Moving story brought to us by TPM Cafe.
Actually, I'd prefer to be doing than whining. For example, I would be very happy to drive to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and forcibly evict the current residents and give them a ride to a prison plane to send them to Guantanamo Bay for a little military tribunal of our own.
We are, finally, having a national discussion about inequality, and right-wing commentators are in full panic mode. Statistics, most of them irrelevant or misleading, are flying; straw men are under furious attack. It’s all very confusing — deliberately so. So let me offer a few clarifying comments.
First, why are we suddenly talking so much about inequality? Not because a few economists decided to make inequality an issue. It’s the public — not progressive pundits — that has been telling pollsters the economy is “only fair” or “poor,” even though the overall growth rate is O.K. by historical standards.
Political analysts tried all sorts of explanations for popular discontent with the “Bush boom” — it’s the price of gasoline; no, people are in a bad mood because of Iraq — before finally acknowledging that most Americans think it’s a bad economy because for them, it is. The lion’s share of the benefits from recent economic growth has gone to a small, wealthy minority, while most Americans were worse off in 2005 than they were in 2000.
Some conservatives whine that people didn’t complain as much about rising inequality when Bill Clinton was president. But most people were happy with the state of the economy in the late 1990’s, even though the rich were getting much richer, because the middle class and the poor were also making substantial progress. Now the rich are getting richer, but most working Americans are losing ground.
Second, notice the amount of time that inequality’s apologists spend attacking a claim nobody is making: that there has been a clear long-term decline in middle-class living standards. Yes, real median family income has risen since the late 1970’s (with the most convincing gains taking place during the Clinton years). But the rise was very small — small enough that other considerations, like increasing economic insecurity, make it unclear whether families are better or worse off. And that’s the point: the United States as a whole has grown a lot richer over the past generation, but the typical American family hasn’t.
Third, notice the desperate effort to find some number, any number, to support claims that increasing inequality is just a matter of a rising payoff to education and skill. Conservative commentators tell us about wage gains for one-eyed bearded men with 2.5 years of college, or whatever — and conveniently forget to adjust for inflation. In fact, the data refute any suggestion that education is a guarantee of income gains: once you adjust for inflation, you find that the income of a typical household headed by a college graduate was lower in 2005 than in 2000.
More broadly, right-wing commentators would like you to believe that the economy’s winners are a large group, like college graduates or people with agreeable personalities. But the winners’ circle is actually very small. Even households at the 95th percentile — that is, households richer than 19 out of 20 Americans — have seen their real income rise less than 1 percent a year since the late 1970’s. But the income of the richest 1 percent has roughly doubled, and the income of the top 0.01 percent — people with incomes of more than $5 million in 2004 — has risen by a factor of 5.
Finally, while we can have an interesting discussion about questions like the role of unions in wage inequality, or the role of lax regulation in exploding C.E.O. pay, there is no question that the policies of the current majority party — a party that has held a much-needed increase in the minimum wage hostage to large tax cuts for giant estates — have relentlessly favored the interests of a tiny, wealthy minority against everyone else.
According to new estimates by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, the leading experts on long-term trends in inequality, the effective federal tax rate on the richest 0.01 percent has fallen from about 60 percent in 1980 to about 34 percent today. Meanwhile, the U.S. government — unlike any other government in the advanced world — does nothing as more and more working families find themselves unable to obtain health insurance.
The good news is that these concerns are finally breaking through into our political discourse. I’m sure that the usual suspects will come up with further efforts to confuse the issue. I say, bring ’em on: we’ve got the arguments, and the facts, to win this debate.
Posted by Kate at 9/09/2006 11:33:00 PM
My only question here is how the Senate could have been do duped when I - not privy to the kind of information they had - could tell the Iraq information was "cooked". From CBS News:
When the Senate Intelligence Committee released a declassified version of its findings this past week, the Republican chairman of the committee, Pat Roberts, left town without doing interviews, calling the report a rehash of unfounded partisan allegations.
Its statements like this one, made Feb. 5, 2003, by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell that have become so controversial, implying Iraq was linked to terror attacks.
"Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associated collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants," Powell said.
But after 2 1/2 years of reviewing pre-war intelligence behind closed doors, the lead Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, who voted for the Iraq War, says the Bush administration pulled the wool over everyone's eyes.
"The absolute cynical manipulation, deliberately cynical manipulation, to shape American public opinion and 69 percent of the people, at that time, it worked, they said 'we want to go to war,'" Rockefeller told CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. "Including me. The difference is after I began to learn about some of that intelligence I went down to the Senate floor and I said 'my vote was wrong.'"
Posted by Kate at 9/09/2006 11:03:00 PM
For those of you visiting here from the great state of Vermont, I want to alert you to a very special piano concert with Cody Michaels being offered on Saturday, September 23rd at the Woodbury Methodist Church (in South Woodbury, next to the Town Clerk's office) at 7:30 PM.
I've had the pleasure of hearing Cody on a few occasions and his artistry at the keyboard is nothing short of phenomenal (I also had the pleasure of his company at dinner here at my home tonight - he survived my cooking). However, this is a very special presentation of newly created longer works brought together in an "Autumn Suite". I'll be there and I'd love to meet some fellow Vermonters on the 23rd.
For reservations or more information, call 229-4507. Suggested donation is $10 ($5 for students and low income individuals). You can also visit his Web site here. You will be delighted, I can guarantee you.
Posted by Kate at 9/09/2006 10:40:00 PM
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel's War Was Not Against Hezbollah or Lebanon But Against Iran For The U.S.
Well, while I think Netanyahu was perhaps the worst Israeli prime minister ever after Ariel Sharon, he did speak one bit of honesty tonight during his appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" (and Maher was disgusting in his drooling adoration of the man): The hundreds of children and other civilians Israel killed in Lebanon during the 34-day war was NOT waged against Hezbollah but as a proxy war for the United States against Iran.
Posted by Kate at 9/08/2006 11:48:00 PM
I object to the headline and wording of this Washington Post piece because it makes a rather weak case out of a much more strongly worded bipartisan Senate report that pretty much obliterates any argument that Saddam Hussein or Iraq had ties to al Qaeda. It's also no coincidence that this report gets dumped out on a Friday afternoon when it will get ignored and just before 9-11 when it will get extra ignored.
The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee (which sounds like an oxymoron and likely is) Pat Roberts worked like hell to keep this report from seeing light of day. Only the efforts of Republican moderates Chuck Hagel and (was it Olympia Snowe or Collins?) got it out at all.
Posted by Kate at 9/08/2006 11:23:00 PM
Bush Says Bin Laden Hates Our Freedoms, But Evidence More Than Suggest It Is Bush Who Hates Our Freedoms Far More
The president, of course, is strong arming the approval of Arlen Specter's disastrous NSA wiretap eavesdropping bill which makes legal that which was NOT legal when Bush had it done before.
How is it that, according to Bush, bin Laden was the one who masterminded the attacks on this country on 9-11 yet Mr. Bush's answer to everything is NOT to catch and try Osama bin Laden but to remove every shred of privacy and freedom afforded American citizens by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to name a few? More importantly, why are we allowing him to do so?
We know of countless times Mr. Bush has actively, deliberately, and maliciously lied to us. I daresay it would be a shorter list to delineate when Bush has spoken honestly than to count the number of lies he has told.
Notably, Bush lied us into at least two wars and seems to have had Israel engage in a deadly proxy war with Lebanon as an entry into the war Bush and the Neocons want to engage in against Syria and Iran. In Iraq alone, the death toll for U.S. soldiers alone - not counting the other coalition deaths, the collateral deaths of journalists and humanitarian aid workers, let alone the tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilians - now comes close to the death toll for the terror attacks on New York and Washington DC on September 11th, 2001.
It is our responsibility to remove this man from office. Every day we let him continue on brings more death, more fear, more chaos, and increases the chances America will be attacked again.
Posted by Kate at 9/07/2006 01:56:00 PM
In Keeping With the Bushies Recurring Theme of Hitler And the Bush Reich: "Donald Rumsfeld's Dance With Nazis"
From Frank Rich:
President Bush came to Washington vowing to be a uniter, not a divider. Well, you win some and you lose some. But there is one member of his administration who has not broken that promise: Donald Rumsfeld. With indefatigable brio, he has long since united Democrats, Republicans, generals and civilians alike in calling for his scalp.Read the rest here.
Last week the man who gave us “stuff happens” and “you go to war with the Army you have” outdid himself. In an instantly infamous address to the American Legion, he likened critics of the Iraq debacle to those who “ridiculed or ignored” the rise of the Nazis in the 1930’s and tried to appease Hitler. Such Americans, he said, suffer from a “moral or intellectual confusion” and fail to recognize the “new type of fascism” represented by terrorists. Presumably he was not only describing the usual array of “Defeatocrats” but also the first President Bush, who had already been implicitly tarred as an appeaser by Tony Snow last month for failing to knock out Saddam in 1991.
What made Mr. Rumsfeld’s speech noteworthy wasn’t its toxic effort to impugn the patriotism of administration critics by conflating dissent on Iraq with cut-and-run surrender and incipient treason. That’s old news. No, what made Mr. Rumsfeld’s performance special was the preview it offered of the ambitious propaganda campaign planned between now and Election Day. An on-the-ropes White House plans to stop at nothing when rewriting its record of defeat (not to be confused with defeatism) in a war that has now lasted longer than America’s fight against the actual Nazis in World War II.
Here’s how brazen Mr. Rumsfeld was when he invoked Hitler’s appeasers to score his cheap points: Since Hitler was photographed warmly shaking Neville Chamberlain’s hand at Munich in 1938, the only image that comes close to matching it in epochal obsequiousness is the December 1983 photograph of Mr. Rumsfeld himself in Baghdad, warmly shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein in full fascist regalia. Is the defense secretary so self-deluded that he thought no one would remember a picture so easily Googled on the Web? Or worse, is he just too shameless to care?
Mr. Rumsfeld didn’t go to Baghdad in 1983 to tour the museum. Then a private citizen, he had been dispatched as an emissary by the Reagan administration, which sought to align itself with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam was already a notorious thug. Well before Mr. Rumsfeld’s trip, Amnesty International had reported the dictator’s use of torture — “beating, burning, sexual abuse and the infliction of electric shocks” — on hundreds of political prisoners. Dozens more had been summarily executed or had “disappeared.” American intelligence agencies knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons to gas both Iraqi Kurds and Iranians...
Next up is the parade of presidential speeches culminating in what The Washington Post describes as “a whirlwind tour of the Sept. 11 attack sites”: All Fascism All the Time. In his opening salvo, delivered on Thursday to the same American Legion convention that cheered Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush worked in the Nazis and Communists and compared battles in Iraq to Omaha Beach and Guadalcanal. He once more interchanged the terrorists who struck the World Trade Center with car bombers in Baghdad, calling them all part of the same epic “ideological struggle of the 21st century.” One more drop in the polls, and he may yet rebrand this mess War of the Worlds.
“Iraq is not overwhelmed by foreign terrorists,” said the congressman John Murtha in succinct rebuttal to the president’s speech. “It is overwhelmed by Iraqis fighting Iraqis.” And with Americans caught in the middle. If we owe anything to those who died on 9/11, it is that we not forget how the administration diverted our blood and treasure from the battle against bin Laden and other stateless Islamic terrorists, fascist or whatever, to this quagmire in a country that did not attack us on 9/11. The number of American dead in Iraq — now more than 2,600 — is inexorably approaching the death toll of that Tuesday morning five years ago.
Posted by Kate at 9/07/2006 12:39:00 AM
Yeah, I'm asking this myself.
With George W. Bush talking so much about Nazis and fascism, Donald Rumsfeld warning ominously against lily-livered appeasement and Dick Cheney quoting Franklin Roosevelt on the "dirty business" of war, one might worry that this direction-challenged administration has wandered into some sort of time warp. Somebody's going to have to break it to them that Churchill and Stalin are gone and the Dodgers don't play in Brooklyn anymore.Read the rest here.
Condi Rice seems to be the only one of the so-called Vulcans who missed the memo that it's 1939. When she made her obligatory pilgrimage to the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City last week, she referred to the enemy in the war on terrorism as "violent extremists," which sounds so 2006.
For some reason, Bush and Rumsfeld also decided to drop in on the Legionnaires' 88th yearly gathering. Cheney, meanwhile, was spending quality time with the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their convention in Reno.
Do we discern a pattern? The lavish attention being paid to veterans' groups isn't about what year it is, it's about what month it is. Unless the Republican base is somehow energized and the rest of us somehow scared stiff by November, the Democrats have a decent chance of taking the House of Representatives and even an outside shot at the Senate.
That's where all the administration rhetoric about Nazis, commies, fascism and appeasement has to be coming from, because, absent the political context, it makes no sense. It's all heat and no light.
We can pretty much set aside Cheney's recent remarks, since he's been wandering in the rhetorical wilderness for a long time now. But I can't resist citing one line. He told the VFW that the "Bush Doctrine" is to hold accountable "any person or government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists." So what about the newly installed Iraqi government, with its suspected ties to Shiite death squads? And what about the Pakistani government, which gives the Taliban and al-Qaeda safe harbor?
Okay, one more from Cheney. To those who point out that Iraq wasn't a nexus of terrorism until we invaded, Cheney responds, "They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway."
Huh? The terrorists who attacked on Sept. 11 didn't come from Iraq. Except in Cheney's mind, I don't know where the fact that we were attacked by terrorists trained in Afghanistan (and sent by Osama bin Laden, who's probably now in Pakistan) somehow mitigates the fact that we've made Iraq a hotbed of terrorism.
Posted by Kate at 9/07/2006 12:34:00 AM
W. and Katie were both on TV at 6:30 last night, trying to prove they were a man.
Katie won, by a whisker.
The president and the anchor were on a big push this week to prove they could be the daddy at the helm, trustworthy authority figures who could guide America through tumultuous times. She wanted to prove that she was a commander; he wanted to prove that he was an anchor.
The fate of a network, and the fate of a republic, would appear to hinge on gender issues.
W., Dick Cheney and Rummy are on a campaign to scare Americans into believing that limp-wristed Democrats will curtsy to Islamic radicals and Iranian tyrants, just as Chamberlain bowed to Hitler, and that only the uber-manly Republicans can keep totalitarianism, fascism and the Al Qaeda “threat to civilization’’ at bay. If they were women, their rhetoric would be described with adjectives like shrill, strident, illogical and hysterical. But since they are men, we’ll just call it Churchill envy.
“Now, I know some of our country hear the terrorists’ words, and hope that they will not, or cannot, do what they say,’’ Mr. Bush said in a speech yesterday to a military group, which was the second story on the first evening news show anchored by the first solo female network anchor. “History teaches that underestimating the words of evil and ambitious men is a terrible mistake.’’ Mr. Bush said that the world failed to heed Lenin and Hitler, and it was essential to pay attention to bin Laden.
Too bad the president didn’t take time out from clearing brush at the ranch long enough back in August of 2001 to pay attention to an intelligence paper headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.’’
After playing down bin Laden for years, barely mentioning him and minimizing his importance, W. has once more picked up a metaphorical bullhorn on the cusp of the 9/11 anniversary to make Osama the villain, using his name 18 times in a 40-minute speech. Once it would have made a difference to decapitate Osama, and it would still be great to do it. But it’s too late to stop Al Qaeda that way now. The organization has diffused to a state of mind, fueled by hatred of U.S. occupation of Muslim land.
W.’s plan to save his legacy and keep Congress out of Democratic hands is to absorb a misbegotten and mishandled war, Iraq, into the good wars of the 20th century, World War II and the cold war. Instead of just admitting he bollixed up Iraq, W. and his henchmen are ratcheting up, fusing enemies willy-nilly, running around giving speeches with the simplistic, black-helicopter paranoid message: All those scary Arabs are in league to knock us off and institute the rule of Allah.
The president and his men have been trying to get everyone excited by repackaging and giving a new theme song to the same old things, just as Katie and CBS were trying to get everyone excited by repackaging and giving a new theme song to what turned out to be the same old newscast, just with more legs.
Les Moonves and Ms. Couric tried to wrap her debut in historical significance. She’s the Jackie Robinson of network news,’’ Mr. Moonves told me. In an interview on the local CBS affiliate that aired just before her debut, Katie said she had taken the job at her daughters’ urging, and her daughter Carrie told her to do it “because you’ll be the first woman to do that job by yourself. So I was like, cue Helen Reddy. Who knew I was raising such a little feminist?”
The press had lots of commentary like the one by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, titled “Women need Katie Couric to succeed.’’
Actually, the minute Katie Couric was given a $15 million paycheck to read from a teleprompter for 15 or 20 minutes a night, women won. Women have been doing that at the BBC and on American cable stations for years, and for a lot less dough. Jackie Robinson represented a revolution; Katie Couric represented a promotion.
The sad truth is, women only get to the top of places like the network evening news and Hollywood after those places are devalued.
He’s got ratings and she’s got ratings. His party’s voters; her network’s viewers. So we’re talking about the personal fulfillment of two people — W. and Katie — disguised and peddled as the fulfillment of a higher ideal. It’s marketing tricked out as ideology.
Courage, as Dan Rather used to say.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 11:19:00 PM
[Ed. note: As we head into the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001, bear in mind that the one person George W. Bush kept telling us (again and again) was responsible for ordering the attacks and taking what we hold dear, Osama bin Laden, is the exact same man who - despite the "dead or alive" rhetoric Bush gave us - remains at large, remains a "threat". Now Mr. Bush claims he doesn't think about bin Laden, that the leader of al Qaeda "isn't relevant" and he doesn't matter. Now why is that?]
From Dan Froomkin on the WaPo blog on Wednesday:
The spectacle of the president of the United States extensively quoting Osama bin Laden to bolster his controversial policies during political season deserves notice, and reflection.
By all rights, President Bush ought to be embarrassed that the al Qaeda leader who masterminded the September 11 terrorist attacks remains at large almost five years later.
White House Briefing
But Bush yesterday let bin Laden share his bulliest of pulpits, giving the mass murderer precisely the attention he craves and endorsing his extreme view that a Third World War is under way.
Here's the text of Bush's speech.
Mentioning bin Laden so much couldn't help but remind listeners of Bush's failure to capture or kill him. But the risk was easily offset by the fact that bin Laden remains the most effective bogeyman out there, and job one for the White House in the run-up to a potentially crippling mid-term election is to scare the hell out of people.
Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush issued a stern warning yesterday about what he called the continuing terrorist threat confronting the nation, using the haunting words of Islamic extremists to support his assertion that they remain determined to attack the United States.
"Abandoning his practice of only rarely mentioning al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Bush repeatedly quoted him and purported terrorist letters, recordings and documents to make his case that terrorists have broad totalitarian ambitions and believe the war in Iraq is a key theater in a wider struggle."
Notably, in the New York Times this morning, Bush's speech not only doesn't make the front page -- it doesn't even get its own story.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes: "President Bush and Congressional Democrats locked horns on Tuesday on whether Americans are safe from terrorism, part of a calculated effort by both parties to capitalize on the coming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and gain the upper hand in this year's election debate over national security."
And Stolberg notes: "The speech used a classic strategy of Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, who specializes in turning a candidate's weakness into a strength. In this case, Mr. Bush's weakness is that Mr. bin Laden has not been captured -- a point that was quickly picked up by Democrats. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said that if Mr. Bush had 'unleashed the American military to do the job at Tora Bora four years ago and killed Osama bin Laden, he wouldn't have to quote this barbarian's words today.'
"That did not stop Mr. Bush from mentioning Mr. bin Laden 17 times in the 44-minute speech, a tactic that seemed intended to emphasize the Republican argument that the nation can trust the president and his party more than Democrats to protect it from attacks."
Nedra Pickler writes for the Associated Press: "Voters were never more united behind the president than in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and his speech was designed to convince Americans that the threat has not faded five years later."
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 09:31:00 PM
Remember how outraged the Bushies were time and again whenever there was anything approaching a reference to Hitler and/or Nazis in the same breath with President Bush? There was the ad entry for a Move On promotion where loyalist Bushies wanted MoveOn forcibly disbanded and to lose its tax exempt status (and mind you, this wasn't for a Move On ad, just for a simple entry into a wide open competition Move On had going). There was pious outrage when Bush stood there giving what looked like the classic Hitler "heil" hand motion like the Dems rather than Bush had done it.
Yet regardless of this, everyone from Rove to Grover Norquist to Dick Cheney to Bush and around again has compared anyone from centrist Republicans to Dems as Hitler, as Nazis, as Nazi sympathizers. And this was before the last few weeks when Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush - plus all their Kool-Aid Konsuming Kiddos call Dems "Nazi enablers", appeasers to Hitler, fascists, Neville Chamberlain...
I am sick to death of hearing this. I'm insulted beyond belief and as someone who has met and talked with and interviewed people who survived the Nazi death camps, I can't believe how the Republicans are using these terms so loosely.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 09:06:00 PM
...The Path to 9/11 is not a documentary account of the events and political decisions that preceded the terrorist attacks of that day.
"ABC has a responsibility to make clear that this film is not a documentary, and does not represent an official account of the facts surrounding the September 11th attacks," Rep. Slaughter said. "Disclaimers noting that The Path to 9/11 is a docudrama should be shown throughout its airing. We have yet to establish the impartiality and accuracy of the people behind this film and the claims it advances, and the American people need to know that."
Rep. Slaughter also expressed concern over the timing of the mini-series, as well as recent Republican rhetoric on the issue of national security and its connection to the war in Iraq.
"But what is far more important is the timing of this movie," Rep. Slaughter continued. "The anniversary of the attacks is an emotional time, and it is wrong for anyone to play on those emotions and use them to advance a political agenda."
"This is, regrettably, what many top Administration officials are doing with the rhetoric we have heard of late," Rep. Slaughter said. "We have been told we are in a fight against a new kind of fascism, and that individuals who question our current path in Iraq are morally equivalent to Nazi appeasers and those who would justify slavery."
"Such claims are more than just morally reprehensible and deeply irresponsible. They are also damaging to our country, making it difficult, if not impossible, to have a serious, non-partisan discussion about how best to protect our nation."
"Democrats have always worked to promote a more peaceful and secure world, and we will continue to do so, regardless of this divisive Republican rhetoric," Rep. Slaughter said.
"The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that we stand for real security: real implementation of the 9-11 Commission's recommendations, a real commitment to securing threats against the homeland, and a real plan for the future American military commitment in Iraq - not just more wishful thinking and empty justifications, which are what this Administration has been content to offer us."
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 08:57:00 PM
Mock-u-mentary is exactly what Keith Olbermann and numerous others are calling the ABC production to air on Sunday, September 10th, and Monday, September 11th as the five-year anniversary of the terror attacks comes to bear. Mocking the production seems far more kind than what I've heard of how this production treats the truth of what happened to allow the devastating damage that beautiful, blue second Tuesday in September of 2001.
Written by a "prominent conservative", and supposedly based on material taken from the report by the 9-11 Commission - the one President Bush fought tooth and nail not to appoint and then originally filled it with liars and secret keepers like Henry Kissinger, this production appears to take as much liberty with "the truth" as almost anything the Bushies do or say.
Is this REALLY how we choose to remember the events of that day? Is this how we honor the deaths of nearly 3,000 people?
I don't think so.
Look, I can cope with an account that places much blame on former President Bill Clinton. I do think he and his administration bear some blame here. But seriously, haven't enough lies been told? Hasn't far more than enough truth been withheld and sugar-coated?
This production is shameful on so many different levels. First, Tom Keane, the former governor of New Jersey and (obviously) a Republican, the man who replaced Kissinger as the chairman of the 9-11 commission, is often hailed as a great man and a great American. Before I found out that he largely co-authored this incredible piece of crap, I used to hold a higher opinion of Keane than I have for most of the Bushies.
In an interview done with Keane and shown in part during "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" tonight, Keane SAYS himself that he co-authored the script and was given complete authority to scrap or revise anything that did not seem to follow what the 9-11 commission determined. With this in mind, Keane has COMPLETE CULPABILITY for the lies perpetrated in this piece. My respect for him has now been completely exhausted.
Roger Cressy, Bush's own former top counterterrorism expert completely bashes this production as an extremely poorly done and propagandized exercise, according to this by Kos at DailyKos.
Here is what ThinkProgress notes about it:
ABC won’t give President Clinton, Madeleine Albright or Sandy Berger a copy of its 9/11 docudrama, “The Path to 9/11.” But there is virtually nothing about the film ABC won’t share with the right-wing blogosphere.Media Matters has extensive coverage of this, including here and here.
For example, an ABC insider sent this missive to right-wing blogger Hugh Hewitt about potential edits to the film:
The Disney execs met all through the weekend - unheard of in this business - debating what changes would be made and what concessions should be given. Here is what looks to be the conclusion:Read the full email to Hewitt here.
- There will be a handful of tweaks made to a few scenes.
- They are minor, and nuance in most cases - a line lift here, a tweak to the edit there.
- There are 900 screeners out there. When this airs this weekend, there will be a number of people who will spend their free evenings looking for these changes and will be hard pressed to identify them. They are that minor.
- The average viewer would not be able to tell the difference between the two versions.
- The message of the Clinton Admin failures remains fully intact.
Right now, former Gov. Tom Kean (R-NJ) — a paid senior advisor to this film — is digging in and defending ABC. If the network is making edits to the film to correct errors, they should tell everyone, not just right-wing bloggers.
The fact that ABC continues to cater to Rush Limbaugh and conservative bloggers, while refusing to show even the most basic courtesy to a former President of the United States, says a lot about what this “docudrama” is really about.
ABC should be ashamed of itself. Hell, I daresay I feel their broadcasting license should be PULLED because of this. The airwaves belong to us and ABC has shat upon us by allowing this production to be aired.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 08:18:00 PM
I was about to write about this but I see the good people (specifically here, Payson) at Think Progress have already addressed the sudden, sad revision - like UP a whopping 300% (and some nine soldiers are dead just in the past 24 hours in Bush's War on Iraq:
Last week, Pentagon spokesmen touted the success of Operation Forward Together, a push to improve security in Baghdad. They cited a significant decrease in the number of bodies the city morgue received as evidence the operation was working. The media picked up on it:
Last month, the Baghdad morgue received more than 1,800 bodies, a record high. This month, the morgue is on track to receive less than a quarter of that. … U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of military forces in Baghdad, attributed the capital’s declining violence to a sweep involving 8,000 U.S. soldiers and 3,000 Iraqi troops aimed at stopping sectarian violence.It looks like they spoke too soon. According to the ABC News blog, the Baghdad morgue today revised its figures upward a whopping 300 percent:
It turns out the official toll of violent deaths in August was just revised upwards to 1535 from 550, tripling the total. Now, we’re depressingly used to hearing about deaths here, so much so that the numbers can be numbing. But this means that a much-publicized drop-off in violence in August - heralded by both the Iraqi government and the US military as a sign that a new security effort in Baghdad was working - apparently didn’t exist. […] Violent deaths now appear roughly in line with the earlier trend: 1855 in July and 1595 in June.President Bush said “the initial results” of the Baghdad opertation were encouraging.” The revised results paint a different picture.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 06:38:00 PM
War of terror is far more apt than "War on Terror" because the Bushies wage terror on the rest of the world, as well as right here at home, rather than take any meaningful steps to eliminate terrorism.
But with more and more polls showing a greater number of Americans all the time see Iraq as very much a separate animal from the Bush global "terror" war, I think there is increasing hope for our country in a post-Bush democracy.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 06:33:00 PM
As a new military manual specifically forbids torture - something that almost seems like it would go without stating except in Bush's America and Rumsfeld's Pentagon, where even George Orwell could not begin to imagine what these men (and I use the term "men" lightly) are capable of in the most negative sense - you somehow must know that Rumsfeld will find a way to justify horrific torture regardless. In other words, he will happily state that "a few bad apples" or "some rogue types" (aka, the lowest service people on the military food chain) commit torture when he does not condone it.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 04:42:00 PM
To Bush, it matters not at all that the Supreme Court, in the case of Hamdan (allegedly bin Laden's one-time chaffeur), has ruled that his military tribunals are unconstitutional. Nor does it seem to matter to him that of the very few cases the Bushies have brought to court on charges tied to terrorism, the feds have almost NO convictions. Nope, Bush just wants what he wants when he wants it, and everyone else be damned. He's demanding new legislation be written and passed that will override the Supreme Court.
MSNBC is also reporting that Bush has confirmed the existence of secret prisons, something most of us have known for a very long time but which, until today, the Bushies themselves refused to acknowledge.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 04:35:00 PM
While Israel has supposedly agree to end its many week blockade of Lebanon as of tomorrow (Thursday), Israeli Prime Minister Ehad Olmert has been charged with war crimes in a Spanish court for his leadership of the attack on Lebanon (supposedly aimed entirely at Hezbollah but more than 1 in every three deaths was than of a civilian Lebanese child)
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 04:30:00 PM
This, from the San Francisco Chronicle, should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention; the Bushies have become masters of manipulation of the American people and we should be sending them packing, if not sending them straight to prison:
With the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks fast approaching, President Bush took to the podium Tuesday to speak to Americans about his administration's global war on terror.
Three things can be expected from Bush's speech, according to a new study by three Columbia University researchers: The media will repeat the president's remarks. Public fear of terrorism will increase. And the president's poll numbers will rise.
Those have been the effects of presidential pronouncements on terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to political scientists Brigitte Nacos, Yaeli Bloch-Elkon and Robert Shapiro, in a report prepared for this month's annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.
"These are interesting findings, and confirm what many of us had suspected," said Mark Juergensmeyer, director of Global and International Studies at UC Santa Barbara, who reviewed the research at the request of The Chronicle.
"This public panic benefits the terrorists whose work is made easier by an overactive government response that magnifies their efforts. In an odd way this puts the government and the terrorists in league with one another," he said. "The main loser, alas, is the terrified public."
The Columbia researchers looked at past scholarship on the subject and a new review of terror threats, official warnings and the coverage of both by the mass media since 2001, seeking to close what Nacos called a gap in research of how terrorists try to achieve their goals of fomenting fear, not only through attack but by threatening attack.
"The real new thing here is the mere threat, heavily mass mediated, achieves at least part of what actual terrorism achieves," Nacos said. "(Terrorists) want to intimidate, they want to spread fear and anxiety, and they want to take influence through the public on government officials."
Much of the Columbia team's research focused on the press -- especially the television media -- and how it reacted to threats of terrorism.
"Any actual threat message -- a tape by bin Laden or al-Zawahiri or an alert -- results in a great deal of messages in the media," Nacos said. "People comment on it, they analyze it ... the administration, experts in the field, including myself."
That approach magnifies the sense of threat by repetition, Nacos said. And while increases in terror alerts always made the top of the news on the three major networks, decreases tended to be buried and far less time was devoted to them -- 1 minute, 34 seconds on average for a national alert being lowered, compared with 5 minutes, 20 seconds when the alert was raised.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 04:23:00 PM
From the Verified Voting Foundation (it's long!):
According to a recent Zogby poll, 92% of all demographic groups in thecountry support the public's right to observe vote counting and to obtaininformation regarding vote counting. On this issue, the American public isunited: transparency is essential to democracy.
Announcing… the Election Transparency Project!
During this election season, Verified Voting is launching our ElectionTransparency Project – an ongoing non-partisan effort designed to providecitizens with tools to evaluate existing levels of transparency and toengage in observation of, and reporting on, every part of the electoral process, from registration of voters to certification of the results.
With each election season, Verified Voting will add guidelines and observation tools to build usable models for citizen oversight of theentire process. Verified Voting will also encourage observation by the public nationwide until such observation is recognized as a fundamentalingredient in free and fair elections.
Through the Election Transparency Project, Verified Voting will provide guidelines for observing various portions of the electoral process, questionnaires to assist observers in collecting key information, and aweb tool that observers can use to enter the data that they collect. The data gathered by observers during each election cycle will be pooled sothat stakeholders can learn more about how elections are beingadministered in various parts of the country, and make recommendations for how election management can be improved in the future.Verified Voting supports and applauds other efforts for citizen participation in elections, including the ongoing work of the ElectionProtection Coalition and the newly-launched Pollworkers For Democracyprogram. Our Election Transparency Project is designed to complementrather than duplicate those efforts.
We Need You!The success of the Election Transparency Project depends on citizen participation. We are seeking both individuals and organizationsinterested in improving our democracy by collecting information on thevoting process. Please consider signing up yourself, and also forwardingthis information to other individuals and to groups with whom you areaffiliated to request their participation as well. [There will be a sign-uplink at our front page soon, or just email email@example.com sign up.]
Once you have signed up to participate, all you need to do is download orprint the questionnaires from our website as they become available, whichwill make clear exactly what you need to look for. After observation, youwill be able to easily enter the data that you gather into a web-basedsurvey form, or send in your hard copy questionnaire to us for entry. Thedata you provide will be made publicly available – but not your name. Datais redacted to prevent disclosure of personally identifying information(such as name or contact information).The Time is Now!
For this election season, we will be focusing on several components of theelection process that occur either before or after actual Election Daypolling place hours. That means some observation will take place inSeptember and October, so sign up now!Actual observation will often take only a few hours of your time, withsome observation opportunities taking place during the business day andothers in the evening; some on Election Day and others before and after. After observing, you will need to devote a little more time to submitting your data and notes.
We are preparing observation guidelines and questionnaires for fivedifferent aspects of the electoral process: you can choose those that bestsuit your schedule and interests. Some aspects of the election process canbe easily observed by individuals. Others are more suited for a groupeffort. Please see the descriptions below for more information.If you are a member of an organization that might be interested in thisproject, please consider talking to your organization about thepossibility of signing on as a group. However, both individuals andorganizations are invited and encouraged to participate.
Choose What Interests You Most!For this year, the Election Transparency Project begins with a fewimportant components:
1) Pre-election transparency assessment: This questionnaire will assistyou in collecting information on the extent to which the elections in yourjurisdiction are, or are not, observable by the public. The informationthat you collect on the laws, rules, and written procedures governingtransparency in your area will then be compared against how many of thosewritten rules are implemented in practice. This is your chance to “grade”your state, county, parish or township’s level of election transparency.Completing a pre-election transparency assessment for your area can bedone over the course of several days, and can generally be undertaken when your schedule permits (as long as you or someone in your group can make some phone calls to offices during business hours). However, in order to be most effective, the pre-election transparency assessment will need to be completed as soon as possible, and well in advance of the election. Participation in the transparency assessment can be undertaken on either an individual or a group basis.We encourage everyone who will be observing one of the components listed below to also complete a pre-election transparency assessment.
2) Pre-election testing of the voting equipment (often known as “Logic & Accuracy” testing): The laws governing such testing differ widely acrosselection jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, observers are permitted andeven encouraged to ask questions and make comments. In others, only silent observers of the tests are permitted. Our questionnaire is adaptable to any of these scenarios. Observing pre-election testing may take only a few hours of time, although the testing (and thus the observation) usuallyoccurs during the business day. This observation can be undertaken oneither an individual or a group basis.
3) Ballot Accounting: reconciling the number of votes cast with the number of voters signing in at the precinct. This reconciliation takes place at the time of poll closing. The rules for observing this critical functionvary from place to place. One advantage of participating in observation ofballot accounting is that such observation takes place after businesshours on Election Day, and therefore is a short-term, after-hourscommitment. This observation is recommended for groups that can coverseveral (but not all) precincts in a county, parish, or township. However,observation by an individual at a single precinct is also useful.In 2004, this type of observation by a leading citizen group in Florida,the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition (MDERC), revealed a variety ofdiscrepancies, including that the vote totals of one machine were accidentally uploaded three times into the certified count. MDERC’sreport, “Get It Right the First Time,” was cited by the United StatesGovernment Accountability Office. This is your opportunity to expand thisimportant work into your local area.4) Early Voting: Early voting observation is similar in nature to ballotaccounting observation, except that it takes place at early votinglocations (in jurisdictions where they exist) at the close of each day ofearly voting.
This observation is recommended for groups that can coverseveral (if not all) early voting sites in a county, parish, or township,but individual observation is also welcome. Two leading citizen groups, the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition andthe Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay, are working hard to plan andimplement early voting observation in parts of Florida. The more people that we have participating throughout the country, the more we will beable to compare and contrast various ways of implementing early voting. This observation will take place prior to Election Day, during the periodof early voting. (Approximately 14 states do not offer early voting – sothis project would not apply to you if you live in: AL, CT, DE, MA, MD,MI, MS, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, WA.)5) Auditing: Mandatory manual audits in randomly selected precincts are essential to protecting the vote. These audits verify that the electronicvoting systems (either DRE voting machines or optical scan voting systems)are accurately recording and counting the votes.If you live in an area that already requires both a voter-verified paperrecord and routine manual auditing, this is your chance to find out howthose important tools are being implemented, and to collect informationnecessary to formulate best practices for future auditing. Thisobservation can be undertaken on either an individual or a group basis.To find out whether your state requires mandatory manual audits ofvoter-verified paper records, please visit our audits page: http://www.verifiedvoting.org/audits
In addition to completed questionnaires, Verified Voting welcomes detailed descriptions of unexpected problems and supporting material such as videotapes, photos, and the like.Make an Impact!On the basis of the data gathered, Verified Voting will produce one ormore reports that will feature recommendations for best practices that aregeared toward increasing both the verifiability and accuracy of ourelections. By collecting information via observation and submitting itinto a nationwide data pool, you will be laying the foundation for astronger democracy.Our goal is not only to support improvement in the administration of ourelections, but also to create models for effective citizen observation.You will be able to download a feedback survey so that you can let us know what you found useful, confusing, or missing from the ElectionTransparency Project observation tools, or make other suggestions forimproving citizen oversight of America’s voting systems.Finally, Verified Voting will produce election transparency scorecards foras many jurisdictions as possible. This data will help identify areas inwhich transparency is lacking. Those areas will then become the focus ofour efforts in preparation for future elections.Remember: much of this observation will begin in a matter of days! Don’twait… sign up now by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by callingthe Verified Voting office at 415-487-2255. Forward this message to otherindividuals and groups that you think might be interested. Democracy needs you. The time to act is now!
###This newsletter online: http://verifiedvotingfoundation.org/article.php?id=6386
Verified Voting Foundation
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 03:48:00 PM
Olbermann on Mr. Bush and The New "Message" of the GOP That Disagreeing With Bush Is To Enable Nazis
From Keith Olbermann's Tuesday night program:
While the transcript from last night's show is not yet available, you can find the text of Olbermann's latest "Special Comment" here.
Keith Olbermann blogs: "Keith Olbermann blogs: "Mr. Bush and his colleagues have led us before to such waters. We will not drink again."
Or you can just read here:
It is to our deep national shame—and ultimately it will be to the President’s deep personal regret—that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies—or even question their effectiveness or execution—to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.
Today, in the same subtle terms in which Mr. Bush and his colleagues muddied the clear line separating Iraq and 9/11 -- without ever actually saying so—the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, “a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government.”
Make no mistake here—the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the “media.”
The President and the Vice President and others have often attacked freedom of speech, and freedom of dissent, and freedom of the press.
Now, Mr. Bush has signaled that his unparalleled and unprincipled attack on reporting has a new and venomous side angle:
The attempt to link, by the simple expediency of one word—“media”—the honest, patriotic, and indeed vital questions and questioning from American reporters, with the evil of Al-Qaeda propaganda.
That linkage is more than just indefensible. It is un-American.
Mr. Bush and his colleagues have led us before to such waters.
We will not drink again.
And the President’s re-writing and sanitizing of history, so it fits the expediencies of domestic politics, is just as false, and just as scurrilous.
“In the 1920’s a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews,” President Bush said today, “the world ignored Hitler’s words, and paid a terrible price.”Whatever the true nature of al Qaeda and other international terrorist threats, to ceaselessly compare them to the Nazi State of Germany serves only to embolden them.
More over, Mr. Bush, you are accomplishing in part what Osama Bin Laden and others seek—a fearful American populace, easily manipulated, and willing to throw away any measure of restraint, any loyalty to our own ideals and freedoms, for the comforting illusion of safety.
It thus becomes necessary to remind the President that his administration’s recent Nazi “kick” is an awful and cynical thing.
And it becomes necessary to reach back into our history, for yet another quote, from yet another time and to ask it of Mr. Bush:
“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 02:58:00 PM
Keith Olbermann last night awarded former Speaker of the House and much disgraced Republican Newt Gingrich - a man happy to have Clinton impeached for an affair with an intern while Gingrich himself carried on multiple such affairs and once served his wife with divorce papers right after she came out of surgery for cancerous tumor removal - his "Worst Person in the World" nightly award.
What has Gingrich done lately, besides declare that it was in the GOP's best interests to declare Lebanon - while also going to war with Iran and Syria - World War III so that "fear and terror" would make voters vote Republican this November as well as in 2008? Well, as it happens, Newt's been busy:
First, Gingrich declared (quite falsely) that more than 700 weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) had been found in Iraq (gee, hasn't that ship sunk ages ago?).
Next, Gingrich insists that it is "not an insult" to call those who disagree with the Bush Administration as the same kind of dissidents who "enabled" Hitlet's rise to power along with the advent of Naziism in Europe in the 1930-40s. This is the new message of the Bush GOP and it's a sorry ass one, indeed.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 02:07:00 PM
My God. We have actually reached the point where the Bushies have fucked up Iraq so completely, so irreparably that more than 300 Iraqi leaders, clerics and otherwise, have petitioned for the release of former "president" Saddam Hussein so he can return to lead the country out of the morass Bush and Rumsfeld have wrought.
This was reported today on "Democracy Now" (you can catch it again at 7 PM ET on Free Speech TV; Link TV may also have another showing of it today and north central Vermonters can catch it on WGDR - 91.1 FM - at 6:30 PM ET). Those with broadband can also listen to a recording of it at their Web site.
Also, lest you think that those petitioning are just Saddam loyalists who have never stopped wanting Hussein's release and reinstatement, this appears not to be the case. Some of the leaders noted have worked with the Bushies and the U.S. propped government there but no longer feel that the Bush system works.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 01:56:00 PM
I have finally reconstructed my blogrolls but I'm having problems getting them to appear "live".
So please forgive the mess as I try various things today to get the rolls to show up while not losing other portions from the right-hand sidebar. Hopefully, by the end of the day, all will be reasonably back in place.
Posted by Kate at 9/06/2006 01:37:00 PM
Next time you ask yourself whether President Bush is telling the truth about an issue or not, consider the any number of huge lies George Bush told JUST about 9-11:
- that we would not rest until Osama bin Laden was caught
- that he would be sure the Federal government reimbursed everyone for the grave losses that day
- that they would NOT let workers on the World Trade Center site UNLESS it was safe for them to do so (which we KNOW now is not true and Bush and the government KNEW was not true on 9/12/01)
- that they would gladly pay health bill of anyone who did get sick as a result of the recovery work (the Bushies fight this reimbursement every step of the way)
And this is just a few of the lies. Consider too that if you think it took awhile for Bush to appear down in the site of Katrina's aftermath, the president also waited many days before he showed up at Ground Zero (the chickenshit chickenhawk)
Posted by Kate at 9/05/2006 06:51:00 PM
Uh... I'm sure there is a reason we must be treated to the last ever filmed animal stunt the late Steve Erwin did/taped before he was killed yesterday. But I don't know what that reason is. Or why so many news sites are treating Erwin's death like a very huge deal.
Posted by Kate at 9/05/2006 06:20:00 PM
See? Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has so much gravitas - or is it animal magnetism? - that even Canadians are writing to him! From Eric Margolis in Sunday's Toronto Star:
Dear Rummy: In your speech to the American Legion in Salt Lake City last week, you compared critics of your wars abroad to appeasers of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.Read the rest here.
Allow me to disagree, Mr. Secretary.
I’m also a member of American Legion — Post 7, Toronto — and I don’t agree with all those well-meaning but insular vets who cheered you in Utah. What most of them know about Iraq or Afghanistan wouldn’t fill a golf ball.
So you may hornswoggle these good souls by claiming the administration is re-fighting World War II against “Islamo-facists,” i.e., reborn Nazis disguised as wicked Muslims.
What ever would we do without those all-purpose Nazis?
I hear you called Saddam Hussein a Nazi. Excuse me, were you not the Reagan Administration official who went to Baghdad in 1983 to offer Saddam military, financial and intelligence support in his war of aggression against Iran? Time for your memory pills, Rummy.
I opposed keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan, fearing, as has happened, that they’d get stuck in a no-win guerilla war. Before you invaded Iraq, I wrote Saddam had no WMDs, and predicted the U.S. would face guerilla and civil war, and a financial debacle, not flowers. Today, I say get out of these lost wars before another American soldier dies.
I guess that makes me a 1930s-style “appeaser” and a leftie. A neocon mama’s boy from Canada, whose closest brush with combat was a dinnertime spat between his parents, even had the chutzpah to call me “unpatriotic” in a U.S. magazine article for opposing the Iraq war.
Next to my desk, I have a large framed Certificate of Recognition bearing the great eagle seal of the United States, attesting to my service to the nation during the Cold War. “We the people of this nation are forever grateful,” it says.
It’s signed by you, Mr Secretary.
Posted by Kate at 9/05/2006 06:06:00 PM
[Ed. note: There is an excellent movie produced in 1991 called "Closet Land" - here's the entry in the Internet Movie Database made perhaps with the assistance or approval of Amnesty International, starring Alan Rickman and Madeleine Stowe that I encourage everyone to find and watch. Excellent story about a political prisoner arrested by some "Big Brother"-like police organization who holds her without charges but suggests her crime is hiding messages in her children's stories. If you can find it, watch it. It's powerful.]
Check this piece out in The Huffington Post. Notably, Ken Mehlman is gay although he's as big a gay hater and basher as the GOP has and notable too because Mehlman heads the Republican National Committee. Bush's Brain, Karl Rove, is noteworthy here because Rove's late father was gay.
Posted by Kate at 9/05/2006 02:35:00 PM
It is no hyperbole to say that the Bushies have been far more consisting in one war than anything they dreamed up for Afghanistan, or Iraq, or even its plans for Syria and Iran. Namely, the Bush Administration's most successful war has been against both the poor as well as the Middle Class. It's why you see bankruptcy petitions going through the roof and home foreclosures higher than ever before in American history. See yesterday's post about the backbreaking labor involved in Labor Day for more details.
Yet now there's a new bill that endangers working Americans even more. Read here.
Posted by Kate at 9/05/2006 02:17:00 PM
From The Nation:
Bush Aims to Kill War Crimes Act
Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith write that the Bush Administration is quietly floating legislation that would eliminate key parts of the War Crimes Act and retroactively protect civilian officials from prosecution.
Posted by Kate at 9/05/2006 01:22:00 PM
Happy Labor Day!
Alas, however, for many of us, Labor Day isn't quite what it once was: a holiday on which you appreciate the many benefits provided you in exchange for your very hard effort in the workplace.
We are about to reach the point where the U.S. has gone the longest period possible (about a full decade) without any increase in the federal minimum wage act. That would be all fine and good IF relatively few, like new job seekers and teenagers in "nothing" jobs to earn money toward tuition and other expenses, for example, were about the only ones earning the minimum. But this is hardly the case.
Statistically speaking, many long time workers in the workforce earn less than a "significant" percentage over minimum wage. In fact, except for the Depression of the early 1930s, America has not seen so many employees being paid or otherwise rewarded so minimally.
Consider, too, that the current hourly minimum wage is supposed to cover a LOT higher expenses than when it was first raised more than nine years ago. The average cost of a prescription drug is up between 50 and 135% during that time period and many doctors' fees per visit have nearly doubled in this time period. A gallon of gas costs you far more than it did then, as does milk, meat, vegetables, and other necessities.
Factor in also that far fewer workers receive real benefits as part of their work. A record number of Americans have NO health insurance whatsoever and many who do work 40 or more hours at a near minimum wage job are very fortunate if they quality for "welfare" type coverage; in some states, WalMart has more employees on Medicaid for health benefits than employees who get coverage through WalMart. Way to go, corporate welfare!
Unemployment levels only appear low because the Bushies long ago decided to eliminate many categories of people from being counted. It's easy to make the numbers look good when you can cheat every which way.
Factor in also that in America, there has rarely been a time when the percentage of Americans working two or more jobs has been so high. In Bush America, a husband and a wife each working a full time job often does NOT mean an income satisfactory to meet rising mortgage and tax rates, out of control drug and medical costs, skyrocketing fuel and grocery pricetags, and fewer programs to help the Middle Class and poorer to send their kids to college.
Indeed, the Bushies have been far more successful in its War on the Middle Class and its War on the Poor than it has in Iraq (and you know what a horrific mess that is) or its global War on Terror.
Posted by Kate at 9/04/2006 04:16:00 PM
Uh... uh... Really, what is there to say?
On the one hand, this kind of story does suggest that Darwin and "natural selection" does have quite a bit of credibility. On the other... wait. Let me just leave it alone.
Posted by Kate at 9/04/2006 12:22:00 AM
You have to hand it to George W. Bush - and frankly, I'd love to hand him his walking papers along with his eviction notice from the people's house, his true bill of indictment for perpetrating some of the worst war crimes that recorded history has ever noted, and even his head although there is ZERO evidence that Mr. Bush has ever used his head for anything more than anchoring a cowboy hat. Indeed, Mr. Bush has told us time and again that admission to schools of higher education should never, ever, ever be based on race as it was for many years under Affirmative Action.
No, the ultra progressive and ever so thoughtful Mr. Bush wants a prospective college student's admission to the school of his or her choice based ONLY on the following criteria (which, incidentally, are responsible for his admission into every school he attended after that embarrassing little matter of Dubya being expelled from pre-Kindergarten for poor grades and, OF COURSE, cheating on his Show and Tell presentations):
- parents' ability to pay the tuition bill (after all, we don't want poor trash going to college, right?), and
- legacy admissions based on a system where a school MUST allow you to matriculate IF your poppy or your poppy's poppy went to that school ahead of you (you can't honestly believe that Dubya got into Yale or Harvard based on his academic record); Bush can't even spell Yale (says it has far too many syllables along with tricky spelling)
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 11:06:00 PM
What a surprise! The junior
janitor uh.. Senator from Pennsylvania just can't get enough of the incredible smartness of President "Albert Camus is a quick read!" Bush.
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 08:55:00 PM
Hezbollah has anew weapon of terror? Ah, wait: Newsweek also calls it "Hizbollah's most dangerous weapon, too.
Hmmm.... could it be:
- Anna Nicole Smith ("TrimSpa, baaaaby!") playing Lady MacBeth in a super-micro bikini?
- Cheney (aka "The Dick") giving Mr. Bush a bag of extra choke-worthy pretzels?
- Donald Rumsfeld making pate out of former Ambassador Joe Wilson?
- Mel Gibson who has even less love for Jews and Israel than Hezbollah's No. 1, Nasrallah?
- The Bush Twins cooking up their very own methamphetamine lab in the bowling alley basement of the White House's West Wing?
- Did Hezbollah kidnap Michael Jackson from Bahrain and are about to unleash him on the Middle East as a Rambo-like one man murder machine?
Gee, no. Instead, it is this which sounds eerily like some of the conspiracy theories that still make the rounds about what happened on September 11th, 2001: unmanned planes used as suicide bombs:
Hizbullah's chief, Hassan Nasrallah, spent the past two years bragging about a remote-control aircraft that could carry an explosive device to strike a target anywhere inside Israel. He finally put that threat into action a few weeks ago, during the Lebanon war, launching three of the pilotless planes toward Israeli targets—including two on the war's last day. They were Iranian-built Ababil unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), capable of carrying an 88-pound warhead for up to 150 miles. The Israelis say Hizbullah received at least 12 UAVs from Iran before the war—meaning that Nasrallah may still have a small arsenal of them hidden away for future use.Many theorists, citing some studies done by the U.S. military in the immediate years leading up to September 2001, speculate that one or more of the four alleged hijacked plans were not so much flown by terrorists (and if you recall, many of those originally listed as the 9-11 hijackers have turned up alive in other countries) as by remote control.
While this sounds whacky, you would really have to study the rather large body of research to understand all that this entails.
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 08:03:00 PM
First, we've caught a "major al Qaeda" figure again (other such major figures have included Osama's love slave, his chaffeur, and his manicurist). Wow. I feel just so much safer. Uh huh. Note, however, that this never includes Osama bin Forgotten or Pediatrician-turned-Jihadist Extraordinaire, Zawahiri.
Second, a study shows what most of us already know: there are very few arrests, let alone convictions, for "terrorists" the Bushies catch. In fact, despite the fact that we've wasted hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars (which is actually starting to sound like real money) since around this time in 2001, all we've managed to accomplish is making the U.S. less safe than ever before while driving up the world's hatred of us to levels that nearly defy the imagination (and the Bushies are nothing if not imaginative - sort of like the level of imagination necessary to construct a soap opera).
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 06:40:00 PM
Thivai Abhor at Dialogic points us to a key article from the Detroit Free Press which discusses the new challenge (Finally!) from John Kerry to the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio. Here's a snip but - as always - I encourage you to read the entirety:
Republican election officials here have been chomping at the bit to shred, burn or otherwise destroy the ballots and other related materials from the dubious vote count that gave George W. Bush a second term. Yet, in several rural southwest Republican-dominated counties, you have to trip over boxes of ballots and election material from earlier elections dating back as far as 1977 in order to see the stickers "Destroy on 9/3/06" on the 2004 ballot boxes.
J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican Secretary of State, is running for governor. His dual role as administrator of the election and state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign has raised deep-seated embarrassment and ire throughout the Buckeye State.
The disturbing revelations of irregularities, theft and fraud continue to pour from the ballots still stored by election boards around the state. Statistician Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips has been instrumental in the research process along with a volunteer crew of election protection activists. This summer, Dr. Ron Baiman of Loyola has also been analyzing ballots and other election records from the 2004 election in a project funded by the CICJ. Many have spent countless hours pouring through and photographing piles of voter records and thousands of ballots, some of them stacked in filthy, leaky warehouses. Through this work, the evidence that the 2004 election was stolen continues to build. We will cover some of these new revelations in a future piece.
Unfortunately, some vital material has already been destroyed by various county election boards. Fears have also been expressed that some BOEs might ignore the new orders to preserve the ballots. Some 2004 election workers have already been indicted in Cuyahoga County. A major partisan battle has erupted in the Democratic stronghold of Cleveland over the actions of the Executive Director of the Board of Elections, Michael Vu, for Cuyahoga County. Nominally a Democrat, Vu only holds his position because of the support of Cuyahoga County BOE Chair, Robert Bennett, also the Chair of the Ohio Republican Party. Bennett and his fellow Republican on the election board are keeping Vu from being ousted by the Democratic Party who originally appointed him. Legal battles also continue over the firing of Sherole Eaton, a federal whistleblower who dared to call attention to unauthorized manipulations of a central tabulator during the recount in 2004 in Hocking County.
How many more such legal and political battles will come is unclear. But what is clear is that it will take years of hard investigating to get to the bottom of what really happened in 2004. And that doing so will require preservation of the ballots, which the GOP has been all too eager to destroy.
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 05:21:00 PM
Steve Benen of the excellent The Carpetbagger Report commenting on what I mentioned far more obliquely here on Friday about the new myths and fictions coming out on 9-11 (like there weren't enough already:
On the one hand, by exposing the problems, flaws, and conservative agenda behind ABC's 9/11 docudrama "The Path to 9/11," the left runs the risk of driving up interest in the broadcast, which means more people may be inclined to watch the misleading "film," just to see what all the fuss is about. On the other hand, this docudrama does a genuine disservice to the public, and the more we do to highlight the program's mistakes, the better informed the public will be.
Following up on yesterday's item, ThinkProgress added that the "The Path to 9/11" was written by a far-right activist.
The writer of the movie is an unabashed conservative named Cyrus Nowrasteh. Last year, Nowrasteh spoke on a panel titled, "Rebels With a Cause: How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood's Next Paradigm Shift." He has described Michael Moore as "an out of control socialist weasel," and conducted interviews with right-wing websites like FrontPageMag.Of course, as Nico noted, the real problem with this docudrama is that it's being presented to the public as a neutral, reliable historical drama. ABC is telling viewers that it's is "based on the 9/11 Commission Report." Nowrasteh claims he "wanted to match the just-the-facts tone of the report," and describes the project as "an objective telling of the events of 9/11."
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 05:11:00 PM
As I and numerous other bloggers have noted, there has been a major effort underway by the far right and others to trash the two Fox journalists (I know, Fox and "journalist" does seem like a complete oxymoron but please...) recent released by their reported Palestinian captors, much as these same chickenhawk "heroes" ridiculed the Christian Science Monitor's Jill Carroll and even Daniel Perle, the Wall Street Journal's bureau chief before he was beheaded by his Muslim captors within months after 9-11-01.
Glenn Greenwald continues to tackle the obscene effort by the neocon and other far rightists to denounce these men:
In his new column today, admired warrior Mark Steyn follows in the footsteps of David Warren by mocking (from a safe distance, as always) the willingness of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig to participate in a conversion ceremony in order to save their own lives. Just as Warren did, Steyn devotes an entire column to arguing that the weak, girlish cowardice displayed by the two Fox journalists in Gaza is what is plaguing "the West," and -- as always -- it is only unrestrained, chest-beating war (fought by others) which can bring us the masculine, warrior power that we need to be saved from Islamic aggression.Read the rest here.
Steyn builds his "argument" by glorifying several extremely courageous individuals -- fictional characters in a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- who were "Anglo-American-French tourists taken hostage by the Mahdists, the jihadi of the day." Steyn says they were "in the same predicament as Centanni and Wiig: The kidnappers are offering them a choice between Islam or death." But unlike the Fox journalist cowards in Gaza, Steyn lauds these fictional individuals as brave men and women of character:
"None of them, except perhaps Miss Adams and Mrs. Belmont, had any deep religious convictions. All of them were children of this world, and some of them disagreed with everything which that symbol [the cross] upon the earth represented."Steyn then contrasts the bravery of the Doyle characters with the conduct of Centanni and Wiig and -- just like Warren did -- claims that in their cowardly, life-saving behavior lies the real lesson of our Epic War of Civilizations with the Islamofacists:
Yet in the end, even as men with no religious convictions, they cannot bring themselves to submit to Islam, for they understand it to be not just a denial of Christ but in some sense a denial of themselves, too. So they stall and delay and bog down the imam in a lot of technical questions until eventually he wises up and they're condemned to death.
One hundred ten years later, for the Fox journalists and the Western media who reported their release, what's the big deal?Earlier in the column, Steyn complains of a newspaper story reporting on the assault of a 16-year-old girl by three men in Australia because the article failed to mention that the attackers were "of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean appearance." Steyn then ties that story to the Centanni/Wiig cowardice. Their wilingness to convert in order to save their own lives shows "that these men are easier to force into the car than that 16-year-old girl in Sydney was."
Wear robes, change your name to Khaled, go on camera and drop Allah's name hither and yon: If that's your ticket out, seize it. Everyone'll know it's just a sham.But that's not how the al-Jazeera audience sees it. If you're a Muslim, the video is anything but meaningless. Not even the dumbest jihadist believes these infidels are suddenly true believers. Rather, it confirms the central truth Osama and the mullahs have been peddling -- that the West is weak, that there's nothing -- no core, no bedrock -- nothing it's not willing to trade.
Steyn also points to the new book by "gay Tory Andrew Sullivan" in which, Steyn says, Sullivan is "attempting to reconcile his sexual temperament and his alleged political one." Steyn claims that the "live-for-the-present" philosophy promoted by Sullivan's book is "almost a literal restatement of Faust's bargain with the devil," and is the same weakness of character found in the Fox journalists (and in the war-avoiding appeasers of the West). "In the Muslim world, they watch the Centanni/Wiig video and see men so in love with the present, the now, that they will do or say anything to live in the moment. "
So, to recap: The West is like a 16-year old girl assaulted by aggressive Middle Eastern men - weak, vulnerable, humiliated, and in submission. Gay hedonist Andrew Sullivan, along with the bound and submissive Fox journalists, are the symbols of the weak, decadent West which Steyn so despises -- devoid of any manly values and courage.
Each week, Steyn screeches that we must wage war -- aggressive, unrestrained, manly glorious war against our Enemies -- because the alternative, which he fears so deeply, is to be a 16-year-old submissive girl or a gay Andrew Sullivan -- the men without chests, as Warren put it. You can find this transparent dynamic in most warmongering screeds these days.
The ironies of this disturbed war dance are virtually infinite, the most obvious one being that the Steyn Warriors can never point to any sacrifices they make or risks they incur. But the most striking irony is this. So much of the neoconservative warrior cries are built on an ethos of deep fear, of exactly the desperate desire to be protected and saved which Steyn and company claim is the hallmark of the girlish, soul-less West.
Posted by Kate at 9/03/2006 04:05:00 PM