their processes more efficient and serve customers better.

The president needs to devise ways to learn from these companies to upgrade the pay and working conditions of the more than 5 million service-sector jobs that will be created in the next decade.

In a global economy where software coding and innovative computing can be outsourced, the United States can remain at the economic cutting edge only by continuing to be a world leader in cultural production, design, education and the service sector.

Acting now to expand meaningful, creative work across our entire economy is essential if we are to achieve the kind of competitiveness that engages many more people, unleashes their full talents, and results in lasting prosperity.

Richard Florida is the Hirst Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University and author of The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent.

Know Your Creationists: Know Your Allies

Know Your Creationists: Know Your Allies

by DarkSyde

Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 06:04:48 AM PDT

In the recent victory for both sanity and scientific integrity in the Kitzmiller Vs Dover case concerning Intelligent Design Creationism, the presiding judge utterly hammered the opposition over what he clearly judged as attempts to repackage creationism under the guise of ID. One of the key contributors to establishing the position that IDC is simply creationism redux was DR Barbara Forrest. Barbara is coauthor of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (A must read for anyone who wishes to take on school boards if and when creationism rears its ugly head in the local area). Research and data garnered from writing that book allowed Barbara to undercut and falsify the defendants (Intelligent Design Creationists) using their own on the record statements....

...Clarifying the meaning of "anti-science movement" would be helpful here. The ID movement is certainly part of a broader anti-science contingent. However, although the ID movement has suffered severe setbacks lately (in Dover, Ohio, and California), I don't think the same can be said regarding anti-science efforts in general. The government has politicized science committees. The American people have consequently lost the valuable expertise of scientists who have either left or were removed from these committees. The federal government's credibility in science-related policy matters has been severely undermined. This is the direct result of the influence of the Religious Right in the Bush administration, and every American should be concerned since matters of life and death are at stake here. An example of this is the decision by NASA scientist James Hansen to blow the whistle about efforts by political appointees to influence what he can tell the public about global warming....

Friday, March 10, 2006

Memo to George W. Bush: Your presidency is is serious trouble

Memo to George W. Bush: Your presidency is is serious trouble
March 10, 2006

Capitol Hill Blue

More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency.

Nearly four out of five Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, believe civil war will break out in Iraq _ the bloody hot spot upon which Bush has staked his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of people say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a 6-point jump since February.

"I'm not happy with how things are going," said Margaret Campanelli, a retiree in Norwich, Conn., who said she tends to vote Republican. "I'm particularly not happy with Iraq, not happy with how things worked with Hurricane Katrina."

Republican Party leaders said the survey explains why GOP lawmakers are rushing to distance themselves from Bush on a range of issues _ port security, immigration, spending, warrantless eavesdropping and trade, for example.

The positioning is most intense among Republicans facing election in November and those considering 2008 presidential campaigns....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A deaf man spouting

A deaf man spouting

A videotape of Bush's briefing before Hurricane Katrina exposes him as out of touch with reality

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday March 9, 2006
The Guardian

On the eve of George Bush's presidential campaign in 2000, the neoconservative Kenneth Adelman cast him as Prince Hal, who "puts the indiscretions of his youth behind him" and "redeems his father's reign". After September 11, Bush was wreathed with regal laurels as Henry V by a clerisy of pundits. From Ground Zero to the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln ("Mission Accomplished") the president struck bold poses, but his choreographed gestures have especially illuminated his hollow crown in the darkened breach of New Orleans.

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For the first time, last week, the public has seen the spontaneous Bush behind closed doors, in a leaked videotape that recorded his briefing the day before Hurricane Katrina struck. Teleconferenced in from his Crawford ranch, Texas, Bush listens to disaster officials inform him that the storm will be unprecedented in its severity and consequences. "This is, to put it mildly, the big one," says Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Centre, warns: "This hurricane is much larger than Hurricane Andrew ever was." Bush asks not a single question, says, "We are fully prepared", and departs.

The Katrina videotape is defining for Bush's presidency. It exposes a deaf man spouting talking points. After the hurricane hit, he stayed on vacation, went to a birthday party, strummed a guitar with a country and western singer, and on September 1 said: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." On his flight back to Washington, four days after landfall, his aides gave him a DVD of television news reports of the hurricane's impact about which he had done nothing to learn on his own....

From the Green Mountains comes the cry, 'impeach him!'

From the Green Mountains comes the cry, 'impeach him!'
Posted on Thursday, March 09 @ 08:50:20 EST
This article has been read 471 times.
Randolph T. Holhut

DUMMERSTON, Vt. - In Vermont, the first Tuesday in March - Town Meeting Day - is a sacred day for those who still believe in the power of direct democracy.

We take great pride in having our say not just how things are run in our towns, but also on bigger issues like war and peace.

Last year, more than 40 towns across Vermont approved a non-binding referendum regarding the deployment of the Vermont National Guard in Iraq. In doing so, Vermont became the first state to debate the deployment of the National Guard.

This year, five Vermont towns went beyond the Iraq war to take on the architect of it -- George W. Bush.

In the southern Vermont towns of Newfane, Marlboro, Putney and my hometown of Dummerston, and in the central Vermont town of Brookfield, town meeting voters approved a measure to demand that our Congressman, independent Bernie Sanders, file articles of impeachment to remove Bush from office....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Veep Doo-Doo

Veep Doo-Doo
By Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker

13 March 2006 Issue

...Cheney is Bush without the charm, the religiosity, the Michael Gerson speech texts, and the Presidential sheen. What he personifies, above all, is the raw reality of Bush's signature policies, all of which he has had a strong hand in creating. There are the giant tax cuts for the rich, especially the very rich. ("We won the midterms," Cheney told Bush's economic team, according to the journalist Ron Suskind, when another such cut was on the table, after the 2002 congressional elections. "This is our due.") There is the related, and enormous, budget deficit, which will necessitate another $800-billion rise in the debt limit by the middle of this month if the government is to avoid defaulting on its obligations. ("Deficits don't matter," Cheney once explained.) There is the strategically and morally disastrous misconduct of te "war on terror," including authorized torture, defiantly unlawful domestic surveillance, and habitual, self-defeating contempt for allied opinion and international instruments. There is the toxic combination of reflexive secrecy and the political use of secrets, as in the Scooter Libby affair. There is, in place of an energy policy, obeisance to the oil industry-and thus to the petrocracy of the Middle East. (Conservation, according to Cheney, is "a personal virtue.") Above all, there is the terrible war in Iraq, undertaken on the basis of faulty, willfully distorted, sometimes falsified intelligence and now about to enter its fourth year, with no end in sight to the bloodshed and chaos. ("I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency," Cheney said last June.) Against this background, the figure of twenty-three per cent is not shockingly low. It's shockingly high.

Quoting "senior G.O.P. sources," Insight, an obscure but well-connected Washington "news magazine," asserted last week that Cheney will "probably" be eased into retirement after November's congressional elections. That seems far-fetched. Bush, who has pushed his biological father beyond the periphery of his official circle, is unlikely to do the same to the substitute he acquired when Cheney, entrusted with the task of finding George W. Bush a running mate, found himself. "There is a higher father that I appeal to," Bush famously told Bob Woodward three years ago. He wasn't talking about Cheney, but he might as well have been. George W. Bush is far more deferential to Cheney (draft evader, Yale dropout, and tough-guy conservative) than to George H. W. Bush (war hero, Yale Phi Beta Kappa, and kinder, gentler moderate). If, come next year, Cheney really does resign his office "for reasons of health," he will have done so, almost certainly, for reasons of health.

Monday, March 06, 2006

High Fear Globalization: Miami & the Dubai Ports World Deal

March 06, 2006
High Fear Globalization: Miami & the Dubai Ports World Deal
Steve Clemons
...Many Americans -- Republicans, Democrats, and Independents -- don't trust the Dubai Ports Worldwide deal because fundamentally they don't trust the UAE during this time of serious tension with the Middle East.

But the deeper issue is that we have slipped from a "High Trust" type of globalization to "High Fear Globalization." People, products, money, and ideas are just not going to move through the world in the same contours they once did -- and this port ownership debate is another part of this trend.

Americans need to realize that we have created a highly fragile system for ourselves in which concern about who owns our ports ought to be matched by who owns our debt and the future value of the dollar. While many Americans worried about the sale of Unocal to a Chinese state-owned firm, the bigger issue in my mind is that many of the crown jewels of the semiconductor design and production business are slipping to China.....

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Katrina Recovery: Dems' Wedge for Southern Votes

February 24, 2006
Katrina Recovery: Dems' Wedge for Southern Votes
by Pete Ross
Donkey Rising

If we Dems ever want to see southern states colored blue on morning after election maps, the time to raise some serious hell about the botched Katrina "recovery" is now.

Consider the new Associated Press poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs 2/13-16 (toplines here) on Katrina recovery: For openers, Americans would prefer that Katrina recovery be "a higher priority for government spending" than the war in Iraq by a margin of 64 to 31 percent. Asked "How confident are you that the money appropriated for recovery from Katrina is being spent wisely," 37 percent responded "not too confident" and another 29 percent chose "not confident at all."

Talk about national security, only 15 percent of respondents said they were "very confident" about the government's ability to handle major disasters in the future, with 28 percent "not too confident" and 24 percent "not at all confident." And talk about 'Portgate' as a national security issue, consider that the Port of South Louisiana (New Orleans) handles more tonnage than New York City -- only 3 ports in the world handle more.

A reporter friend, himself a lifelong southerner, who recently visited the Gulf rim, was stunned by the number of "destitute people" he saw who were still struggling to survive along the highways of southern Mississippi and Louisiana. The people who live on the Gulf Coast and those who have evacuated are pissed in a huge way, and they will most assuredly take their discontent to the polls, wherever they are, on election day. What we don't want is them -- and other southerners -- saying they have not been impressed with the Democrats' response to the Administration's disasterous handling of the recovery effort. It would serve the DCCC and DNC well to crank up the volume on this issue to the point where it is crystal clear which party is ready to provide energetic leadership to restore and revitalize Gulf communities.

The Progress Myth in Iraq

The Progress Myth in Iraq

Posted on Mar. 8, 2006

By Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas—It was such a relief to me to learn we are making “very, very good progress” in Iraq. As the third anniversary of our invasion approaches, I could not have been more thrilled by the news reported by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a Sunday chat show. Vice President Dick Cheney’s take was equally reassuring: Things are “improving steadily” in Iraq.

I was thrilled—very, very good progress and steady improvement, isn’t that grand? Wake me if anything starts to go wrong. Like someone bombing the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra and touching off a lot of sectarian violence.

I was also relieved to learn—via Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so noted for his consistently accurate assessment of this war—that the whole picture is hunky-dory to tickety-boo. Since the bombing of the mosque, lots of alarmists have reported that Iraq is devolving or might be collapsing into civil war. They’re sort of jumping over the civil war line and back again—yep, it’s started; nope, it hasn’t—like a bunch of false starts at the beginning of a football play.

I’m sure glad to get the straight skinny from Ol’ Rumsfeld, who has been in Iraq many times himself for the typical in-country experience. Like many foreign correspondents, Rumsfeld roams the streets alone, talking to any chance-met Iraqi in his fluent Arabic, so of course he knows best...

Unmarried America: Demographics and Attitudes

March 1, 2006
Unmarried America: Demographics and Attitudes
by Ruy Teixeira
Donkey Rising

I strongly recommend a close look at a recent set of materials issued by Women’s Voices, Women Vote. These materials include the results of a survey of unmarried adults conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR), an extensive chartpack based on the survey findings and other research by GQR and, last, but not least, an 83 page report “The State of Unmarried America” by GQR.

The findings confirm that unmarrieds, particularly women, are a strong group for progressives, and that unmarrieds as a group are growing steadily as a proportion of the population. But there are serious challenges in terms of mobilization and tailoring a progressive message appropriate for these voters’ concerns–all of which is covered in the GQR/WVWV materials....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Soldiers in Iraq know they are fighting and dying for a lie

Soldiers in Iraq know they are fighting and dying for a lie
Posted at March 1, 2006 02:26 AM in The Rant
Capitol Hill Blue

Nearly three-quarters of the American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should withdraw within the next year and 29 percent feel we should get the hell out of the war immediately, a poll of military personnel serving in country reveals.

This jives with emails I've been getting from soldiers over the past several months and it confirms that those serving on the ground in the war don't share the rosy optimism painted by the Bush administration about the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"Man, this gig has FUBAR written all over it," says a Marine who has served in Iraq for seven months. "Morale is the pits and nobody in our unit thinks we should be here."

The poll, conducted by Zogby International, offers a rare look into the mindset of fighting men and women serving in a war zone. That mindset is, to say the least, reflective of growing American unrest over a war based on false information and outright lies....