Saturday, May 13, 2006

Character? What character?

Just cuz you are a character doesn't mean you have character.

Rove's Going Down?

Word has it they're fixing to frog-march Karl Rove:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.

An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come this week, sources close to the case said. However, the day and time is unknown. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the special prosecutor was unavailable for comment. In the past, Samborn said he could not comment on the case.
More here. The CIA are far from innocent victims, to be sure, as not only recent scandals but its own ugly history of subverting democracies and perfecting the technology of torture should make clear to all that the agency's hands are easily as bloody if not bloodier than those of their neocon rivals in the White House. That said, whenever one of these predators gets caught in a trap, it's a good thing.

Mickey Z sez:

“Terrorism raises military budgets, silences criticism, increases corporate welfare, breeds conformity, transcends international law, justifies atrocities, and provides the catch-all scapegoat. This is not ‘neo-conservative’ or Republican or Democrat. It crosses all party lines.”
Nerdified Link.

Just say "no" to Bu$hCo's punk ass crusade!

The blurb:
The hardworking hellraisers at the Ruckus Society are proud to unveil for you the world premier of a bombastic new Flash animation called "Punk Ass Crusade". It's packed with mind-bending images and an hot new song from The Coup.

It draws powerful connections between the Vietnam War and what's going on in Iraq NOW. An amazing new documentary called It draws powerful connections between the Vietnam War and what's going on in Iraq NOW. An amazing new documentary called "Sir! No Sir!" has finally unearthed the true story of the full scale GI mutiny against Uncle Sam's racist war in Vietnam. We made this flash to connect their struggle to the young people of today who are exposing the lies of military recruiters and refusing to kill or die for Bush's punk ass crusade.

This video is a cutting edge organizing tool for our Not Your Soldier program and is designed for the Text Message Generation so don't beat yourself up if it moves a little quicker than you do. But do us a favor and pass this message along to the young people in your life. It'll give you some street cred to trade on later, and they'll thank you for it!!
Nerdified Link. Check out the myspace site, Not Your Soldier. It's good to see a new generation taking up the counter-recruitment cause. Couldn't come at a more needed time. I've noted before that it's going to be up to the young people to prevent further militarization of the US, as they're the ones most directly affected by the potential of a reinstated draft (albeit the poverty draft that currently is in place makes the all-volunteer military seem far from voluntary), as well as further Crusades.

And yes, The Coup have a new cd out, Pick a Bigger Weapon. I've dug on their past work (Party Music was one of the great overlooked political rap albums of this decade), and I'm looking forward to getting a hold of the new cd.

Friday, May 12, 2006

3000th post open thread

My favorite plants are cacti. These are some cuttings that were finally ready to be planted.

On Opposite Day Junior Caligula Said:

domestic spying is not widespread. Given this regime's history of lying while trashing whatever might have been left of the Bill of Rights, while selling the US public a bill of goods, I wouldn't trust that bunch of jackals any further than I could spit against the wind (which out in the high plains is truly saying something).

Robert Parry sez: Big Brother is watching you.

Did Abu Gonzales lie about NSA spying? TPM Muckraker reports, you decide. No big surprise - after all the notion that an AG is supposed to uphold the Constitution is no doubt considered "quaint" in Bu$hCo's bizarro world.

Will this do-nothing Congress actually do something about the NSA spying scandal
? I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

A May Day Postscript

Some history of May Day as a worker's day of resistance, along with a call for solidaridad:

In 1880 the first labor union is created, it called it self the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions. Broad in character the federation sought to include all types of workers and trades. That is how construction workers, iron workers, miners, garment workers, railroad workers, etc, are able to develop a federation that unites workers at a national level. In 1884 the federation approves a historic resolution: “ to pressure the bosses by way of a general strike in order to bring the work day down from 14 hours to 8 hours.” Some say the anarchists (some still argue that it was the socialists) were not willing to take action, they argued that capitalism and the exploitation it generates was not going to stop by reducing the work day from 14 to 8 hours. They stated that capitalism will continue to promote exploitation. At the end the anarchists (or perhaps it was the socialists) are convinced that the workers demands are important, the most important demand being the reduction of the work day to 8 hours.

In 1885 the General Strike called for the following:

“A day of rebellion, not of rest!… A day in which with tremendous strength the unity of workers will be mobilized against those that dominate the destiny of the peoples of all nations. A day of protest against oppression and tyranny, against ignorance and war, a day in which we begin to enjoy eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of recreation…”

How similar are the conditions today from those times!

In the days prior to that first May Day, thousands upon thousands of posters are plastered in all the streets of Chicago inviting workers to strike. By April of 1886 and across various unions over 250,000 workers were mobilized around the 1865 resolution of workers federation. On May 1st the general strike begins and with it grows the state sponsored repression. By May 3, 1886 the police forces opens fire on a crowd of striking workers outside of McCormick Reaper Works, 4 workers were killed many more were injured. The next day the federation calls for an action to protest the acts of brutality. The rally is held at the Haymarket Square in Chicago.

When the rally was about to end on that rainy day, about 150 workers remained in the plaza and 180 police forcefully remove the remaining workers. Suddenly a bomb flew through the air, landing in the middle of where the police forces had concentrated, a policeman is killed and several others are injured. The police forces respond by opening fire, a worker is killed and several others are injured.

To this date it is not yet clear what occurred that day. Some newspapers of time state that a bomb made an arch above the place of where the workers were standing and it landed at the center of the police force, killing seven police officers. Other newspapers state that the bombing was in response to the provocations, shots and bombings that the police force had unleashed against striking workers, and that the explosive devise only slightly injured an officer. What we do know is that as a result of the actions that took place on Haymarket Square, the police forces led a repressive campaign against the worker movement, raiding homes, offices and work places, arresting hundreds of workers. Eight of the most active members of the federation are arrested and accused of conspiracy to murder. As a result of the trials against the workers, four of them are hanged on November 11, 1887: George Engel, August Spies, Adolf Fischer and Albert Parson. Another worker, Louis Lingg commits suicide inside his cell, declaring that the state does not have rights or power over him and therefore the state cannot murder him. These workers are now known as the Chicago Martyrs. The three remaining workers were pardoned by the state and freed in 1893.

Those of us that live under the rule of U.S. capitalism, Labor Day is recognized the first Monday September. Labor Day is celebrated and not Worker’s Day. This is the mechanism that is used by those in power, those that exploit us, who want us to forget the class character of capitalist society; of oppressor and oppressed. They want us to forget the struggles of those martyrs on that May Day in 1886. They want us to forget that real change in our working conditions only takes place with unity, with organization, with complete knowledge of our rights as working people. If we put these three principles in action, if we apply them in strikes, demonstration, unity meetings, forums, marches, etc…not only can we win better working conditions, but we begin also to strengthen our skills, so that one day our will to win will be as strong as iron.

That is what May Day is all about; to obtain an iron strong will that will free us from the capitalist ruling class who exploit our labor. We as working people can build a much more just world, a much more socialist world- where the wealth of the nation is shared equally among all its members without exception. The land belongs to those that work it. The factory belongs to those that work in it. The restaurants and hotels belong to those that make them function.

The means of production belong to those that make production possible. May Day historically has been a day in which we have to reflect on the contribution of workers in world production. When one defines an international worker it has to be stated the he and she are the ones that produce and reproduce real life. The “choice” to migrate has never been an option for workers, but an obligated way of life. It is a form of survival, a way to sustain the family and the community.

For this reason Unión del Barrio will continue to organize our community into action. We recognize this day as another day of struggle to build an Organized and Revolutionary working class consciousness that intends to change the course of history. Only an organized working class can alter the course charted by the racists ruling class and against the racist policies of repression that we have been unleashed against workers, specifically “undocumented” workers. We will continue to struggle against laws that criminalize the working class from realizing total and complete self-determination.

Let May Day, International Workers Day, Be A Day Of Unity, Organization And Struggle!

Nerdified Link.

Say hello to

Minuteklan News Watch.

We get mail

Something from a friend worth passing along:
As many of you may know, when the founding fathers originally crafted the US constitution and laid the cornerstones of American democracy, they—Ben Franklin especially—drew heavily on the democratic structures and principles developed by the people of the Six Nations, the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee.

Today in southern Ontario, members of the Six Nations are under siege as they seek to reclaim (by occupation) land stolen from them.

The “brief history” of the conflict, as per MSM

The occupation started in late February when a group of Six Nations activists moved onto the 40 hectares of land, claiming it was stolen from them.

The dispute escalated April 20, when provincial police raided the site and arrested 16 aboriginals. Police were pushed back later that same day and the protesters set up a blockade of the main road into Caledonia.

That has made access difficult for local residents, who are demanding the blockade come down.

And here, recent developments

But this weekend, protestors erected a new barricade on the north side of the Highway 6 bypass bridge over the Grand River. The group also spray-painted a sign in bold black letters on the north end of the bridge that reads, "Our native lands are not for sale."
[...]

Today, there is alarming news at the reclamation site, and the Six Nations people are putting out an S.o.S. to all of us:

This information, being circulated at present by way of “electronic moccasin telegraph” (i.e. email)

Tuesday onsite I'd heard information that motel rooms were impossible to book since the KKK had already pre-booked them all.

Ironically, here at work in Toronto Wednesday, one of my customers on the phone was a woman from Guelph whose husband is OPP and has been deployed to Caledonia--they also knew about the motels being booked up by KKK.

is cause for grave concern.

Nazis have been rallying at the site of the barricade since early May, flyers for these events read as follows:

Citizens of Caledonia - Meeting tonight - 7:00 Sharp! (no location, no date)

Agenda: Discussion of the "Indian Problem". "What is the final solution?"

Full dress meeting. Wear your sheets.

Special Speaker - all the way from Burning Cross Mississippi, Bobby Lee Raspmas, Veteran of the 50's, 60's, 70's.

Hear about the "Final Solution".

Three-fourths of the flyer has a picture of a KKK meeting with sheets on.

The Six Nations people are asking for support of any kind, specifically:

Take a stand against the KKK. Take a stand against police and military solutions to legal problems. Ask you Member of Parliament how it is that the KKK is able to import speakers to incite racist violence. This flyer was put out a week ago and nothing's been done since then. We still need people to stand with us. Any help is appreciated. Keep writing the
Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Queen and everybody in the world.

Tell them what's happening to us.

Nerdified Link. Check out the rest - replete with pix, links, suggestions for action.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

Chait Tuesday:
"...I have a low opinion of the witless, fourth-grade name-calling style that doesn't even bother to make arguments. "
Chait Sunday:
"...anti-Lieberman jihad..."
Chait Tuesday:
"...when you imply or state that everybody associated with those organizations has identical motivations, or that they harbor some hidden motive (corporate lackeys, right-wing paymasters, etc.) you've moved beyond dishonesty into paranoia."
Chait Sunday:
"It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. ... the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them."
I still find it amusing that this cat even considers DailyKos and Atrios to be "far left" - does he even bother to read their blogs? Markos is basically a recovering Republican, and Atrios seems well within the mainstream of acceptable Beltway thinking. The only thing that I suppose would make them "far left" would be their opposition to the Iraq war fiasco from day one. Though by that thinking, one would have to include Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan as "far left". Funny. We'll let Chait continue to think that there is a vast leftwing conspiracy that's out to get his heroes, and drive TNR subscriptions down further, and to commit the same sin that he preaches against - namely tarring everyone of his real or imagined opponents with the same brush, thus demonstrating his own fundamental dishonesty and paranoia. You better look out for the Blue Guerilla, eh?

Say hello to

Irish Voices (a blog posting commentary about Irish undocumented immigrants) and Elenamary - de aquí y de allá (an Irish Xicana blogger). Slainte y salud.

You want civility?

Fuggedaboutit, unless you make the first move:
Stop calling me a defeatist and terrorist sympathizer for not supporting the War in Iraq.

Stop calling me a traitor or a fanatic for thinking that the NSA should have to get a warrant from the FISA court before eavesdropping on my telephone and email communications.

Stop calling me a "faggot lover" or immoral merely because I believe that any two people who love one another should have the same rights as the rest of us to enter into a legally sanctioned marriage.

Stop calling me a baby killer because I support a woman's right to choose what she can do with her own body, even if I may disagree with her choices.

Stop suggesting that terrorists should be permitted to attack San Francisco because some of their citizens object to military recruiting at colleges and public high schools.

Stop calling me a whack job because I do not support President Bush or his policies.

Stop telling me it was inappropriate for Stephen Colbert to openly criticize the President and the White House Press Corps through the employment of a scathingly funny satirical comedy routine.

Stop booing anyone who has the guts to ask a legitimate question of President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld or any other administration official regarding the reasons why they chose to invade Iraq.

Stop kicking and roughing up protesters who appear at Republican functions like the woman who displayed an anti-Bush tee shirt at the Republican National Convention.

Stop claiming that Cindy Sheehan is exploiting her grief because she wants President Bush to answer one simple question: What noble cause did my son die for in Iraq?

Stop calling me a commie because, like millions of Americans, I believe universal health care is a right to which all people should have access.

Stop making "jokes" which call for poisoning sitting Supreme Court Justices, bombing the New York Times, issuing shooting licenses to hunt liberals or otherwise suggesting that the "elimination" of progressives is a good idea.

Stop smearing the reputation of any person who dares to speak out against the Bush administration's policies (eg., Joseph Wilson, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, the former Generals who have criticized Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA and other former intelligence professionals, etc.).

Stop calling or implying that prominent female Democratic politicians and officeholders are lesbians, dykes or "feminazis" merely because you don't like their politics.

Stop saying I don't support the troops because I want to bring them home from Iraq safe and sound sooner rather than later.

Stop suggesting that liberal and Democrats may or will form a "fifth column" to support terrorists.

Stop suggesting I'm a lunatic or part of a radical fringe group because I oppose the use of torture, the indefinite detention of prisoners without being charged with any crime and the willful violation of the rule of law by the Bush administration.

Stop claiming I'd like to see America destroyed by terrorists because I don't think it would be such a good idea to bomb Iran right now.

Stop calling me a terrorist because I believe in sensible handgun legislation.

Stop claiming I'm a godless secularist because I don't believe in the same God that you do.

Stop claiming I'm persecuting you and your religion merely because I don't think religion should be taught as science in the public school system.

Stop saying I'm a fool and a extremist because I believe President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be impeached for all the lies they have told and the illegal acts they have committed.

Stop calling me a dirty hippie because I attended a protest rally or march to exercise my 1st Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly.

Basically, STOP complaining about the incivility of the "Left" until you have done something to curb the far more extensive (and publicly prominent) incivility of the Right.

Nerdified Link.

Basically, I look at it as incumbent upon the perpetrators to clean up their act before criticizing those whom they try to victimize. Failure to do that will elicit no sympathy or empathy from me. Since I have no interest in being a victim or playing that role, I will fight back. One thing I love to do is to ask movement conservatives who whine about how "uncivil" we lefties are supposedly being is what they've done to curb the lack of civility on their side - what have they done publicly to criticize and prevent their own right-wing bretheren when they engage in such activities as advocating violence against protesters, or who think it would be cool for terrorists to destroy a whole city just because it consistently doesn't vote Republican, etc.? Typically, I get no response. These cats don't have a leg to stand on. Curb the bovine fecal matter spewed by Malkin, Coulter, O'Reilly, Savage, and their respective followers, and I might be willing to consider being nicer. Until then...be prepared to be offended.

More busting of nativist myths

This comes from someone who writes for a libertarian think tank:

Denying public services to people who pay their taxes is an affront to America's bedrock belief in fairness. But many "pull-up-the-drawbridge" politicians want to do just that when it comes to illegal immigrants.

The fact that illegal immigrants pay taxes at all will come as news to many Americans. A stunning two-thirds of illegal immigrants pay Medicare, Social Security and personal income taxes. Yet nativists like Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., have popularized the notion that illegal aliens are a colossal drain on the nation's hospitals, schools and welfare programs—consuming services that they don't pay for.

In reality, the 1996 welfare reform bill disqualified illegal immigrants from nearly all means-tested government programs including food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid and Medicare-funded hospitalization. The only services that illegals can still get are emergency medical care and K-12 education.

Nevertheless, Tancredo and his ilk pushed a bill through the House criminalizing all aid to illegal aliens—even private acts of charity by priests, nurses and social workers. Potentially, any soup kitchen that offers so much as a free lunch to an illegal could face up to five years in prison and seizure of assets.

[...]


But immigrants aren't flocking to the United States to mooch off the government. According to a study by the Urban Institute, the 1996 welfare reform effort dramatically reduced the use of welfare by undocumented immigrant households, exactly as intended. And another vital thing happened in 1996: the Internal Revenue Service began issuing identification numbers to enable illegal immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers to file taxes.

One might have imagined that those fearing deportation or confronting the prospect of paying for their safety net through their own meager wages would take a pass on the IRS' scheme. Not so. Close to 8 million of the 12 million or so illegal aliens in the country today file personal income taxes using these numbers, contributing billions to federal coffers. No doubt they hope that this will one day help them acquire legal status—a plaintive expression of their desire to play by the rules and come out of the shadows.

What's more, aliens who are not self-employed have Social Security and Medicare taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks. Since undocumented workers have only fake numbers, they'll never be able to collect the benefits these taxes are meant to pay for. Last year, the revenues from these fake numbers—that the Social Security administration stashes in the “earnings suspense file”—added up to 10 percent of the Social Security surplus. The file is growing, on average, by more than $50 billion a year.

Beyond federal taxes, all illegals automatically pay state sales taxes that contribute toward the upkeep of public facilities such as roads that they use, and property taxes through their rent that contribute toward the schooling of their children. The non-partisan National Research Council found that when the taxes paid by the children of low-skilled immigrant families—most of whom are illegal—are factored in, they contribute on average $80,000 more to federal coffers than they consume.

Nerdified Link.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

My, aren't we touchy...

Earlier this week, some cat named Jonathan Chait published a missive contending that, among other things, there is an "Anti-Lieberman jihad" comprised of some monolithic "left" which he finds utterly distasteful. His column occurred about the same time that Richard Cohen was whining about "da lynch mob" that's presumably out to get the moderate Democrats (apparently this "lynch mob" gave him a bit of a wedgie over his earlier missive about Colbert's recent press corps dinner performance). Apparently Chait (whom I now know works for TNR, which figures) was not amused by the reactions out in blogtopia to his own jihad comments - the damned rabble just don't seem to know their place.

{cue violin quartet playing some slow number in a minor key in order to induce sadness}

Feeling verklemt? Overwhelmed by guilt? We naughty "lynch mob jihadis" have sinned terribly it appears. What is that sin? Apparently that sin has something to do with refusing to be silenced by the self-appointed Beltway intelligentsia deciders, who are busy writing profound words and deciding things.

Okay.

Here's what this Chait cat seems to be missing: he writes a column in which he seems to argue that one must support Lieberman (and by extension, folks like H. Clinton and Biden) no matter how toxic he might be to the Democrat party in order to 1) spite some imaginary leftist jihad that has become too uppity, and has been crashing the party that was supposed to be reserved for those more "responsible" deciders and 2) because Lieberman would make an even bigger ass out of himself out of office than in office. Not terribly surprisingly, he gets called out for flawed reasoning dressed up as nuanced prose. Then he fusses, and continues to make himself out to be the elitist ass that he must be. Why else would one write such lines like:
The lefty blogosphere is simply unable to process the fact that TNR has published lots of extremely sharp attacks on Bush, and lots of genuinely liberal commentary, from the very beginning. That stuff is 80 percent of the political commentary we publish. They disagree with the other 20 percent, and they should. The problem is that they have no mental category for an institution that agrees with them 80 percent of the time.
Talk about your underestimation of your adversaries. I doubt it's occurred to him that the vast majority of this rather motley bunch of bloggers are quite capable of dealing with "institutions" be they parties, magazines, newspapers, or blogs that they don't always 100% agree with. Hell, I'd be shocked if I could actually name anyone (individual or institution) that I could agree with 80% of the time. Disagreement is part of being human - it's part of what separates us and other pack animals from hive animals. But I digress.

My guess is that the blogging phenomenon has a fair amount in common with the whole talk radio thing (as one of Chait's commenters notes, and which I alluded to earlier) of the early to mid-1990s. Think about the likely audience demographics of say Rush's show back in those days: mostly male gen-X-ers who possessed at least some college education (maybe a year or two at a juco, or maybe 4-year degree from state colleges, etc.) and who would probably identify themselves as middle-class and conservative. They also generally felt alienated by the status quo, and were pretty damned pissed off about it. Talk radio was a great forum to vent for this bunch, and I suspect was instrumental in getting some of these folks to get off their butts and attack the status quo head on (even if that only amounted to showing up to the polls for the first time).

Blogs fulfill that role today. Among the lefty side of blogtopia, we may have a good deal more demographic diversity among our ranks (recall that the Dittoheads of yore were also referred to as the "Angry White Males" for a reason), but we share something in common with that bunch - a sense of alienation and dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a desire to do something to attack that status quo head-on. The commentary may come across as excessively harsh to those who were raised in country clubs and finishing schools - and some bloggers are better than others at critically examining issues. But here's the rub: bloggers do a pretty damned good job at being critical thinkers, including (actually I'd dig on the more Chomskyan "especially") those of us who are simply working stiffs trying to make ends meet.

My blog has often featured or linked to authors and bloggers who come from old-school conservative and libertarian persuasions (e.g., Paul Craig Roberts, Justin Raimondo, Ron Paul), and from a fairly diverse bunch of "institutions" ranging from Antiwar.com and CounterPunch to Green and Socialist organizations, as well as more mainstream liberal folks like Moveon.org. I can guarantee y'all that I do not agree 100% with everything any of those folks say. I'm not even sure about an 80% agreement level. What I dig is reading folks who have something interesting to say, who are willing to speak truth to power, and who seem genuinely interested in sparking discussion and thinking outside the box - something that has fallen by the wayside in American discourse. To the TNR wonks, I guess that's a bit too threatening. I say too bad. I don't need some Beltway pundit to tell me how to think - I'll figure it out on my own, draw my own conclusions, and make some mistakes along the way. Truth is, that's all any of us can do.

Stupid op-ed of the day: Richard Cohen

This guy's latest missive can be summed up thusly: whine, whine, whine. Let's see, we've got one supposed "liberal" complaining about a so-called "leftist jihad" and now Cohen whining about a "lynch mob" all out to get those poor defenseless moderate Democrats. Harkening back to some imagined "dark era" in the 1970s which Cohen and Chait both do in their respective columns fails much as trying to tar this presumed "leftist enemy" with racist and violent imagery. Perhaps a more constructive approach would be to actually understand what drives the anger that frightens Cohen and others like him. In the process these cats might learn that a better analogy than the Vietnam era is that of 1994 - and I can guarantee you that the anger that was very present that year certainly didn't hurt the GOP. My guess is that for whatever reason Cohen will never get it, and, like Dem insiders were right after election day 1994, will be completely bewildered when the vote counting is done.

When interpreting survey data, know who's behind the survey

Take the Center for Imigration Studies, an organization that presumed to have measured a "backlash" in the wake of the May 1 rallies across the US. As Duke of Migra Matters tells us, these cats have a nice legit sounding name with a dark secret:
CIS describes itself as “independent” and “nonpartisan,” but its studies, reports, and media releases consistently support its restrictionist agenda and works closely on Capitol Hill with Republican Party immigration restrictionists. However, CIS has achieved credibility with the media and in think tank circles because of its lack of the kind of strident anti-immigrant rhetoric associated with many restrictionist groups, its willingness to invite pro-immigrant voices to its forums, and the scholarly format of its reports.

The Center for Immigration Studies was founded in 1985 as a spin-off of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Another FAIR spin-off is the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which functions as the litigation arm of FAIR, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (1)

Early funding for CIS was channeled through U.S. Inc, a nonprofit established and still directed by John Tanton, who was one of the cofounders of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Among the right-wing foundations that fund CIS are Sarah Scaife Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation, Jaqueline Hume Foundation, Carthage Foundation, and Scaife Family Foundation.

John Tanton is widely recognized as the leading figure in the anti-immigration and "official English" movements in the United States. Initially, Tanton's public policy advocacy work was driven by his commitment to zero population growth and environmental conservation. By the late 1970s, however, this concern about the environment and population growth evolved into a crusade against immigration flows into the United States, particularly from Latin American and Caribbean nations

Along with a few other FAIR board members, in the early 1980s Tanton founded a nationalist organization called WITAN-short for the Old English term "witenagemot," meaning "council of wise men." In 1986, Tanton signed a memo that went to WITAN members that highlighted the supremacist bent of Tanton and FAIR. The memo charged that Latin American immigrants brought a culture of political corruption with them to the United States and that they were unlikely to involve themselves in civil life. He raised the alarm that they could become the majority group in U.S. society. What's more, he asked: "Can homo contraceptivus compete with homo progenitiva?" Answering his own rhetorical question, Tanton wrote that "perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down!" According to Tanton, "In California 2030, the non-Hispanic Whites and Asians will own the property, have the good jobs and education, speak one language and be mostly Protestant and 'other.' The Blacks and Hispanics will have the poor jobs, will lack education, own little property, speak another language and will be mainly Catholic." Furthermore, Tanton raised concerns about the "educability" of Hispanics. (2)

(1) RightWeb profile of CIS

(2) RightWeb profile of John Tanton

[....]

John Tanton's Network

The organized anti-immigration "movement" is almost entirely the handiwork of one man, Michigan activist John H. Tanton.

Here is a list of 13 groups in the loose-knit Tanton network, followed by acronyms if the groups use them, founding dates, and Tanton's role in the groups.

Those organizations designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center are marked with an asterisk (*).

In this list, "founded" means a group was founded or co-founded by John Tanton. "Funded" means that U.S. Inc., the funding conduit created and still headed by Tanton, has made grants to the group.


*American Immigration Control Foundation
AICF, 1983, funded

*American Patrol/Voice of Citizens Together
1992, funded

California Coalition for Immigration Reform
CCIR, 1994, funded

Californians for Population Stabilization
1996, funded (founded separately in 1986)

Center for Immigration Studies
CIS, 1985, founded and funded

Federation for American Immigration Reform
FAIR, 1979, founded and funded

NumbersUSA
1996, founded and funded

Population-Environment Balance
1973, joined board in 1980

Pro English
1994, founded and funded

ProjectUSA
1999, funded

*The Social Contract Press
1990, founded and funded

U.S. English
1983, founded and funded

U.S. Inc.
1982, founded and funded

Southern Poverty Law Center
Duke also notes just how agenda-driven CIS is by examining how the "think-tank" words its survey questions. Let's just say that wording is very important when polling opinions, and this bunch are notorious for creating loaded questions designed to elicit their desired response. Media types who mistake their work as "scientific" need to be wary, as CIS is doing science fiction instead.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Stupidest Op-Ed of the day (or "Beware the Anti-Lieberman Jihad")

This takes the cake. I have no idea who Jonathan Chait is - I'm guessing he's what passes for a liberal columnist who draws a paycheck from the LA Times. Well, this Chait cat goes through a whole litany of reasons for why Lieberman is poison for the Democrat party. Those reasons, in part make up the reasons why Lieberman actually faces a legit challenger this primary electoral season, and why if he survives the primary he may well face his old opponent Lowell Weicker (running as an independent) in November.

But here's the kicker. This cat can see quite clearly enough that Lieberman is a genuine embarrassment to the Democrat party and has at least enough eyesight to somewhat recognize Lieberman as someone who's consistently on the wrong side of human rights concerns. And yet, he draws the following conclusion:
In the end, though, I can't quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What's holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman's sins. It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them.

If Lieberman loses, he'll play the same role as before, only this time with the power of martyrdom behind him: the virtuous anti-Democrat, too good and honest for his party. If you think Lieberman is sanctimonious now, wait until you see him in defeat.
Say what? What kind of shit are they smokin' in Los Angeles these days? Whatever it is, it's messing with this cat's brain. So what would I say to Chait? Something like this:

"Hey, Chait. Wazzup, baby? I hear you tearin' tha roof off the hizzouse at the Times an' all that shit. Right on, dawg. But man, what's up with dissin' Lieberman's opponents? You say you ain't runnin' with his posse, so why you actin like you are? That shit's messed up, dig? You're an important columnist, right? Yeah, trash-talk is cool playin one-on-one on the half-court, but if you're in the pros you've gotta have game. "

Something like that. We run with different crews, so that's not going to really go down. I guess my big critique is with substance. Chait fails to make an argument (or at least a reasonable argument)- he merely drops a few empty catch-phrases in order to create a strawman, the ever-present bogeyman called the "left wing fanatic" within the Democratic party. Apparently this bogeyman is so frightening in Chait's mind that no matter how bad Lieberman is (and Chait is quite willing to accept that he's bad), it would be poor manners to be seen with the rabble demanding his ouster. Hey, and why not play on the sort of racism and xenophobia common among the elites in the process (I would apparently be a jihadi in the bizarro world that Chait inhabits). Therefore, it's best to prop Lieberman up just to keep the rabble in their place. Once one domino fall, and all that, eh? The rabble get Lieberman's head, and then they might get this strange notion that they can shake up the party, and with things having gone so well for the Democrats this last decade and a half we sure wouldn't want to change course now.

As something of a sidebar, I have to wonder exactly what characterizes a "left wing" of the Democratic party. From what I've observed in day-to-day life and most recently via the miracle of partisan Democrat blogs of one sort or another, there isn't much among that crowd that would be called "left-wing." Most of these cats, including the ones who'd like to send Lieberman packing, share the same core beliefs about neo-liberal capitalism, American exceptionalism, etc. They differ only in its presentation. Think of an analogous situation - a professor tells a class that the range of scores on the last test were between 87 and 89 out of 100 possible points, and then goes on to characterize those who got an 89 as having done well whereas those who only scored an 87 did poorly. In other words, there just isn't a whole lot of difference. Today's Democrats would likely feel quite comfortable voting for Tories in England or Christian Democrats in Germany - it's a center-right party. Has been for as long as I've been alive.

Chait then tries to add the element of fear - that Lieberman could actually become even more sanctimonious than he already is. Whether or not that is even possible I won't venture to guess. My thinking is, so what? The only thing that would change if he were unceremoniously ejected from the Senate is that he might make a few more appearances on FauxNews - who knows, he might even get to be Bill O'Reilly's replacement. Hallelujah! Or perhaps he'd land some gig at a prestigious thinktank where he can author numerous position papers and books that will subsequently collect dust on a few library shelves. Maybe Lieberman would play up his "victim" status a bit more than he currently does, but he's thrived on that particular form of attention-getting for years. The bottom line is that he'd no longer be in a position to directly harm the lives of countless others. That in itself would be an admittedly very small step to creating a more humane U.S., and that if it sends a message to Ms. Clinton and Biden that they too could be next, all the better.

And word to Chait: the rabble are a lot smarter than he gives us credit for. We realize that there is probably some elegant nuance to what Chait is attempting to communicate, and undoubtedly believes like many of his elitist peers. We of the rabble see that nuance for what it is: sophistry. We even know how to look up words like "sophistry" in dictionaries, and we can smell the b.s. a mile away.

Hat tip to Catnip!

Sunday, May 7, 2006

What you need to know about OK GOP candidates

There are a number of them who are simply to the right of Attila the Hun. Here's something to chew on from Life and Deatherage:

Why, it just couldn't be that the Oklahoman would hide bad news about GOP candidates again, would it?

Maybe it would.

Chris Oliver, an Oklahoma City Republican, has announced he will run for the state House District 85 seat.

The seat is held by state Rep. Odilia Dank, R- Oklahoma City, who is leaving office this year because of legislative term limits.

Oliver, 42, has managed a small, family- owned business in northwest Oklahoma City for more than 20 years, he said.

So far, so good - until you realize that what the Oklahoman is not telling you is that Chris Oliver apparently is only a "Republican" because Oklahoma has no chapter of the America First Party. You remember those guys, right? They're the ones who left the Reform Party because the original members wouldn't let Pat Buchanan make it batshit crazy enough to suit them.

If you've never read the party platform, give it a whirl. They're classic 19th-century isolationists. No military bases outside the United States, a ten-year moratorium on legal immigration, no involvement with the global community, no UN funding. Plus all the domestic right-wing hits: forced Christianity in the schools (required prayer, required Ten Commandments, ability for parents to pull kids out of schools at taxpayer expense if anyone mentions that Teh Gay People exist, all the usual theocratic stuff), carving out special rights for heterosexual couples, eliminating about half the federal government, and so on. Only one amendment to the constitution has "special" status - the 2nd. Congress would have the power to reverse judicial rulings that "misinterpret" the law or the Constitution. You know the story - people who aren't them should be taxed to provide only those services that these guy want, and all law has to filter through their interpretation of the Bible.

Oliver, E.Z. Million, and David Wilkinson of Oklahoma were accepted as members of the America First Party National Committee three years ago, on May 20, 2003. Given that E.Z. Million is also running for office (lieutenant governor, for a single reason that now can't come to pass anyway), I think it's the same Oliver.

One of his efforts will be maintaining and improving the quality of the state's schools, Oliver said.

The key to improving education and academic achievements is better utilization of tax dollars, he said.

According to the America First Party, the "better utilization of tax dollars" is to have fewer of them and then not to spend them. The party, of which Oliver was a National Committee member, opposes federal funding of education. The Wikipedia article says they oppose state funding for education as well, but the platform just says that state groups should adopt their own education strategy. Since they have none for Oklahoma, perhaps they think schools are unnecessary.

They're on the record against vo-tech, school to work, sex education, "sensitivity workshops" (and by this, they mean them being told to be sensitive to others - they're all in favor of forcing you to be sensitive to their religious beliefs), "and a host of other programs that proliferate in our schools and seek to corrupt our children and undermine parental authority and traditional family values."

Being nice to other people "undermines parental authority" and "corrupts our children." Nice of them to make it that plain.

A more efficient state government would allow lower taxes and help Oklahoma compete with other states, Oliver said.

Oklahoma already has one of the lowest overall and corporate tax rates in the nation, and these charges of "inefficiency" always seem to come from the absolute nuttiest of the right-wing nutcases, the ones who explicitly want to drown government in the bathtub because somewhere, somehow, someone might be getting something that these people think he doesn't deserve.

It's the underlying movement behind all of financial social conservatism. Someone somewhere got welfare money she didn't deserve? Dismantle welfare! Someone stole food in New Orleans after the hurricane to survive? Leave them all to their fate! Some community somewhere got a museum or building that I'd never want to go in? Defund all community projects! If they can't have absolute control over it, they want it killed dead.

Jesus fed 5000 people from five loaves and two fishes. These guys want to build a fence around the food and dispatch 10,000 marshals to escort the 5000 back to their homes and make sure they don't get any food they didn't bring or buy.

Fortunately, the voters of House District 85 will have a genuinely good person on their ballot to vote for this November. But isn't it just amazing how the Oklahoman keeps leaving out these embarrassing details about GOP candidates? Like how they'd rather be America-Firsters but can't get that party on the ballot in Oklahoma?

Such coincidences.

As one might glean from Matt's writing, the editorial board of the Oklahoman, which is the state's "paper of record" is pretty damned extremist to begin with and definitely wears its pro-GOP partisan bias on its sleeve. So, I'm not terribly surprised (nor is Matt) that the paper would leave out details about its favored party's candidates that are, shall we say, unsavory.

South Dakota's "Rapists' Bill of Rights" Law Appears to Have Been a Wake-up Call

Here's some news of what's going on in that state:

South Dakota touched off a national tempest with its strict new abortion ban, but the law also fomented a local grassroots movement and opened a schism in the state’s dominant Republican Party.

In a state with only one abortion clinic staffed by a doctor who visits from Minnesota, the issue now is poised to dominate this year’s state elections, in which the governor’s office and all 35 state Senate seats and 70 House seats are on the ballot.

The new law—intended to set up a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling legalizing abortion—makes it a felony for anyone to help a woman end her pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest or when the woman’s physical or mental health is at risk. The law only permits abortion when it is necessary to save a woman’s life.

Opponents are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to overturn the law. Republican legislators who voted for South Dakota’s ban are attracting both Democratic and Republican campaign challengers. And Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who signed the bill on March 6, has seen his support drop 20 percent, according to state polls.

If the ballot initiative fails and the law takes effect, the tribal president of the Oglala Sioux Indian Nation in South Dakota—territory that would be immune to the state law—already has vowed to build an abortion clinic on the reservation for all women in the state.

Planned Parenthood is poised to file suit in federal district court if the law is not overturned.

"An overwhelming majority of South Dakotans believe that the governor and the Legislature went too far. This legislation is extreme and does not reflect the values of South Dakotans who want families to be able to make personal decisions about health care without government interference,” said Jan Nicolay, former Republican lawmaker and spokesperson for South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families.

Nicolay’s group, formed immediately after the law’s passage by citizens, doctors, clergy and Republican politicians, launched a campaign to overturn the law with a ballot initiative. If the necessary signatures are collected by June 19, the law will be suspended pending the outcome of the November election.

Meanwhile, in Statehouse primaries, Republican lawmakers who voted for the abortion ban are being challenged by more moderate Republicans who opposed the ban because they considered it too restrictive and an intrusion into people’s private lives.

As Republicans feud, Democrats are filing for legislative seats in record numbers, “their strongest showing in 10 years,” according to Robert Burns, political scientist with South Dakota State University in Brookings.

“If it turns out to be a Democratic year nationwide, the governor’s race could be closer than was anticipated prior to signing the abortion law,” Burns said. Two Democrats, former state Rep. Jack Billion and former South Dakota Farmers Union president Dennis Wiese, are campaigning against the one-term Republican incumbent.

[...]

The Republican-dominated Legislature approved the same abortion ban two years ago, but Rounds vetoed it because of concerns that the measure would nullify the state’s other anti-abortion laws while the courts considered the case.

Following Rounds’ veto, a legislative task force of hard-line and moderate Republicans and a few Democrats attempted to hammer out a new state abortion policy everyone could agree on. But according to newspaper editorials and other published accounts, strict anti-abortionists dominated the often combative group, and their “absolutist” view prevailed, Burns said.

The result was the same law the governor vetoed two years ago, but with legal language that insulates the state’s numerous other abortion restrictions.

Although a majority of South Dakota lawmakers are opposed to abortion, many say a total ban is too restrictive.Citizens are especially concerned about the potential effect on children who become pregnant and on victims of rape and incest, Nicolay said.
Campaign for Healthy Families, although hastily organized, is expected to gather the 16,728 signatures required to put the issue on the ballot. With nearly 700 volunteers canvassing more than 100 communities and 40 percent of the signatures in hand, “there’s no doubt we’ll get the signatures,” Nicolay said. “The next step is educating everyone. We know we have a big job ahead of us,” she said.

The state has established a legal defense fund for donations to help defend the law in court. So far, the fund has received approximately $11,000, primarily from out-of-state donors. If the issue makes it to the ballot, money from national pro- and anti-abortion groups is expected to pour into the state.

Backers of the law say the time is right to ask the high court to return the abortion issue to the states. With a more conservative line-up since the Bush administration’s appointments of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, abortion ban proponents wager they have a shot at getting Roe v. Wade overturned.

But other South Dakota abortion foes argue there still are not enough anti-abortion votes on the court and worry that the strategy could backfire, hindering future state efforts to limit or outlaw abortion.

[...]

In South Dakota, a January 2006 state poll by Survey USA showed a nearly even split between the number of people who oppose abortion (48 percent) and those who believe in a woman’s right to an abortion (47 percent). After the law was signed, a survey by state polling firm Robinson & Muenster reported 57 percent were opposed to the law, 35 percent supported it and 8 percent were undecided.
Perhaps some good news for anotherwise dark period. Not only has the sheer extremism of the S.D. Taliban been made clear as day - you have to be pretty extremist after all to enact legislation that would allow rapists and molestors to impregnate women and girls with relative impunity, as they will have nothing else succeeded in forcing these victims to give birth thus adding insult to injury - but has mobilized some serious opposition. I would caution S.D. voters, of course, to do their homework on the Democrats who are signing up to be challengers to incumbent GOP legislators as the law in question had as its primary sponsor a Democrat. I would also hope that those Dem incumbents who went along with this draconian legislation themselves are facing primary challenges. If not, I'd ask what's the hold-up.

Patriot Daily on Goss' Dismissal: It's All About Saving Bu$hCo's Behind

Certainly food for thought:

Bush fired Goss as a quick fix to stop a spring storm of CIA leaks about Bush's cherry-picking campaign of prewar intelligence that for the first time directly links Bush to the cherry picking. A review of news stories published in April and May shows that the detailed nature of CIA information publicly disclosed actually also provides a de facto public hearing of the cherry-picking probe that the GOP is refusing to provide before the midterm elections. This is the same information that Rove concluded could have prevented Bush's victory in the 2004 election. And, the intensity of this spring storm occurred during the same time period attributed as crucial in the decision to fire Goss.

It is now reported that Goss was fired (or "forced to step down") due to his incompetence in managing the CIA during a time of war, and that a likely replacement is General Hayden. This may well be true. However, the "war" that Goss failed to manage was not Iraq, Afghanistan or the "war on terror," but Bush's war with the CIA. Bush appointed Goss precisely to arrange for a loyalist placement in the CIA who would follow White House directives during the last major confrontation between the CIA and Bush prior to the 2004 presidential election. Goss dutifully conducted the recent witch hunt by polygraph to track and fire CIA officials not loyal to Bush, essentially using political affiliation as a guidepost. But, the witch hunt backfired as evidenced by key CIA officials leaving the agency and this spring storm of leaks. Should Hayden be selected, who better to manage Bush's war then a military general?

Since before the Iraq war, there has been a war between Bush and the CIA that focused on Bush's lying to the American people about the grounds for war, which he blamed on poor intelligence by the CIA, and the CIA claiming that the White House manipulated intelligence, generally not provided by the vetted CIA process, but through unofficial channels established by Rumsfeld and Cheney. A review of media stories dating back to 2004 shows that this war has endured various "battles" when a slew of CIA leaks would hit the MSM. But, this spring storm of CIA leaks is different in nature and intensity than other scrimmages between Bush and the CIA: Named, high-ranking CIA officials who were in the loop at the time of cherry-picking issued public statements rather than anonymous leaks; detailed information was provided that for the first time directly linked Bush to the cherry-picking campaign, and specifics were provided on facets of the intricate planning and underhanded methods used to trick the public.

(1) A spring storm occurred during April and May of CIA leaks of Bush's cherry picking campaign - leaks that increased in frequency and specificity and were well-publicized by both TV and MSM. Prior to this spring storm, this issue had taken a respite since late 2005. The day before Goss was fired, 3 CIA officials stepped forward. Paul Pillar, a former CIA analyst expert in Middle East and Asian counter terrorism, stated that Bush had an "organized campaign" to manipulate intelligence to justify war based on links between Iraq and al qaeda. The devious nature of
Bush's campaign was also revealed: The Bush team chose the myth of an al-qaeda link because "it was this that most strongly affected public opinion in the United States, and which would keep alive the images of September 11, 2001." Former 27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern also spoke out the same day as Pillar when he publicly challenged Rumsfeld's lies and stated that the CIA intelligence was correct, but the administration simply lied about their "bullet proof"' evidence. Equally significant was that McGovern had the audacity (in Bush's eyes) to confront Rumsfeld at a public event and McGovern refused to blink. On the same day, it was also revealed that a former CIA agent had filed a lawsuit against the CIA, claiming he was fired for refusing to falsify information in accordance with the party line on Iraq and 2 other countries. He also alleged that the CIA tried to stop pursuit of intelligence and bury actionable intelligence.

April was also a very active month. Retired CIA official Drumheller, the former highest-ranking CIA officer in Europe, appeared on "60 Minutes" to disclose that Bush ignored CIA intelligence that Iraq did not have WMDs or an active nuclear program. In fact, Drumheller stated that Bush "disregarded the expertise of the intelligence community, politicized the intelligence process and used unrepresentative data in making the case for war." In addition, Bush received at least 3 warnings by the UN and US State Department before his State of Union address that his claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa was false. Bush
also tried to provide the lame defense that he did not mislead the public, but had relied upon an erroneous CIA report, when he claimed that the Iraqi trailers constituted WMDs. In fact, April revealed many stories with details that Bush had to have known that this trailer story was false before he made the claim to the American people. In addition, it was reported in April that Bush team had leaked an internal Pentagon top-secret document based upon classified intelligence that "evidenced" the relationship between Hussein and bin Laden to a conservative publication months after the war started but public support was draining. Then Cheney cited this conservative publication as evidence to support his claim of such a relationship as grounds for war. However, "even at the time, most members of the intelligence community believed the relationship between Hussein and Bin Laden was relatively unimportant and considered the leaked memo a distortion of evidence."

April and May news reports also linked the Plame probe to Bush's cherry-picking campaign for both Iraq and Iran. The MSM reported that when Plame was outed by White House officials she had been tracking Iran's distribution and acquisition of WMDs and necessary technology. The MSM also reported that the legal documents filed in the Plame prosecution of Libby provided additional evidence that Bush and Cheney were directly involved in the cherry-picking campaign. It was reported that Bush authorized Libby to leak selected portions of the classified NIE to reporters. Two significant facts were revealed. First, the evidence that Cheney directed Libby to leak to reporters "had been disproved months before," which is one component of manipulating the public by false information. Second, one component of the cherry-picking campaign was to have White House aides simultaneously suggest that "any exaggerations" about Iraq's WMDs was the "fault of the CIA, not the White House."

(2) During the latter time frame of this spring storm, the White House decided it was necessary for Bush's flunky Sen. Roberts to delay the Congressional cherry-picking probe until after the midterm elections.

This storm of CIA leaks may be the reason that GOP Sen. Roberts decided in late April 2006 to take further action to prevent the Senate from conducting a probe of Bush's prewar intelligence cherry picking, or at least delay this probe until after the midterm elections. This is a repeat of the same delay strategy used by the White House prior to the 2004 presidential election. In 2004, Roberts needed a carrot to perform his duty to investigate Bush's cherry picking. Roberts agreed to investigate cherry picking but only if the probe about Bush manipulating intelligence was conducted after the 2004 presidential election. On April 25, 2006, reprising the same GOP delay tactic used prior to the 2004 elections, Sen. Roberts announced his plan to once again divide his panel's inquiry into Bush's cherry-picking of Iraq intelligence prior to war to delay the "most politically controversial elements to a later time" or after the midterm elections. Two days later, the GOP stated that the cherry-picking probe would be further restricted to exclude interviews of administration officials who publicly made the case for war because GOP members of the probe panel already concluded that their statements were substantiated by intelligence, which is one purpose of the probe.

Firing Goss and delaying the cherry-picking probe until after the midterm election may have been deemed necessary to try to stop the unrest at the CIA . The CIA unrest and low morale caused by the witch hunts may have been viewed as reasons for the increasing number of leaks and the fact that high-ranking, named CIA officials who had top level positions during the prewar period were publicly disclosing specific information on the record.

(3) Bush and Rove changed their job descriptions so that both could focus on the midterm elections, which both the White House and the GOP have stated are crucial to prevent Democrats from obtaining control of Congress, fearing probes and potential impeachment. Bush's biggest fear right now is the impeachment hearings that may commence should the GOP lose control of Congress. That is why Bush decided to focus on only 2 issues - Iraq and midterm elections - and delegated the remaining issues of his policies to be decided by Cabinet members. Rove was also reassigned to focus solely on the elections.

The White House now faces circumstances similar to events that occurred prior to the 2004 election: CIA leaks about cherry-picking and public pressure for conducting the probe. The connection between the leaks and its impact on how the public votes in an upcoming election was noted by Rove. Rove warned White House aides in 2003 that Bush's 2004 election prospects would be bad if it were publicly disclosed that Bush was "personally warned" repeatedly that a key ground for war, Iraq buying aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons, was not true.

This spring storm of leaks discounted the primary grounds for war as false, information which many knew before. But, more details were provided by named high-ranking CIA officials, some who were in the loop at the time the cherry picking occurred. Details that included linking Bush and Cheney directly to the cherry-picking by revealing for the first time that they knew the statements were false before either authorizing leaks or personally presenting false statements to the public. The leaks also revealed how the manipulated intelligence, specifically the myth of al-Qaeda links, was selected by first determining what was likely to trigger fear and thus consent by the public for the Iraq war. Finally, the leaks revealed how the White House campaigned to blame the intelligence failure on the CIA in hopes of avoiding a cherry-picking probe. The whole chain of events ties together the cherry-picking, the Plame leak and efforts to conceal it from the public by preventing the cherry-picking probe. In short, the Bush team spent more time, energy, and research on this cherry-picking campaign than on preparing a strategy for our troops in Iraq.

Bottom line: this bunch believe that it can get away with manipulating the electorate once again, even as the landscape is changing around them. Mark my words: this bunch of elitists is convinced that the American public is stupid. They may be right when it comes to the most rabid contingent of True Believers. Hopefully the rest of us have the good sense to smell a rat.

Say hello to

Green Is the New Red:
Corporations and lawmakers are using the "War on Terrorism" to target political activists, labeling them domestic terrorists and "eco-terrorists." Think red-baiting, with a green twist. Here you'll find original reporting and analysis of history repeating itself.
Hat tip to Tim of Democratic Left Infoasis.

If the wheels fall off and no one notices (or cares),

does the bus continue to move? This is hardly a rhetorical question. The wheels have been falling off the GOP machine about as often as Bu$hCo's Children's Crusade has turned the proverbial corner in Iraq. So what's different about now? Steve certainly has some thoughts:
Think about this for a minute.

The vice president's aide is on trial for lying about leaking the name of a CIA agent.

The president's aide may well face the same charges.

The director of the CIA may have been screwing hookers of an indeterminate sex.

Does the GOP really think gay marriage is an issue now?

This is fast spinning out of control, bad shit is coming from every direction and the GOP has no clue as to what to do. Mehlman is talking about a Dem Congress impeaching Bush, when they really should ship his ass to the Hague for war crimes trials. But even conservatives are getting sick of Bush and his free spending, no immigrant stopping ways.

How much worse can it get for Bush? At what point does the GOP think of tossing him and Cheney over the side, 29 points, 25? When does Bush become a liability.

Because these are body blows, CIA boss with hookers, maybe male hookers? Can you say blackmail? Can you say massive scandal.

Something has to change the subject. I think it's clear there are few distractions left, and Rummy is the easiest one to take everyone's minds off the subject.
One could certainly make the case that the wheels have fallen off, or are flying off their axles as we speak, or are at least awfully damned loose. Bu$hCo's one saving grace is that his administration isn't up for reelection. But what is a saving grace (albeit potentially temporary) for this regime is not necessarily so for the GOP to the extent that Bu$hCo's gang of thieves and idiots hang around each GOP rep or senator like an albatross. The proposed $100 gas relief check idea bounced badly. Aside from passing legislation aimed at further destroying what remains of the Constitution, the GOP-led congress has practically nothing of substance to show for this year. The hardliners are not amused with any push by Bu$hCo to offer so much as a token olive branch to Mexican and Central American immigrants - hence congressional Republicans are in danger of losing portions of the cracker vote (and although a portion of that particular demographic remains rabidly devoted to dear leader, they just ain't foamin' at the mouth the way they used to).

The poll numbers look grim. There's the distinct possibility that a larger proportion of the GOP faithful than expected will sit this year's midterms out, and wait til 2008.

So if you're an otherwise petty tyrant who just happens to occupy the most powerful nation on the face of the earth (for the time being), what do you do? I suppose there's always the option of starting yet another war, this time going nookyooler on Iran, and hope that the electorate rallies around Dear Leader and his party. Hell, the run-up to Iraq was such a smashing success in that regard, even if the aftermath has been abysmal from just about any angle one would examine (including the moral angle, which is of relevance to me).

Or, if these folks want to take a page from old Uncle Adolf's Reichstag fire spectacle, there's always the option of staging another terrorist attack in the hopes that again the electorate will rally around the GOP and Dear Leader and scapegoat Ay-rabs or Mexicans or whatever other brown-skinned ethnic group provides a convenient target. Whether or not the 9-11 bombings were staged by Bu$hCo's regime or the Bu$hCo regime merely was successful on capitalizing on the tragedy by sheer dumb luck I'll leave to others to debate.

The problem with these first two options is that they are very risky. Just from a public opinion angle, sequels tend to fare poorly relative to the original. One risk is simply that the public will perceive (correctly) that they are being manipulated, and folks who've been manipulated can be expected to act opposite of what the manipulators hope for (also called "reactance", but one need not be a social psychologist to have observed this phenomenon in everyday life).

Another approach: rig the elections. That's certainly more doable with today's electronic voting machines, although again there is a catch. Rigging an election will only work with minimal public protest in tightly contested races. If it looks too obvious to too many people that something was fishy, folks won't take too kindly to it. Whether or not Americans are at this point too fat and complacent to take to the streets in such an eventuality is one of the great unknowns.

Finally, there's always the potential for declaring martial law and suspending the 2006 elections - "temporarily" of course. A simple ruse such as a potential terrorist attack can be used for such purposes, and we've certainly seen that the current gang of thugs has absolutely no qualms about breaking laws left and right to hold onto that all-coveted power. The great unknown here of course is whether or not the various corporate elites would consider such an action bad for business. There's also the unknown of the extent to which the military elites would support such a maneuver.

If the wheels have fallen off, we can expect that there are a bunch of Republicans and their enablers who are going to be pretty damned nervous and more than a little paranoid about their prospects once out of power. Impeachment and some prison time for a few fall guys become real possibilities. Being shipped off to international tribunals to face up to various crimes against humanity is a whole other matter - as much as I'd love to see it, I have sufficient confidence that most of the Dems in leadership positions would never let that happen (besides the fact that it would open the door for too many of their own to be treated likewise). That will have to wait until US hegemony has sufficiently collapsed.

In the meantime, just remember that ancient Chinese curse about living in interesting times.