Monday, October 30, 2006

The Ethics Committee investigation of Hastert and the Foley Scandal: Recent History Does not Inspire Confidence - Center for Media and Democracy

The Ethics Committee investigation of Hastert and the Foley Scandal: Recent History Does not Inspire Confidence - Center for Media and Democracy

As our regular readers undoubtedly know, the House Ethics Committee is in the process of investigating the response of the Republican House leadership to early warning signs in the Mark Foley page scandal. Last week we learned that the committee is expected to issue a report, but not until after next week's elections. The cynical response that this revelation begs is fairly reasonable, especially considering that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has a recent history of attempting to muzzle the committee. The following history can be found on the Congresspedia page on the House Ethics Commmittee and is another demonstration on how this "citizens' encyclopedia on Congress" can be an essential guide to understanding the news of the day.

In 2004, the Ethics Committee under then-Chairman Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) aggressively pursued allegations of misconduct against then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). The committee did not officially sanction DeLay with violations of any House rules, but it did admonish him for three incidents which the committee said could lead to the perception of impropriety in Congress. Many Republicans were enraged by the Republican-led panel’s actions. In October, not long after the last of the admonishments, Hefley was quoted in The Hill as saying “I’ve been attacked; I’ve been threatened,” in reference to members of his own party.

On February 3, 2005, at the start of the 109th Congress, Hastert replaced Hefley with Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican seen as more loyal to the Republican leadership. Hastert also ousted two other Republican panel members, Reps. Kenny Hulshof and Steve LaTourette, who had voted with Hefley to admonish DeLay and voted against an internal Republican rule change meant to protect DeLay as majority leader in the case of his indictment in a Texas investigation into his behavior. In the place of the removed lawmakers, Hastert appointed Reps. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Tom Cole (R-Okla.). According to Common Cause, all three voted for the caucus rule change. Even more notably, Smith and Cole donated thousands of dollars ($10,000 and $5,000 respectively) to DeLay’s legal defense fund. Dissenting Republican congressmen were not the only victims of the Ethics Committee purge. Upon assuming his position as chairman, Hastings fired both the committee’s longtime staff director and its chief spokesperson. He attempted to replace the former with his personal office’s chief of staff.

House Republicans also unilaterally imposed several modifications to the rules governing the committee. Previously an investigation would automatically be triggered if the committee was deadlocked on a complaint for more than 45 days. Instead, the complaint would now be dismissed. Given the committee's composition of five Republicans and five Democrats, this rule would have essentially meant that either party could have killed any investigation with a party line vote. The other two new rules allowed the preparation of witnesses by the same lawyer — a process previously discouraged to prevent witness cooperation — and the requirement that a member of Congress be allowed to contest the facts of the letter informing him that he was under investigation before it was publicly released.

House Democrats were enraged by both the rule changes and the placement of a partisan chief of staff in a position previously considered non-partisan. Rather than go along with either development, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.), then the ranking Democrat on the committee, opted to shut the committee down by simply refusing to attend its inaugural meeting, which preventinged it from being constituted. At the end of March 2006, the Republicans caved to Democratic demands and rolled back the rule changes. In early July, the committee was finally able to resume operation after Hastings and Mollohan reached a deal where their personal staff would be their liaisons to the committee but the actual committee staff would be non-partisan.

While that particular Ethics Committee battle was resolved almost a year and a half ago, the members named to the committee by Hastert in January 2005 remain. While an investigation into the Republican leadership's actions prior to the breaking of the Foley scandal was politically necessary in the wake of the public outrage over the matter, it remains to be seen if Hastert's hand-picked jurors will find any fault in his actions.

—with Congresspedia intern Tim Malacarne

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Slashdot | Bush Signs Bill Enabling Martial Law

Slashdot Bush Signs Bill Enabling Martial Law:

"An anonymous reader writes to point us to an article on the meaning of a new law that President Bush signed on Oct. 17. It seems to allow the President to impose martial law on any state or territory, using federal troops and/or the state's own, or other states', National Guard troops. From the article:

'In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law. It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.'

Here is a link to the bill in question. The relevant part is Sec. 1076 about 3/4 of the way down the page."

Note: the site hosting the article is already sluggish; I was unable to prime the CoralCDN cache with it. Please consider mirroring this article if you are able.

AP seeks action on detained photographer - Yahoo! News

AP seeks action on detained photographer - Yahoo! News:

via Andrew Sullivan

NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. military's indefinite detention of an Associated Press photographer in Iraq, without charges, is an outrage and should be seen as such by the journalistic community, AP editors said Friday.

"We are angry, and we hope you are, too," AP International Editor John Daniszewski told a gathering of the Associated Press Managing Editors.

In interviews, the leaders of APME and the American Society of Newspaper Editors shared frustration with the case of Bilal Hussein and said they would urge the Pentagon to release the photographer, who has been held by the military since April, or to provide the AP with justification for his continued detention.

The president of the Associated Press Photo Managers, Steve Gonzales, said in an e-mail that his group would sign onto that effort, saying it understands "the necessity of unbiased visual journalism in theaters of conflict."

The AP similarly has called for the military to release the photographer or charge him with a crime.
Hussein was arrested in April and accused, "vaguely," of being a security threat, said Santiago Lyon, the AP's director of photography. The military has said Hussein was in the company of two alleged insurgents. Daniszewski said that when the news cooperative pressed for further details, the best it could learn was that Hussein was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of two journalists by insurgents in Ramadi.

However, Daniszewski said the two journalists were asked by AP about the incident and that they recalled Hussein as a "hero," who helped evacuate them from harm's way.

Lyon said he reviewed Hussein's images and interviewed his colleagues and found nothing to suggest he was doing more than his job in a war zone. The vast majority of images depicts the realities of war, Lyon said, and "may be an inconvenient truth, but a truth nonetheless."

David Zeeck, president of ASNE and executive editor of The News Tribune, of Tacoma, Wash., called Hussein's detention without charges "contrary to American values."

"This is how Saddam Hussein dealt with reporters; he would hold them incommunicado," Zeeck said.

Some of Bilal Hussein's images were shown to the newspaper editors Friday. One showed a man sweeping up a blood-drenched floor; another, a row of four dead children and others of wounded Iraqis. Lyon said Hussein captured important and compelling images of the effects of war.

Hussein is an Iraqi national, as are nearly all AP journalists in the war-torn country, Lyon said. He also is one of about 13,000 men and women being detained in Iraq without getting a trial, Daniszewski said.

Suki Dardarian, deputy managing editor of The Seattle Times and outgoing president of the APME, said what's happened with Hussein could have a chilling effect on the work of other journalists. Hussein's detention has virtually halted the production of photographs from the dangerous region in which Hussein worked, Daniszewski said.

Rosemary Goudreau, editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, asked AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll what papers like hers could do.

"You run an editorial page, as I recall," Carroll said.

Where the right went wrong -

I caught today's installment of CNN's Broken Government series. I watched this in part because Lynne Cheney was complaining about it to Wolf Blitzer earlier today, but mostly because I happened to be flipping channels when it came on. It sure is nice to see this message being hammered home on CNN, instead of just coursing through the blogosphere. Somewhere during the program I saw the slogan "Lose one for the Gipper." Clever!

By Jeff Greenfield
CNN Senior Analyst

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fifty years ago, when a 29-year-old Yale graduate named William F. Buckley Jr. funded National Review magazine, conservatism was a small insurgency, fighting the dominant tide of liberalism that had governed the United States for a quarter century.

Today, the right is politically dominant. The president is an avowed conservative; so are the vast majority of Republicans who control the Congress. The courts have moved to the right; conservative voices are prominent in the media; and three Americans call themselves conservative for every two who say they are liberal.

Yet now, at what should be the floodtide of conservative power, many on the right are expressing open, even passionate disagreement with what has been done in their name. (Watch what's angered the right -- 1:34 Video)

"I believe that as a movement we have veered off course into the dangerous and uncharted waters of big government Republicanism," said Mike Pence, a three-term representative from Indiana.

Pence is one of a number of conservatives who finds himself dismayed by much of what has happened under Republican rule.

And others, like Buckley, are concerned by what is in the future. He foresees a repudiation of what has been done in the name of the right.

"At the Republican convention in '08 there will be a lot of rhetoric, which will deplore what has been done in the name of conservatism and Republicanism. And I think it will bring the house down," Buckley told me for our "Broken Government: Right Gone Wrong."

"Because I think there's always a queasy feeling when you violate your own canons."

The discontent includes the sharp growth in government spending -- including the kind of domestic spending conservatives have long deplored -- to the growth of "pork-barrel" projects once seen as an emblem of how big government politicians hold power.

"They have increased the amount of government spending by a degree that no Democrat would ever dream of getting away with," said columnist Andrew Sullivan.

Many of the sharpest attacks on the mix of lobbyists and politicians that have sent prominent public figures to prison come from these voices on the right.

There are social conservatives who say the Republicans have taken them for granted -- and libertarians like Dick Armey and Sullivan, who say government has no more business in the bedroom than the boardroom. In "Right Gone Wrong," you'll see the sharp split over Bush's foreign policy, especially his sweeping goal of promoting democracy around the world. ("Loony," William Buckley calls it).

While conservatives overwhelmingly support Bush on his tax cuts and judicial appointments -- and while many, if not most, back his claim of broad executive authority to wage the war on terror, the discontent on the right has grown so intense that a number of well-known conservatives have openly argued that the Republicans should lose their hold on Congress this year, either to punish conservatives for abandoning the cause, or because divided government actually produces better policy results.

And beyond the November elections, the conservative movement finds itself in a debate that will shape the future of this movement: "How do we mesh power and principle?"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Business as usual in "up-is-down world"

YouTube - Bush Reserves The Right To Repeat Katrina Failures

from Crooks and Liars

President Bush asserted his right last week via signing statement to ignore a Congressional mandate that the next FEMA Director have at least five years of disaster response experience.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

U.S. Generals Call for Democratic Takeover

Two retired senior Army generals, who served in Iraq and previously voted Republican, are now openly endorsing a Democratic takeover of Congress. The generals, and an active-duty senior military official, told Salon in separate interviews that they believe a Democratic victory will help reverse course from what they consider to be a disastrous Bush administration policy in Iraq. The two retired generals, Maj. Gen. John Batiste and Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, first openly criticized the handling of the war last spring, when they called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"The best thing that can happen right now is for one or both of our houses to go Democratic so we can have some oversight," Batiste, who led the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, told Salon. Batiste describes himself as a "lifelong Republican." But now, he said, "It is time for a change."
Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, agrees that Democratic control of Congress could be the best way to wrest control from the Bush administration and steer the United States away from a gravely flawed strategy in Iraq. "The way out that I see is to hand the House and the Senate to the Democrats and get this thing turned around," Eaton explained, adding that such sentiment is growing among retired and active-duty military leaders. "Most of us see two more years of the same if the Republicans stay in power," he said. He also noted, "You could not have tortured me enough to vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore, but I'm not at all thrilled with who I did vote for."
An active-duty senior military official who also served in Iraq said that, among a surprising number of his otherwise "very conservative" colleagues, there is hope that Democrats will gain control of Congress. "I will tell you, in the circles I talk to, the only way to enable or enact change is to change the leadership," he said.
Political experts say there is no evidence of a large exodus of military voters from the GOP, and it remains unclear how Iraq will affect military voters at the polls. Particularly among officers and the top brass, the military has long been heavily Republican. President Bush led John Kerry 73 percent to 18 percent just prior to the 2004 election in a Military Times poll, which largely surveyed higher ranking and career members of the military. Three separate studies in the past decade, including one due in dissertation form from Columbia University next spring, have put the ratio of Republicans to Democrats in the upper ranks of the military at 8-to-1.
But last spring a handful of retired commanders shook the military establishment to its core by publicly calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And palpable frustration and anger among officers over the Bush administration's Iraq strategy clearly is driving some to do what was previously unthinkable: switch their allegiance to the Democratic Party, at least for the time being.
That may also be the case among the rank and file. As Salon reported recently, there are signs that support for Bush and the GOP is eroding in a Virginia congressional district saturated with military voters. Salon has also learned that more than 100 current members of the military have now joined a campaign formally appealing to Congress to immediately withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.
"The rest of us still in uniform cannot publicly articulate our own concerns, but there is a whole bunch of people out there who feel [this] way," said the active-duty senior military official. When asked if he was a Republican, he responded, "I was in the past." He railed against the Bush administration's head-in-the-sand approach to the war. "What do we have today? Holy shit. Now you have sectarian violence? That is a new term, by the way," the official fumed, emphasizing that before the war and even well into a volatile occupation nobody in the Bush administration "would even believe there would be an insurgency."
It's not that the current and former military leaders are suddenly eager to see liberal House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi take more power in Congress if the Democrats win control. Instead, the embrace of the Democrats, they say, is purely pragmatic. They hope the Democrats will succeed where Republicans failed and conduct critical oversight to help the Bush administration fix its stalled and failing strategy for Iraq. "Over five years our Congress has abrogated [its] oversight responsibilities," Batiste said. "They have not held serious hearings about this war."

General Batiste:

General Eaton:

Here's Dan Drezner articulating the same "we need a Democratic Congress" message on Bloggingheads tv. Drezner, a lifelong Republican says that he doesn't recognize his party anymore, and believes that they badly need to be checked. He apparently realized this a while ago, because he says he voted for Kerry in 2004. Interestingly, he is diavlogging with Ann Althouse, who says she voted Democratic all down the line, up until 2004, when she voted for Bush.

Olbermann on 'Stay the Course'


And here's an expanded stay-the-course medley from Olbermann on 10/25/06:

Video - WMV Video - QT

UPDATE 10/27/06: New Lieberman edition of stay-the-course ad:

George Lakoff on the linguistic significance of the stay-the-course thing.

Staying 'the stay the course' course: WE'VE NEVER BEEN

Another solid piece (this one a commercial) from our now easily searchable history.

It isn't just that they repeated their "stay the course" talking point one thousand times and suddenly decided maybe they should change course, it is the words "WE'VE NEVER BEEN stay the course." NEVER he proclaims. It exemplifies so much about this adminstration's approach to truth. I guess when you back yourself so far into a corner, the only way to get out is to deny history. It fits the Orwellian script they seem to be following. Oceania was never at war with Eastasia, they had always been at war with Eurasia.

However Orwell, like Bush, didn't anticipate "the Google."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Arianna Huffington on Fearmongering

CBS via Crooks & Liars

Video WMP Video-QT

Let’s face it: "The sky is falling" or "the nukes are coming" is a frighteningly effective sales pitch.

Don’t get me wrong: North Korea testing a nuke is real bad news. But I couldn't help but wonder what political use Karl Rove and the president would put this real bad news to. After all, banging the fear gong and trying to scare the hell out of us has worked like a charm for President Bush and the GOP.

Ever since 9/11, "be afraid" has been their No. 1 talking point. They sold us on invading Iraq with warnings from Condoleezza Rice that the "smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud" and dire predictions from Bush and Cheney about all the ways Saddam could rain death and destruction on us. And it's remarkable how the terror rhetoric always seems to hit Red just before elections.

Whether it's the specter of North Korean nukes or Iraqi insurgents making their way to Main Street USA, fear is a powerful, universal emotion — always there to be exploited. So as Election Day draws near, be on the lookout for those attempting to scare us into voting our fears.

To quote FDR, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." And those who use it for their own political purposes.

11/1/06 UPDATE:

Wes Clark Ad on the same subject:

W's attempt to cut and run from 'Stay the Course'

Crooks and Liars » The Strategy in Iraq Has Never Been “Stay the Course”… Right?

Ken Mehlman tried this last August, attempting to substitute "Adapt and Win" for "Stay the Course." Jon Stewart nailed him for it.

Oh, and it appears that Mrs. W had it all wrong as recently as September.

And Boehner in July.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Olbermann Strikes Again

Keith issued arguably his most powerful Special Comment yet tonight. This time he takes on the GOP's newest fearmongering ad which quotes Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri superimposed over pictures of explosions with the sound of a ticking bomb in the background. As if that wasn't enough, it's topped off with the cryptic message echoing LBJ's 1960 "Daisy" ad that ran just once: These are the stakes.

Here is the commercial:

Sidney Blumenthal: Bumpy Ride Ahead

Los Angeles CityBeat

We’re headed into a potential constitutional crisis if the Democrats get one or both houses of Congress. They will certainly have subpoena power and I think the Bush administration is likely to resist the production of documents. (Like this.)

The idea in my book is that Bush has created a radical presidency that is unaccountable. And if a check-and-balance is introduced for the first time to Bush, instead of one-party rule, we’re going to have another crisis. The conflict will increase, not diminish. As Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Previous Blumenthal post.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Darn that internet: Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’ via Think Progress

Think Progress » Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’

Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’

During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”

Bush responded, ‘We’ve never been stay the course, George!’

Bush is lying:

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course. [4/13/04]

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]

Full transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run” and “stay the course.”

BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,” George. We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Richard Dawkins: On The God Delusion

The Blog Richard Dawkins: On The God Delusion The Huffington Post:

"My scientific colleagues have additional reasons to declare emergency. Ignorant and absolutist attacks on stem cell research are just the tip of an iceberg. What we have here is nothing less than a global assault on rationality, and the Enlightenment values that inspired the founding of this first and greatest of secular republics. Science education - and hence the whole future of science in this country - is under threat. Temporarily beaten back in a Pennsylvania court, the 'breathtaking inanity' (Judge John Jones's immortal phrase) of 'intelligent design' continually flares up in local bush-fires. Dowsing them is a time-consuming but important responsibility, and scientists are finally being jolted out of their complacency. For years they quietly got on with their science, lamentably underestimating the creationists who, being neither competent nor interested in science, attended to the serious political business of subverting local school boards. Scientists, and intellectuals generally, are now waking up to the threat from the American Taliban. "

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Keith Olbermann: - at his finest

Olbermann: 'Beginning of the end of America' - Countdown with Keith Olbermann -

Wired News: Building a Better Voting Machine

Wired News: Building a Better Voting Machine: "With election season upon us, Wired News spoke with two of the top computer scientists in the field, UC Berkeley's David Wagner and Princeton's Ed Felten, and came up with a wish list of features we would include in a voting machine, if we were asked to create one.

These recommendations can't guarantee clean results on their own. Voting machines, no matter how secure, are no remedy for poor election procedures and ill-conceived election laws. So our system would include thorough auditing and verification capabilities and require faithful adherence to good election practices, as wells as topnotch usability and security features." leveraging the collective

Volunteer for the Phone Program: "The November election is our best opportunity in years to change the direction of our country. We can end Republican control in Washington if we get progressives in key districts to come out and vote.

That's why we've launched Call for Change, one of the largest volunteer phonebanking efforts in American history. MoveOn members will make more than 5 million phone calls to voters in 30 highly competitive House districts plus key Senate races.

This works! We tested this program in a special election in April, and our calls boosted voter turnout more than any volunteer phonebank ever studied. MoveOn members also made 77,000 calls to put Ned Lamont over the top in the recent Conecticut Senate primary.
Now, if we all pitch in, we're going to win back Congress."

Friday, October 13, 2006

From Daily Kos: Kansas newspaper

Daily Kos: Kansas:

(from the Daily Kos)
Maybe we are going to see a wave in November. Maybe even a tsumani. My friend Kate in Oneonta pointed me to this post which points to this editorial by Steve Rose in the Johnson County Sun in Overland Park, Kansas.

As we prepare ourselves to make political endorsements in subsequent issues, I can tell you unequivocally that this newspaper has never endorsed so many Democrats. Not even close.

In the 56 years we have been publishing in Johnson County, this basically has been a Republican newspaper. In the old days, before the Republican civil war that fractured the party, we were traditional Republicans....

The point is, I can name on two hands over a half century the number of Democrats we have endorsed for public office.

This year, we will do something different. You will read why we are endorsing Kathleen Sebelius for governor and Mark Parkinson for lieutenant governor; Dennis Moore to be re-elected to the U.S. Congress; Paul Morrison for Kansas attorney general; and a slew of local Democratic state legislative candidates. These are not liberal Democrats. They are what fairly can be described as conservative Democrats, and we can prove that in our forthcoming endorsements.

But I could not help but put in perspective a more global phenomenon that has led us to re-evaluate our traditional support for Republicans....

The Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally.

You almost cannot be a victorious traditional Republican candidate with mainstream values in Johnson County or in Kansas anymore, because these candidates never get on the ballot in the general election. They lose in low turnout primaries, where the far right shows up to vote in disproportionate numbers.

To win a Republican primary, the candidate must move to the right.

What does to-the-right mean?

It means anti-public education, though claiming to support it.

It means weak support of our universities, while praising them.

It means anti-stem cell research.

It means ridiculing global warming.

It means gay bashing. Not so much gay marriage, but just bashing gays.

It means immigrant bashing. I'm talking about the viciousness.

It means putting religion in public schools. Not just prayer.

It means mocking evolution and claiming it is not science.

It means denigrating even abstinence-based sex education....

But everything else adds up to priorities that have nothing to do with the Republican Party I once knew.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Joseph C. Wilson: People for the American Way

The Huffington Post

The core values enshrined in our founding documents are those that I fought for as a diplomat overseas for so many years. I never envisioned that one day I might have to return home to fight for them here.

I freely admit to you that I am new to this fight that the People for the American Way has been waging for the past twenty five years. How naïve of me to believe that the gentle exposure of human failings that I watched on All in the Family so many years ago would not in and of itself wash away bigotry in our society.

How naïve to conclude that a broad consensus on constitutional rights and freedoms had been achieved and was now by and large settled.

I now understand, as have other generations of Americans, that the fight for freedom and equality, for a social order based on merit, not birth, wealth, or partisan allegiance, is never ending. Benjamin Franklin had it right when, on leaving Constitution Hall in response to the question 'What kind of government have you bequeathed us,' he said, "A Republic, if you can keep it." We must constantly fight for our Republic, for our constitution and for our freedoms against those who would subvert them.

Unmuddying the Playing Field

Los Angeles Times

Video cameras are now a valued campaign tool. A foe's gaffes can land on YouTube in a flash.

Previous post, same topic.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New York Times/CBS News poll

Foley Scandal Is Hurting G.O.P.'s Image, Poll Finds - New York Times:

The whole country is starting to see through the lies:

"83 percent of respondents thought that Mr. Bush was either hiding something or mostly lying when he discussed how the war in Iraq was going."

see complete poll results in this pdf

Andrew Sullivan Interview

The Raw Story Video: Sullivan wants GOP 'punished' for Foley 'hypocrisy'

"It seems to me that we know already that what Dennis Hastert did not know, he should have known. What I call responsibility is instead of blaming your staff, as this president always does, as other people always do, is that you say, "look, I may not have been told, but that meant that I ran my office in a way that bad news didn't reach me and that's my responsibility."

bloggingheads: should-see TV

Bloggingheads 10.3.06

David Corn, James Pinkerton

I'm recommending the whole diavlog. David Corn hits a lot of nails right on the head in a composed and convincing fashion.

There are a number of notable info-age moments, such as at 49:00 or so (a little after I think): Mr. Corn does something conventional broadcast media cannot yet do effectively, which is to "hyperlink" by pointing with his words and gestures to a link to substantive content incorporated by reference into the discussion.

The key difference: the link lives next to the video screen, in the same medium. Now that is rich dialogue! (think 'rich text'). (A reader suggested that one might call it hyperdialogue h/t truthboy but I think rich dialogue sounds better yes, the reader and the writer are one and the same in this instance.)

See rich dialogue in action in this 35 second snippet:

Watch the whole thing!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Does the Foley scandal prove the existence of a God?

Glenn Greenwald via Andrew Sullivan

The Foley scandal is so perfectly tailored -- one could even say artistically designed -- to expose every character flaw of this country's Republican leaders (and their followers), and it has evolved so flawlessly (like the most brilliantly coordinated symphony), that one is almost inclined to believe that it was divinely inspired. It is difficult to believe that human beings (let alone Democrats) could create something so perfect (as Billmon wrote in comments here the other day, the relentless efficiency of this scandal is proof positive that Democrats had nothing to do with it). I agree with John Podhoretz's description:

This whole Foley business is one of the most dazzling political plays in my or any other lifetime - like watching an unassisted triple play or a running back tossing a 90-yard touchdown pass on a double-reverse.

The perfection of this scandal lies in its substance, not its theatrics. The Foley scandal is not -- as even some Bush opponents have asserted -- an aberrational, isolated, inconsequential melodrama that is unrelated to the substantive and important critiques of the Bush movement and which just coincidentally emerged as a cynical weapon that can be used to defeat the Republicans. The opposite is true. This scandal has resonated so powerfully because it is shining such a powerful light on the towering hubris, utter lack of intellectual and ethical integrity, and deeply engrained corruption that accounts for virtually every other Bush disaster -- from Iraq to law-breaking scandals to torture to Abrahmoff-type corruption schemes and everything in between.

There are, as Matt Yglesias pointed out the other day, huge numbers of people in this country -- clearly the majority of the electorate -- who are not at all stupid but simply do not have the time or inclination to pay close attention to political events. In that regard, people who spend substantial time in the blogosphere are aberrational; it is not the norm to monitor political developments on a daily basis. Most people rely upon journalists and pundits, as Yglesias said, "to let them know if something goes dramatically wrong with the governance of the country." But journalists have failed in that duty and the conservative pundits on whom many people (particularly conservatives) rely have purposely obscured what has been happening.

But for so many reasons -- its relative simplicity, its crystal clarity, the involvement of emotionally-charged issues, the salacious sex aspects -- this Foley scandal circumvents that whole dynamic. People are paying attention on their own. They don't need pundits or journalists to tell them what to think about it because they are able to form deeply held opinions on their own. None of the standard obfuscation tactics used for so long by Bush followers are working here. To the contrary, their attempted use of those tactics is making things much worse for them, because people can see that Bush followers are attempting -- through the use of patently dishonest and corrupt tactics -- to excuse the inexcusable. And seeing that, it gives great credence to all of the accusations voiced over the last five years that this is how the Bush movement operates in every area, because people can now see it for themselves.

In that regard, this scandal is like the Cliffs' Notes version of a more complicated treatise on how the Bush movement operates. Every one of their corrupt attributes is vividly on display here:

The absolute refusal ever to admit error. The desperate clinging to power above all else. The efforts to cloud what are clear matters of wrongdoing with irrelevant sideshows. And the parade of dishonest and just plainly inane demonization efforts to hide and distract from their wrongdoing: hence, the pages are manipulative sex vixens; a shadowy gay cabal is to blame; the real criminals are those who exposed the conduct, not those who engaged in it; liberals created the whole scandal; George Soros funded the whole thing; a Democratic Congressman did something wrong 23 years ago; one of the pages IM'd with Foley as a "hoax", and on and on. There has been a virtual carousel -- as there always is -- of one pathetic, desperate attempt after the next to deflect blame and demonize those who are pointing out the wrongdoing. This is what they always do, on every issue. The difference here is that everyone can see it, and so nothing is working.

What Bush followers did yesterday really encapsulates what they are about. They had Matt Drudge -- the same Matt Drudge who "broke the story" in the 2004 campaign of the intern who fled to Africa in order to escape John Kerry's lecherous stalking -- post a screaming headline claiming that one of the pages claims that he only engaged in sex chats with Foley as a prank. There are countless, obvious reasons why a page might claim that he only engaged in sex talk with a 53-year-old man on the Internet as a prank (much the way people caught with child pornography claim they have it only for research), but assume that it's true that this particular page chatted with Foley for that reason.

It is painfully obvious that this proves nothing, that it does not help the House GOP leadership in any way or even remotely mitigate their conduct. It has been clear from the first day that Foley has been engaged in a pattern of sexual pursuit of numerous Congressional pages over many years. Some pages seemed to have welcomed the pursuit and encouraged it; others found it highly objectionable; and some may have been fueled by different motives. But nobody doubts that Mark Foley has been systematically pursuing pages for sexual pleasure for years now. That is not even in dispute. And even if this one page were engaged in a "prank," that would not change the nature of Foley's behavior or impact the obligation of the GOP House leadership to act (just as someone's guilt is not mitigated when they try to hire someone they believe is a hit man but who is really a policeman pretending to be one).

Even if this one page out of all of the others were engaged in a "hoax," it is still the case that Mark Foley was systematically pursuing Congressional pages while the GOP House leadership looked the other way. The Drudge item (even if true) changes nothing. It does not even arguably affect the scandal. That is self-evident. And, on top of all of that, the "report" came from the person who is probably the single least credible source on the Internet.

Despite all of that, Bush followers in every crevice immediately and mindlessly seized on this Drudge item and cited it virtually to proclaim the scandal over, suggesting-- based solely on this single item -- that the whole thing, the entire scandal, was a meaningless hoax from the beginning. Even the Deputy Editor of The Wall St. Journal, Dan Henninger, repeated the "report" in arguing that the whole affair was a meaningless distraction: "By midafternoon yesterday, a rumor emerged that in fact Mark Foley had been pranked by the House pages."

They all seized on a plainly false -- and, even if true, totally irrelevant -- "report" to declare that the whole scandal was nothing and was even the fault of those who talked about it. Their only objective, as always, is to defend their Leaders, who can do no wrong, even when caught red-handed, and they will grab onto any claim, no matter how unreliable, false and/or irrelevant, to do so.

Beyond the deceit and desperation is the hypocrisy so glaring that it makes one's eyes squint. The examples are literally too numerous to chronicle, but one of my personal favorites is the feigned above-it-all, dismissive bewilderment that something as inconsequential and petty as a sex scandal could possibly be getting so much attention.

The Wall St. Journal's Henninger yesterday asked: "Is this Mark Foley thing really happening?" Hennginger can't believe that with so many Important Things going in the world, our country would really be focused on what he dismissively refers to as "Congressman Foley's 1995 email traffic." Henninger is the Deputy Editor of the WSJ Editorial Page -- the same Editorial Page that spent much of the 1990s focusing on the spots on Bill Clinton's penis, Hillary's affair with Vince Foster, and semen stains on a blue dress.

The same people who impeached a popular, twice-elected President of the U.S. over a sex scandal involving consenting adults, who caused our country's political dialogue for several years to be composed of the filthiest and most scurrilous speculation peddled by some of the lowest bottom-feeders and dirt-mongers, and who constructed a political movement based in large part on sermonizing about private sexual morality and demonizing those who deviate, are now protesting -- without any irony -- the fact that a sex scandal is distracting from the Truly Important Issues our country faces and that Mark Foley's sexual pursuit over many years of 16 and 17-year-old Congressional pages is nothing that really matters.

It is as though Republicans are being punished for all of their serious political sins at once, in one perfectly constructed, humiliating scandal designed to highlight their crimes and exact just retribution for them. The Foley scandal is shining a very bright light on their conduct, not just in this one incident but with regard to how they have been governing the country generally over the last five years. That is why this scandal is so important and it is why Bush followers are so desperate to proclaim the whole thing over with -- even if it means having to jump on a pathetic Matt Drudge item to do it. The one thing they don't want is for a clear, illuminating light to be shined on how they conduct themselves.

UPDATE: The favorite "news" source for Bush followers, Matt Drudge, has been revealed, yet again, to be nothing more than a purveyor of fiction and lies. The lawyer for the page who was the subject of Drudge's report, Steven Jones (the lawyer for Timothy McVeigh), denounced the Drudge item as "a piece of fiction" and said that "there is not any aspect of this matter that is a practical joke nor should anyone treat it that way" (h/t TPM Muckraker). Ironically, many Bush followers touted the fact that the page had hired such a credible and publicly known lawyer as proof that Drudge's story was significant.

On a different note, The Buffalo News has a front-page article on the role which blogs have played in the Foley scandal, with a particular emphasis on how the work of blogs has affected their local Congressman, Tom Reynolds. The article features the work of local blogs as well as this blog in ensuring that light was shined not just on Denny Hastert but also on some of the secondary though still culpable guilty figures in the scandal, such as Tom Reynolds.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

NEWSWEEK Poll: GOP in Meltdown - Newsweek Politics -

NEWSWEEK Poll: GOP in Meltdown - Newsweek Politics -

"Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.
Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August. Only 25 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country, while 67 percent say they are not. Foley's disgrace certainly plays a role in Republican unpopularity: 27 percent of registered voters say the scandal and how the Republican leadership in the House handled it makes them less likely to vote for a Republican Congressional candidate; but 65 percent say it won’t make much difference in determining how they vote. And Americans are equally divided over whether or not Speaker Hastert should resign over mishandling the situation (43 percent say he should, but 36 percent say he shouldn’t)."
(There is a bottle of sparkling water in my refrigerator that froze. I turned up the temperature and moved the bottle toward the front several weeks ago, but it just doesn't want to melt:)

"The scandal’s more significant impact seems to be a widening of the yawning credibility gap developing between the President, his party and the nation. While 52 percent of Americans believe Hastert was aware of Foley’s actions and tried to cover them up, it’s part of a larger loss of faith in Republican leadership, thanks mostly to the war in Iraq. For instance, for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration knowingly misled the American people in building its case for war against Saddam Hussein: 58 percent vs. 36 percent who believe it didn’t. And pessimism over Iraq is at record highs on every score: nearly two in three Americans, 64 percent, believe the United States is losing ground there; 66 percent say the war has not made America safer from terrorism (just 29 percent believe it has); and 53 percent believe it was a mistake to go to war at all, again the first time the NEWSWEEK poll has registered a majority in that camp."

Friday, October 06, 2006


MSNBC via Crooks & Liars

[quoting from the latter part of the Olbermann transcript]:

They are never wrong, and they never regret. Admirable in a French torch singer. Cataclysmic in an American leader.

Thus the sickening attempt to blame the Foley Scandal on the negligence of others or 'The Clinton Era' — even though the Foley Scandal began before the Lewinsky Scandal.

Thus last month's enraged attacks on this Administration's predecessors, about Osama Bin Laden — a projection of their own negligence in the immediate months before 9/11.

Thus the terrifying attempt to hamstring the fundament of our freedom — the Constitution — a triumph for Al-Qaeda, for which the terrorists could not hope to achieve with a hundred 9/11's.

And thus, worst of all perhaps, these newest lies by President Bush about Democrats choosing to await another attack and not listen to the conversations of terrorists.

It is the terror and the guilt within your own heart, Mr. Bush, that you re-direct at others who simply wish for you to temper your certainty with counsel.

It is the failure and the incompetence within your own memory, Mr. Bush, that leads you to demonize those who might merely quote to you the pleadings of Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.'

It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear, sir.
It is your own — before 9/11 - (and you alone know this), perhaps afterwards.

Mr. President, these new lies go to the heart of what it is that you truly wish to preserve.
It is not our freedom, nor our country — your actions against the Constitution give irrefutable proof of that.

You want to preserve a political party's power. And obviously you'll sell this country out, to do it.

These are lies about the Democrats piled atop lies about Iraq which were piled atop lies about your preparations for Al-Qaeda.

To you, perhaps, they feel like the weight of a million centuries.

As crushing. As immovable.

They are not.

If you add more lies to them, you cannot free yourself, and us, from them.

But if you stop — if you stop fabricating quotes, and building straw-men, and inspiring those around you to do the same — you may yet liberate yourself and this nation.

Please, sir, do not throw this country's principles away because your lies have made it such that you can no longer differentiate between the terrorists and the critics.

—Good night, and good luck.

WaPo Froomkin comment on Olbermann piece

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Colbert: Leading Edge WebVision

The people behind "The Colbert Report" may be the smartest minds in televison: While everyone else frets about YouTube, web TV, and platform integration Stephen Colbert & Co are already galvanizing the online to action and integrating fan content into the show, to hilarious effect. It is, in a word, freaking brilliant.

Never mind citizen journalism, thanks to last night's episode "The Colbert Report" has become the first program to feature fan content — and open the floodgates to more. Last week, Colbert did a hilarious rendition of a Jedi knight, whipping a lightsaber around in front of a greenscreen (see it here). Last night, Colbert announced the "Stephen Colbert Greenscreen Challenge" where members of the Colbert Nation (a website as well as a movement) were invited to try their hand at filling in the rest. Said Colbert:

"A week ago I showed off some of my light saber skills in front of a green screen. Well, all over the internets, you heroes took that footage and added in backgrounds and action. Well, Nation, in order to honor your efforts, we're going to start showing your bold depictionism of my heroic fight. "

Colbert then showed a vid from "a web hero who calls himself 'Nick The Taurus'" — a hilariously low-rent clip of Colbert fighting off the occassional superimposed animated claw. But then he showed another video (from "Splaaaa") that integrated Colbert into actual "Star Wars" action, and it was terrific. So there's no doubt that the web is going to go to town on this — free content for Colbert, and an amazing return to his community of fans. Unreal.

colbert-greenscreen.jpgThis is just the latest in "The Colbert Report"'s savvy exploitation of the web. As pointed out by Popped Culture, first he wreaked havoc on Wikipedia,
wiki'ing up a storm in entries on elephants, George Washington and Colbert's own entry.
Next he challenged "the supremacy of Chuck Norris" to name a bridge in Hungary (Go here to vote, too). With an veritable army of viewers each night and the expanded online audience the next day, the web reach of Colbert's online experiments just keeps getting wider and wider. Probably won't be long before other shows follow suit but in the meantime, "The Colbert Report" has proven yet again why it's one of the most cutting-edge shows on television.

Not News: Daily Show is News

Huffington Post

Jon Stewart may joke about how his lead-in is puppets, but anyone who has ever watched "The Daily Show" knows it's a misnomer to call it fake news: It may be a fake newscast, but the news it reports and comments upon night after night is all too real. And now it's official: A study by the University of Indiana has found that "The Daily Show" is as substantive as network news.

This, as said above, is not news to anyone who watches the show; on the contrary, its viewers are highly educted and the quality roster of guests (John McCain, Helen Thomas, Thomas Ricks, Ken Mehlman, Pervez Musharraf and, okay, Samuel L. Jackson) makes it compelling viewing for news junkies as well. Indeed, in addition to covering the latest news, they often seize on less-reported news, with the added bonus of providing context to ongoing issues (nary a show goes by when Stewart does not make reference to the "Mess O'Potamia" in Iraq; also, they are all over the Foley scandal, obviously, but have frankly given more airtime this week to the recent rollback of detainee habeas corpus rights than I have seen elsewhere).

There's no question that the coverage is substantive (even, if as study-leader Professor Julia R. Fox cautions, both network news programs and "The Daily Show" are ratings-driven). But what the study does not mention is not only how the Daily Show now makes news (Stewart's Musharraf interview was picked up everywhere), but it often picks up news that has gone virtually unreported anywhere else, liike this shocking C-SPAN footage of House Judiciary Committee chair James Sensenbrenner cutting short a Congressional hearing on the Patriot Act in June 2005, actually turning off the microphone mid-sentence, gavelling out of the meeting and leaving the room. It was a stunning — stunning — abuse of power, and the MSM missed it (per Google, with a paltry234 hits). That's not only real news, it's real news that everyone else missed. :How's that for substance?

P.S. We'd just like to point out that we've been saying this all along.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Tipping Point

William Rivers Pitt

Congressman Henry Waxman, minority chair for the House Government Reform Committee, released a massive batch of emails from Abramoff to various Washington DC power players. In one, dated March 18, 2002, Abramoff wrote, "I was sitting yesterday with Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor, at the NCAA basketball game, discussing Israel when this email came in. I showed it to him. It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq."

"The upcoming war in Iraq," wrote Abramoff casually, one year and two days before the invasion was undertaken. It seems those "few staff-level meetings" availed Abramoff of some significant information. How this criminal came to know war in Iraq was coming before the rest of the world did is something that deserves a great deal of intense scrutiny.

So, yeah, a few things have bubbled up in the last few days that, one would think, might bring a drop of sweat or two out on any number of Republican brows. Amazingly enough, however, it isn't the war or the 9/11 lies and failures or even Abramoff that is inspiring the Republican perspiration.

No, it's a sex scandal. Of course.

The details, which everyone but a few hermits living in caves deep below the earth have heard by now, are astonishingly lurid. Congressman Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, engaged in long bouts of sexually charged email and Instant Message correspondence with male teenage Congressional pages. In one graphic instance, Foley indulged in online sex with a page while waiting for a vote on funding appropriations for the Iraq war. This man, it should be noted, was co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

Foley quit his office two hours after being asked about these emails and IMs by ABC News reporters, making his departure from Washington the fastest on record since the British torched the city in 1814.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who apparently knew of Foley's predilections, is currently being savaged on all sides for his failure to deal with the situation. The word "resignation" is being bandied about, and Hastert may well be fed to the wolves by his fellow Republicans, who need a scandal like this on the eve of razor-close midterm elections about as much as they need ... well ... about as much as they need a pedophile in their caucus.

Foley, after resigning, claimed all these bad things he's done are because he is an alcoholic. He has entered a clinic, run by the Scientologists, for treatment of alcohol abuse and behavioral disorders. Foley's lawyer appeared before cameras on Tuesday to reiterate the claim that all this happened because of the demon rum, and then took it one step further: Foley's attraction to children is a product of the sexual abuse he absorbed as a youth at the hands of an unnamed clergyman.

Interesting, that. There are hundreds of people alive today who were molested by priests when they were children, and there are probably millions of alcoholics abroad in the land. One wonders how many of these people, especially those exposed to the wretched behavior of priests, went on in life to stalk and sexually dabble with children. It cannot be denied that the abuse Foley absorbed, if true, was unimaginably damaging. Yet rumor has it that he is a member of The Party of Personal Responsibility. That boat, it seems, is taking on water.

Foley is not a pedophile, said the lawyer. Foley absolutely did not engage in direct sexual activity with children. The lawyer should have checked his notes. In April of 2003, Foley apparently had a dalliance with an underaged page which he later commented on in an Instant Message. "I miss you lots since san diego," reads the message obtained by ABC News.


The reaction on the Right has been scattered, to say the least. Social conservatives and the family values brigades have been thrown so off-stride by the Foley scandal that they cannot decide whether to scratch their watches or wind their butts. Many have simply gone silent. More than a few, however, have gone into full battle mode. It is all a Democratic plot, said Rush Limbaugh. It's a plot to destroy me, said Speaker Hastert. In one unutterably amusing scene, the Fox News Network reported on the Foley scandal and flashed his picture on the screen three different times. Beneath the picture was a caption that read, "Mark Foley (D-Fla.)." Yep, he's a Democrat now.

It is difficult to nail down which aspect of all this is more repugnant. Certainly, a congressman using his position to prey on children, all the while sitting on a committee aimed at protecting children from people like him, is beneath contempt. Almost equally disgusting has been the all-too-familiar chorus from bigots like Pat Buchanan, who cannot miss an opportunity to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia. To paraphrase comedian Chris Rock, that train's never late.

But perhaps worst of all is the fact that a story like this is what captures the complete attention of the news media, and by proxy, captures the attention of the American public. Iraq, 9/11 and Abramoff don't pique the interest of those tasked to report the facts. A sex scandal, however, is a five-alarm house on fire. This does not say much for them, and in the end, doesn't say much for the rest of us, either.

Still, there is this. Columnist Molly Ivins once famously noted that you got to dance with them what brung ya. This Foley scandal may well become the tipping point that drives this catastrophically dangerous Republican party out of power in Congress come November, and may finally unleash an avalanche that will sweep some degree of accountability back into government. It is sad and sorry and sick that it took the exposure of a molester to even entertain the possibility, but then again, this is George W. Bush's America. Sad and sorry and sick have been our watchwords for a very long time.

GOP Lawmaker Calls for Rumsfeld to Quit

CBS News

The Connecticut lawmaker also accused officials at the Defense Department of withholding information about the Iraq war from Congress. "I am losing faith in how we are fighting this war," Rep. Chris Shays, a longtime supporter of the conflict, said in an interview.

Brown Bush Foley

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?

The Huffington Post
Jeff Cohen

The day after Donahue was terminated, an internal NBC memo leaked out; it said that Phil Donahue represents 'a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.' Why? Because he insisted on presenting administration critics. The memo worried that Donahue would become a 'home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.'

NBC's solution then? Dump Phil, stifle dissent, brandish the flag.
NBC's solution now? So far, Olbermann appears to be on more solid footing - mostly because the political zeitgeist is much changed from four years ago.

But MSNBC is still owned by GE's conservative bosses, and managed by NBC's ever-timid executives. Olbermann knows this reality as well as anyone; six months ago on C-SPAN, while expressing confidence that good ratings would keep them at bay, he remarked: 'There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all.'

I'm pulling for Olbermann; I'm one of the multitudes who find his commentaries online (perhaps more see them on the Web than on TV) - and forward them far and wide.

But with each new broadside against the Bush administration, I fear for his future. His best security is us, an active citizenry. It's media activism, organized heavily on the Net. It's media watch groups like FAIR and Media Matters for America. It's the movement that resisted the FCC changes in 2003, challenged Sinclair Broadcast propaganda before the '04 election, and recently exposed the 9/11 'hijacking' of ABC by rightwing Clinton-bashers.

In the epilogue of Cable News Confidential, I laud this movement: "My only regret was that such a potent movement had not coalesced by 2002 - to flex its muscles against MSNBC brass in defense of an unfettered Donahue."

If Olbermann gets muzzled or terminated for political reasons, it will be up to us to fight - not only for him, but for the concept that without serious dissent, democracy is a sham.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Daily Kos: Power above security

Daily Kos: Power above security:

"We wonder how Republicans can keep throwing our nation's men and women in uniform -- so many under the age of 20 -- into the Iraq meatgrinder without feeling something, anything at all. There's a disconnect that I had chalked up to simple elitism. Their kids weren't going to be dragged off that hellhole in the dessert anytime soon, so why should they care? Wars are for the unprivileged and voiceless to fight.

But the Foley scandal, and the inability of House Republicans to protect the teens in their own ranks, is positively mind-boggling. This isn't mere elitism at work. It is even worse than that.

What are the common threads here? Iraq has clearly become a political tool for the GOP, used to beat up Democrats as 'weak' on 'national security'. Nevermind the people who die on behalf of Rove's political talking points. And when a sexual predator endangers a safe Republican seat while threatening to cost the party a couple millions of dollars, what does the Republican leadership do? They cover it up.

Power is everything. The lives of our soldiers and the well-being and safety of teenage House pages are all worth sacrificing in exchange for continued Republican dominance. What else will they sell out?


There is nothing they won't sell out in the pursuit of power.


We the Smart Army of Davids

Josh Silver: Net-Roots Army Slays Giants in DC
The Huffington Post

A ragtag army of bloggers and Internet activists have tripped up the phone and cable "Goliaths" using an arsenal of YouTube videos, MySpace sites, musical remixes, traditional grassroots tactics and innovative online organizing to make the case for Net Neutrality.

That's how Daniel Reilly portrayed's efforts today in his lead feature at

Reilly writes about ordinary people who have banded together to beat back corporate lobbyists and their allies in Congress. This broad grass- and net-roots mobilization has successfully stalled a piece of legislation that only nine months earlier was slated for quick passage on Capitol Hill. Reilly writes:
[T]he Net Neutrality issue surfaced from the Internet and murky halls of Congress into wider public awareness. An unlikely coalition of advocates ... motivated by what they see as threats to free speech, started taking the issue to their constituents with renewed passion. [Craig] Aaron of says the strange coalition has definitely turned heads in Washington. "For far too long, media policy has been big companies making decisions behind closed doors. Folks in D.C. got very used to making this sort of monumental decision without ever bothering to ask the public what they think about it."
At the beginning of the year most had predicted that the 2006 telecom bill was on the legislative fast track -- with Congress deep under the influence of the phone and cable hand outs.

According to and Arlen Communications, these companies have spent more than $100 million on campaign contributions, Beltway TV and radio ads, congressional junkets and lobbyists this year. This spending spree is part of an effort to pressure elected officials to pass regulations that would gut Net Neutrality and place the financial interests of companies likes AT&T, Verizon and Comcast before those of the public.

Many elected officials were willing to reap the benefits of corporate influence peddling until a loose network of Web organizers, online innovators and grassroots activists brought the Internet sell off to light.

"Two very different models are now coming to head," Aaron told Reilly. "One is entrenched lobbyists in D.C. doing what they have always done, fighting it out inside the Beltway. On the other side is this new grass-roots movement, using new communications tools and finding new ways to organize. This is people using the Internet to save the Internet."

While we're pleased to receive praise for's efforts, it's too early to declare victory for the grass roots and Internet freedom. Members of Congress this week returned home as the 2006 election cycle enters its home stretch. It's possible, though, that Senator Stevens will push his bad legislation through during the "lame duck" session that follows the November 7 vote.

And that's just the defensive issue. We must proactively pass net neutrality back into law, and we'll need to build an even bigger public interest-industry, right-left coalition in 2007. In the meantime, Americans need to stay on alert. It's time to let their elected representatives know that a vote against Net Neutrality and for Stevens' bad bill, is a vote against an open Internet and a healthy democracy.