Saturday, June 11, 2005
Confirmed: Bush is a Racist
Everyone knows that Republican Mississippi Senator Trent Lott dislikes African Americans based on his views and conduct while attending the University of Mississippi. We also remember him reminiscing at the late Republican South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond's birthday party about how we would not have had all of these problems for all of these years if Thurmond would have become President in 1948 when he ran as a Dixiecrat in opposition to President Harry S. Truman. In the aftermath, Lott said that he was talking about Thurmond's economic policies. However, anyone who knows anything about American history knows that Thurmond left the Democratic Party to run against President Truman in 1948 as a Dixiecrat because Truman desegregated the United States Army.
At Bush's 2005 inaugural festivities, Lott served as master of ceremonies. I say if you get in bed with racist, you get up wearing the sheet.
Friday, June 10, 2005
READ ALL ABOUT IT: A Genuine Copy of the Downing Street Memo-See What Bush and the "liberaL" media are hiding
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
Paul Krugman Rocks!
Report: Helms apologetic on AIDS, not segregation
RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- In his upcoming memoir, former Sen. Jesse Helms acknowledges he was wrong about the AIDS epidemic but believes integration was forced before its time by "outside agitators who had their own agendas."
"Here's Where I Stand," to be published in September by Random House, contains Helms' first extended comments on national affairs since the Republican retired from the Senate in 2003 after five terms. Advance proofs were described in Thursday's editions of The News & Observer of Raleigh.
Helms, 83, was one of the state's leading voices of segregation as a TV commentator in Raleigh in the 1960s and opposed nearly every civil rights bill while in the Senate. He has never retracted his views on race or said segregation was wrong.
In the book, Helms suggests he believed voluntary racial integration would come about without pressure from the federal government or from civil rights protests that he said sharpened racial antagonisms.
"We will never know how integration might have been achieved in neighborhoods across our land, because the opportunity was snatched away by outside agitators who had their own agendas to advance," according to the uncorrected proof. "We certainly do know the price paid by the stirring of hatred, the encouragement of violence, the suspicion and distrust."
Helms also was an outspoken opponent of laws to protect homosexuals from discrimination and of funding for AIDS research, but he writes in the book that his views evolved during his final years in the Senate. He cited friendships he developed with North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham and rock singer Bono, both of whom got him involved in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
"Until then," Helms writes, "it had been my feeling that AIDS was a disease largely spread by reckless and voluntary sexual and drug-abusing behavior, and that it would probably be confined to those in high risk populations. I was wrong."
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Find this article at: http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/06/09/helms.memoir.ap/index.htm
Thursday, June 09, 2005
full story- see link
My Liberal Manifesto
I’m a Liberal.
That means that I believe we have a responsibility to those who cannot care for themselves,
I believe we should help the poor,
I believe old people deserve to be treated with respect & dignity,
I believe we should protect the environment,
I believe we should not invade other countries without the majority of the worlds democracies’ agreeing it is the last option,
I believe that the government is no more corrupt or inefficient than a huge multinational corporation (Enron),
I believe the government should be transparent and open to prevent corruption rather than always hiding behind ‘national security’,
I believe in the separation of church and state,
I believe it is more important to have high wages for your employees than high profits for your CEO,
I believe that we are innocent until proven guilty,
I believe the “patriot” act is unconstitutional,
I believe we create more terrorists by bombing other countries and randomly imprisoning suspected “terrorists”,
I believe racial profiling is just racism,
I believe that voting machines should provide a paper trail,
I believe election day should be a national holiday,
I believe that all persons should have equal rights such as the right to marry the one they love,
I believe we should spend more money educating our children than we do building prisons,
I believe multinational corporations do not always act in the best interests of America,
I believe that women should have every option available to them when it comes to their health,
I believe children should be taught science not mysticism,
I believe that taxes should be paid by those who can most afford to pay them,
I believe running huge government budget deficits will hurt our economy,
I believe that everyone is entitled to health care,
I believe that the government wastes more money on military spending than it does on welfare or aid to the needy,
I believe corporations are not people and should not have the same rights as persons,
I believe we should take affirmative action to correct the socio-economic imbalances created by racism and sexism,
and I believe that we are a nation of immigrants and we should welcome those with the drive, determination and ambition to come to America in search of a better life.
The mouth that won't stop roaring/Even some Democrats weary of Dean's bluntstyle
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 (SF Chronicle)
Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in theface of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans "all behavethe same, and they all look the same. ... It's pretty much a white Christian party. " "We're more welcoming to different folks, because that's the kind of people we are," Dean said Monday, responding to a question about diversity during a forum with minority leaders and journalists. "But that's not enough. We do have to deliver on things: jobs and housing and business opportunities and college opportunities."
Dean's remarks are an example of why the former Vermont governor, who remains popular with the party's grass roots, has been a lightning rod for criticism since being elected to head the Democratic National Committee in February. His comments last week that Republicans "never made an honest living in their lives," which he later clarified to say Republican"leaders," were disavowed by such leading Democrats as Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Dean's latest remarks -- made as he trolled California this week, stoking his party's coffers and meeting with grassroots activists as part of a nationwide trip -- could ignite more controversy and reaction from his own party. "You know, the Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. Pretty much, they all behave the same, and they all look the same. ... It's pretty much a white Christian party, " the former Vermont governor told a San Francisco roundtable Monday in reaction to a question about the lack of outreach to minority communities by political parties. "Our folks have got to spend time in the communities," he said. "We want avery diverse group of people running for office -- African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos."
After the story of Dean's comments broke on SFGate.com, The Chronicle Website, on Tuesday and was picked up by the Drudge Report, DNC spokesman Josh Earnest scrambled to soften the impact of Dean's comments.
While acknowledging that Dean was quoted accurately, Earnest insisted that once again Dean meant to say "Republican leadership." But Dean's rhetoric -- and his headline-grabbing style -- have become a concern to deep-pocketed donors in California, particularly SiliconValley, which ranks third in the country for political fund raising behind New York and Los Angeles, according to Wade Randlett, a key partyfund-raiser in the high-tech capital. "For small donors, hearing 'George Bush is bad' is enough," Randlett said."What I'm hearing very clearly from big donors is: Tell me how we'll win. "We need a Democratic National Committee that is convincing white Republican Christians that they should be voting for us -- not vilifying them," said Randlett, who supported Dean for the chairmanship. "He's got himself in trouble with social commentary -- and that's not what the DNC chair does."
With that kind of increasing criticism from inside the Democratic Party in recent weeks, gleeful Republicans say they couldn't be happier. "Where do I sign up on a committee to keep Howard Dean?" crowed GOP operative Jon Fleischman, publisher of the FlashReport, a daily roundup ofCalifornia political news and commentary. "He's the best thing to happento the GOP in ages." "I'm thrilled he's the DNC chair," says Tom Del Becarro, chairman of the Contra Costa County Republican Party. "Howard Dean is scaring away the middle. People don't like angry people. They like hopeful people." Simi Valley Councilman Glenn Becerra, a staffer with former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and a Bush appointee to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, said Tuesday he was far from amused by Dean's suggestion that Republicans constitute "a white Christian party," and he called the Democratic Party chairman "an embarrassment." "I'm living proof that the (GOP) isn't what Howard Dean is trying todescribe," Becerra said during a telephone interview. "It's a sad day when Democrats don't have any ideas to put forward and they have to resort to race politics. President Bush didn't get 40 percent of the Hispanic vote(in 2004) because we're a monolithic, white Christian party."
Dean said Monday that coverage of his remarks about Republicans not making an "honest living" was overblown. "This is one of those flaps that comes up once in awhile when I get tough," Dean said. "We have to be rough on the Republicans. Republicans don't represent ordinary Americans, and they don't have any understanding of what it is to go out and try and make ends meet." Dean said that he had been addressing the matter of Americans standing in long lines to vote. "What I said was the Republican leadership didn't seem to care much about working people," he said. "That's essentially the gist of the quote." Still, the words brought sharp rebukes from fellow Democrats such as Biden, who said on Sunday that Dean "doesn't speak for me ... and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats."
Other Democrats, including Richardson, said such comments hurt Dean's effort to increase Democratic registration, contributions and votes in red states dominated by Republicans. But Alicia Wang, a DNC member and vice chair of the California Democratic Party, said: "If there are any criticisms, it comes out of love. It's like family." Grassroots Democrats "love him," she said of Dean, whose roller-coaster presidential bid drew thousands of new voters and donors to the party before his defeat during the primaries. "People again and again say we need him to speak up ... and sound like a Democrat." Still, Randlett said Dean has been criticized for not quickly improving the pace of fund raising for the party. A recent Business Week story suggested that Dean has been far outpaced by Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman. According to the story and FEC filings, the DNC has raised $18.6 millionin the first four months of the year -- less than half of the $42.6 million raised by the RNC in the same period. Dean, whose schedule in San Francisco Monday included the roundtable, a visit to a gay and lesbian house party and a fund-raiser, called thereport "total hooey." "It's silliness and gossip. We're raising twice as much money as we did in 2003," Dean said. "We're raising a million dollars a week. We're doing fine."
But Republicans note that Mehlman wrapped up his third trip to California as chairman last week, following an aggressive schedule in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Jose and Sacramento that included hitting Latino small business events in Santa Ana and addressing African American voters and women's groups. "(Ken's) an operative, a tactician," said Fleischman. "Dean is apolitician." Randlett said he hopes and expects party leaders will soon "have a sit-down" with Dean over his message "that we're smarter than they are, and we ought to be running the country." It's an approach that appears "shrill, angry and dismissive of all things Republican," Randlett said. Garry South, a leading Democratic strategist, said of Dean, "The only thing we can hope is that he understands the difference from being a shadow president to being the head of the party when we're out of office." His job is to "get the Democratic Party ready for the next election,"South said. But "if he views himself as the public face of the Democratic Party, then we have a problem." Dean says the criticism doesn't bother him. "I'm used to it. Look, this is a tough job. But it's not as tough as running for president."
Howard Dean: In his own words
Some of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's commentswhile speaking this week with minority community leaders and journalistsat a roundtable in San Francisco:
On Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Gov. Schwarzenegger has been a big disappointment to a lot of Californians. ... Americans are tired ofpoliticians that break their promise, especially in an area like education... so I think there's going to be a lot of questions about whether the governor really cares about average Californians."
On Schwarzenegger's endorsement of the Minutemen: "This is why I don't agree that there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats. ...You would never have heard a Democrat talk like that ... I think the Republicans are always like this. I remember (former Republican Gov.) PeteWilson ... got elected by victimizing immigrants. Republicans always divide people."
On illegal immigration: "(Democrats) understand we have a border problem.But we think that if you enforce the laws you already have, the people who are already here ... they haven't broken any laws, they paid their taxes, a lot of them are paying into the Social Security system and getting nothing. Those people ought to be on a reasonable track toward citizenship."
On past promises by Democratic officials to minority communities: "It does make a difference that we now have senior management that is African American (and minority) ... which means we're not going to have the whiteboys' club make all the decision anymore. Everybody's going to be included."
On San Francisco politics: "It's always a pleasure to come to San Francisco because I don't look so liberal when I come to San Francisco." On the Democrats' strategy for 2008: "We're trying to resurrect this party. We're going to be in every state. You're not going to see any18-state strategies. We're going to be in places like Mississippi and Kansas and Idaho. We're going to be in the Republican counties of California from now on; we're not going to try to win by getting San Francisco and Oakland and Berkeley ... we're not going to sit around anymore. We are going to fight back. We haven't been fighting back."
E-mail Carla Marinucci at firstname.lastname@example.org.----------------------------------------------------------------------Copyright 2005 SF Chronicle
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
PARIS HILTON: How much more money does she really need?
By David Cay Johnston / New York Times
When F. Scott Fitzgerald pronounced that the very rich "are different from you and me," Ernest Hemingway's famously dismissive response was: "Yes, they have more money." Today he might well add: much, much, much more money.
The people at the top of America's money pyramid have so prospered in recent years that they have pulled far ahead of the rest of the population, an analysis of tax records and other government data by The New York Times shows. They have even left behind people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Call them the hyper-rich.
They are not just a few Croesus-like rarities. Draw a line under the top 0.1 percent of income earners - the top one-thousandth. Above that line are about 145,000 taxpayers, each with at least $1.6 million in income and often much more.
The average income for the top 0.1 percent was $3 million in 2002, the latest year for which averages are available. That number is two and a half times the $1.2 million, adjusted for inflation, that group reported in 1980. No other income group rose nearly as fast.
The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4 percent in 2002. The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell.
Next, examine the net worth of American households. The group with homes, investments and other assets worth more than $10 million comprised 338,400 households in 2001, the last year for which data are available. The number has grown more than 400 percent since 1980, after adjusting for inflation, while the total number of households has grown only 27 percent.
The Bush administration tax cuts stand to widen the gap between the hyper-rich and the rest of America. The merely rich, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, will shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden.
President Bush said during the third election debate last October that most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans. In fact, most - 53 percent - will go to people with incomes in the top 10 percent over the first 15 years of the cuts, which began in 2001 and would have to be reauthorized in 2010. And more than 15 percent will go just to the top 0.1 percent, those 145,000 taxpayers.
The Times set out to create a financial portrait of the very richest Americans, how their incomes have changed over the decades and how the tax cuts will affect them. It is no secret that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown, but the extent to which the richest are leaving everyone else behind is not widely known.
The Treasury Department uses a computer model to examine the effects of tax cuts on various income groups but does not look in detail fine enough to differentiate among those within the top 1 percent. To determine those differences, The Times relied on a computer model based on the Treasury's. Experts at organizations representing a range of views, including the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and Citizens for Tax Justice, reviewed the projections and said they were reasonable, and the Treasury Department said through a spokesman that the model was reliable.
The analysis also found the following:
¶Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000.
¶Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000.
¶The alternative minimum tax, created 36 years ago to make sure the very richest paid taxes, takes back a growing share of the tax cuts over time from the majority of families earning $75,000 to $1 million - thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars annually. Far fewer of the very wealthiest will be affected by this tax.
The analysis examined only income reported on tax returns. The Treasury Department says that the very wealthiest find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter a lot of income from taxes. So the gap between the very richest and everyone else is almost certainly much larger.
The hyper-rich have emerged in the last three decades as the biggest winners in a remarkable transformation of the American economy characterized by, among other things, the creation of a more global marketplace, new technology and investment spurred partly by tax cuts. The stock market soared; so did pay in the highest ranks of business.
One way to understand the growing gap is to compare earnings increases over time by the vast majority of taxpayers - say, everyone in the lower 90 percent - with those at the top, say, in the uppermost 0.01 percent (now about 14,000 households, each with $5.5 million or more in income last year).
From 1950 to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra $18,000.
President Ronald Reagan signed tax bills that benefited the wealthiest Americans and also gave tax breaks to the working poor. President Bill Clinton raised income taxes for the wealthiest, cut taxes on investment gains, and expanded breaks for the working poor. Mr. Bush eliminated income taxes for families making under $40,000, but his tax cuts have also benefited the wealthiest Americans far more than his predecessors' did.
The Bush administration says that the tax cuts have actually made the income tax system more progressive, shifting the burden slightly more to those with higher incomes. Still, an Internal Revenue Service study found that the only taxpayers whose share of taxes declined in 2001 and 2002 were those in the top 0.1 percent.
But a Treasury spokesman, Taylor Griffin, said the income tax system is more progressive if the measurement is the share borne by the top 40 percent of Americans rather than the top 0.1 percent.
The Times analysis also shows that over the next decade, the tax cuts Mr. Bush wants to extend indefinitely would shift the burden further from the richest Americans. With incomes of more than $1 million or so, they would get the biggest share of the breaks, in total amounts and in the drop in their share of federal taxes paid.
One reason the merely rich will fare much less well than the very richest is the alternative minimum tax. This tax, the successor to one enacted in 1969 to make sure the wealthiest Americans could not use legal loopholes to live tax-free, has never been adjusted for inflation. As a result, it stings Americans whose incomes have crept above $75,000.
The Times analysis shows that by 2010 the tax will affect more than four-fifths of the people making $100,000 to $500,000 and will take away from them nearly one-half to more than two-thirds of the recent tax cuts. For example, the group making $200,000 to $500,000 a year will lose 70 percent of their tax cut to the alternative minimum tax in 2010, an average of $9,177 for those affected.
But because of the way it is devised, the tax affects far fewer of the very richest: about a third of the taxpayers reporting more than $1 million in income. One big reason is that dividends and investment gains, which go mostly to the richest, are not subject to the tax.
Another reason that the wealthiest will fare much better is that the tax cuts over the past decade have sharply lowered rates on income from investments.
While most economists recognize that the richest are pulling away, they disagree on what this means. Those who contend that the extraordinary accumulation of wealth is a good thing say that while the rich are indeed getting richer, so are most people who work hard and save. They say that the tax cuts encourage the investment and the innovation that will make everyone better off.
"In this income data I see a snapshot of a very innovative society," said Tim Kane, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. "Lower taxes and lower marginal tax rates are leading to more growth. There's an explosion of wealth. We are so wealthy in a world that is profoundly poor."
But some of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren E. Buffett, George Soros and Ted Turner, have warned that such a concentration of wealth can turn a meritocracy into an aristocracy and ultimately stifle economic growth by putting too much of the nation's capital in the hands of inheritors rather than strivers and innovators. Speaking of the increasing concentration of incomes, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, warned in Congressional testimony a year ago: "For the democratic society, that is not a very desirable thing to allow it to happen."
Others say most Americans have no problem with this trend. The central question is mobility, said Bruce R. Bartlett, an advocate of lower taxes who served in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. "As long as people think they have a chance of getting to the top, they just don't care how rich the rich are."
But in fact, economic mobility - moving from one income group to another over a lifetime - has actually stopped rising in the United States, researchers say. Some recent studies suggest it has even declined over the last generation.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I ask again, at what point do we start cutting off thier heads?
Stat of the Day: W's Mandate
Bushevik Mafia and the Cowering Media
Many liberals -- and certainly the Democratic Party (excluding Howard Dean) -- have repeatedly made the mistake of viewing the Busheviks and right wingers as a political party that plays by the process of a Constitutional democracy. It has been a lethal error.
As we have noted (and carried a book of the same title): "Take Them at Their Words." They believe that any tactic, even if illegal, is justified in resting the control of government from the "evil" secularists. David Horowitz, the academic Himmler for the Bush Brown Shirts, wrote, " “[y]ou cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate. You can only do it by following Lenin’s injunction: ‘In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent’s argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.’” As noted in a recent article, the top right wing direct mail guru, Richard Viguerie told Bill Moyers, “I just wish he [Bush] could have done a little bit more [against Kerry]. I thought it was just great. And we’re not gonna play, Bill, by the liberal establishment’s rules. They say, ‘This is acceptable and this is not acceptable.’ Those days are gone and gone forever.”
During the impeachment effort against Bill Clinton, a Tom DeLay aide said (and we are paraphrasing here): "You don't just beat an opponent, you kick them until they are down, and then roll them up in a carpet and toss them over the cliff."
In regards, to the recently revealed "Deep Throat," W. Mark Felt, Alexander Haig said to Nixon, who was suspicious that Felt might be "leaking" on him, "We've got to be careful as to when to cut his nuts off."
So as the GOP "enforcers" gouge out the eyes of the Dems and kick them in the groin, it does little good for Joe Biden to waive around a copy of Robert's Rules of Order.
If the Democrats are still playing by the rules of democracy, the Republicans long ago abandoned such quaint political give-and-take to play by the rules of Al Capone: fear, intimidation, dirty tricks and illegal activity.
It's simply a fantasy of pro-democracy advocates to believe that decency and patriotism will triumph over the demagogues and thugs of the Republican Party. The parties are playing by two different sets of rules, and the mob has won out over Constitutional process.
Which brings us to the issues of "Rathergate" and "Koran Flushgate." The "disputed" stories by both CBS and Newsweek were virtually entirely accurate in terms of substance. If we look at "Koran Flushgate," for example, this past weekend's revelations confirm that whether our soldiers urinated on a Koran or flushed it down the toilet is a distinction without a difference.
But Newsweek's fellow Mainstream Media jumped all over the story blaming, even as recently as a few days ago in the New York Times, Newsweek for causing the rioting by followers of Islam. Oh, the White House would have the media believe that torture at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and Afghanistan had nothing to do with the unrest, that the humiliation of Islamic men in violation of their beliefs had nothing to do with it, that the deaths of Islamic men under "harsh" interrogation had nothing to do with it -- and that the desecration of the Koran in a number of ways had nothing to do with it. To believe this, you would have to think that Islamic believers would say to themselves, "Oh, we can stop rioting now, because we know that the Koran was urinated on, kicked at and desecrated in other ways by American soldiers, but not flushed down the toilet. Newsweek should stop misleading us. We can go home now. Everything's A-Okay!"
Besides which, it is clear from the pattern of even Pentagon reports that have emerged that a key objective in interrogating Islamic believers was humiliating their religious beliefs, such as rubbing menstrual blood on the men. These things don't just happen in the military. They are part of a condoned pattern of humiliation that came from the top at the Pentagon: Donald Rumsfeld.
Furthermore, almost all progressive commentators qualified their criticisms of the Busheviks about "Koran Flushgate" by agreeing that Newsweek did not follow proper journalistic practice. Say what? They ran their item by two officials in the Pentagon who did not dispute that a Koran was flushed down a toilet. And the anonymous source was likely told to change his or her story or face a permanent roadblock in his or her military career.
Newsweek's alleged sin (and we take no pleasure in defending Michael Isikoff) was that it didn't have two "on record" sources to confirm the flushing of a Koran down the toilet. That is ludicrous on several fronts. First, the real issue here is the desecration of the Koran as part of a pattern of interrogation to humiliate the religious beliefs of Muslim detainees, just as the real issue of "Rathergate" was the substance of Bush's failure to fulfill his national guard duties, not who wrote the memo.
Secondly, most Mainstream Media today is built upon the Pentagon -- let's say, for example -- proclaiming a lie, and then a reporter for a television station gets the lie "confirmed" by someone else in the Pentagon and runs with a story that is nothing more than propaganda. But this is considered professional journalism because two sources have confirmed a story, even though it's a lie.
In the Newsweek case, they had the "Koran Flushgate" story confirmed by one source and approved by two other sources in the Pentagon, which makes three sources by our count, one more than most Mainstream Media reporters use to confirm lies instead of the truth. (Not to mention that the Administration daily uses anonymous sources to achieve its propaganda goals with the media, but they wouldn't be Busheviks if they weren't brazen hypocrites.) So either Newsweek did its journalistic due diligence or it was a Karl Rove set-up from the get go.
But, remember, the purpose of "Rathergate" and "Koran Flushgate" was to discombobulate and intimidate the media into not printing or televising anything overtly critical of the Bush regime. Rove cleverly knows how to use the media to cannibalize itself. All he has to do is toss them some red herring and they are off like jackals, devouring each other, while the crimes of the White House go unnoticed and unreported. Furthermore, reporters, editors and publishers become even MORE intimidated about printing or airing a story critical of the Bush Administration.
It is a technique worthy of the mob reigning supreme over the modern technological media, in combination with the fear that the media barons have of offending their corporate benefactors in the White House, Republican Congress and GOP judiciary.
The Mainstream Media seems to have abandoned all common sense.
Newsweek didn't cause any riots; the Christian Crusade against the "Infidel" led by Bush is what caused the riots. The record of humiliating, brutalizing, torturing and killing Muslims is as clear as the barbaric photos that came out of Abu Ghraib (and there are others, apparently even more malicious, that the Bush Administration won't release to the public).
The thugs in the White House know how to throw the press into a hysterical fit of irrelevance. But the truth is that Karl Rove could just gently blow and the White House Press Corpse, with the exception of Helen Thomas, would fall over.
The Busheviks don't need to beat up too heavily on the D.C. press. Most of them just want to transcribe the latest propaganda pronouncement and get to lunch.
The White House is saving the domestic mob enforcers for the rest of us.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Maybe it's time to cut off thier heads: When the Revolution comes remember these guys.
Candid Talk on the Party Line
Major donors are given an unfiltered channel to Schwarzenegger's office for strategy sessions.
By Robert Salladay
Times Staff Writer
June 5, 2005
SACRAMENTO — When wealthy contributors write checks to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, they often get a few canapes and a drink — and a secret telephone number that grants them access to his closest advisors and even the governor himself.
Twice a month, donors can become insiders' insiders — invited to participate in conference calls featuring information about Schwarzenegger campaign strategy that his political enemies would love to have. In turn, donors who dial in can give the governor advice.
In the latest such call, a few days ago, Schwarzenegger's media expert, Don Sipple, outlined a strategy "based on a lot of polling" to create a "phenomenon of anger" among voters toward public employee unions. Firefighters, police officers, teachers and other state-paid workers have become the governor's harshest critics this year.
"The process is like peeling an onion," Sipple said, describing a multi-step plan for persuading voters that public-worker unions are "motivated by economic self-interest" instead of "doing the best job for the state."
The Thursday discussion, involving multiple contributors and three top Schwarzenegger strategists, offered a rare glimpse of the governor's "donor maintenance" effort: insider information, solicitous compliments, invitations to exclusive parties. It was also a window on the governor's attack strategy ahead of an expected Nov. 8 special election.
The governor has dubbed 2005 the "year for reform," and he needs millions of dollars for support, mainly for TV ads. The Times was given access to Thursday's half-hour call through a participant.
"It's a good way to keep in touch with you, our most important supporters, about the latest developments in the campaign," Schwarzenegger's chief fundraiser, Marty Wilson, told the contributors.
The governor participated in a call with donors two weeks ago and is expected to do so again June 16. Presumably, that will be after he signs an executive order scheduling the special election, so he can take to voters some of his proposals for changing state government.
Contributors to Schwarzenegger's causes are first invited to join the discussions in e-mails, which tell them how to get — for each call — a phone number and a password. The campaign staff decides which significant donors will be included each time. The discussions feature a "special guest," such as Sipple, talking about the governor's plans, as well as information about fundraisers and a question-and-answer session.
In the latest call, the advisors said Schwarzenegger had spent $8 million so far on television ads defending and promoting his agenda. He launched another TV ad campaign the same day that will cost $2.5 million for a few weeks of air time, and he wants to collect $31 million to $32 million to run his initiative campaign through the fall, the advisors said.
A special election ballot is expected to include a proposed government spending cap and a plan to lengthen the time it takes teachers to get tenure — measures embraced by Schwarzenegger and opposed by public employee unions. The unions and their Democratic allies have spent millions on TV ads criticizing the governor and his proposals — with some success, the advisors acknowledged.
"There is no question to anybody who is rational that we have been in the barrel for the past several months," Sipple said during the phone call. "The good news is we have polling that shows us coming out of the trench."
Surveys by independent groups have shown Schwarzenegger's public approval dropping as much as 20 percentage points since January, to about 40% in recent weeks. Sipple was referring to a poll commissioned by the governor's campaign showing about 50% approval.
Renee Croce is finance director for Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team, the governor's main political committee. She told donors during the call to expect a dinner June 22 at the home of Cisco Systems Chief Executive John Chambers, a fundraiser June 24 in Los Angeles and a series of statewide fundraising events corresponding with Schwarzenegger's birthday July 30.
"The governor is very hopeful we can come together and have a big splash before July 30 to pay for all this media," Croce said.
Sipple's comments about unions came after a representative of Wells Fargo suggested that the governor sharpen his message to focus on public employees rather than privateindustry labor groups. The banking giant donated $100,000 last year to Schwarzenegger's efforts to overhaul workers' compensation through an initiative that never made the ballot.
Sipple said one piece of information makes voters particularly angry about unions: the "stinky episode" in 2002 when former Gov. Gray Davis and the Legislature granted state prison guards a 34% raise.
"People remember that," he said, suggesting that the campaign would try to rekindle the voter disgust that swept Davis out of office and Schwarzenegger in. "You almost have to use these episodes that tap the recall to make your case."
He also said: "When you get to the point of … 'These people are on your payroll and they are out to roll you every day,' that creates a kind of phenomenon of anger. But it takes a long time to get there…. As the campaign goes on, we have to articulate that."
A political consultant who is organizing opposition to Schwarzenegger's agenda said Sipple's use of the word "create" was apt. Gale Kaufman works for the Alliance for a Better California, a coalition that includes several unions. She said the public sees firefighters, teachers and others as public servants, not leeches.
"Sounds to me like when [Schwarzenegger's advisors] noticed there wasn't a problem, they had to create one," Kaufman said.
Two donors participating in the call said they wanted to do more "than just write checks," and offered to send letters to the editor or opinion pieces to newspapers in support of the governor.
Wilson called that "a tremendous idea" and promised to provide "message points" for the donors to use in their efforts.
Sipple said one problem was that voters weren't getting correct information about the governor's proposed budget — which includes $3 billion more for schools.
An executive with the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. of San Diego asked during Thursday's call if the governor was "going to come out strongly supportive" of a ballot initiative that would force public employee unions to get permission to use a member's dues for political activities, such as the current TV ads attacking the governor.
The building official, whose industry has donated more than $14 million to Schwarzenegger, said there was a "compelling argument" for the governor to support the measure. "If you are looking for the seminal battle between status quo and change that benefits the state over the long term, this is a tremendous arrow in the quiver."
Sipple told him that Schwarzenegger might withhold an endorsement of the initiative in exchange for concessions from the Legislature on other matters. He said it was a "distinct possibility" that the governor would endorse the measure, however. "We certainly would encourage it," Sipple said.
Campaign finance experts said there is nothing illegal about conference calls with donors, if the contributors do not "cross the line" and push for favors.
Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, said that Schwarzenegger's donors are allowed to discuss policy with him and interact with him but that non-donors should not be shut out. Both should have access to the administration to express their views, she said.
The governor's public calendars show many visitors to his office who are not campaign donors. And he has repeatedly said he does not trade campaign money for favors.
Wilson, in an interview, said the conference calls allowed the campaign to interact with contributors without "going through the filter of any kind of third-party intermediary, whether that be the news media or somebody on their staff. They can get their information directly from a senior official" on the campaign.
Some of the donors offered unsolicited help to the strategists. One donor pressed Sipple and Wilson to reach out to Latinos because Schwarzenegger "is a good-looking guy, and people in the Hispanic community would love to see more of him on television."
An executive with the American Electronics Assn., which has donated $25,000 to the California Republican Party, said: "We can get our public relations entity involved and send out our own press releases endorsing the governor's activities, etc."
"We could use your help," Wilson replied.