Friday, August 24, 2007

I no longer fear the Kucinich Revolution: Part 3

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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In Parts One and Two, I discussed the support Kucinich has and the irrational fear also associated with electing Kucinich. Today, I want to focus on the secondary soundbite I have heard over the last few weeks about Kucinich. The Kucinich critics to have their work cut out for them because they need to go back THIRTY YEARS to find something to complain about. Their soundbite is "he drove Cleveland into bankruptcy." This, it turns out, is a lie. It is a Halliburton straw man with a touch of Sopranos level intrigue.

Dennis Kucinich started out as the Mayor of Cleveland in 1977 - the youngest Mayor of a large city in America. The city was hip deep in trouble with it's finances and crime. Not to mention, when Kucinich was sworn in, Cleveland was in one of its worst snow storms with winds of over 100 miles per hour - a sign of things to come.

He made good appointments and bad appointments for his administration and one of those, the Chief of Police, Richard Hongisto, proved to be real bad. The fiasco went so terribly wrong that a recall election was called and Kucinich won - maintaining control of the failing city.

One of his campaign promises was to not sell Cleveland's public electricity utility, Cleveland Public Power to Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company - a corrupt company with a stack of federal violations of anti-trust laws held against it. When Kucinich got in office, the mafia figured out that this young Mayor was actually going to keep his word and NOT sell Cleveland Public Power to Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company so the mafia put a hit out for the murder of Kucinich. Yep, Dennis Kucinich was the target of mafioso assassins, but that was nothing compared to the EXTREME pressure of the city council and local banks had placed on Kucinich to sell the utility. In the end, Kucinich still said no.

How many times have we wished for that tenacity in our politicians when dealing with Halliburton?

The main city creditor, Cleveland Trust, ignored all of Kucinich's debt restructuring plans and placed the city in default of payment. Here is the kicker - the bank's board had seven members who were on the payroll of Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and they were also on that company's board. The collusion was right out of the Cheney Play Book. The bank was a major shareholder in CEI and thus the sale of the city's municipal light utility would have benefited the bank, not the citizens of Cleveland.

And again, Kucinich stood his ground. He put the decision to the people, vote to sell to CEI or vote for a .5% tax increase. Cleveland voted for higher taxes. Corporate interests lost and remarkably, the mafia recalled the assassin.

Cleveland never went into bankruptcy and the loan was paid and would have been paid if CEI and Cleveland Trust weren't involved in a conspiracy to rob the citizens of Cleveland of almost a third of a billion dollars, in 1970's money.

CEI was later acquired by FirstEnergy, the company was responsible for the 2003 blackout. Cleveland Public Power is still cranking out the watts to the city of Cleveland.

So that is the story, Kucinich is guilty of not bowing to Big Energy and ignored the deployment of assassins just to keep a campaign promise.

Here is my question, which of the "leading candidates" in this race; Clinton, Obama or Edwards would have withstood that kind of pressure?

Is it any wonder Ohio keeps sending Kucinich back to Congress? They know which side he is on.

American Idol

"A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Apocalypse Maliki

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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There has been a lot of pushback on the blogs and on mainstream news about Bush's VFW speech yesterday - the quagmire, the cut and runners, etc. But there are a couple of uncomfortable other things from that speech that hasn't hit yet - at least they were "high flinch events" for me.

Bush mentions the "killing fields" in his speech. I don't think most people know the killing fields were in Cambodia and not Vietnam, but the mention of it sent my brain into shock. Since Bush is now making the comparison, what are the other analogies? Is Iran, Bush's Cambodia? Yeah, yet another failed Nixon idea that Bush seems Hell-bent on recreating.

If this is now like Vietnam, when will the draft come about? General Lute (you know, the war czar) has been running around DC preaching the virtues of the draft.

The path ahead is dark and gloomy for sure with no end to the suffering in sight.

Maybe Bush is trying to be like Nixon? Some of those parrallels have already been seen. China for example.

Bush went to China and all I got was this lousy t-shirt made in Shanghai.

Look Out Below

Mark Twain said the problem with the world was that "the lightning wasn't distributed right". He was wrong.

When Lightning Strikes
At the third GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, it was mostly same-old, same-old, in spite of the all the preshow hype over a possible John McCain/Mitt Romney smackdown on immigration. But then Mother Nature stepped in.

Asked to comment on a Roman Catholic bishop who compared his abortion stance to Pontius Pilate’s position on crucifying Jesus Christ, Rudy Giuliani opened his mouth to answer when lightning struck, quite literally, causing CNN’s sound system at the debate site to crackle and give out.

Giuliani jokingly looked at the ceiling, as if he feared the wrath of a vengeful God—a fantastic bit of comic timing made even funnier when the boom of thunder and lightning interrupted his second attempt to answer the question. Amid more static from the sound system, McCain and Romney, positioned on either side of Giuliani, began slowly backing away from Rudy, as if he might get struck down by the heavens at any minute.
Maybe you should take the hint, Rudy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crandall Canyon, The King of the Mountain , The Fox in the Coop

A rumble a loud crack, like thunder, rocks, dirt and chocking dust rain down.
A rock fall is imminent. So what is a miner to do?
"You run for your life," said Tim Miller, who toiled in Kentucky's mines for more than two decades.

... The goal is to eliminate the coal industry. Of course the goal is to eliminate the coal industry. Coal is filthy. It destroys ecosystems to dig it up. It kills the people who work around it. Coal plants throw particulates in the air and causes respiratory ailments. They throw mercury in the water and causes birth defects. They throw CO2 into the atmosphere and cause global warming. The coal industry corrupts the political process. It lies to the public about global warming, and mine safety, and coal reserves, and everything else. It leeches money and opportunity out of the states where it is based.
The only reason we think of coal as "cheap" is that we don't tally all those costs in the debit column.
From David Roberts Coal is the enemy of the human race...

During the winter of my fourteenth year I had a part time job. Every morning I would get up at 5 o"clock and walk up the hill to the ancient brick home of an elderly widow where I would descend to the dimly lit basement and remove the previous day's supply of clinkers from the firebox of an equally ancient and frightening looking furnace, shovel in a supply of fresh coal and get a good fire roaring. That was it, home to shower and head to school. She payed me two dollars a day and in 1958 when a gallon of gas was a quarter, that was a good sum of money. That is also the sum total of my life's experience with coal.

David Roberts wrote the brief but engaging piece quoted above earlier in the summer at Huff Post, he wrote his rant in reference to a coal industry mogul who for several months had been preaching to anyone who would listen about the evils that congress, in league with environmentalists, were plotting to perpetrate on the coal industry. I had heard the name of the subject of his rant before but at the time I didn't recognize it.

It wasn't until two weeks ago when a mine in central Utah's Emery County in Crandall Canyon, one of the deepest coal mines in the country collapsed, burying six miners 1500 to 1800 feet below the surface and 3 1/2 miles from the entrance point, that the name and the reason the it rang a bell popped back into my mind.

Robert Murray. The name was familiar because I had read a Washington Post article about his testimony before a congressional committee in the spring in which he took congress to task over the Clean Air Act of 1990 and declaimed on the perils of listening to the purveyors of Global warming science, which he has since referred to as "global goofiness." (as quoted below in the New York Sun)

"Some wealthy elitists in our country," he told the audience, "who cannot tell fact from fiction, can afford an Olympian detachment from the impacts of draconian climate change policy. For them, the jobs and dreams destroyed as a result will be nothing more than statistics and the cares of other people. These consequences are abstractions to them, but they are not to me, as I can name many of the thousands of the American citizens whose lives will be destroyed by these elitists' ill-conceived 'global goofiness' campaigns."

2007 speech to the New York Coal Trade Association

Robert Murray is one of two people that you would recognize from the nearly non stop coverage of the aftermath of the cave in, the repeated rescue attempts, and the ensuing tragedy upon tragedy when the rescuers themselves were caught in another collapse killing three and injuring six others.

Murray, is the most recognizable, at times seen castigating the press or the unions, at others in the mine, pointer in hand, explaining the rescue operation to the media, or as seen below. Murray is the owner and CEO of Murray energy which is among the dozen largest coal mining companies in the country. He owns 19 mines in Ohio and Illinois including the Crandall Canyon mine and others in Utah. In general, Murray's operations have a far less than stellar reputation for safety, having over the years, been cited thousands of times for safety violations and fined millions of dollars. Murray says that the safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not having enough toilet paper in the restroom.

Murray claims that the Crandall Canyon collapse was caused by an earthquake, seismologists dispute his claim saying that the seismic activity they recorded was the result of the collapsing mountain not the cause of it. The head of the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado said that an analysis of seismic waves that occurred in the area around the time the mine collapsed are consistent with what would be seen from a mine collapse, and, subsequent seismic activity that has been detected may have been related to energy being released in the aftermath of the collapse,

However its probably easy to guess which side of this question the insurance companies will land on.

If Murray has no love for environmentalists and federal regulation, he also has no love for unions and all but one of his mines are non union, a fact that probably is responsible, in large measure, for the dismal safety record. In a union atmosphere, union stewards and safety committees can report violations without fear of retaliation from management. In a non union mine reporting safety violations or unsafe practices and working conditions place the individual miner at risk of losing his job, or worse, for speaking out. This often results in an atmosphere of fear in which such conditions are overlooked, placing lives at risk.

Murray is also a serious donor to Republican candidates for office, having bequeathed over $150,000 to such notables as George Bush, Mitch McConnell, Katherine Harris and Sam Brownback among others, in the last couple of years through his Murray Energy PAC and other affiliates. This may help to explain the accommodating way he has been treated by federal regulators.

The coal in the Crandall Canyon mine is removed by what is called the room and pillar method where digging and removing coal creates a cavity or room and large pillars or columns of coal are left standing to hold up the roof which is further augmented by drilling and setting roof bolts. It is believed by many that at the time of the collapse the miners were engaged in retreat mining in which the pillars are removed and the roof is allowed to collapse as the workers retreat back to the entry.

Although considered to be a very dangerous undertaking, the mine had the necessary permits for performing retreat mining from Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) according to Robert Friend who told the Washington Post that the cause of the collapse had not yet been discovered but, "there was retreat mining where these miners are." Asked about the conflict with Murray's denials that the retreat method was in use he replied, "I can't speculate as to what he meant."

Some, including Utah's Governor are calling for an investigation focusing on why those permits were granted in this instance and UMW says that the MSHA has been too cozy with the industry in recent years.

There are whispered reports (it's a good idea to lower one's voice when criticizing mine owners or their operations in central Utah) that the Crandall Canyon mine was unsafe when Murray bought it last year. Not wanting to leave behind any of the coal contained in the pillars they began the retreat mining operation. A spokesman for UMW, Phil Smith, said yesterday, "No one took the time to see that it was a recipe for disaster.

The graphic depicts retreat mining in a room and pillar operation like Crandall Canyon.
The pillars are mined from the farthest point towards the entry and the mine is allowed to collapse as it will.
Wanna try it? I'm sure the image above is a much more orderly depiction of the process than the reality.

Though it may seem strange to people outside the coal industry, generations of miners have been cutting away those pillars to increase coal production in a practice known as retreat mining. It's legal and considered standard procedure. But it has claimed the lives of 17 coal miners in the past seven years.

In Kentucky alone, four miners have been crushed in rock falls during retreat mining in the last 14 months.

"You're definitely playing Russian roulette," said Miller, now an organizer for the United Mine Workers of America, which spells out in its contract that members can withdraw from any section of mine they believe is unsafe. "You remove those pillars, the roof is coming down. It's inevitable."

Retreat Coal Mining Comes Under Scrutiny

Which brings us to the second recognizable figure from the coverage of these horrible events, Richard Stickler the Mine Safety and Health Administrator who waited two days after the mine collapsed before taking control of the rescue efforts, a delay that reminded some of "Brownie" and Katrina.

Stickler is a former mine executive and manager whose confirmation for the position was turned down twice by the Senate.

Richard Stickler

The injury rates at coal mines Stickler managed from 1989 to 1996 were double the national average, according to statistics assembled by the Mine Workers before Stickler's appointment to head the Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety.

During his confirmation hearings, Stickler said he believed the then-current mine safety laws were adequate and did not need strengthening. This spring, when coal mine deaths stood at 33?at the time the highest number killed on the job in a full year since 2001. Congress passed legislation to strengthen and improve mine safety.


In spite of fierce opposition from both Democrats and Republicans as well as the United Mine Workers, George Bush made the appointment last October during a congressional recess.
The Fox was now in charge of another regulatory chicken coop.

The federal government's power to regulate the activities of business is among it's most sacred duties to our citizenry. The regulation of the purity of our drugs and our food, the safety of our workplaces, the safety and reliability of manufactured products, ranging from what we wear to what we drive is a responsibility that is as critical to our social health and civil order as defense. In this area, as in so many others, this administration has not only dropped the ball, they have thrown it to the opposing team.

From a candlelight vigil held in Huntington last week, focused on the six coal miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon mine. Photo by Trent Nelson Salt Lake Tribune

"We are at the mercy of the officials in charge and their so-called experts."
Sonny Olsen, Spokesperson for the families of the trapped miners"

As I was about finish and post this article I received this Email from John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President. The timing was spooky, but he wrote the perfect postscript to what I wanted to convey here. So I'm going to use his remarks as my close, Take it Mr Sweeney:

Dear Robert,

As you may already know, the underground rescue operation to save the six coal

miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon Mine has been halted. Tragically, the miners may be buried beneath the Utah mountain


At this difficult time, I ask you for your thoughts and prayers for the miners and their families, as well as for the families of the three rescue workers who gave their lives trying to save the missing.

I also thank you for being someone who cares enough to take action to improve life for working

families on many fronts.

Last year, after 12 coal miners died in the Sago Mine in West Virginia you helped convince Congress to pass the first major overhaul to mine safety laws in more than three decades, the MINER Act.

Since the Bush administration came into office, it has been systematically dismantling workplace safety protections. But you wouldn't allow corporate greed and Bush administration neglect and indifference to go unchallenged.

That neglect and indifference haven't been isolated to workplace safety. Just look at our economy workers' paychecks are stagnant while our productivity goes up and up. Just think back to the

administration's catastrophic response to Hurricane Katrina, the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the nation's crumbling infrastructure, our health care crisis; many, many people are wondering,What's wrong with America?

Fortunately, in our democracy, every four years we have a chance to fix what's wrong by electing

leaders, including a president, who put working families first. We have a very busy time ahead of us, fighting together for health care, good jobs and the freedom to form unions without employer interference and fighting for a government led by people committed to make America work for

working families.

Thank you for all that you've done so far in this fight and for all you will do in the months ahead.

In solidarity,

John Sweeney

President, AFL-CIO

P.S. What do you think the next president should do to make our workplaces safe and healthy? Please share your thoughts on our AFL-CIO Working Families Vote 2008Forum.

Related Stories and Links:

Columbus Dispatch

Two For The Money

The Salt Lake Tribune

Memo shows mine already had roof problems in March

I See Dead People

A sincere thank you to Marty Kaplan and David Roberts

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

The Vanishing

Callous as it sounds, I was dismissive and indifferent when I first heard about Amy Winehouse's problems. Y'know, the usual stuff you see in the tabloids: the ever-present glass of booze in her hand, incoherent at interviews, not showing up at concerts. Unfairly, I assumed she was going to be another casualty of the "sex 'n' drugs 'n' Rock & Roll" lifestyle". Oh well, it's her choice.

Fuck it, I thought to myself. The silly little bitch will either figure it out or she won't. Compounding my idiocy, I placed Winehouse in the Bad Girls Behaving Badly Club, sharing headlines and rehab stories with whiny losers like Nicole, Lindsay, and Paris. I was having one of my rare Republican moments and I'm ashamed because, of course, people and things are never that simple.

What changed my mind was the "Before" and "After" photographs I saw of Amy Winehouse's drastic weight loss, and I realized that other things were going on in her head. I realized that the troubled British singer was a victim of the cruel propaganda that Body Nazis torment women with in this culture, and Winehouse was just doing what she was told to do. Guys in Rock & Roll can get away with having a beer guy. Women can't. When Ann Wilson from the group Heart gained weight, she remembers being harassed by audiences, the record company, and her own band. Eventually, Ann got a surgeon to put a big rubber band around her stomach. Winehouse just used alcohol, cigarettes, and heroin.

Before, some idiots probably called Winehouse "chubby". Oooh, scary! Afterwards, some idiots gazed covetously at her emaciated frame and probably asked, "What diet is she on?"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Day In Asheville

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Asheville is the closest North Carolina comes to San Francisco - the mountains, the culture, but that is where the similarities end. There is a very belligerent and ultra sanctimonious right wing in Asheville. Years ago, there was a rally to pray to boot out "paganism." Last year my wife and I happened visited town while a horrific anti-gay protest was in progress sponsored by local area "churches." This past week, Asheville saw one of it's own arrested for holding a protest sign.

On Wednesday August 15, I was standing alone with my sign for about 10 minutes, when I was approached by Police Officer Russell Crisp. He asked me how long I was planning to stay there and I told him just a few more minutes because I had to go to work at 8:00. He asked for my ID and I obliged. I asked him if I was doing something wrong, and he said that his Sergeant was on the way and he was going to wait for him. SO, I went back to my sign holding over the interstate.

A few minutes later Sergeant Randy Riddle showed up with a paper in his hand. He spoke briefly to Crisp, then walked over to me and told me to put down my sign, put my hands behind my back, and that I was under arrest! I was shocked and almost thought he was joking until he told me again to put down the sign and put my hands behind me and I was under arrest. So I peacefully agreed and he cuffed me. I asked him why I was being arrested, he told me I was in violation County Ordinance 16-2, (the print out in his hand that he didn't bother to read to me or show me.) He told me I was obstructing the sidewalk. I told him I was not and that officer Crisp had witnessed a guy walk by me moments before.

Riddle yelled at me, "You were obstructing the sidewalk!" and "I'm sick of this shit!" then he said, "Here's your 15 minutes of fame buddy!" I looked back to see his name plate and he said in a mean condescending tone, "Yea, that's 'Sergeant Riddle' get it right!" He then put me in Officer Crisp's police car. Riddle took my sign with him and I was taken downtown and booked by Crisp. I was never read my Miranda rights.

Someone needs to call Mayor Bellamy and ask her when Civil Rights will be reestablished in Asheville? Or does she intend to allow the gestapo to operate freely in his city?

The below is PUBLIC information:

Mayor Terry M. Bellamy
Contact Information
Office of the Mayor
Mayor Terry M. Bellamy
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 7148, Asheville, NC, 28802
Location: Asheville City Hall, Second Floor, 70 Court Plaza
Phone: (828) 259-5600
Fax: (828) 259-5649
E-mail: mayor police chief assistant city manager city manager

And fell free to send them a copy of this cartoon!

Monday, August 20, 2007

ADL Shakeup Over Armenian Genocide

Appearing at The Blogging Curmudgeon, My Left Wing, and the Independent Bloggers' Alliance.

From The Boston Globe:

At least two prominent board members of the regional Anti-Defamation League have resigned in protest over the national ADL's decision to fire the regional director for acknowledging the slaughter of Armenians during World War I as genocide.

Former chairman of the Polaroid Corp., Stewart L. Cohen, and City Council member Mike Ross told the Globe yesterday they could no longer be part of an organization with national leaders who refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and fired regional director, Andrew H. Tarsy, on Friday for taking a position in support of Armenian-Americans.

. . .

The resignations -- which may be the first of others to come -- were announced as members of the local Jewish and Armenian-American communities praised Tarsy and the regional board for taking stands recognizing the Armenian genocide and criticized the ADL's national director, Abraham H. Foxman, for taking a position out of step not just locally, but perhaps nationally.

If Foxman does not change his position and acknowledge the genocide, George Beilin, a past president of the North Shore Council of the B'nai B'rith Organization, called on the national leader to "resign immediately for the sake of the Jewish community in the United States and the world."

A brief history lesson (expurgated text from here):

For three thousand years, a thriving Armenian community had existed inside the vast region of the Middle East bordered by the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. The area, known as Asia Minor, stands at the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Great powers rose and fell over the many centuries and the Armenian homeland was at various times ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Mongols.

. . .

In the eleventh century, the first Turkish invasion of the Armenian homeland occurred. Thus began several hundred years of rule by Muslim Turks. By the sixteenth century, Armenia had been absorbed into the vast and mighty Ottoman Empire. At its peak, this Turkish empire included much of Southeast Europe, North Africa, and almost all of the Middle East.

As the Ottoman Empire crumbled, the Armenians began a push for reform, but the Sultan Abdul Hamid's response resulted in the massacre of over 100,000 Armenians. Armenian hope was renewed with the ascendancy of the Young Turks, who pressed for a constitutional government and human rights protections. But, when three of the Young Turks seized the levers of power, and embarked on a nationalist push for a new "Turanism," the problems for the Armenians began in earnest. The new government seized the weapons from the Armenian population and Armenian members of the Turkish military were reassigned to "slave labor battalions."

The decision to annihilate the entire population came directly from the ruling triumvirate of ultra-nationalist Young Turks. The actual extermination orders were transmitted in coded telegrams to all provincial governors throughout Turkey. Armed roundups began on the evening of April 24, 1915, as 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, writers, clergy and dignitaries in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were taken from their homes, briefly jailed and tortured, then hanged or shot.

Next, there were mass arrests of Armenian men throughout the country by Turkish soldiers, police agents and bands of Turkish volunteers. The men were tied together with ropes in small groups then taken to the outskirts of their town and shot dead or bayoneted by death squads. Local Turks and Kurds armed with knives and sticks often joined in on the killing.

. . .

Then it was the turn of Armenian women, children, and the elderly. On very short notice, they were ordered to pack a few belongings and be ready to leave home, under the pretext that they were being relocated to a non-military zone for their own safety. They were actually being taken on death marches heading south toward the Syrian Desert.

Roughly 75 percent of the million plus Armenians marched through the desert died of starvation, dehydration, and other causes; many of them children and elderly. In the end an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were determined to have been killed by massacre and march. The Turkish government continues to deny the genocide of the Armenian people.

Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?

-- Adolf Hitler

James, you ignorant slut...!

Scanning the titles of blog posts over the past few weeks, I've seen a number of people touting Hillary Clinton for one reason or another. It always seems to boil down to "strategery"--some sort of calculus that states, no matter what we think of her personally, HRC is the Dem who can win. For the most part, I stay out of those discussion. Once you've said "No way, no how am I ever going to support her!", and ticked off the reasons, what is there to say?

But the bottom line is this--no matter how well Hillary does in debates, or how "electable" she is deemed to be, I can't overlook this unsightly growth she has attached to her candidacy. Not even if she does a complete turnaround and actually apologizes for her Iraq vote. That would be nice, but if she doesn't have that thing removed, it would be for naught.

"That thing" is James Carville. A trip via the wayback machine to November 2006 reminds us...

Carville Says Dems Should Dump Dean over “Rumsfeldian” Incompetence

What James Carville refuses to "get", no matter how hard we might try to (proverbially) shake him, is that this isn't about Howard Dean, no matter what he might think of Howard as a person. Attack Howard, and you attack all of those who supported him for DNC Chair. Whether or not they liked Howard personally, a lot of Democrats agreed with the 50-state strategy he promised. And they agree with him when he said things like this about the effect the internet has had on politics

It is an extraordinary evolution. An extraordinary evolution. Essentially it means that politicians have to acknowledge something that's been true for a long time. Which is, power is loaned to us--we don't own the power, and we need to earn the power every two years.
Does James Carville believe that? I doubt it. I imagine he must live in fear of the day that the majority of Americans actually start to think that way.


Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.

A church is a place in which gentlemen who have never been to heaven brag about it to persons who will never get there.

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

The Looting Of America

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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There are a LOT of explanations as to why the stock market has been up while the impact on the middle and lower class has been largely negative and ignored. Somehow it is the fault of Democrats and the rich paying too many taxes.

Remember back in the 2006 elections when the Republicans used the meme "investment class?" That was probably the best way to say "rich, white men" they could find.

For the rest of America, little improvement has been seen. Manufacturing has disappeared from America and that was the engine that drove the economies of Middle America. Thanks to NAFTA and other associated trade "deals," we no longer balance our trade policies with tariffs to offset things like SLAVERY or environmental destruction. Nope, now it is a "free market." I guess you get what you pay for.

Illegal immigration is another problem that is abused by the aforementioned "investment class." There are some jobs you just can't export so the best way to replace the wage slave workers overseas is to bring them here. America has an over-abundance of unskilled and undereducated people who will work below minimum wage and those workers have diluted the pay base for those jobs to UNDER what Americans can afford to work at. PLUS, many of these illegal aliens are working in construction - further driving the insane overproduction of housing that is bottom-feeding on sub-prime lending rates.

We are down to skilled workers. That's safe. Right? Nope. Welcome to the land of H-1B visas! I remember back in 1995 and 1996, someone could go to a tech school and get a degree in IT Systems Administration and within a few years be making 50k - 60k a year. A very decent wage. Not shabby at all. That is gone now. With H-1Bs, companies harvest IT workers from India, Pakistan and elsewhere to come to the United States to replace American IT workers at half or a third of the cost. The same thing is happening with nurses. The dichotomy here is when we have an alleged "skilled worker" shortage, instead of building new colleges or funding more scholarships, we import talent from abroad and ignore the workers that are already here.

So we have cut working wages to the bone during the last six and a half years and moved what production we could offshore. The offshore production was the cheapest we could buy and we really didn't pay too much attention to product safety or worker safety - just the bottom line. The domestic labor costs was forced down by using illegal workers and when that wasn't enough, we imported workers and under-payed them.

The synopsis is this, Corporate America has done everything in it's power to avoid paying Americans living wages. That way they can extract the last bit of money from personal savings and retirement funds. It then gets funneled into their corporate accounts - thus driving up the stock market.

So why is the stock market so high? That is America being looted and thoroughly milked dry.


Lovin' it: McBranding hooks preschoolers, study finds
Preschoolers preferred the taste of burgers and fries when they came in McDonald's wrappers over the same food in plain wrapping, U.S. researchers said, suggesting fast-food marketing reaches the very young.

"Overwhelmingly, kids chose the one that they perceived was from McDonald's," said obesity prevention expert Dr. Thomas Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine, whose work appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

While prior studies have looked at the impact of individual ads on kids, Robinson and colleagues set out to study the overall influence of a company's brand -- based on everything from advertising to toy premiums and word of mouth.

It comes as many food and restaurant companies face pressure to cut back on marketing to children as rates of obesity among that age group continue to climb.

Robinson and colleagues conducted a taste test with a total of 63 kids aged 3 to 5 who were enrolled in a Head Start preschool for low-income families.

They were offered five pairs of foods and asked if they tasted the same or to point to the one that tasted better.

The food -- taken from the same order -- was wrapped in either McDonald's packaging or unbranded packages in the same color and style.

In about 60 percent of the tastings, the kids preferred food in the McDonald's wrapper.

"They actually thought the food tasted better," Robinson said in a telephone interview.
No surprises here, huh? There's a reason why corporations toss millions of dollars at the NFL so they can broadcast a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl.

If you're skeptical, just take a look at Dubya's improbable career. As writer Terry Pratchett observed in another context, Not-So-Curious George is an empty man "who applied for the position of Village Idiot but failed because he was overqualified". However, thanks to money, a diabolical Karl Rove and a big wardrobe department, this cretin stole the Presidency by hustling gullible voters who should have known better. Yes, Bush was a lousy student/businessman/Governor, but he's a great male model.

Look, give him a megaphone and a fireman to use as props and he's a compassionate humanitarian who cares about his community. Look, give him a cowboy hat and boots and he's a hard-working, blue-collar guy you want to have a beer with. Look, give him Tom Cruise's used costume from Top Gun and he's a brave fighter pilot fighting to keep America free. People loved this bullshit so much they ordered seconds.

And who's to say this gold-plated propanganda won't work again? Look at how well Ghouliani is doing with an oxygen mask, a steely gaze, and the ruins of Ground Zero. He's getting more dicks to stand at attention than a Jenna Jameson marathon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rudy's Alter Ego

John Doe Padilla Convicted of Conspiracy

Jose Padilla, center, is escorted to a waiting police vechicle by federal marshals in this Jan. 5, 2006, file photo. He has been on trial in Miami for most of this year, charged with conspiring with al Qaeda to detonate a "dirty bomb" in the United States. Photo by J. Pat Carter, AP

On Thurday August 16 2007 A federal jury convicted Jose Padilla of three counts of conspiracy in a trial that was the culmination of five years of a criminal proceeding that is among the most shameful in the history of the United States justice system.

I am not an apologist for Jose Padilla, I belong to no "Free Jose" organizations nor am I a member of any "Jose Padilla defense funds," although maybe I should have been, maybe we all should have been because when they throw away the keys to Padilla's cell we will also throw away any pretense to being a nation of laws, a nation that respects human rights, we will throw away a large measure of what once made us a great and civilized nation.

I am also not a terrorist, nor am I a member of any terrorist organization and that declaration alone, in the modern, mandatory, cocoon of fear within which we are now required to live by governmental decree, is probably enough to have a tap placed on my phone and a couple of guys who look like the Blues Brothers parked in front of my house at odd hours. After all, if I have nothing to hide, why would I bring it up. Under the new Department of Justice rule book I must be indictable for something.

Jose Padilla was arrested over five years ago in May of 2002, picked up in Chicago after returning  from Europe and allegedly carrying over 10 grand in cash. He was held for  about a month as a material witness before Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed a trip to Moscow in order to announce that the US had discovered a plot to explode "dirty bombs" inside the country. Padilla was branded as the "Dirty Bomber" and George Bush declared him to be an illegal enemy combatant.

Padilla was a small time criminal, a US citizen born in Brooklyn, he had lived in Chicago and been a member of a street gang known as the Maniac Latin Disciples. He had been in prison at least once for aggravated assault after a gang member died as a result of fight in which he was involved. While in prison Padilla converted to Islam under the tutelage of someone who is reported to have preached a non violent, mainstream version of the religion. He attended mosques in Florida for years with one of the men who was convicted with him.

Padilla was probably a bad actor, I have seen nothing in his resume that would lead me to hire him as a youth counselor, but was he a terrorist? Who knows? That is the problem.

Had the government arrested him and presented it's evidence in a court of law, as is done every day, in conspiracies great and small in every city in this country, had Padilla been afforded the guarantees of the constitution of the nation of which he was a citizen, we might have learned the truth.

Now we probably never will, because what the government did was search for shortcuts, the law was inconvenient, due process, criminal procedure, rights of the accused, all that stuff was an impediment to the speedy production of positive results in their war on terror public relations campaign, which followed on the heels of 9/11 and continues unabated to this day.

Padilla was shipped off to a Naval brig in Charleston to spend the next three and one half years in total isolation, held in constant darkness, or constant light, under extremes of temperature, subjected to physical and psychological "enhanced interrogation methods," the Bush administration's Orwellian euphemism for torture. And the government got nothing. Nothing.

When all was said and done, after more than three years of criminal treatment, the government, faced with the likelihood that the courts were about to require them to put up or shut up, finally indicted Padilla on the three conspiracy charges of which, last week, he was ultimately convicted.

Padilla was never charged with being a member of al Queada, he was never charged with being a dirty bomber, he was not indicted on nor was he ever charged with any what was alleged at the beginning of this exercise in injustice over three years before.

Our current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales last week called the conviction of Jose Padilla and his co-conspirators " a significant victory in our efforts to fight the threat posed by terrorists and their supporters."

If holding an American citizen or anyone else, for years, years, in military custody, without charging him with a crime, subjecting him to torture during the entire period, and then failing to indict or convict him of anything close to what they originally alleged is "a significant victory" then it helps me to understand their constant claims of significant progress in Iraq or in the "War on Terror."

Make no mistake, this was no victory. This was a failure of our system of justice deliberately brought about by an executive department and two Attorneys General who had, and have, nothing but, disdain, in fact, utter contempt for the American system of justice and for due process of law.

I'm not bleeding for Jose Padilla here, I doubt if Jose even knows who he is at this point.

By accounts  that I have read he has been driven insane by the circumstances of his confinement. It is reported that as part of the process of breaking him down he was forced to sign documents with the name "John Doe." One of their goals was to relieve him of his personal identity, they succeeded, all too well.

The government on Thursday convicted "John Doe" of three counts of conspiring to participate in terrorist acts. They can do the same to me, more importantly, they can do the same to you.

They have spared no expense of time, energy and money over the last six years. they have gone to great lengths in establishing shortcuts that enable them to investigate, arrest, imprison and torture any one they want, at any time and for any reason.

To this government, this Cheney/Bush administration, this criminal enterprise that is destroying America one liberty at a time, we are all, each and every one of us "John Doe."

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Related Story
Window Into a Terror Suspect's Isolation


ABC News:

Science vs. politics gets down and dirty
Malicious, vindictive and mean-spirited. These are words that might surface in divorce court.

But they have been lobbed in the course of a different estrangement: the standoff between the Bush administration and the nation's scientific community.

The relationship, which has been troubled since the dawn of the Bush presidency, hit a new low last month when Richard Carmona, surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, lashed out at his former colleagues in testimony before a House committee.

Joined by former surgeons general C. Everett Koop and David Satcher, Carmona said public health reports are withheld unless they're filled with praise for the administration. "It was Surgeon General Koop who pointed out and still says today … 'Richard, we all have fought these battles, as have our predecessors going back over a century, but we have never seen it as partisan, … as vindictive, as mean-spirited as it is today, and you clearly have it worse than any of us had.' "

Though Koop, who served under President Reagan, and Satcher, who was appointed by President Clinton, also spoke of political interference, it was Carmona's testimony that took lawmakers and scientists by surprise. He was, after all, the man who gave the president a hug before TV cameras when he was named surgeon general.

Carmona's statements crystallized the schism between the president and many of the nation's scientists, touching off conversations within and outside the administration on how bad things have gotten, who is to blame and what this means for the future.

From President Bush's televised address on Aug. 9, 2001, when he announced his intention to restrict federal spending on research on embryonic stem cells, conflicts with scientists have been a hallmark of his administration. The debates have included sex education, space exploration, contraception and global warming.

"The science community now recognizes that this administration completely puts its political cart before the scientific horse," says Science magazine editor in chief Donald Kennedy, a former Food and Drug Administration chief. "We've seen it with one issue after another."
"Science is Magic that works." -- Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)