textonly.com :: Politics

October 10, 2009

More like this...

Posted on: October 10, 2009 02:20 PM | Link: More like this... | Comments: (0)

January 07, 2009

"It's Hell in Here"

Posted on: January 7, 2009 04:19 AM | Link: "It's Hell in Here" | Comments: (0)

November 05, 2008

Its just frikkin unreal

It was GEORGE BUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JFC - these people should be arrested.

Posted on: November 5, 2008 12:15 PM | Link: Its just frikkin unreal | Comments: (0)

November 04, 2008

Fired up - ready to go

This better be a goddamn landslide...

Posted on: November 4, 2008 03:13 PM | Link: Fired up - ready to go | Comments: (0)

October 28, 2008

Sarah the Socialist

For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

I haven no problems with this set up. I applaud it. This issue is the right blantanly lying about Obama.

Posted on: October 28, 2008 09:25 AM | Link: Sarah the Socialist | Comments: (0)

October 27, 2008

I mean WTF?!!?!?!

Where did they find her:

It is embarrassing that a US Senator has to sit still and answer this drivel. He should have got up and left.

I sent and email to Josh Marshall earlier:

"Can someone please bring up the point that the current administration, flailing around to stem this financial crisis, are the ones actually investing US government funds into the private sector (i.e. Socialism)? In perhaps Obama's lone gaffe of the campaign (if you can even call it that!), telling Joe The Plumber that he wanted to "spread the wealth" a little - the right wing noise machine has been able to label him a socialist? While Paulson, Bernanke, and Bush are actually committing US funds in unprecedented ways into the private sector, to sit here and have to read over and over how Obama is a socialist is just too much to take! We (the US) now own AIG - we forced 25 billion down JPMorgan's throat that they are now sitting on - we are buying commerial paper from GE - I mean, WTF?!?
I can still hear Bush extolling Iraqi citizens not to destroy any oil infrasrtucture on the night of "Shock and Awe" - how that all belonged to the people of Iraq. I sat there that night thinking that George Bush was a socialist - and wondering where my check was from the oil fields of Texas."

That is socialism. Wanting to raise taxed on people making over 250k a year (who have steadily had their taxed cut for decades!) isn't. The right is deluding itself.

Posted on: October 27, 2008 07:29 PM | Link: I mean WTF?!!?!?! | Comments: (1)

October 25, 2008

Wassup

Posted on: October 25, 2008 07:05 PM | Link: Wassup | Comments: (0)

October 14, 2008

I think I just...

...puked in my mouth a little bit:

"She's intelligent, she's adorable and she has the audacity to speak her mind," said Ray Gilson of Corapeake, N.C., who attended the Virginia Beach rally. "I've never loved a politician like I love her. I want her to be president someday."

Posted on: October 14, 2008 02:18 PM | Link: I think I just... | Comments: (0)

October 06, 2008

Make-Believe Maverick

Pretty good piece on McCain in Rolling Stone: Make-Believe Maverick

Posted on: October 6, 2008 05:37 AM | Link: Make-Believe Maverick | Comments: (0)

September 11, 2008

Ethics Advisor Warned Palin About Trooper Issue

From the radical, left-wing rag, The Wall Street Journal:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- An informal adviser who has counseled Gov. Sarah Palin on ethics issues urged her in July to apologize for her handling of the dismissal of the state's public safety commissioner and warned that the matter could snowball into a bigger scandal.

"Ethics Advisor Warned Palin About Trooper Issue" »

Posted on: September 11, 2008 03:15 AM | Link: Ethics Advisor Warned Palin About Trooper Issue | Comments: (0)

"We can't have that"

Posted on: September 11, 2008 03:14 AM | Link: "We can't have that" | Comments: (0)

August 29, 2008

John McCain

TIME: A lot of people know about your service from your books, but most people don't know that you have two sons currently in the military. Can you describe what it means to have Jack and Jimmy in uniform?

McCain: We don't discuss our sons.

Go fuck yourself Mr. McCain - go fuck yourself.

Posted on: August 29, 2008 09:52 AM | Link: John McCain | Comments: (0)

September 15, 2007

American War Culture in a nutshell

These hawks who never fought for anything are particularly sickening. Greenwald has some observations:

"Fred Kagan, along with his writing partner Bill Kristol, specializes in planning and advocating more wars, always from afar. His family has a tradition of doing the same. His dad, whose career he has copied, is Donald Kagan, whom The Washington Post described as "a beloved father figure of the ascendant neoconservative movement." Several years ago, Fred co-wrote a book with his dad arguing that America is too afraid to fight wars and "that it will be in the world's ultimate interest for the United States to remain militarily strong and unafraid of a fight." Neither has ever fought anything."

Posted on: September 15, 2007 01:18 PM | Link: American War Culture in a nutshell | Comments: (0)

January 25, 2007

Hagel

It actually brought a tear to my eye. Where the hell was this the last few years though?

Posted on: January 25, 2007 07:34 AM | Link: Hagel | Comments: (0)

January 08, 2006

The Washington Post gets it

"It worked simply. On one side of the machine, a hose vacuumed the pockets of large corporations, wealthy individuals and legions of lobbyists on K Street, all instructed by DeLay to contribute only to Republicans. Out the other side, at some later date, came legislation of interest to many of the donors. Inside the machine, twisting its knobs and pulling its levers, was DeLay -- who was unabashed about his pay-to-play philosophy and relentless in enforcing his political rules."
The Washington Post

Delay was running a slush fund, pure and simple, as Josh Marshall has been pointing out for some time.

Posted on: January 8, 2006 03:35 PM | Link: The Washington Post gets it | Comments: (0)

January 06, 2006

Separation of church and state in Indiana

""It's something I've prayed about, and it's weighed on my heart," said Woodruff, who also is an aide to U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind."

He is talking about a bill to ban abortion in the state. Do elected officials really pray in order to craft legislation?

Posted on: January 6, 2006 04:06 PM | Link: Separation of church and state in Indiana | Comments: (0)

January 04, 2006

More training!

Hastert today in the NY Times:

"Mr. Hastert has raised the possibility of new ethics training for lawmakers."

Yeah, some more training is going to solve everything. What a joke. How about having some ethics to begin with?

Posted on: January 4, 2006 04:31 AM | Link: More training! | Comments: (0)

December 07, 2005

The problem with Joe

Digby hits the nail on the head. Without a serious fact check the Lieberman Senate floor speech is my fisrt recollection of a Democrat turning against Clinton. I can not understand what drives Lieberman and why he is such a tool of the Republicans, but he is.

Posted on: December 7, 2005 06:37 AM | Link: The problem with Joe | Comments: (0)

October 20, 2005

Some people just can't take it anymore

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell can't keep his mouth shut any longer:

‘Cheney cabal hijacked US foreign policy’

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Sadly this makes Powell look even more pathetic. I don't know how you can remain a company man when you know how fucked up the company is...

Posted on: October 20, 2005 10:18 AM | Link: Some people just can't take it anymore | Comments: (0)

September 27, 2005

Demotion of a Prosecutor Is Investigated

In the previous post I was wondering if the people inside the goverment whose job it is to prosecute the criminals within the government could possibly do their jobs in the current political climate. To quote myself:

"As nearly the whole federal government seems to be packed with political appointees and campaign advance men, it will be very interesting to see if the few independent people left in the DOJ and the SEC and other bodies will ever take these guys down."

Today the NY Times gives us an example of how this is not working:

September 27, 2005
Demotion of a Prosecutor Is Investigated
By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 - The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.

They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.

Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges.

Colleagues of Mr. Black, who had run the federal prosecutor's office in Guam for 12 years, spoke on condition of anonymity because of Justice Department rules that bar employees from talking to reporters. They said F.B.I. agents questioned several people in Guam and Washington this summer about whether Mr. Abramoff or his friends in the Bush administration had pushed for Mr. Black's removal. Mr. Abramoff's internal e-mail messages show that he boasted to clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, and others at the department.

Mr. Black's colleagues said that similar questions had been raised by investigators for the Justice Department's inspector general's office, which serves as the department's internal watchdog.

Spokesmen for the department in Washington have said there was nothing unusual about the timing of Mr. Black's reassignment in 2002. They said it was appropriate for the Bush administration to want to replace him with a permanent, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.

Mr. Abramoff, once one of the capital's best-paid lobbyists, is now the subject of a broad corruption investigation by federal prosecutors in Washington focusing on accusations that he defrauded Indian tribes and their gambling operations out of millions of dollars in lobbying fees.

A spokesman for Mr. Abramoff said he had "no recollection of being investigated in Guam in 2002" but would have cooperated if he had been aware of any inquiry at the time. Mr. Abramoff had a lucrative lobbying practice on Guam and the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands, another American territory; his lobbying clients paid for luxurious trips to the islands for several members of Congress.

Justice Department officials said they knew of no evidence to suggest that Mr. Ashcroft was involved in the decision to reassign Mr. Black. A spokesman for Mr. Ashcroft said the former attorney general and his aides at the Justice Department had done nothing to assist Mr. Abramoff and his clients and had had no significant contact with him.

Reached in Guam, Mr. Black, who continues to work as an assistant United States attorney, declined to answer questions about his 2002 reassignment.

The Los Angeles Times and news organizations in Guam have reported on questions about the circumstances of Mr. Black's demotion. The recent inquiries by the F.B.I. and by the Justice Department's inspector general had not been previously reported; nor had Mr. Black's contacts in November 2002 with the department's public integrity section about his investigation of Mr. Abramoff.

In a statement on Monday, the department said it was natural for the Bush administration to replace Mr. Black, whose assignment to run the United States attorney's office was never meant to be permanent, with a White House selection.

The department said the vetting process for Mr. Black's replacement, Leonardo Rapadas, the current United States attorney, was "well under way in November 2002," when the nomination was announced.

Colleagues said they recalled that Mr. Black was distressed when he was notified by the department in November 2002 that he was being replaced.

The announcement came only days after Mr. Black had notified the department's public integrity division in Washington, by telephone and e-mail communication, that he had opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying activities for the Guam judges, the colleague said. The judges had sought Mr. Abramoff's help in blocking a bill in Congress to restructure the island's courts.

The colleagues said that Mr. Black was also surprised when his newly arrived bosses in Guam blocked him from involvement in public corruption cases in 2003. Justice Department officials said Mr. Black was asked instead to focus on terrorism investigations, which had taken on new emphasis after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Whatever the motivation in replacing Fred, his demotion meant that the investigation of Abramoff died," said a former colleague in Guam.

The Justice Department's public integrity section is responsible for cases involving government corruption. It is now overseeing the larger investigation of Mr. Abramoff in Washington.

Representative George Miller, a California Democrat who has long focused on issues involving American territories in the Pacific, said the disclosures about Mr. Black's demotion raised questions about a possible conflict of interest at the Justice Department in its investigation of Mr. Abramoff.

"What this starts to suggest is that Abramoff's ability to corrupt the system was far more pervasive, certainly than we knew at the time," Mr. Miller said.

Posted on: September 27, 2005 07:36 AM | Link: Demotion of a Prosecutor Is Investigated | Comments: (0)

September 21, 2005

Nice coincidence

From the AP:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist Sold Shares in Family's Hospital Corporation Before They Fell

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.
Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn., the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.

Frist's shares were sold by July 1 and those of his wife and children by July 8, Call said. The trustee decided when to sell the shares, and the Tennessee Republican had no control over the exact time they were sold, she said.

HCA shares peaked at midyear, climbing to $58.22 a share on June 22. After slipping slightly for two weeks, the price fell to $49.90 on July 13 after the company announced its quarterly earnings would not meet analysts' expectations. On Tuesday, the shares closed at $48.76.

The value of Frist's stock at the time of the sale was not disclosed. Earlier this year, he reported holding blind trusts valued at $7 million to $35 million.

Blind trusts are used to avoid conflicts of interest. Assets are turned over to a trustee who manages them without divulging any purchases or sales and reports only the total value and income earned to the owner.

To keep the trust blind, Frist was not allowed to know how much HCA stock he owned, Call said, but he was allowed to ask for all of it to be sold.

Frist, a surgeon first elected to the Senate in 1994, had been criticized for maintaining the holdings while dealing with legislation affecting the medical industry and managed care. Call said the Senate Ethics Committee has found nothing wrong with Frist's holdings in the company in a blind trust.

"To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest Senator Frist went beyond what ethics requires and sold the stock," Call said. Asked why he had never done so before, she said, "I don't know that he's been worried about it in the past."

An HCA spokesman said the company had no part in Frist's decision.

Frist's father, Thomas, founded the company and his brother, Thomas Jr., is a director and leading stockholder. The family is worth $1.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

HCA -- formerly known as Columbia HCA Healthcare Corp. -- has been a top contributor to the senator's campaigns, donating $83,450 since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The sale of the shares was first reported by Congressional Quarterly.

Posted on: September 21, 2005 11:50 AM | Link: Nice coincidence | Comments: (0)

August 08, 2005

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, Redefining 'Vacation'

What a fucking joke:

By ELISABETH BUMILLER Published: August 8, 2005 WASHINGTON

President Bush left for his summer vacation last week, and so did a lot of the White House senior staff.

Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, headed for his house in the Florida Panhandle. Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, was with his family in Poland Spring, Me. Nicolle Devenish, the White House communications director, had plans to leave late in the month for her September wedding on Mykonos, in the Greek islands.

Mr. Bush, of course, was in the less exotic blast furnace of his Texas ranch, settling in for a five-week stay on the prairie that will be his longest time away from Washington as president. His return to his full August idyll - Mr. Bush cut short his time at the ranch last summer because of his re-election campaign - is not only the length of a classic French vacation, but grist for some Democrats, who have accused the president of fleeing Washington to escape the federal investigation into who leaked the name of a Central Intelligence Agency officer to reporters, a potential crime.

But in his first days away, Mr. Bush was relatively busy. He gave a speech on Wednesday in Grapevine, Tex., and met with the president of Colombia at the ranch on Thursday. He is to travel to New Mexico today, meet with his economic advisers and hold a news conference at the ranch tomorrow, travel to Illinois on Wednesday, meet with his foreign policy team and hold another news conference back at the ranch on Thursday, go to a Republican fund-raising lunch at a neighboring ranch on Friday and attend a Little League championship game in Waco, Tex., on Saturday.

One reason for the activity might be the desire to be in purposeful motion on another anniversary of the now-infamous C.I.A. briefing that Mr. Bush received at the ranch on Aug. 6, 2001. That briefing, which informed the new president that the terrorist network Al Qaeda had maintained an active presence in the United States for years and could be preparing for hijackings here, created a political uproar when its contents were eventually made public.

Critics have long called it a symbol of the administration's complacency in the slow summer days before the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001. Administration officials have countered that there was no specific information to act on, and that the briefing never warned that planes could be used as missiles.

Then as now, White House officials take turns doing Crawford duty, which nobody fights for. This past week, Joe Hagin, a deputy White House chief of staff, was settled into his double-wide trailer across the road from the entrance to the ranch, where his job includes chainsaw time with the president.

At some point this summer Mr. Hagin will switch off with Mr. Rove, who has testified to a grand jury in the leak investigation and who in the past has not done long stretches of ranch time. But when Mr. Rove was elevated to White House deputy chief of staff after Mr. Bush's re-election, the promotion came with summer Crawford duty.

Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, will split his ranch duty with his deputy, J. D. Crouch. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was freed from ranch duty when she moved on from national security adviser, will visit anyway, first for the foreign policy meeting this week, then for more of a social visit later in the month.

Mr. Card does not do ranch duty, although he is expected briefly for the economic meeting on Tuesday, as are Joshua B. Bolten, the White House budget director, and Treasury Secretary John Snow. If the past is any guide, the men will meet with Mr. Bush, stand at his side during a news conference under a blistering sun, then race for the airport.

Meanwhile, back at a sleepy White House, major August repairs were under way.

The walnut and oak floor of the Oval Office, installed during the Reagan administration and now thin from constant refinishing, was to be ripped up and replaced. The irrigation system on the White House grounds was to be replaced, too. The masonry and stucco in the West and East Colonnades was under restoration, and the windows along the East Colonnade were being repaired.

But for the staff members left behind, it was not entirely quiet. "It's always something," said one administration official who asked not to be named because he did not want to be seen as complaining about the job. "Somebody's dying or something blows up or somebody issues a tape. We never really cool off that much."

On the other hand, it was definitely August. "It's a nice pace," said Susan Whitson, Laura Bush's press secretary. "You can come in around 8 o'clock and still find parking."

This is a news story? YEEARGHH!!!

Posted on: August 8, 2005 11:23 AM | Link: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, Redefining 'Vacation' |

August 01, 2005

Real nice...

From Foreign Policy Watch:

Judy Shalom (the wife of the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom), speaking on a television show about the recent bombings in London: "As long as I hold no official position, I can say it's not all bad for the English to find out what it's like."

Update: You kow this is especially galling in a historical sense (not to mention how cold blooded and heartless it is, and stupid - like the U.K. doesn't know terror - only Americans and Israelis it seems can make such self centered comments). Without the Balfour Declaration (and if you don't know what that is, as Tony Wislon says, you should probably read more) there may have never even been an Israel as we know it. You can't get into a tit-for-tat in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - that will never end. But when does the new crap stop - when do comments like this stop?

Posted on: August 1, 2005 02:01 PM | Link: Real nice... | Comments: (0)

July 30, 2005

Support Hackett OH-02

I may know less about Paul Hackett than Billmon, but we just kicked in $100 for him anyway. This is an easy story - Iraq War vet versus the Evil Empire candidate. I am just sick, tired, and disgusted of people like Jean Schmidt. The Republican slime machine is all geared up against Hackett - this is a small way to at least feel like you are fighting back. Good luck Paul. (And visit Eschaton for a lot of good links and stories about this race.)

Posted on: July 30, 2005 08:36 PM | Link: Support Hackett OH-02 | Comments: (0)

July 29, 2005

Pull & Pray Santorum

Good thing we have sites out there like http://santorumexposed.com. You can't keep up with the crap that comes out of this guys mouth. Watch this video:

"I am not a believer in birth control... artificial birth control.

I think (birth control) is harmful to women, harmful to our society."

Earth to Rick - people, of all ages, have sex. It is healthy, normal, and good for you. Saying in 2005 that the only sex you should have is married, heterosexual sex is a statement so far removed from reality that I think you need psychiatric care. This is a member of the U.S Senate - making laws and decisions that affect 275 million Americans and impact the world - I wouldn't let him baby sit my kids! And the notion that having sex is "doing whatever you want" without consequence! Don't people see the need for human beings to have sex? How do you legislate against normal human behavior? Are there really this many completely bat shit insane people in Pennsylvania that this guy is still a Senator???

Posted on: July 29, 2005 12:40 PM | Link: Pull & Pray Santorum | Comments: (0)

July 12, 2005

Karl Rove

Well the story is finally breaking, though I think it will be a long time until we hear what Patrick Fitzgerald has really found out or not. You can find all the usual suspects commenting on the subject, Atrios, Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, etc. (links to all in the right column). Also excellent stuff from David Corn. The press corps grew some balls finally - as is pointed out by the fact that they were used by Scottie - BUT - the killer for me today is reading that this Luskin character (Rove's lawyer) is actually a crook himself! Read this post by Josh Marshall for more - as they say, you can't make this stuff up!

Posted on: July 12, 2005 12:30 AM | Link: Karl Rove | Comments: (0)

June 17, 2005

No way! Way...

Halliburton to build new $30 mln Guantanamo jail

Thu Jun 16, 7:21 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.

The announcement comes the same week that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the jail after U.S. lawmakers said it had created an image problem for the United States.

Critics have decried the indefinite detention of Guantanamo detainees, whom the United States has denied rights accorded under the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war. The prison was called "the gulag of our times" in a recent Amnesty International report.

An air-conditioned two-story prison, known as Detention Camp #6, will be built at Guantanamo to house 220 men. It will include exercise areas, medical and dental spaces as well as a security control room, the contract announcement said.

The contract announcement did not specify whether the new prison would also hold foreign terror suspects.

Under the deal with the Norfolk, Virginia-based U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, the work is to be wrapped up by July 2006. It is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million if all options are exercised, the Defense Department said.

The project is to be carried out by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Services of Arlington, Virginia. It includes site work, heating ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical work, the Pentagon said.

The first prisoners arrived at the prison camp in January 2002 after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has said about 520 detainees from more than 40 countries are being held at the prison, without giving a precise figure.

Rumsfeld said on Tuesday U.S. taxpayers had spend more than $100 million on construction costs and no other facility could replace it.

Posted on: June 17, 2005 03:53 PM | Link: No way! Way... | Comments: (0)

June 10, 2005

Washington This Week

From the Carpetbagger:

  • The Bush White House let a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute re-write a government report on global warming, editing out scientific conclusions he didn't like.

  • Bush's Interior Department offered to overpay a wealthy Republican donor for oil and gas rights on Everglades land that the government apparently already owns, overruling the advice of career officials.

  • The Pentagon's inspector general released a report on a lucrative Air Force contract for Boeing that cost too much for planes the military didn't want. Bush, who has enjoyed generous campaign contributions from Boeing, was involved with the contract, personally asking White House aides to work out the deal and dispatching Chief of Staff Andrew Card to participate in the contract negotiations. When the inspector general's report came out, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to the Bush gang's involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing.

  • Documents from the U.S. State Department published this week show that the president backed away from the Kyoto global warming treaty after being pressured by ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries.

  • Bush officials at the Justice Department inexplicably decided to reduce its settle request with the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion, and urged government witnesses to soften their recommendations about sanctions.

As the Carpetbagger notes that is this week. Visit the site for links to the above stories.

Posted on: June 10, 2005 02:40 PM | Link: Washington This Week | Comments: (0)

May 16, 2005

Without a trace of irony...

By now you have heard of the Newsweek story and the alleged desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. If not check out the point Professor Cole makes on Informed Comment.

Who knows if this really happened or not - it sounds like it could have, that isn't the point of this post. The point is that now the government is talking about journalism. To wit:

"It's appalling, really, that an article that was unfounded to begin with has caused so much harm, including loss of life," the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said at a briefing in Washington.

Touché Boucher. That is from the NY Times today, referencing the Koran story. Hmm, I wonder what he thought about Judith Miller's WMD articles? I bet they were spot on to him at the time. Funny now that her stories have been proven to be total crap we haven't heard any complaints...

Or this one:

"It's puzzling that while Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refused to retract the story," Mr. McClellan was quoted by Reuters as saying. "I think there's a certain journalistic standard that should be met and in this instance it was not."

Puzzling. Yes, journalistic standards... like having real journalists at your press briefings?

How about this from Scotty:

Mr. McClellan complained that the Newsweek report was "based on a single anonymous source who could not personally substantiate the allegation that was made."

Oh really? Curveball, anyone?

"The report has had serious consequences," he said, according to Reuters. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

Crap - our image has been damaged? Here I thought it was the illegal war whose cause was helped along by a supplicant, hoodwinked, fraudulent press corp, the 100,000 plus dead Iraqis and Afghanis, and the tortue and rape of prisoners!

UPDATE: A couple of points are coming out, one that violence in Aghanistan was brewing already. Of course you won't see this mentioned by the State Dept. or the White House.

Posted on: May 16, 2005 11:16 PM | Link: Without a trace of irony... | Comments: (0)

January 27, 2005

One Down

Finally some good news! Doug Feith quit the DOD today. Boo hoo (are you kidding - give me that bottle of champagne!). He needs to spend more time with his family (i.e. he was pissed he didn't get a promotion in Bush CO II). General Tommy Franks produced one of the most notable quotes of the era that will become known as the first decade of the Iraq war when he said of Feith:

"I have to deal with the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth almost every day."

Ouch. Hey, I wonder what Feith's boss had to say?

Commenting on Mr. Feith’s planned departure, Secretary Rumsfeld said, “Doug Feith has contributed to the security of the country.  He is creative, well organized, and energetic, and he has earned the respect of civilian and military leaders across the government.  Regrettably, he has decided to depart, and he will be missed.”

Well organized and energetic? I think that is Pentagon code for "fucking dipshit". Goodbye Doug!

Posted on: January 27, 2005 01:04 AM | Link: One Down | Comments: (0)

January 26, 2005

Train Wreck

I am listening to the Bush news conference on cspan.com - mostly listening, since watching would probably make me puke. My question is, how does he continue to become more and more or a train wreck? "He/She will be a GREAT (insert cabinet post here). And he/she will be confirmed". How many times can you listen to this crap? "Great" seems to the only adjective he is comfortable with.
Personal accounts, ownership society, we value life, her/his views reflect our policy, bankrupt system, etc. It is the most empty, non-communicative use of language I have ever heard. Are we as a country really this dumb? He just recalled his earlier press "conferences" - gee, I wonder which one of the three he is referring too?
This news just in - the senate confirms Rice as SOS 85-13.
Oh well - back to work...

Posted on: January 26, 2005 02:45 PM | Link: Train Wreck |

January 07, 2005

Gonzales should be sent packing

The Gonzales hearing (I watched several hours of it on the CSPAN website last night) is a fucking joke. This administration, and Gonzales as the President's counsel had a major role in it, has done all it can to see how far they could go to physically harm people without getting in trouble (see this Disourse.net dissection of the "Bybee" memo) . Gonzales said questions about torture are "hypotheticals" that are never going to occur. Well guess what Alberto, it already did. These Orwellian types of exchanges made up much of the hearing. Democrats would basically hound him for answers, and Republicans would make apologies for him and question the patriotism of those questioning him. To paraphrase Michael Moore, we are living in fictitious times.

Posted on: January 7, 2005 11:51 PM | Link: Gonzales should be sent packing |

December 10, 2004

More on Social Security

The Social Security debate continues to rage. Luckily Paul Krugman is filling in while Bob Herbert is on vacation, and Kevin Drum also keeps banging the er... drum (sorry).

Borrow, Speculate and Hope By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: December 10, 2004

"The National Association of Securities Dealers," The Wall Street Journal reports, "is investigating whether some brokerage houses are inappropriately pushing individuals to borrow large sums on their houses to invest in the stock market." Can we persuade the association to investigate would-be privatizers of Social Security?

For it is now apparent that the Bush administration's privatization proposal will amount to the same thing: borrow trillions, put the money in the stock market and hope.

Privatization would begin by diverting payroll taxes, which pay for current Social Security benefits, into personal investment accounts. The government, already deep in deficit, would have to borrow to make up the shortfall.

This would sharply increase the government's debt. Never mind, privatization advocates say: in the long run, they claim, people would make so much on personal accounts that the government could save money by cutting retirees' benefits. Financial markets won't believe this claim, as I'll explain in a minute, but let's temporarily grant the point.

Even so, if personal investment accounts were invested in Treasury bonds, this whole process would accomplish precisely nothing. The interest workers would receive on their accounts would exactly match the interest the government would have to pay on its additional debt. To compensate for the initial borrowing, the government would have to cut future benefits so much that workers would gain nothing at all.

How, then, can privatizers claim that they could secure the future of Social Security without raising taxes or reducing the incomes of future retirees? By assuming that workers would invest most of their accounts in stocks, that these investments would make a lot of money and that, in effect, the government, not the workers, would reap most of those gains, because as personal accounts grew, the government could cut benefits.

We can argue at length about whether the high stock returns such schemes assume are realistic (they aren't), but let's cut to the chase: in essence, such schemes involve having the government borrow heavily and put the money in the stock market. That's because the government would, in effect, confiscate workers' gains in their personal accounts by cutting those workers' benefits.

Once you realize that privatization really means government borrowing to speculate on stocks, it doesn't sound too responsible, does it? But the details make it considerably worse.

First, financial markets would, correctly, treat the reality of huge deficits today as a much more important indicator of the government's fiscal health than the mere promise that government could save money by cutting benefits in the distant future.

After all, a government bond is a legally binding promise to pay, while a benefits formula that supposedly cuts costs 40 years from now is nothing more than a suggestion to future Congresses. Social Security rules aren't immutable: in the past, Congress has changed things like the retirement age and the tax treatment of benefits. If a privatization plan passed in 2005 called for steep benefit cuts in 2045, what are the odds that those cuts would really happen?

Second, a system of personal accounts, even though it would mainly be an indirect way for the government to speculate in the stock market, would pay huge brokerage fees. Of course, from Wall Street's point of view that's a benefit, not a cost.

There is, by the way, a precedent for Bush-style privatization. One major reason for Argentina's rapid debt buildup in the 1990's was a pension reform involving a switch to individual accounts - a switch that President Carlos Menem, like President Bush, decided to finance with borrowing rather than taxes. So Mr. Bush intends to emulate a plan that helped set the stage for Argentina's economic crisis.

If Mr. Bush were to say in plain English that his plan to solve our fiscal problems is to borrow trillions, put the money into stocks and hope for the best, everyone would denounce that plan as the height of irresponsibility. The fact that this plan has an elaborate disguise, one that would add considerably to its costs, makes it worse.

And maybe the fact that serious financial experts, the sort qualified to be Treasury secretary, understand all this is the reason why John Snow has just been reappointed.

And from Kevin:

REAL MONEY....One of the most common conservative critiques of Social Security is that the Social Security trust fund is a myth. Since it consists solely of treasury bonds, it's nothing more than a promise from one branch of the government to another. It's not real money, it's just an IOU.

But that's a serious misunderstanding of what money is. It's a promise. After all, you don't think those dollar bills in your wallet or the bits and bytes in your bank account have any real value, do you? In fact, their only value is that they're a promise: a promise that you can exchange them at some future time for concrete goods and services. When people no longer believe in that promise (think Weimar Germany), money no longer has any value.

The trust fund works the same way: it's a promise to the taxpayers who filled it up that at some later date it can be used to buy goods and services. The mechanism for honoring this promise — that is, ensuring that at some point in the future the original investors get the goods and services they were promised — is to collect taxes and turn the resulting revenue over to retirees. This promise can no more be broken than the promise that the United States government accepts dollar bills as legal tender.

Still not convinced? Try this instead: how about if we sell off the current contents of the trust fund to outside investors? They think it's real, and they'd be happy to buy those bonds — in an orderly way, of course. After that was done and the money was reinvested, the trust fund would be full of stocks and corporate bonds — and voila, suddenly everyone would magically agree that it's real money.

So yes, the trust fund is real. It's a promise from the United States government backed up by its taxing authority, just like real money, and it's accepted by outside investors, just like real money. How much more real can it get?

...and...

SOCIAL SECURITY AROUND THE WORLD....Airy fairy theorizing is one thing, but how about some concrete data in the great Social Security privatization debate. In particular, how has Social Security privatization fared in other countries that have tried it? After all, the United States isn't the first country to think about doing this. Let's take a peek.

First there's Chile. They implemented privatization a couple of decades ago, and originally the World Bank was enthusiastic. Today, though...not so much. Greg Anrig of the Century Foundation summarizes:

Investment accounts of retirees are much smaller than originally predicted — so low that 41 percent of those eligible to collect pensions continue to work.

The World Bank found that half of the pension contributions of the average Chilean worker who retired in 2000 went to management fees. The brokerage firm CB Capitales...found that the average worker would have done better simply by placing their pension fund contributions in a passbook savings account.

The transition costs of shifting to a privatized system in Chile averaged 6.1 percent of GDP in the 1980s, 4.8 percent in the 1990s, and are expected to average 4.3 percent from 1999 to 2037.

Bummer! Still, maybe that's just Chile. How about results from some nice, progressive, wealthy country instead? How about Sweden?

Sweden implemented a partial privatization back in 2001. Here's what the president of the Swedish Society of Actuaries reports:

General benefit levels have been significantly lowered, future benefits are impossible to forecast, and administrative costs have quadrupled — mostly because of the mutual fund part — to 2.0% of total benefits. (If real investment return is 3% per annum, the amount accumulated after 30 years of regular annual savings will be 22% lower if the cost factor is 2.0% instead of 0.5%.)

....Everyone in the new system is forced to speculate in mutual funds and results in the first years have been disastrous. From March 2000 until March 2003, the Swedish stock market declined by 68%. As of 31st January 2004, 84% of all accounts had lost money, despite the upturn in the market since March 2003.

Aren't you glad that President Bush wants to follow in the footsteps of glorious successes like these?

Posted on: December 10, 2004 08:41 PM | Link: More on Social Security |

December 08, 2004

Social Security is NOT BANKRUPT!

Here is some compelling evidence that the right wing doesn't want you to know: Grover Norquist and his ilk want to kill Social Securtiy because it is a fedral program that works - and they want to ruin it. The fact is that Social Security is in pretty good shape, and should be for a long time. Read the following and tell all your friends, and remember, they had everyone believing that invading Iraq was a good idea too. Well, it wasn't - and neither is "privatizing" Social Security. Here is Paul Krugman's take:

Inventing a Crisis By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: December 7, 2004

Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.

I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis.

There's nothing strange or mysterious about how Social Security works: it's just a government program supported by a dedicated tax on payroll earnings, just as highway maintenance is supported by a dedicated tax on gasoline.

Right now the revenues from the payroll tax exceed the amount paid out in benefits. This is deliberate, the result of a payroll tax increase - recommended by none other than Alan Greenspan - two decades ago. His justification at the time for raising a tax that falls mainly on lower- and middle-income families, even though Ronald Reagan had just cut the taxes that fall mainly on the very well-off, was that the extra revenue was needed to build up a trust fund. This could be drawn on to pay benefits once the baby boomers began to retire.

The grain of truth in claims of a Social Security crisis is that this tax increase wasn't quite big enough. Projections in a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (which are probably more realistic than the very cautious projections of the Social Security Administration) say that the trust fund will run out in 2052. The system won't become "bankrupt" at that point; even after the trust fund is gone, Social Security revenues will cover 81 percent of the promised benefits. Still, there is a long-run financing problem.

But it's a problem of modest size. The report finds that extending the life of the trust fund into the 22nd century, with no change in benefits, would require additional revenues equal to only 0.54 percent of G.D.P. That's less than 3 percent of federal spending - less than we're currently spending in Iraq. And it's only about one-quarter of the revenue lost each year because of President Bush's tax cuts - roughly equal to the fraction of those cuts that goes to people with incomes over $500,000 a year.

Given these numbers, it's not at all hard to come up with fiscal packages that would secure the retirement program, with no major changes, for generations to come.

It's true that the federal government as a whole faces a very large financial shortfall. That shortfall, however, has much more to do with tax cuts - cuts that Mr. Bush nonetheless insists on making permanent - than it does with Social Security.

But since the politics of privatization depend on convincing the public that there is a Social Security crisis, the privatizers have done their best to invent one.

My favorite example of their three-card-monte logic goes like this: first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government.

If the trust fund is meaningless, by the way, that Greenspan-sponsored tax increase in the 1980's was nothing but an exercise in class warfare: taxes on working-class Americans went up, taxes on the affluent went down, and the workers have nothing to show for their sacrifice.

But never mind: the same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own.

There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it. They aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success.

For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it.

And this from Kevin Drum:

SMOKE AND MIRRORS, PART 2....In my previous post I mentioned in passing that it's hard to come up with future projections in which (a) economic growth is bad enough that Social Security goes bust in 2042 but (b) economic growth is good enough that private accounts have investment returns of 7% annually — and thus are lucrative enough to save Social Security. This point is worth expanding on a bit.


Every year the Social Security trustees produce a 75-year financial estimate. To do this, they make estimates of population growth, life expectancy, economic performance, and so forth, and then add them all up into an overall estimate of long-term solvency. In fact, they make three estimates (see chart on right), and the one you hear about in the news is the middle one, or "intermediate projection." In that projection, Social Security starts running a deficit in 2042. The key assumptions in the intermediate projection from 2015 forward are the following:

Labor force growth: 0.2% per year.

Productivity growth: 1.6% per year.

Average hours worked: no change.

Which leads to the following overall estimate:

GDP growth: 1.8% per year.

This growth is lower than we're used to, but that's because GDP growth = population growth + productivity growth. Since population growth is slowing down, so will GDP growth.

Still, what if you assume that things will be a little more robust than this? If you project GDP growth of around 2.6% per year, you end up with Estimate I, and in that scenario Social Security never runs out of money. In fact, if you project GDP growth just a few tenths higher than 1.8%, Social Security stays solvent for the next century.

In other words, if GDP growth averages, say, 2.2% over the next 75 years, Social Security is in fine shape and we don't have to do anything. We only need to "fix" it with private accounts if GDP growth is less than that.

So here's the puzzler: for private accounts to be worthwhile, they need to have long-term annual returns of at least 5%, and 6-7% is the number most advocates use. But are there any plausible scenarios in which long-term real GDP growth is less than 2% but long-term real returns (capital gains plus dividends) on stock portfolios are well over 5%?

Update - there is even a whole book on this subject: Social Security: The Phony Crisis

Is it true that the Social Security system is in serious trouble and must be repaired? As baby boomers begin to retire, will they inevitably, by force of their sheer numbers, bankrupt the system? Is Social Security a big Ponzi scheme that will leave future generations with little to show for their lifetime of contributions? Is the only way to solve the Social Security crisis through radical changes like privatization or bolstering it with massive new taxes?

According to the authors of this important new study, the answer to these questions is a resounding no. In Social Security: The Phony Crisis, economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot argue that there is no economic, demographic, or actuarial basis for the widespread belief that the program needs to be fixed.

As the authors emphasize, there is virtually no disagreement about the facts of Social Security's finances, or even the projections for its future. Rather, the Social Security debate has been foundering on misconceptions, confusion, and lack of agreement on the meaning of crucial terms.

The authors also take on related issues: that privatization would help save Social Security, that America has a pressing need to increase its national savings, and that future generations will suffer from the costs--especially for health care--of supporting a growing elderly population.

As New York Times columnist Fred Brock recently wrote, "So-called reform of the Social Security system is looking more and more like a solution in search of a problem." In this accessible and insightful work, Baker and Weisbrot seek to cut through some of the myths and fallacies surrounding this crucial policy issue.

"The authors challenge basic assumptions with vigor and intelligence. . . . An absolutely relevant and important analysis, presented with force and clarity, that asks, basically, what kind of a nation we really are."--Kirkus Reviews

"[P]roponents-like George W. Bush-of Social Security privatization . . . typically ignore prospects for a stagnant or falling stock market. In Social Security: The Phony Crisis, [Baker and Weisbrot] show how a falling stock market could place pressure on both future Social Security payments and privatization schemes because earnings from the trust fund could actually fall."-Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books

Posted on: December 8, 2004 03:40 PM | Link: Social Security is NOT BANKRUPT! |

November 06, 2004

Bush is bulletproof

From The Hill http://www.hillnews.com/:

The last word on Bush’s bulge

Call off the conspiracy freaks. Now it can be told: That mysterious bulge on President Bush’s back during the first presidential debate was not an electronic device feeding him answers, but a strap holding his bulletproof vest in place.

Speculation about the bulge on the Internet only increased since Georges de Paris, the Washington tailor who makes Bush’s suits, told The Hill last month that it was nothing more than a pucker on the back of Bush’s coat caused when he crossed his arms.

But sources in the Secret Service told The Hill that Bush was wearing a bulletproof vest, as he does most of the time when appearing in public. The president’s handlers did not want to admit as much during the campaign, for fear of disclosing information related to his personal security while he was on the campaign trail.

The suspicion that Bush was, indeed, wearing something under his coat was given further credence by Dr. Robert M. Nelson, a senior research scientist for NASA and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis, who conducted tests while working at home on his own computers.

“I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate,” Nelson told Salon.com. “This is not about a bad suit. And there’s no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt.”

I have to say I was leaning this way all along. Even in his press conferences, talking with King Abdullah at the White House etc. he looks so stiff - so rigid. I think it illustrates how much stock he puts in the advice of his handlers, and how they have him scared shitless.

Posted on: November 6, 2004 11:47 AM | Link: Bush is bulletproof | Comments: (1)

November 05, 2004

Pet Peeves

Here is one of my major pet peeves in table from corrente. Do most American citizens realize that the richer blue states (NJ, NY, CA) federal tax revenues subsidize the poorer red states (WV, ND, AK)? Check out the chart on corrente and then consult an electoral map. This is one of the most fascinating of American phenomenas - that the blue states, who mostly voted for Kerry (and Gore and Clinton, etc.) end up sending a much larger percentage of their federal taxes to the red states who voted for Bush, etc. And yet the red states, who are allegedly voting on values and moral issues, are the states with higher percentages of divorces, unwed mothers, teen pregnancies, etc. The sheer myth of America, illustrated.

Posted on: November 5, 2004 09:40 PM | Link: Pet Peeves | Comments: (1)

November 04, 2004

How we (won) lost

Greg Palast explains:

An Election Spoiled Rotten

November 01, 2004

It's not even Election Day yet, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign is already down by almost a million votes. That's because, in important states like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, voter names have been systematically removed from the rolls and absentee ballots have been overlooked—overwhelmingly in minority areas, like Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where Hispanic voters have a 500 percent greater chance of their vote being "spoiled." Investigative journalist Greg Palast reports on the trashing of the election.

Greg Palast, contributing editor to Harper's magazine, investigated the manipulation of the vote for BBC Television's Newsnight. The documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes," based on his New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, has been released this month on DVD .

John Kerry is down by several thousand votes in New Mexico, though not one ballot has yet been counted. He's also losing big time in Colorado and Ohio; and he's way down in Florida, though the votes won't be totaled until Tuesday night.

Through a combination of sophisticated vote rustling—ethnic cleansing of voter rolls, absentee ballots gone AWOL, machines that "spoil" votes—John Kerry begins with a nationwide deficit that could easily exceed one million votes.

The Urge To Purge

Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson just weeks ago removed several thousand voters from the state's voter rolls. She tagged felons as barred from voting. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that, unlike like Florida and a handful of other Deep South states, Colorado does not bar ex-cons from voting. Only those actually serving their sentence lose their rights.

There's no known, verified case of a Colorado convict voting illegally from the big house. Because previous purges have wiped away the rights of innocents, federal law now bars purges within 90 days of a presidential election to allow a voter to challenge their loss of civil rights.

To exempt her action from the federal rule, Secretary Davidson declared an "emergency." However, the only "emergency" in Colorado seems to be President Bush's running dead, even with John Kerry in the polls.

Why the sudden urge to purge? Davidson's chief of voting law enforcement is Drew Durham, who previously worked for the attorney general of Texas. This is what the former spokesman for the Lone Star State's attorney general says of Mr. Durham: He is "unfit for public office... a man with a history of racism and ideological zealotry." Sounds just right for a purge that affects, in the majority, non-white voters.

From my own and government investigations of such purge lists, it is unlikely that this one contains many, if any, illegal voters.

But it does contain Democrats. The Dems may not like to shout about this, but studies indicate that 90-some percent of people who have served time for felonies will, after prison, vote Democratic. One suspects Colorado's Republican secretary of state knows that.

Ethnic Cleansing Of The Voter Rolls

We can't leave the topic of ethnically cleansing the voter rolls without a stop in Ohio, where a Republican secretary of state appears to be running to replace Katherine Harris.

In Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), some citizens have been caught Registering While Black. A statistical analysis of would-be voters in Southern states by the watchdog group Democracy South indicates that black voters are three times as likely as white voters to have their registration requests "returned" (i.e., subject to rejection).

And to give a boost to this whitening of the voter rolls, for the first time since the days of Jim Crow, the Republicans are planning mass challenges of voters on Election Day. The GOP's announced plan to block 35,000 voters in Ohio ran up against the wrath of federal judges; so, in Florida, what appear to be similar plans had been kept under wraps until the discovery of documents called "caging" lists. The voters on the “caging” lists, disclosed last week by BBC Television London, are, almost exclusively, residents of African-American neighborhoods.

Such racial profiling as part of a plan to block voters is, under the Voting Rights Act, illegal. Nevertheless, neither the Act nor federal judges have persuaded the party of Lincoln to join the Democratic Party in pledging not to distribute blacklists to block voters on Tuesday.

Absentee Ballots Go AWOL

It's 10pm: Do you know where your absentee ballot is? Voters wary about computer balloting are going postal: in some states, mail-in ballot requests are up 500 percent. The probability that all those votes—up to 15 million—will be counted is zip.

Those who mail in ballots are very trusting souls. Here's how your trust is used. In the August 31 primaries in Florida, Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore (a.k.a. Madame Butterfly Ballot) counted 37,839 absentee votes. But days before, her office told me only 29,000 ballots had been received. When this loaves-and-fishes miracle was disclosed, she was forced to recount, cutting the tally to 31,138.

Had she worked it the other way, disappearing a few thousand votes instead of adding additional ones, there would be almost no way to figure out the fix (or was it a mistake?). Mail-in voter registration forms are protected by federal law. Local government must acknowledge receiving your registration and must let you know if there's a problem (say, with signature or address) that invalidates your registration. But your mail-in vote is an unprotected crapshoot. How do you know if your ballot was received? Was it tossed behind a file cabinet—or tossed out because you did not include your middle initial? In many counties, you won't know.

And not every official is happy to have your vote. It is well-reported that Broward County, Fla., failed to send out nearly 60,000 absentee ballots. What has not been nationally reported is that Broward's elections supervisor is a Jeb Bush appointee who took the post only after the governor took the unprecedented step of removing the prior elected supervisor who happened be a Democrat.

A Million Votes In The Electoral Trash Can  

"If the vote is stolen here, it will be stolen in Rio Arriba County," a New Mexico politician told me. That's a reasoned surmise: in 2000, one in 10 votes simply weren't counted—chucked out, erased, discarded. In the voting biz, the technical term for these vanishing votes is "spoilage." Citizens cast ballots, but the machines don't notice. In one Rio Arriba precinct in the last go-'round, not one single vote was cast for president—or, at least, none showed up on the machines.

Not everyone's vote spoils equally. Rio Arriba is 73 percent Hispanic. I asked nationally recognized vote statistician Dr. Philip Klinkner of Hamilton College to run a "regression" analysis of the Hispanic ballot spoilage in the Enchanted State. He calculated that a brown voter is 500 percent more likely to have their vote spoiled than a white voter. And It's worse for Native Americans. Vote spoilage is epidemic near Indian reservations.

Votes don't spoil because they're left out of the fridge. It comes down to the machines. Just as poor people get the crap schools and crap hospitals, they get the crap voting machines.

It's bad for Hispanics; but for African Americans, it's a ballot-box holocaust. An embarrassing little fact of American democracy is that, typically, two million votes are spoiled in national elections, registering no vote or invalidated. Based on studies by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard Law School Civil Rights project, about 54 percent of those ballots are cast by African Americans. One million black votes vanished—phffft!

There's a lot of politicians in both parties that like it that way; suppression of the minority is the way they get elected. Whoever is to blame, on Tuesday, the Kerry-Edwards ticket will take the hit. In Rio Arriba, Democrats have an eight-to-one registration edge over Republicans. Among African American voters...well, you can do the arithmetic yourself.

The total number of votes siphoned out of America's voting booths is so large, you won't find the issue reported in our self-glorifying news media. The one million missing black, brown and red votes spoiled, plus the hundreds of thousands flushed from voter registries, is our nation's dark secret: an apartheid democracy in which wealthy white votes almost always count, but minorities are often purged or challenged or simply not recorded. In effect, Kerry is down by a million votes before one lever is pulled, card punched or touch-screen touched.

Posted on: November 4, 2004 10:22 PM | Link: How we (won) lost |

November 03, 2004

Moral Values

e110404.jpg

Posted on: November 3, 2004 05:24 PM | Link: Moral Values |

United States Of Canada

new_map.jpg

Posted on: November 3, 2004 04:24 PM | Link: United States Of Canada |

November 01, 2004

Hate doesn't exist in a vacuum

As we wind down to what many US citizens are calling the most important election of their lives, here is a quick thought: hate doesn't exist in a vacuum. I recently read a post on Wampum called "The Roots of Terror" by a retired naval officer (he ran it as a paid ad in a local newspaper). I urge you to read it. In a couple of paragraphs it sums up the history of modern terror - a history that I am confident George Bush is completely ignorant of. This sentence in particular sums up most of my feelings on the subject:

"Terrorism arises when people, rightly or wrongly, perceive that they are being treated unjustly and feel helpless to do anything about it."

The right wing of America would call me weak, and claim that I am blaming the victim (they did just that after 9/11 and continue to do it to anyone who tries to understand or comprehend 9/11 in any terms outside of the administrations newspeak). It just isn't true. Like it says above - "rightly or wrongly" - I am not going to absolve Osama Bin Laden (for some insight into his thinking see Juan Coles "Towers of Beirut") . What he orchestrated was wrong and horrific, there is no question about that. But to think in the simplistic terms of President Bush, that radical Muslim fundamentalists hate us because of our "freedom" borders on the insane. Bin Laden, although wrong, had his reasons. But instead of trying to understand that, of trying to put policies in place that could perhaps avoided future repeats of such acts, and of using every single resource we had to capture him and bring him to justice, we invaded Iraq. And how could invading another nation, one that for all intents and purposes had nothing to with Bin Laden or 9/11, do anything but to make more terrorists? This President seems to think that terrorists are a finite entity - that they can all be killed and then we will all be safe. These are the thoughts of a fool, of a child who has been indulged beyond comprehension.

Pretend for a moment you are an alien and have just landed on earth from outer space. You observe the war in Iraq and the events leading up to it. You learn that there are now estimates of 100,000 Iraqis killed in the past 18 months, most of them women and children. As a neutral observer from an alien land, wouldn't you come to the conclusion that George Bush should be facing impeachment and war crimes tribunals, and not be on the verge of another fours years as the world's most powerful man?

Postscript: My election prediction - Kerry 317 Bush 221

Posted on: November 1, 2004 08:03 PM | Link: Hate doesn't exist in a vacuum |

October 15, 2004

Kerry whiffs on a pitch down the middle

There was one exchange in the last debate where I thought Bush really gave Kerry a chance to slam him and he totally missed it. In the second debate Bush had said:

"When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you... I've got an obligation to make sure our government does everything we can to protect you. And what my worry is is that, you know, it looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world."

Yet when Schieffer asked, "We are talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but the flu season is suddenly upon us. Flu kills thousands of people every year. Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?" this was Bush's answer:
"We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season."

Aha! So - suddenly when our backs are against the wall for flu vaccine, medicine from Canada is safe! I wish Kerry would have been quick on his feet enough to point that out. It could have scored major points...

Posted on: October 15, 2004 01:58 AM | Link: Kerry whiffs on a pitch down the middle | Comments: (1)

October 04, 2004

What can you say...

This is really funny, but scary and creepy at the same time.

Posted on: October 4, 2004 08:00 PM | Link: What can you say... |

October 03, 2004

Scottie on fire!

Scott McClellan works for me - and for you. For all of us taxpayers and citizens. This is what he said Friday morning:

Q What is a global test? Do you know what that means?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think Senator Kerry was talking about how he would leave decisions like this to other countries.

Can he possibly believe that? I didn't hear Senator Kerry say anything near that during the debate - he specifically said the opposite actually. Scott McClellan, in his official capacity as Press Secretary to the President is supposed to be explaining to the press what the President is doing so the citizens of this country can be informed - not lying through his fucking teeth in the hope of getting his boss four more years of work. For a more eloquent and thorough discussion of what Senator Kerry actually said please see Professor Juan Cole's post on the matter.

Posted on: October 3, 2004 11:12 PM | Link: Scottie on fire! |

June 27, 2004

From Rolling Stone (of all places!)

Sentor Joe Biden: About six months ago, the president said to me, "Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead." I said, "Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one's following. Nobody."

Read the whole thing here

Posted on: June 27, 2004 11:29 PM | Link: From Rolling Stone (of all places!) |

From Juan Cole:

I think the right's crusade against cursing is idiotic - another way to gloss over the real America and the real people who live in it that curse all the time. Juan Cole has an excellent take on the VP's recent "Go fuck yourself" to Pat Leahy:

"Should Cheney be Fined $275,000?

Vice President Dick Cheney shouted "go fuck yourself!" at inoffensive Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, at a photo opportunity on the Senate floor earlier this week. On Friday he told Fox Cable News, "I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it."

Now, it seems to me that the Senate floor is public space, paid for by the public. And in this regard, there is no difference between it and the public airwaves, which the public also owns."

Click here to read the rest

Posted on: June 27, 2004 10:46 PM | Link: From Juan Cole: | Comments: (1)

January 13, 2004

Jack Straw

"But Britain went to war in Iraq, as a last resort, because Saddam Hussein was still defying the international community after 12 years of discussion and 17 UN resolutions."

Jack Straw said this yesterday, a line that no doubt originated on this side of the pond. How come these guys always pull out the UN quotes when they serve them? If defying UN resolutions is an international crime that can get your country invaded, then when do we attack Israel? Every time a politician says something like this any self respecting journalist should jump all over them for hypocrisy.

Posted on: January 13, 2004 08:35 AM | Link: Jack Straw |

January 11, 2004

Go find me a way to do this

Some comments on the new book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill and the news and reactions surrounding it.

Firstly, contrary to how most news reports are representing it, this is not "Paul O'Neill's book". It is a book by Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, about Paul O'Neill's experience in the Bush Administration. O'Neill cooperated of course (O'Neill gave Suskind 19,000 internal documents and took no money for his role in the book), was interviewed, and turned over thousands of notes and files, but from what I have been able to find out so far, he WAS NOT COMPENSATED. So this book is not a sell-out or cash-in, sorry to all the President's supporters who wish to paint it as so (although of course you could say a guy like O'Neill doesn't need the money, and he doesn't I'm sure).

O'Neill is doing interviews regarding the book, and has made some very damning comments so far, particularly this one from his 60 Minutes interview:

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,"

And this excerpt is from the book:

""It was all about finding a way to do it," and "That was the tone of it. The president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.' "

These comments refer to January 2001, eight months before 9/11. The White House is going to have a lot of defenders (Bill Kristol is one of the first), and the mud has started to fly O'Neill's way already, but you have to ask: who is lying here? Did the President not say those things? Would the former Secretary of The Treasury and head of one of the world's largest multinational companies come out in public and start making things up? Put words in the President's mouth? I don't think so. Scott McClelland's response:

"The fact of the matter is that the international community viewed Saddam Hussein as a threat before Sept. 11 and that threat became even more of a threat after Sept. 11," (editor's note - why?) and "It appears that the world according to Mr. O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinions than looking at the reality of the results we are achieving on behalf of the American people," (editor's note - when saying "results" he must be referring to the 150,000 1,000 jobs created in December)

An administration official's response (read Karl Rove):

"No one listened to his wacky ideas when he was in office. Why should we start now?" (editor's note - then why was he hand picked by old pal Dick Cheney for the job?)

Well you know why you should listen? Because a contingency plan for any one state is one thing, but a President looking for an excuse as a pretext to invade another sovereign nation is another. I have yet to find any quotes refuting that the President used this language (and I suspect my quest for them will be about as fruitful as a search for Iraqi WMD).

And then a year later there was this:

""Fuck Saddam. we're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room."

You don't believe that quote? Maybe written by some crazy blogger or left-wing conspiracy theorist? It is from Time Magazine (here is a blog with some more information on the President's colorful language, which is a whole separate topic).

So this is what we have to go on. A President hell-bent on getting rid of one very bad guy. A President who lied about his intentions, at the least a lie of omission, and a President that massaged intelligence (see this article THE STOVEPIPE) and used false pretexts to get what he wanted from Congress and the American people. Sadly none of this is news to some people, but it would probably be news to a large number of Americans - and maybe even dismissed as the rants of a left wing maniac by a few. Well, sorry, but these are just some simple facts about the current President of The United States. I wish he had said, "Go find me a way to do this" about improving eduaction or health care - but I can't find any quotes on that.

Posted on: January 11, 2004 11:49 PM | Link: Go find me a way to do this | Comments: (2)

April 20, 2003

Reality 101 Lesson #4'03

reality101.jpg

A. Leban is an artist,
professor, activist, and publisher who works for heightened consciousness and
social change.

Posted on: April 20, 2003 11:02 PM | Link: Reality 101 Lesson #4'03 |

March 28, 2003

An Open Letter To President Bush

Dear Mr. President,

Below is a copy of an email I sent on March 6 of this year. What has happened in the last week has shown that my plea was in vain (and the pleas of hundreds of millions of people around the world). You have made an awful mistake - a mistake I am afraid my children might still be paying for years from now. How does this end? Who is going to run Iraq? Who were you listening to? Sitting here in my home I honestly feel that I was better informed, from more angles, than you were - and you are "the most powerful man in the world". You were sold a bad bill of goods, by unelected officials, who had their minds set on a certain goal. I feel sorry for you.

"An Open Letter To President Bush" »

Posted on: March 28, 2003 09:22 AM | Link: An Open Letter To President Bush | Comments: (1)