Monday, March 31, 2008

Swift Boating Obama

In today's Daily News Record Letters page we find dramatic evidence of how the slimy practice of Swift Boating really works. A citizen of the valley has unwittingly (or even worse, willingly) carried out the grand strategy of Fox News to derail the Presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. Here's the letter and comments.

"In his Philadelphia address, the potential Democratic presidential candidate said: "Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely." Notice he said "many," not all.
Which of his pastor's racist comments did he support?"

Let the Swift Boating of Obama ensue!  Fox News has done it's job reasonably well. Bob, you've just done Fox's bidding!  Spread the mud far and wide. Of course Obama should just quit campaigning for President!  He should  parse and defend and explain his positions on 20 years of Dr. Wright's sermons.... No time for a POLITICAL campaign.  The question is completely irrelevent!

"I hate to tell Obama and his pastor that progress has been made and some black Americans have risen above the fray, rather than wallow in the distant past."

We'll know that you haven't helped Fox play the RACE card when you can say that some progress has been made and some WHITE Americans have risen above the fray, rather than wallow in the past. Or, even better, just "SOME AMERICANS" have risen above the fray....  I think Obama's whole message is even more positive than that.  He's saying that ALL AMERICANS should be able to rise above the fray.
Just who is wallowing in the past?

The so called "Swift Boating" technique for slandering political opponents works like this: Find a detail in the life of your political opponent that seems like it could be embellished. Monkey with the context, add a large dose of innuendo, a pinch of the "correct" ideology, and spice it up with some truly outrageous exaggerations. Leak the "new" information to the media telling them that vital new information has been found by our "investigative" team and voila! Swift Boated!

The point of "Swift Boating" is to persuade voters that the opposing candidate is "untrustworthy" and "unfit for office." Fox broke the "news" on Obama's pastor on March 12. By playing the race card so swiftly and mercilessly Fox News knew that this incendiary topic would have the potential to derail Obama's bid for the Presidency.

With single-minded efficiency, Fox has done all it can to hype the story first broken by ABC News. ABC News, by the way, covered it pretty benignly. It took the Fox News' "hard-hitting investigators" to uncover the dirt, change the context, and insert the race card. They are still mopping up the drool in the Fox news room!

It was only after Fox began to sensationalize and repeat the video snippets in an endless loop, (which they purchased from the church for expressly this purpose) did ABC and other MSM pick it up as a news story. It was not so much, listen to Dr. Wright's sermons, but it was look what FOX IS SAYING ABOUT DR. WRIGHT! Fox became the story and Fox's version became the controversy. Mission Accomplished! This is simply institutionalized Swift Boating!

Glenn Greenwald sums it up:

While Democrats are constantly forced by manufactured controversies generated by the right-wing noise machine and their media allies to "repudiate" and "renounce" a never ending carousel of "extremists" ranging from the moderate to the irrelevant (Michael Moore, MoveOn, Louis Farrakhan, Ward Churchill, etc. etc.), the GOP establishment for years has tied itself at the hip to hate-mongering extremists along the lines of John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Pat Roberston, Ann Coulter, and all sorts of various Instapunks, with no repercussions or accountability whatsoever.

and on Feb, 25:

By far, the most significant pattern in how our political discourse is shaped is that the right-wing noise machine generates scurrilous, petty, personality-based innuendo about Democratic candidates, and the establishment press then mindlessly repeats it and mainstreams it. Thus, nothing was more predictable than watching the "Obamas-are-unpatriotic-subversives" slur travel in the blink of an eye from the Jack Kingstons, Fox News adolescent McCarthyites, and Bill Kristols of the world to AP, MSNBC, and CNN. That's just how the right-wing/media nexus works.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Drew Richardson and the issues... UPDATED

A quick read of the issues statements found on Drew Richardson's website gives very basic idea of where he stands. These statements are brief and will need to be expanded. I wonder if he has time to do so. So far his campaign has been generally about him, his experience, his character and not so much about where he stands on the issues. I"m concerned that there won't be time for adequate discussion before we choose our candidate. For the sake of that very discussion, here's my take on what Drew has to say.

Iraq War:

Richardson wants to stay and at least try to "loosen the knot of sectarian violence" before withdrawing. This might be a noble effort and sounds politically correct, but in effect he's saying the same thing as McCain. We'll be there for 100 years. That sectarian knot has been tied tightly for thousands of years. The presence of our troops in Irag and the effect of the recent military expansion has only tied the knot that much tighter. To say that we have the moral obligation to stay in Iraq and try to undue the mess that we've made there seems thoughtful but consider the words of Ali Fadhil an Iraqi journalist as interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show last week:

ROSE: And obviously, what we want to accomplish on this fifth anniversary of the American invasion, or the coalition invasion of Iraq, is how they see it as Iraqis, five years later. Give me an assessment.

ALI FADHIL: That's a big question, assessment. Well, basically, probably, I`ll kind of sum it in a few words.
It's -- we have a country where the government is not functioning after five years. We have too many internal problems. And we have the violence increasing day after day. We have a huge crisis of refugees inside and outside Iraq. We have a total failure of the -- of the civilian -- the civilian structure and what's happening inside. We have the sectarian divisions increasing. We didn't have that before. Now we have it. So, basically, my assessment is we have a whole nation called Iraq, now it's wiped out.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Iraq is worse off because the United States came?

ALI FADHIL: It's worse off because the United States came to Iraq, definitely, and because the United States did all these mistakes in Iraq. Anything [Americans] do -- probably even in good intentions -- is bad for us, everything they do, everything. There's nothing they're doing is right. And that's what is going to happen. It's just prolonging the diaspora of the Iraqis. We're suffering more and more every day.

I think it will be hard support the position of staying and trying to "fix the mess."


Richardson would try to protect local farmers and food production. I think some specifics would be necessary here. Bob Goodlatte has extensive knowledge and influence in this area, not to mention support from the AG corporate community. Drew needs to build his repertoire of specifics to even come close to challenging Goodlatte on this issue.

Richardson tells us to be very afraid of "agricultural bioterrorism" a "tragedy" to be perpetrated by our opponents who are prepared to "wreak economic havoc on our nation and by extension our Valley." This is a strong statement that I THINK I'm in agreement with. Again, I'd like to hear more from Drew about "bioterrorism" and "economic havoc." These are pretty strong attacks. Can Dr. Richardson support these attacks with position statements?


Richardson acknowledges that it is a serious problem. He would enforce the laws already on the books and support efforts in Congress to secure the borders. At the same time, Drew recognizes that immigrants have an "important role in the workplace" and that we share a cultural heritage as a nation of immigrants. Continuing this heritage is difficult in "the face of limited resources." I'd like Drew to give more details about the last statement. I think his position is clear, but is he giving up because the money is too hard to find? Why is the money so scarce for this particular issue? Perhaps a statement of spending priorities would be appropriate here.

Energy and the Environment:

The information on the website is very sketchy on this point especially. Richardson does say that he wants a "smart energy policy" for all the normal reasons. I'd like to know more specifics, especially with regards to Wind, Solar, hydroelectric, Biofuel, Coal, and Atomic energy. Let's hear a good definition of "smart energy."

I think he's in favor of a "Green" economy. This statement though is a little confusing:

"The replacement of an unsustainable petroleum-based energy economy with one based on greater utilization of renewable sources of energy is not just good energy policy."

Based on the rest of his energy policy statement, I take this to mean that he IS in favor of replacing petroleum-based energy with renewable sources.... If he really means that "utilization of renewable sources of energy is not just good energy policy" he is in deep trouble with Democrats. Drew's campaign really needs to focus on this issue and come up with a more coherent policy. Again, I THINK I know what he's saying, but a clearer more detailed position paper would be welcomed.

Torture: Drew makes one simple point. "This is an outrage." AMEN!

Drew Richardson has given us basic position statements. His clarifications in speeches and debates have begun to delve into the issues, but where's the depth? Does he have time to develop support for his positions before the caucuses and the convention? Dr. Richardson, please don't say "Trust Me."

UPDATE: Drew has just posted a long interview adding more detail to his position statements. You can read it HERE.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Live Blogging with Sam Rasoul UPDATED

This morning my colleagues at Cobalt6 and I had the privilege of asking Sam Rasoul, candidate for the 6th District of Virginia seat in Congress, several questions. Our discussion included campaign finances, health care, and our national food supply. Mario is Sam's new campaign manager, Cliff and Brent are contributing editors to Cobalt6. Here's the complete transcript:

For those of us who are unaware of the intricacies of campaign finance, how does it work with regards to the balance between local contributions, in-state contributions, and out of state contributions? How many contributions have you received in each catagory?

No one wants to give lots to money to someone they don't believe can win. Today, winning=money
Classic catch 22:  You need money to raise money!  You must look viable before people want to invest in you and that takes money.  So a candidate must look to friends and family first for as much support as possible before trying to effectively gain support from others.  I have received about 45% of my contributions from in-state sources to this date.

Fund raising...for those that are unaware, as a candidate for office, especially true for Federal Office, the majority (as much as 90%) of the candidate's time is consumed by fund raising.
Some of this time is spent doing what candidates learn to dred the most, dialing and asking people for money for hours on end day after day.  Some candidates have talked about this misery publically, though many have tried their best to forget it. 
Here is a post by Al Franken on the subject.

Basically a candidate, especially in a "red" district, needs to pull as many dollars and donors from outside the district as is possible to fund the kind of uphill battle taking on an entrenched incumbent requires.  This effort is also skewed in the early months, when the candidate has more time to travel and spend time outside the district, if they can get access to other networks of donors.  Sam has had success fund raising in DC and New Orleans for instance.  The closer to election day you get, the less time you have to travel and the more time you need to spend contacting and speaking with voters - which by the way is the part candidates wish they could do 100% of the time.

The Finance reform act known as McCain-Feingold increased the burden on challengers rather than reduced it and created more gaps corruption and influence than it removed, further increasing the power of incumbency.  Was this the intent?  I don't think so, but it is the reality we are part of today.

For the record, I joined Sam's campaign as the Campaign Manager just a few weeks ago, and am happy to be here in Virginia's 6th District working to promote Democratic Values and real change in the US Congress.  I am a veteran of 4 Federal Campaigns and look forward to an exciting campaign over the next several months.
I don't have the specific numbers to answer your question at the moment, I've been busy working on how to effectively spend the money more so than figuring out where prior moneys came from geographically.

Brent followup:
Do you take money from PACs?

No money from PACs, not that all PACs are bad.

One thing to remember is that I am running for the US House of Representatives, which means that I will be voting and writing legislation, as your next Congressman, that will impact all 300+ million Americans.  Every American has a vested interest in all 535 members of Congress and should show their support accordingly. (Not like running for VA General Assembly)

It will be tough raising a million dollars, but I don't believe in raising every dollar you can get.  I have already had to turn down PAC dollars.  We have to draw the line somewhere and let us not forget that the Lobbyists who control those massive amounts of fundraising dollars, STEAL the democratic voice away from middle America.

Any challenger...faces the uphill battle vs an incumbent.
Whether the money comes from out of state or out of the district, the one sure thing is that there is not enough moneys inside the district to take this fight.

There really is no basis for discriminating against money from outside the district when it is coming from individuals.  Sam does not take money from PACs or Lobbyists, this is money coming from individuals.  Each of the 435 Congressional districts represent something like 0.2% of the population of the nation, and less than that when looking only at the base of active democratic donors.

Public Financing of Elections would be great, but today we have this system and it requires more than $1 million dollars raised to mount a decent challenge of an incumbent (who already has more than a million cash on hand).  Do you think the people of the 6th CD have a million dollars to spend on this today?  What if you limit each donor to 2300$/cycle, 4600 total for the election IF they contribute before the nomination?

The last challenger raised less than $100k.  Today the Rasoul campaign has already pulled in more than $100k and will continue to work to pull in the needed funds to put a person in Congress who will work hard to change this awful and corrupt system.

Thank you for the questions, I hope I've answered them to your satisfaction, if not, keep asking.

As a US Congressman, will you feel that it is your duty to your constituents to provide federal funding for favored local projects, especially if the money seems easy to get and seems to be the standard operation procedure of members of Congress?

I believe that many of these projects are worthy of funding, but I disagree with the process and we should rid the system of this pork. As your next Congressman, I would like to have one staff member who only focuses only on writing grants for projects in our district.  Funding for necessary projects such as the Roanoke Flood Reduction Project should come from grants.  Through grants we have a way to oversee the disbursement of these funds.

Brent Followup:
What's the difference between an earmark and a grant?  How is a grant more "accountable" than an earmark?

To generalize, earmarks can be tacked on to any legislation for any Congressman's "pet" projects.  No strong criteria needs to be met.  But with grants, my fellow colleagues and I in the Congress can say that funding must be set aside for flood reduction projects and then localities and states can then apply for that funding. This is a process that gives proper review to the dispersement of funds.

Sam, I know you've thought about this, but for me I'm just starting because I'm reading Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. What can we do about the horrific conditions of animal factories? And how can we ensure safe food supplies? Is there a way to incentivize "humane" animal production (like Polyface farms here in this area, that Pollan mentions)? And I know that Bob Goodlatte is basically owned by Agribusiness, so we can't expect answers to come from him.

When we had the last outbreak of BSE (mad cow) in 2003, countries like Japan and Mexico stopped taking our beef imports.  It is not only important for our food supply (which I believe is a National Security issue), but we can appeal to all Americans with this issue be focusing on how devastating contaminated foods can be to our industries.  It's all about framing.  BUT, the root of the problem is LOBBYISTS.  They prevent us from making clear objective decisions that serve the interests of America as a whole.  

Why do you think your compromise health care plan involving subsidized private heath care delivery is better than a one payer national Medicare plan? Is this just a political compromise or is it actually a more efficient method of health care delivery?

HR 676 which has 88 co-sponsors in Congress is a national Medicare plan, which allows for the healthcare to be privately delivered.  It called "Improved Medicare For All"
I think we are on the same page.

At this point Mr. Rasoul signed off. I had wanted to ask the following questions and didn't get a chance. I did inquire by email and will post the answers here when they are received.

Senator Obama has recently begun to tie the costs of the Iraq War to the downturn in the American economy. Do you agree that the expense of the War in Iraq is having a large effect on our national and local economies?

ONLY TALKING MONEY (not lives or humanity): I believe that there is some economic truth that War can help the economy, but this type of deficit spending has gotten way out of hand. Downturns are inevitable in our economy, but this type of spending has undermined the long-term stability of our economy for many reasons, the largest of which would be the doubling of our debt during this administration.

Brent follow-up:
If you are elected to the US Congress, will you to either initiate legislation or sign on to legislation cutting off the funding for the Iraq War?

I believe in a time table of 18-24 months that must be set to withdraw from Iraq. I would vote accordingly (not voting for any funding unless it was tied to a time table for a responsible withdrawal).

Thanks to Sam for his thoughtful answers on these important questions. Let the parsing and analysis ensue!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thank You Notes.

Thank you Bill Richardson. Thank you for saying what's important about Barack Obama's qualifications for being the leader of the free world. You said that Barack's speech on race in America was "an example of courageous, thoughtful, and inspiring leadership." He thanked Barack for speaking to us as adults, and reminding us that cynicism is not realism, and that hope is not folly.
“Senator Barack Obama addressed the issue of race with the eloquence and sincerity and decency and optimism we have come to expect of him,” he said. “He did not seek to evade tough issues or to soothe us with comforting half-truths. Rather, he inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility.”

He added: “Senator Obama could have given a safer speech. He is, after all, well ahead in the delegate count for our party’s nomination.”

and ... (sigh)...

Thank you Michelle Malkin for giving us a balanced, nuanced, finely coded racist rant in your column today. You also stated what you thought was the single most important problem with Obama's qualifications for President. He chose the wrong pastor! This blindingly brilliant insight came after almost a thousand words of coded right wing ranting. In fact, it sounded a lot like a left wing radical rant against the Bush Presidency. That she lit up the newsprint with so many rhetorical fireworks was a little silly. Why not just hold up a sign girl? "WELCOME TO MIDDLE SCHOOL CIVICS!" This level of discourse from the warrior queen is to be expected from preadolescents who don't yet have the ability to delve into issues of race, politics, and government with any depth. Seriously! No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, six paragraphs of vitriolic name-calling followed by a completely hypocritical non sequitur passes for political commentary? Back to your middle school civics class girl!

and... (whew!)

Thank you Barack Obama for risking your political career on the idea that the American people are strong, resiliant, and thoughtful. You responded to the FOX led media assault on your church and your pastor not with excuses, defensiveness, or coded racism, but with a thoughtful, balanced, courageous speech that none of us can be completely comfortable hearing. (Look who's squealing the loudest! See paragraph 2) You risked everything telling us what we needed to hear instead of pandering to one constituency or another. Could Hillary Clinton or John McCain have made this speech? Further, could they have made this speech BELIEVABLE? My friends I give you a Leader, like it or not, for President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Toast? Not!

• Obama speaking up on Race in America, knowing full well that the subject is taboo, and that racists of all stripes will come out of the woodwork to attack him.

• Obama identifying THE most difficult social problem that has NEVER been adequately addressed in public policy and asking us to put it on our collective agenda, no matter how painful it may be. What presidential candidate in history, much less this election has put his political life on the line for the sake of an issue that has and will cause much pain?

• Failing to acknowledge the tragic importance of Racism and its effect on our ability to move forward as a society.
• Working hard to make certain that the plantation mentality of our society endures.
• Making sure that racism is swept back under the rug where most of us can blissfully live our lives unaware and naive.

The hypocrisy shown in the response to Obama's speech is rich.  Glenn Greenwald summed it up yesterday in his column.
Unlike Wright and Obama -- for whom the former's controversial views are found nowhere near the latter's public or private conduct -- both George Bush and John McCain's Middle Eastern militarism are perfectly consonant with the most maniacal and crazed views of Christian Rapture enthusiasts such as Hagee, Parsley, Inhofe, and Robertson. Yet the controversy created over their close ties is virtually non-existent.

The Republican Party long ago adopted as a central strategy aligning itself with, and granting great influence to, the most radical, "America-hating" white evangelical Christian ministers in the country. They're given a complete pass on that because political orthodoxy mandates that white evangelical Christian ministers are inherently worthy of respect, no matter how extreme and noxious are their views. That orthodoxy stands in stark contrast to the universally enraged reaction to a few selected snippets from the angry rantings of a black Christian Minister. What accounts for that glaring disparity?

Is Obama Toast? Not! Talking heads and political opponents may play "guilt by association" all they want because that's all there is. The hypocrisy is apparent. The debate has been engaged. The political climate that the intelligencia, the average, well-educated citizen, THE ADULTS have been waiting for is at hand.

The change that Obama has been talking about was at the forefront in his speech yesterday. He seeks to change the way political campaigns are conducted. He talks to us like we are adults. He's expecting us to be able to address each other with respect and work through problems without pandering to the extreme elements of the debate.

The entire premise of Barack Obama's candidacy is built upon the opposite assumption -- that Americans are not only able, but eager, to participate in a more elevated and reasoned political discourse, one that moves beyond the boisterous, screeching, simple-minded, ugly, vapid attack-based distractions and patronizing manipulation -- the Drudgian Freak Show -- that has dominated our political debates for the last two decades at least. - Glenn Greenwald

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pass it on...

Guest blogger Kestral9000 sends this our way today. Many Thanks!

 If you value the truth as I do, please spread this information via email, blog, or any other means, to everyone you know. 

  1. Did you know that Barack Obama is a devout Christian? He has been a member of the same United Church of Christ congregation for 20 years, and was married there to his wife Michelle in 1992.

  2. Did you know that Barack Obama often leads the US Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance?

  3. Did you know that Barack Obama is a strong friend of Israel and has spoken out strongly against anti-Semitism?

  4. Did you know his grandparents from Kansas were part of the "Greatest Generation?. His grandfather served with Patton's Army during World War II, and his grandmother, a real "Rosie the Riveter", worked in a bomber assembly plant back home.

  5. Did you know that Barack Obama was opposed to the war in Iraq from day one, before we invaded, even while he was running for the Senate, and knowing his opposition might be politically unpopular?
    "I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars." --Barack Obama, 2002

  6. Did you know Obama favors transparency over secrecy in our government?  Did you know that Obama worked with Republican Senator Tom Coburn to pass one of the strongest government transparency bills since the freedom of information act? He's calling it Google for Government and you can see the results at Sen. Obama has also released his own tax returnsfor public review.

  7. Did you know that after graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Barack practiced civil rights law and also taught Constitutional Law for 10 years at the University of Chicago, one of the nation's best law schools, where he was consistently rated by his students as one of their best instructors? Did you also know that he was the first African-American elected president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review?

  8. Did you know that Barack Obama is an outspoken advocate for women's rights and has been a principled defender of the civil rights of women?

  9. Did you know that despite the grueling schedule of running for President, Senator Obama remains a devoted family man, making time to do things like pick out a Christmas tree with his wife and two young daughters, or hurrying home to spend Valentine's Day with them? Did you know he hasn't missed a single parent-teacher conference while running for President?

  10. Did you know that Barack Obama has a stellar environmental record, including having the highest rating from the League of Conservation Voters (96%) of any Presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican?

  11. Did you know that Barack Obama has been an elected legislator longer than Senator Clinton?

  12. Did you know that Barack is a member of all of these Senate Committees: Foreign Relations; Veteran's Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security and Government Affairs?

  13. Did you know that Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 15 bills that have become law, and has introduced amendments to 50 bills, of which 16 were adopted since he joined the Senate in 2005?

  14. Did you know that Senator Obama sponsored legislation working together with Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, to keep Americans safe by keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorist hands? The two senators also visited the former Soviet Union to inspect the decommissioning of nuclear weapons. Sen. Lugar said of Sen. Obama, "He does have a sense of idealism and principled leadership, a vision of the future."

  15. Did you know that Barack Obama is the only candidate running for president who voted against using cluster bombs in Iraq and the only candidate who supports banning the use of landmines?

  16. Did you know that, as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama succeeded in passing legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations, gaining the respect and support not only of fellow legislators but that of the police, who had initially opposed the legislation?

  17. Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton were all younger when they took office than Barack Obama will be?

During election season many emails are circulated about the candidates. Some are true, some aren't. It's often difficult to determine the truth. We encourage you to visit the following non-partisan sites that do a good job of fact checking the candidates.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Gilmore speaks on energy...yawn..

Governor Jim Gilmore just released his strategies for weaning America away from it's dependence on foreign oil. Not surprisingly, the only things he is in favor of recycling are yesterday's tired and worn solutions. Governor Gilmore is living with yesterday's solutions to the energy crisis. His four point plan:

“First off, we need to develop the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) project in Alaska, which is estimated to have between 10 to 18 billion barrels of recoverable oil,” stated Gilmore.

“Second, exploration and drilling off our coasts needs to be increased, considering we currently only do so in 15 percent of our nation’s offshore areas.”

“Third, new oil refineries need to be built in America and to do so we need to streamline our regulatory process to eliminate counterproductive regulations that are raising our gas prices and damaging our economy,” Gilmore added.

“And lastly, we need to pursue the added benefit of nuclear power, which will not only help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but offers a cleaner power source for our environment.”

These ideas been junked and debunked since 1970! There isn't a BAD idea here, except that all of these are OLD ideas. Tried and discarded. Sure, the ideas are great for the oil companies and the nuclear industry, but environmental concerns and LESS dependence on inefficient energy sources are not their concerns. Mr. Gilmore, good Republican, is steadfastly asserting that it's not what YOU can do for your country, it's what the OIL COMPANIES can do for your country.

Points one, two, and three: He would have us increase oil production, correspondingly decreasing the quality of the environment. Since we are addicted to oil, it doesn't make any sense to INCREASE the supply. These policies are NOT helpful in weaning us away from our dependence on foreign oil.

The oil that we would get from Alaska DOES NOT belong the United States, but to the oil companies that drill it. A strong possibility exists that they would find it more profitable to sell the Alaskan oil in Asia!

In Prudhoe Bay, environmental studies have found the surface pretty clean, but under the sand and rocks the beaches, rivers, and estuaries were still heavily polluted. The herring fish were wiped out, forcing much wildlife to migrate elsewhere. The sea otters are starving and the caribou just vanished.

Point four: Nuclear Power? Three Mile Island! We can store the Nuclear waste right here in the Shenandoah Valley! Great idea! Next....

I suggest that Governor Gilmore try out some truly conservative strategies for developing energy independence. How about wasting less gas? Mandate higher fuel efficiency in automobiles. How about bio-fuels and hybrid cars? How about working with solar power, recycling, wind power, and all sorts of Green construction techniques. These are the solutions for the future! Governor Gilmore is still mired in the past.

A good source: Oil on Ice. A much more detailed analysis is yours to explore.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Sacrificing Continues:

• College students will find loans harder to get and others will be turned away completely.

• Oil prices continue to climb as a result of the Iraq War and gas consumption is falling. Folks are driving less. Interestingly, Karl Rove says that if we PULL OUT, the price of a barrel of oil will be $200. That's pretty much a guarantee that it won't happen based on his prediction record in Iraq already.

• The state of California is suffering massive budget cuts and is faced with a budget deficit of 3.3 Billion dollars. That's equal to almost one week of war.

• The Social Security crisis could have been fixed with the TRILLION dollars that we've already spent on the War. It could yet be fixed with just half of the TWO TRILLION dollars that reflects the true cost of the war.

• A once sound economy has been dragged down by the costs of war.

• Sacrificed is the power of Congress to offer checks and balances on the Executive Branch. Today in a congressional hearing came this:

"It's the position of this Administration that they do not need to come before Congress to receive authorization?"

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) asked in the hearing. State Department Coordinator for Iraq, Adm. David Satterfield replied,

"That's correct."

• Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have sacrificed their lives.

• Thousands of American soldiers have sacrificed their lives.

• Hundreds of thousands of American veterans have sacrificed their mental and physical health with little or no relief from the government that sent them to war.

To be continued.........

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Here we go again. Here is a perfect example of the right wing noise machine, working overtime in our hometown, pronouncing it's dogma as truth and light. I think it's useful to analyze the arguments a little more closely if only to suggest that the story is a little deeper and more complex than the editor would have us believe.

The authoritarian plantation master, Squire Duncan has pronounced that we should just go along with the Master and let him protect us. After all unless the Master doesn't get everything he wants, we'll all be dead from a terrorist attack. Laws are for the masses not the Masters.... I digress... Parse on brother.... From the good Squire in today's editorial page.

The Squire is quoted:

Because there are more important things in life than the profits of trial lawyers, it is good news that a compromise may be worked out in the House of Representatives on the government's electronic surveillance legislation.

Conservative talking point: Trial Lawyers are bad, always looking to make a buck on a frivolous lawsuit. Using talking points in published work instead of actually doing the research is gross negligence and total lack of concern for anything other than standard right wing dogma. Here's what's happening as documented in the Washington Post:

Referring to the phone companies' need for relief, Bush said: "They're facing billions of dollars of lawsuits."

Five coordinated, class-action lawsuits are pending against the phone companies, but substantial damages would be awarded only if courts rule that they participated in illegal surveillance affecting millions of people, not just communications involving terrorism suspects overseas. If all the claims were added up, the statutory penalties could be $13,000 per person or $200 per person per day of violation.

* * *

Referring to the plaintiffs' attorneys, Bush said: "I don't want to try to get inside their head; I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train."

Two nonprofit groups are overseeing the five class-action cases: the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. But each case has at least one for-profit law firm assisting the plaintiffs. At least one law firm is seeking no compensation. There is no prospect that financial damages would be awarded soon.

Good Squire, please note that the trial lawyers you rail against are NON PROFIT GROUPS in CLASS ACTION cases. Not much gravy to be had there.

More from the Squire:
The contentious issue has been the federal immunity offered to telecommunications companies for helping the government. This should have been a no-brainer. In the wake of 9-11, those companies helped the federal government listen to conversations of possible terrorists who were planning additional attacks.

For this act of patriotism, they should be sued?

Actually, yes. I can feel a little sympathy for the telecoms getting caught in the middle of an Executive/Congress battle of separation of powers because the Executive Branch actually told the telecoms that what they were doing in '01 and '02 was legal. They get no sympathy from me though because any of them could have demanded a legal warrant before complying with Administration demands. Patriotism? Only if you believe the law is for the plantation workers and not for "Massa." Bush did not get legal warrants, the telecoms did not demand them, laws were broken, lawsuits are now the only means of retribution.

The Senate bill allowed such immunity, and the Senate legislation has majority support in the House. However, Democratic leaders are stalling the vote. It, of course, is just a coincidence that trial lawyers - who contribute huge sums of money to Democratic candidates - oppose the immunity. Taking a wild guess, it's likely those lawyers are opposing the bill due to their own financial interests, and care little about the security of the nation.

Comical and false. If this is support for the same talking point mentioned in paragraph one it's simplistic, untrue, and strictly partisan. Trial lawyers may oppose the immunity, but so do I and so do a majority of Americans. I guess we're in it for our "own financial interests" too.

Over the weekend, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, indicated a willingness to compromise. He said committee members had been talking to the companies because "if we are going to give blanket immunity, we want to know and understand what it is we're giving immunity for."

Fair enough.

Squire Duncan may smile at this next comment as well he's entitled to, but the biggest tragedy of all is the complicity of the Democratic majority in Congress. Glenn Greenwald has documented this extensively. The fact that a good portion of the Democratic majority doesn't believe that the wiretapping is dangerous, or worth the political capital expended is the single biggest factor in the trampling of the rule of law and the constitutional role of Congress. The saddest fact of all is that our Democratic congressman are enabling President Bush's fearmongering power grab.

There's very little point anymore in writing about how the Congressional Democratic leadership is complicit in all of the worst Bush abuses, or about how craven they are. All of that is far too documented and established at this point to be worth spending any time discussing. They were never going to take a stand against warrantless eavesdropping or the destruction of the rule of law via telecom amnesty for one simple reason: many of them don't actually oppose those things, and many who claim to oppose them don't actually care about any of it. That's all a given.

But what is somewhat baffling in all of this is just how politically stupid and self-destructive their behavior is. If the plan all along was to give Bush everything he wanted, as it obviously was, why not just do it at the beginning? Instead, they picked a very dramatic fight that received substantial media attention. They exposed their freshmen and other swing-district members to attack ads. They caused their base and their allies to spend substantial energy and resources defending them from these attacks.

And now, after picking this fight and letting it rage for weeks, they are going to do what they always do -- just meekly give in to the President, yet again generating a tidal wave of headlines trumpeting how they bowed, surrendered, caved in, and lost to the President. They're going to cast the appearance that they engaged this battle and once again got crushed, that they ran away in fear because of the fear-mongering ads that were run and the attacks from the President. They further demoralize their own base and increase the contempt in which their base justifiably holds them (if that's possible). It's almost as though they purposely picked the path that imposed on themselves all of the political costs with no benefits.

However, call us skeptical, but the shift in the Democratic position is probably because the party is losing the public relations battle about the bill. The only groups the Democratic leaders have on their side are the ACLU and trial lawyers, two groups not beloved or admired by the American people.

Finally from the Squire:
This is a needed bill. It will allow the government to eavesdrop on our enemies. For whatever the reason, let's be thankful the House Democratic leaders are edging ever closer to political sanity and sense.

Remember the sane, serious, plantation master says that only he can keep us safe. Not only must he be able to spy on our enemies, he must be allowed to spy on us. Our lives are at stake. Heil!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What's in a Name

Interesting to hear Faux news and right wingers and members of this board obsess over Obama's name. It is a semitic name and so joins good company in the Fourteen US Presidents that also share Semitic names or names derived from the semitic language. Look it up for yourself! Here's a highlight:
Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22 -- "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Here is a list of how many times barak appears in each book of the Bible.

Now let us take the name "Hussein." It is from the Semitic word hasan, meaning "good" or "handsome." Husayn is the diminutive, affectionate form.

Barack Obama's middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi, Kenya. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph. There have been lots of Husseins in history, from the grandson of the prophet Mohammed, a hero who touched the historian Gibbon, to King Hussein of Jordan, one of America's most steadfast allies in the 20th century. The author of the beloved American novel "The Kite Runner" is Khaled Hosseini.

But in Obama's case, it is just a reference to his grandfather.

Knowledge is strength. Please pay attention in class from now on! :)