February 1, 2008Mukasey Emerges From Under the Rock -- The Senate questioned the new Gonzales, that is Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, whom some of them recently opened the door for when they approved him in spite of his unsatisfactory answers to questions on torture and other things in this nomination hearings. Little wonder that he's at least as unsatisfactory now, but people like N.Y. Senator Chuck Schumer, who was Mukasey's champion, now affect shock at his pathetic answers. Mukasey answered like any good Nazi executioner, shrugging off personal responsibility, calling waterboarding "repugnant" but doing no more to counteract its use though he is the top law enforcement officer in the U.S. and has nothing to fear for standing by principle except getting fired by Bush. Not a big price for one's personal integrity. Schumer said, "I find it hard to understand how you personally, when asked for advice, would not be able to say that something that’s repugnant should be outlawed. You said it’s repugnant. I don’t understand how you can now say, Well, I have to ask a whole lot of other people." (NY Times) The Times called it "A Disappointing Debut" and said, "About the best we can say about Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s testimony Wednesday in the Senate is that he was no Alberto Gonzales, with the frequent memory lapses and possibly intentional misstatements. But that is a very low bar. On torture, domestic spying and other important matters, Mr. Mukasey parroted the Bush administration’s deplorable line." Where was Schumer's outrage when it counted? As the Times editorial board pointed out, "Mr. Mukasey also pushed Congress to give immunity to telecommunications companies for any illegal acts they committed while helping the administration carry out its outlaw domestic spying program. Mr. Mukasey is responsible for enforcing the law. Pushing Congress to immunize lawbreakers, especially before it learns what laws were broken, is inconsistent with this duty." Senator Ted Kennedy said Mukasey is like someone who is “opposed to stealing but not quite sure that bank robbery would qualify." (New York Times) C-Span showed the hearings and it was bizarre watching Mukasey visibly squirming as if he wished he could climb out of the collar of his shirt. He twitched and grimaced, looked at his manicure. It was very strange seeing a man on the spot who has sold his integrity completely. Senator Joe Biden discussed waterboarding with Mukasey in reference to the language in the Detainee Treatment Act about activities that "shock the conscience" and Mukasey said one had to balance the fact that it shocks the conscience against "its benefits". Biden was visibly taken back and said, "What benefits?" Mukasey said the benefits of the information that was received. Biden said he had never heard anyone talking about acts that shock the conscience in terms of their "benefits". I tiny piece of that dialogue was transcribed by New Republic reporter Josh Patashnik.
Rove and the 9/11 Commission -- Here's an interesting story. Because anything that suggests any thing but perfectly sterling behavior on the part of public officials with regard to 9/11 is immediately dismissed as conspiracy theory, it may not go far. But it is based on the word of a reporter of the New York Times, a fairly stolid establishment voice and one that in fact still holds tightly to the theory that lone gunman Lee Oswald acted alone out of some inexplicable seizure of madness. According to washingtondecoded.com, reporter Philip Shenon, who covered the hearings for the Times, will report in a forthcoming book that the panel’s executive director, Philip Zelikow, engaged in “surreptitious” communications with presidential adviser Karl Rove and other Bush administration officials during the commission’s 20-month investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Of course Zelikow is a close associate of Condoleezza Rice, one of her "closest advisors" according to the Washington Post, even co-author of a book with her. He had veto power over anything that might have appeared in its final report, so it's not surprising that many questions were left agape, such as where the money came from to conduct the operation. The Commission report concluded that it didn't matter. Check out the washingtondecoded.com article. It's juicy. Video Night in Bizarroland -- Check out Hacking Democracy: The Outrageous Scandal of America's Voting Machines
February 2, 2008Obama Been Liberal -- Barack Obama was the most liberal senator in 2007, according to National Journal's 27th annual vote ratings. But what are these ratings based on? Who the hell knows? The discussions about it just start from the conclusion and start speculating about it, but don't examine the system by which these ratings were created. It would seem that that would be the essential starting point, but not in a culture such as ours in which critical thinking, thinking at all is discouraged. How do they come to these determinations? Presumably they cut every issue into two pieces, a liberal side and a conservative side, and place every position in one category or the other. Since legislation is a mishmosh of junk piled upon junk, the idea of classifying it so simply seems ridiculous. Even the simple idea of dividing every issue into its conservative and liberal dimensions is absurd. We don't even start with a definition of what liberal and conservative mean. What do they mean? Nothing based on logic, that seems clear enough. It's just name calling, labeling, demagoguery, hysteria, mass hypnosis.
Edwards' Legacy -- Paul Krugman writes on The Edwards Effect, saying, "Mr. Edwards, far more than is usual in modern politics, ran a campaign based on ideas. And even as his personal quest for the White House faltered, his ideas triumphed: both candidates left standing are, to a large extent, running on the platform Mr. Edwards built. At the beginning of 2007, it seemed likely that the Democratic nominee would run a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas. That, after all, is what John Kerry did in 2004. If 2008 is different, it will be largely thanks to Mr. Edwards. He made a habit of introducing bold policy proposals — and they were met with such enthusiasm among Democrats that his rivals were more or less forced to follow suit." Troubled Horizon for Fox News -- Fox may be in for a tough year, according to mediamatters.org Times Down -- According to the Associated Press at Yahoo Finance, "New York Times Co. said Thursday that revenue from continuing operations slid 22.4 percent in December, hurt primarily by one less week in the period. Excluding the extra week in 2006, revenue from continuing operations fell 8.2 percent." 'Orphaned' TV Viewers May be Lost -- According to the timesonline.co.uk, "American TV networks have lost almost a quarter of their audiences because of the Hollywood writers' strike, according to new figures, and executives fear that 'orphaned' viewers may never return." How sad. Millions of orphans. Yet according to studies that show that the more TV you watch the less you know, they may be better off in the long run. Rave On -- Obermann on Bush's insistence that a new FISA law must include immunity for the telecom companies for aiding him in illegally spying on Americans, though he won't admit that they actually did. Olbermann's delicious outrage, courageous scorn of the fools that rule is a great relief from the mediocrity and inanity of most major media programming. truthout.org King George Demurs -- Bush signed an appropriations bill that includes provisions that prohibit the funds from being spent to establish a base in Iraq or to exercise military control over the oil of Iraq. But Bush used another one of his signing statements to say that he will not abide by that part of the law. opednews.com Sane Vibrations -- Musical consciousness emanating from the relatively civilized country to the north. With the major media almost entirely corrupted by right-wing slime consciousness and corporatist consumerist propaganda, one must seek outside of that realm to find any authentic cultural messages. Rock and roll was at its root a medium of alternative culture and consciousness, though of course it is constantly under attack, being undermined and exploited by the same predatory corporate forces that now have the neck of civil society under their collective boot all around the world. Hence music becomes Britney Spears, currently one of the top "artists" in the world. So it's always great to discover a strong, authentic voice that is not coopted by corporatist consciousness. I just discovered a Canadian band called Inner Surge, which calls itself a political metal band and has intense political messages in its music with such titles as "Halliburton Piggies", "The Monroe Doctrine" and "Limb from Limb" and music videos for "Wolves" (based on the Rwandan genocide) and "Retribution Song". You can check them out at innersurge.com. Sorenson Endorses Obama -- Theodore Sorenson, JFK speechwriter and close associate has proclaimed his endorsement of Obama, saying, "I truly believe that February 5th will choose the next president of the United States, and that this choice is more important for our country's future than any presidential election since 1932. After almost eight years of Bush incompetence, indifference and disasters, Senator Obama is the one candidate who can restore America's moral authority and regain the respect essential to our security." huffingtonpost.com MoveOn.org Endorses Obama -- Obama also got the endorsement of MoveOn.org, an endorsement that represents 70 percent the actual online votes of many of MoveOn's 3.2 million members. It's a very broad-based mainstream organization, though it's usually written off in the elite political world as "leftist". Obama also was endorsed by the California-based Service Employees International Union. See USA Today.
February 4, 2008The Razor's Edge -- According to a new CNN poll Obama has overtaken Clinton nationally for the first time, just as this big Super Tuesday comes along. Too close to call.
Mrs Schwarzenegger -- Meanwhile Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan and the wife of Austrian Archduke of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, endorsed Barack Obama. (CNN) Super Stakes -- Here's Truthout's Super Tuesday Preview. According to Zogby, Obama leads in California 49-32 percent and in Missouri 49-39 percent. Buying Elections -- According to Reuters, "Corporate America is pouring money into the US presidential campaign at an unprecedented rate, with a torrent of donations coming from the businesses behind the subprime mortgage crisis. Facing a government crackdown over predatory lending and a troubled housing finance system, Wall Street and the real estate industry were among the top political givers in 2007, a campaign finance watchdog group said on Sunday. Leading all corporate donors in campaign donations as of the end of last year was investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission records, the Center for Responsive Politics said. The next four largest corporate donors were Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, according to the center's fourth-quarter preliminary analysis, which is subject to revision. Investment banks, commercial banks and real estate companies altogether have pumped almost $34 million into the presidential race, with Democratic leaders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama getting the most money, the center said." Ask Not -- Frank Rich writes that there are some important parallels between Obama and JFK in "Ask Not What JFK Can Do for Obama." NY Times. "Before John F. Kennedy was a president, a legend, a myth and a poltergeist stalking America's 2008 campaign, he was an upstart contender seen as a risky bet for the Democratic nomination in 1960. Kennedy was judged 'an ambitious but superficial playboy' by his liberal peers, according to his biographer Robert Dallek. 'He never said a word of importance in the Senate, and he never did a thing,' in the authoritative estimation of the Senate's master, Lyndon Johnson. Adlai Stevenson didn't much like Kennedy, and neither did Harry Truman, who instead supported Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri. J. F. K. had few policy prescriptions beyond Democratic boilerplate (a higher minimum wage, comprehensive housing legislation). As his speechwriter Richard Goodwin recalled in his riveting 1988 memoir Remembering America, Kennedy's main task was to prove his political viability. He had to persuade his party that he was not a wealthy dilettante and not "too young, too inexperienced and, above all, too Catholic" to be president." According to his speechwriter Richard Goodwin, what was to allow JFK to beat experienced pros like Lyndon Johnson, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey and Stuart Symington was not policy ideas, experience or even his much-vaunted charisma. It was, according to Goodwin, "He had to touch the secret fears and ambivalent longings of the American heart, divine and speak to the desires of a swiftly changing nation — his message grounded on his own intuition of some vague and spreading desire for national renewal." Kennedy took an accurate measure of the country's aspirations and spoke to them, and that's how he became the legendary leader. Today the desire for change is much more pronounced than in 1960, Rich points out. So in that sense Obama has more going for him than Kennedy had.
February 5, 2008What It Is -- With Jolly Karl Rove, the unindicted co-conspirator in the Valerie Plame case and perpetrator of countless other crimes, an official member of the Fox staff, it takes any ambiguity out of the character of Fox as a purely partisan propaganda machine for the right wing. crainsnewyork.com
Alt News -- Election Day Coverage by BraveNewFilms. It starts at 4 p.m. From Yale for Obama -- In the Yale Daily News, "Obama feeds America’s hunger for change". "We knew we liked Obama—he was against the war from the beginning, he didn’t take money from lobbyists and he was the best orator we’d seen since Dr. King. But there wasn’t really a serious chance he would win. He was up against the greatest Democratic family since the Kennedys with little name recognition, few endorsements and many skeptics. Polls had him behind by more than 20 percentage points nationally and in key primary states. He wasn’t black enough; he wasn’t electable; he didn’t have enough time in Washington. And then something happened. As we canvassed in New Hampshire and later in Iowa, we realized that the people we talked to — in the towns across the U.S. from Nashua to Des Moines, from Keene to Iowa Falls—were hungry from something different... " Tell the Truth -- Hillary Clinton lied about Iraq in Thursday's debate, according to Stephen Zunes writing at Commondreams.org. She said, "We bombed them for days in 1998 because Saddam Hussein threw out inspectors." According to Zunes, "That statement was totally false. The bombing campaign had been planned for months and the inspectors were not thrown out. They were ordered out by President Bill Clinton in anticipation of the four-day U.S.-led bombing campaign." Bring Him On -- According to Joshua Holland, writing in alternet.org, McCain is not a strong candidate. He looks strong in match ups with Obama or Clinton right now, but he has weaknesses that will probably change the dynamic. Changes -- The writers strike, now three months running, is putting Hollywood through some serious changes. According to Alison Tully and Gloria Goodale, writing in csmonitor.com, "TV networks are scrambling to fill the void of new programming, primarily with new game and reality shows. But even those moves appear to be coming up short: Ratings at the five major broadcast networks dropped a collective 17 percent from the same week a year ago in the networks' most prized demographic, viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, according to new Nielsen Media Research."
February 6, 2008Super Tuesday Night -- Remember, this is not a contest of states, as in the general election when the winner of a state gets all of its electoral votes. In this, it is a battle for delegates, and in most states they are divided among the winners in terms of the proportions of their wins. So the ritual of calling out who wins each state is a little misleading. How this plays out, for example, is that Obama will get more delegates out of the combination of Illinois and New York than Hillary will, even though they each won one of the states and New York has about 80 more delegates than Illinois. Because Obama's win in Illinois was steeper than Clinton's in New York, he will get more from those two states combined than she will. This race is going to the convention on the Democratic side. Though Clinton was portrayed as the big winner, Obama got more delegates than Clinton on Super Tuesday. See politico.com.
Reasons to Be Cheerful -- Noam Chomsky takes the long view and says that political consciousness in America is growing. See the conversation on video at BookTV.org Plenty of Problems -- Voting irregularities are rampant. See blackboxvoting.org. Superdelegate Wild Cards -- "It is easy to imagine that Barack Obama could get to Denver with more pledged delegates than Hillary Clinton, but that she could get the nomination based on the votes of the superdelegates." See politico.com. Take a Ride -- Intriguing site: 911synchronicity.com.
February 7, 2008Romney Out -- So Romney is cashing it in, according to CNN, and McCain will get what he sucked up to Bush for years for, the Republican nomination for president. People used to wonder why he kissed Bush's ass so much, now you know.
Those Damned Machines -- It should be plain to anyone observing that the voting system in the U.S. is seriously flawed. The voting machines are certainly not to be relied on. So we don't really know what is going on or who is in control. On dailykos.com there's a report of someone in New Jersey who tried to vote for Obama, but the machine already showed an X next to Clinton. He tried pushing Obama, but the X for Clinton came back again before he could hit the "vote" button. On the Obama/JFK Comparisons -- Ted Widmer in washingtonmonthly.com writes that while recent reports empahsize young Kennedy's inexperience, he was actually "an extremely well-informed statesman in 1960". The son of an Ambassador who trained his children in politics from an early age, JFK had traveled widely, studied in England and in 1938 he was in the audience of the House of Commons as the Munich deal was debated. Widmer writes, "As a young man, he made American officials uneasy with his relentless desire to see parts of Europe and the world that few Americans ever encountered. In 1939 alone, he took in the Soviet Union, Romania, Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Greece, France, Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia. As the war was ending, he attended the San Francisco conference that created the United Nations, filing seventeen dispatches for the Chicago Herald American." Obama Matches Up Better Against McCain -- Who knows? But according to an article in the Washington Times, McCain would do better against Hillary. According to Zogby, "Obama does better against McCain than Hillary does because she is so polarizing. ... A lot of people will simply be voting against her." More Bad News for GOP -- On top of many more troubles with retirements, cash shortages, unpopularity, defections, the GOP now has a possible investigation to worry about. According to politico.com, "Top House Republicans were told in recent days that a former employee of their campaign committee may have forged an official audit during the contentious 2006 election cycle and that they should brace for the possibility that an unfolding investigation could uncover financial improprieties stretching back several years." In general, bad news for the GOP is good news for the nation. Has Enough Time Passed? To look soberly at the events of 9/11? So asks the film www.911eyewitness.com.
February 8, 2008How Bush Supports the Troops -- If that outrageous lie about "supporting our troops" still has any traction at all, lets get real, take a look at this. According to Bush administration lawyers, "Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care." (See SF Gate for the story.) This is not just an offhanded comment, it's the substance of arguments filed in a lawsuit. This is not just casual neglect for the well being of our veterans, it's aggressive abuse. Please let's forever retire that phrase "support our troops" when it is used as an justification for war.
The Gathering Police State -- According to Matthew Rothschild in the Progressive, the FBI has "deputized" more than 23,000 members of private industry, making them members of a group called InfraGard, a perfect New World Order Nuspeak name for a Stalinist totalitarian-style operation. According to Rothschild, "The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does - and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to 'shoot to kill' in the event of martial law." McCain the Democrat -- Why is Ann Coulter, the conservative she-horse claiming that Hillary Clinton is more "liberal" than John McCain and that she will support Hillary if McCain is nominated? Why is Fox News actually labeling McCain as a Democrat? (See huffingtonpost.com) Does Fox news ever do anything inadvertently? Is there no design to this activity, coming from the most carefully orchestrated propaganda medium ever devised? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the conservative politicians are so thoroughly discredited? Do the hard core conservatives wish to introduce this confusion for advantage? Many questions. America's Ruling Families -- Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton... Controlling the White House from 1988 till when? 2016 if Hillary gets two terms. Some say that Bush senior was really running the show from behind the scenes from the time that Reagan was shot in March 1981, right after he took office by John Hinckley Jr., son of senior Bush's friend and supporter John Hinckley Sr. According to John Judge, "The two families lived close to each other. They knew each other socially and financially. When the Hinckley oil company started to fail in the sixties, Bush's Zapata Oil financially bailed out Hinckley's company... The Hinkleys had been running an operation with six dead wells but then they were making several million dollars a year after the Bush bailout." Call it whacky conspiracy theory, but these are the facts. Strange connections indeed. Why are the Bushes and Clintons so close now? Of course the Bush's have Bill's philandering on the job to thank for creating an opening wide enough for Junior Bush, Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld to slither through. What a bizarre and sordid web they weave! Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton: all Yalees. Bush, Kerry, Bush: all Yalees and members of Skull and Bones. Is it any wonder the American public aches for real change? How the Clintons Won in New Mexico -- See News Dissector, scroll down the page or search for "Update on Recount in New Mexico", a letter from Mary Oishi is vivid, moving and disturbing: Clinton and Bill & Bill (Richardson & Clinton) watched the Super Bowl together, the Democratic Party of New Mexico was in charge of our February 5 "caucus." ... The Party claimed they were caught by surprise at the high voter turnout, which is why they ran out of ballots at numerous urban polling places before 5 pm, when the vast majority of voters showed up to vote. Some of my fellow New Mexicans chalked it up to typical (or sterotypical) New Mexico incompetence, but what I witnessed yesterday had nothing whatsoever to do with incompetence. It was, instead, a deliberate and calculated scheme to subvert the democratic process and award the lion's share of New Mexico's delegates to Clinton despite the will of the majority of Democratic voters of New Mexico. Here's why I make that assertion: 1. They shortened the voting hours from Noon to 7 p.m., so that the retired would have the opportunity to vote (more favoring Clinton), but people of working age would mostly need to wait until after 5 p.m. 2. They consolidated long lists of precincts into 1 polling place, so that lines would be exceedingly long, and those of working age would not be able to vote over their lunch hour due to the long lines. (Most waits were well over 1 hour). In Rio Rancho, a town of 75,000 people with a 2.5% African American population (that's high for New Mexico), there was only one polling place! Hundreds of would-be voters had to wait OUTSIDE the building for hours in bitter cold weather. 3. In the southeast section of Albuquerque with the only significant African American population and a high number of younger people due to its proximity to the University, poll workers were calling Party headquarters for 2 hours and telling them they were about to run out of ballots, but no ballots were delivered. They announced at 5 p.m. (with hundreds of people in line to vote) that they would need to just write the name of the candidate they preferred on a piece of paper and they would not guarantee they would be counted. This went on for at least an hour and a half, with most people following that procedure. The Party did not respond to repeated requests to deliver more ballots until an attorney who was forced to write her vote on a slip of paper called news media and someone threatened loudly to bring a class action lawsuit while a poll worker was on the phone with someone from Party headquarters. Then they finally brought a few photocopies of ballots, half an hour before the polls were scheduled to close. I expect this kind of dirty politics from the Republican Party. Witnessing it firsthand from the Democratic Party has affected me deeply. I have voted in every election since I was 18 (and I'm now 52). I have been thrilled to see Barack's candidacy inspiring so many to get involved as not just residents, but CITIZENS of this country. But watching young, first time voters leave the voting lines without voting because of the maneuvering of conniving political operatives made me heartsick and outraged. We must demand an end to the corruption in the echelons of both politicial parties. Why even have elections if a few elite subvert the process by disenfranchising the people and forcing their will via supreme court justice and super delegate votes? America cannot be a champion of democracy around the world when we don't have anything close to a democracy here.
February 9, 2008Another School Shooting in the land of the mad. This time the perpetrator was a woman college student. According to The Guardian, "A 23-year-old woman killed two fellow students with a .357 revolver in a classroom at a vocational college Friday, then committed suicide, police said."
And Elsewhere in this Violence Riddled, Depraved Land, this time in Kirkwood, Missouri, a local contractor decided to be his own war president and launched his own re-emptive attack on city council, killing two police officers and two city council people and the director of public works. He also critically wounded another councilman and the mayor. CNN Obama Runs Better Against McCain -- CNN Laws Don't Apply to Bush -- Bush's Attorney General Michael Mukasey, enabled in his quest for his job by Democrats like N.Y. Senator Charles Schumer and California Senator Dianne Weinstein, now says he will not enforce a contempt of Congress citation against Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten for refusing to testify before Congress. The video is here: youtube.com. Is it not his job, his sworn duty to carry out that law? -- Bush will veto any domestic spending. It's all about war and "national security" and anything else will be vetoed. He's not in the mood to make any deals. According to cqpolitics.com, "Bush once again is asking Congress to boost defense funding while essentially freezing spending for domestic programs. 'If Congress sends me appropriations bills that exceed the reasonable limits I have set, I will veto the bills.'"
-- David Cogswell