Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Traffic Power Sucks
The Education of Kanye West
(Updated September 3rd 11:00 PM)
Lyrics from the remix of Diamonds From Sierra Leone:
"See, a part of me's sayin' keep shinin',
How? when I know of the blood diamonds
Though it's thousands of miles away
Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today
Over here, its a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs..."
Kanye West changed the opening verse to the first single from his long-awaited sophomore release which dropped on Tuesday after being schooled a bit on the modern horrors of the throwback diamond industry by conscious rapper Q-Tip and " Raquel Cepeda, co-director of the upcoming documentary film BLING: A Planet Rock."
Kanye told Allhiphop.com
“I felt like it was God working through me to get this message out…slightly enough education and just edgy enough to make people get on the Internet and say ‘damn, what’s up with Sierra Leone?’”
Late Registration is the best CD I dow-...I mean...heard all year.
Shakes' Sis wrote:
"That’s a brave message for a hip-hop artist to wax philosophical about, unprompted, in a promo interview. The real credit, though, goes to West’s cousin, who had the courage to come out, and forced West to think about something he otherwise might not have."
"George Bush doesn't care about black people!" Kanye West freestyled during a live, televised fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Katrina on Friday night.
Lisa de Moraes' September 3rd Washington Post T.V. column contained a nifty subtitle: "Why We Love Live Television, Reason No. 137".
Some highlights from Moraes' column:
"NBC's levee broke and Kanye West flooded through with a tear about the federal response in New Orleans during the network's live concert fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina last night."
"The rapper was among the celebs and singers participating in the one-hour special, produced by NBC News and run on the NBC broadcast network, as well as MSNBC and CNBC, because, hey, the numbers couldn't be any worse than usual on a Friday night and hopefully they'd raise a chunk of change for a good cause, the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund."....
"West was not scheduled to perform; he was one of the blah, blah, blahers, who would read from scripts prepared by the network about the impact of Katrina on southern Louisiana and Mississippi."
West was anything but blah blah blah.
Yes, he was nervous but that added to the realness behind his words.
Crooks and Liars has a video clip of the entire segment: link.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
God Loves Intellectual Conservatives
Ran across this year-old review at a Website called Intellectual Conservative for the beast-selling book, "The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing The Principal Threat To Religious Freedom Today."
At the end of the book review (don't even waste your time reading that paranoiac self-loathing gobblygook) there is a note from the authors, Alan Sears and Craig Osten, taken from the book (note: I added the boldface moments):
"While this book deals with a difficult and contentious issue, we want to state up front that both authors and the ministry of the Alliance Defense Fund have nothing but respect, compassion, and sensitivity toward those ensnared in homosexual behavior. Both of us have family members, respected acquaintances, and friends who have been trapped in this behavior and know something of the incredible pain and sorrow it has brought to them and their families. With God's grace we carefully balance this love and respect for these individuals with warnings about the carrying out, promotion, and demand for legal approval for homosexual behavior that will stifle religious freedom and trap millions of more people in its deadly grip."
God loves intellectual conservatives who display such "respect, compassion, and sensitivity."
The Brothers McClellan
The Brothers McClellan co-emceed an Air Force One press gaggle on Monday.
Most of the gaggle was devoted to Hurricane Katrina, but a few questions were asked about President Bush's Tuesday visit to a San Diego naval station where he is expected to make up "some comparisons there between the murderous ideology that we were -- that we joined together to defeat back in World War II and the murderous ideology that we're working to defeat today."
Check out how the brother who's not a doctor expertly handled this question: "Will he be meeting with any families of war dead?"
"Let me just double check. Let me just double check that. There might be -- I think there are some wounded troops that are there, but let me just double check that. I'll get you more information on that later today. And I'll try to give you a little bit more of a preview. He's still been working on the draft for tomorrow. That's why I didn't want to go too much further into it. But, I mean, I think you should look at it overall as a commemorative speech."
In case you missed the humanity:
"I think there are some wounded troops that are there, but let me just double check that."
I'll give Press Secretary Scott McClellan the benefit of the doubt and blame it on all the confusion with his brother hanging around his job.
Most people tend to remember when they invite widows and orphans to their parties.
Not to mention wounded troops.
I guess the important thing is that Scotty remembered the gist of President Bush's commemorative speech.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Since I Got Nothing, Go...
Go check out Boadicea to find out how many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?
Go check out Pam's House Blend to see how a cellphone camera can be handier than a can of mace.
Go check out Pressthink to see no matter how hard Jay Rosen tries to get some folks on the right to discuss what steps the press can take to win them back, all they can do is harp on and on and on and on about delusional liberal media bias. It would be nice if one of the wingnuts could stop to explain how a press which refused to ask hard questions before the invasion of Iraq qualifies as liberal but most are too busy regurgitating Swift Boat lies about Senator Kerry.
As Professor Rosen writes:
"The bias discourse, however justified you may find it, is making many of you dumber by the day. You should be concentrating on getting more of your people into the mainstream media, and making great journalists out of them. And you should be discussing the bias the press should, in your considered view, have."
"Instead you have driven yourself into a logic loop. Deep down, you don’t believe in an objective press. Deep down you don’t believe our press is objective."
It's sad, really.
The man devotes so much time and effort trying to promote dialogue between the right and the left and four or five wackadoos have hijacked this nearly one-of-a-kind forum.
Fine, wackadoos, you believe the mainstream media is liberally biased. We get it. We don't agree, but your message has been received loud and garbled. Can you do anything but complain about it?
It's a broken fucking record, already.
I'm not a fan of bannings from blogs, but it seems to me that there are at least five dummies that deserve to be banned from Pressthink. Their only goal is to goad Rosen's predominately left-leaning readers into battles that no one can win because these wackadoos can never concede.
I fucking hate arguing with someone who can't concede on anything. It's pointless. If you can't admit when you've been proven wrong then you don't deserve to be listened to.
I've always loved the comments part of Jay's posts but enough is enough. How can you have a rational discussion about the media with someone named antimedia who annoyingly boldfaces random words to punctuate his long-debunked liberal conspiracy theories? Antimedia is the Clubber Lang of the blogosphere, proclaiming himself the greatest to an audience that didn't come to see him, all-the-while pitying us fools who are liberal or are connected in any way to the media.
Anyway...here's Antimedia's silly blog: Media Lies. Go and check it out since Antimedia claims to be a listener (even though he's been proven wrong on countless Pressthink forums by regulars such as Steve Lovelady and Weldon Berger):
"I allow comments, so you can prove that I've gotten my facts wrong, and I will correct the articles and give you prominent credit. I defy anyone to read what I've written and find anything substantial wrong with it, and I can assure you it will not agree at all with the "official" media versions."
Or don't waste your time at all.
Me...I'm going to Loaded Mouth because Tas is back.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Brad Blog/Air America Live In Crawford
In the spirit exemplified by the Peace House in Crawford, Texas, Saturday Night radio "competitors" Laura Flanders of Air America Radio and Brad Friedman of The BRAD SHOW via RAW RADIO are announcing an historic partnership as they simulcast their programs together this Saturday Night from on the ground in Crawford! The BRAD SHOW has been the only LIVE broadcasting "organization" on the ground at Camp Casey to air continuous live daily coverage of the events, voices and news surrounding Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan's "standoff" with George W. Bush.
Friedman's daily broadcasts begin at HIGH NOON in Crawford, TX each day (1p ET, 12p CT, 11a MT, 10a PT). The Flanders/Friedman portion of Saturday's programming will begin at 6pm Central time and will be broadcast over the IBC Radio Network, White Rose Society, KPFTX.org, OmRadio.com and Air America Radio via The BRAD SHOW's miraculous tin-can and string technology powered by one exhausted hamster running around in a wheel constantly since Friedman arrived in Texas last Monday. The BRAD SHOW via RAW RADIO is a co-production of Friedman's The BRAD BLOG and Internet news site RAW STORY in cooperation with IBC Radio Network.
Friday, August 26, 2005
45 Minutes To Doom
Michael Smith, the British journalist who broke the Downing Street Memo (memo, minutes, or memos) story, wrote another exclusive article for Raw Story which sheds more light on the origin of Prime Minister Tony Blair's since-discredited claim that Iraq possessed the capability to launch chemical and biological weapon attacks within 45 minutes.
Just like in America the blame was assigned to the intelligence services, even though, just like in America, the intelligence community wasn't in total agreement and the Administration cherry-picked the intelligence they wanted to hear.
"But amid the confusing, and often uncertain, intelligence reports on Iraq it was a detail that Mr Blair and his advisers, not least Alastair Campbell, his Director of Communications, knew the public would understand. Despite the conclusions of the Intelligence and Security Committee, there is no doubt that as far as Campbell and Blair were concerned, it was the sound bite that would sell the war to some of the many people who remained unconvinced, not least a large number of backbench Labour MPs. It would only take Saddam 45 minutes to fire his chemical or biological weapons."
"Put at its simplest, as Campbell knew the tabloid headline writers would, British bases in Cyprus were '45 minutes from doom.'"
Here's a screenshot I snagged of The Sun's September 25, 2002 headline from the Hutton Inquiry pdf:
On that benchmark day for democracy and journalism, George Pascoe-Watson, The Sun's Deputy Political Editor, did his best Judith Miller:
"British servicemen and tourists in Cyprus can be annihilated by germ warfare missiles launched by Iraq, it was revealed yesterday."
"They could thud into the Mediterranean island within 45 MINUTES of tyrant Saddam Hussein ordering an attack."
"And they could spread death and destruction through warheads containing anthrax, mustard gas, sarin or risin."
"The terrifying prospect was raised in Downing Street's dossier on Saddam's arsenal, which also revealed he could be just 12 months away from having nuclear weapons."
Check out the rest of Smith's lengthy article, with some sharp looking illustrations to learn more about the "sexing-up" of a "may be" into a "definitely."
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Atomic Bombs Kick Ass
Oliver Willis apparently believes that the Democrat Party would do better if they adapted more of a rootin' tootin' cowboy, "bring 'em on" swagger...especially when it comes to nuclear warfare.
"Is that supposed to be fucking funny? This is the kind of thing that makes me not want to be a Democrat. I don't know what the fuck Willis is thinking, but he should think again."
"Just to show lunacy is not restricted to one side of the political spectrum, how about this disgusting example of degeneracy from Oliver Willis, who boastfully subtitles his site "Like Kryptonite to Stupid"? I think the t-shirt (which bears the slogan "Truman dropped the bomb", if you can't make it out) is designed as a piece of pro-Democrat party propaganda based on the twisted logic that killing more than 200,000 civilians is a tough thing to do and Truman, a Democrat, did it."
Buyo crafted a "commemorative t-shirt" for Oliver Willis which can be seen at the above link.
Oliver Willis defends himself with this comment he left at Dadahead's post:
"I'm not about to back away from a Democratic president who did the right thing to defend our nation."
First off, I think there's quite a difference between "back[ing] away" and nyah-nyahing Republicans who - thankfully - have yet to go Dr. Strangelove on their perceived enemies' asses.
Personally, I believe August 10th was America's second darkest day in history; the worst occurred three days later. While it's often touted that the uranium and plutonium blasts may have saved hundreds of thousands of American servicemen's lives, I don't think that the annihilation of a couple hundred thousand Japanese civilians and the injection of radiation into the bloodstreams of countless future generations qualifies as a "necessary evil."
Regardless of how one feels about either of the atomic blasts, anyone who thinks that Democrats should show off their party's "got there first" status might want to acquaint themselves with the words of Chris Clair, a former Army combat engineer, who got a first-hand look at the post-apocalyptic devastation when he helped occupy Japan shortly after the Japanese surrender, from an article written by Tom Berg for The Orange County Register a few weeks ago on the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima:
"We were happy because hundreds of thousands of American lives were saved. But we weren't happy that so many people were killed. It's not a memory I focus on. It's better not to think about it any more."
Chris Clair saw the horror. Oliver Willis wants to embrace it.
Perhaps Oliver should add a kick-ass picture to his nifty t-shirt design.
Yosuke Yamahata, a photographer from the Japanese Army, took this photograph shortly after the Hiroshima bombing on August 10th, 1945:
Consider that a "reality-based" photograph. Or are you just about slogans, Oliver?
Monday, August 22, 2005
The Right Wing Constitutional Lawyer/Plagiarist
(Updated August 23rd 12:45 AM)
According to his official bio:
“John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization whose international headquarters are located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson, in addition to writing a weekly commentary that is posted on The Rutherford Institute’s website (www.rutherford.org), as well being distributed to several hundred newspapers, and hosting a national public service radio campaign. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties issues has earned him numerous accolades, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom.”
Whitehead also “gained international renown as a result of his role as co-counsel in Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton;” “filed numerous amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court;” and “has also been co-counsel in several landmark Supreme Court cases as well.”
One fact that his Rutherford Institute bio leaves out: John W. Whitehead is also a plagiarist.
A commentary Whitehead wrote on July 25th, 2005 called Curtailing the ‘Least Dangerous Branch’: Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices" is very similar to a Jeff Jacoby Boston Globe editorial, “Don’t Let Judges Serve For Life,” published on May 26th, 2005.
Three sentences into his first paragraph, Whitehead cites Jacoby as a source:
“As Jeff Jacoby recently wrote in the Boston Globe (May 26, 2005): “No president can hold power for more than eight years, but the most junior member of the current court - Stephen Breyer - has already been there for 11 years. Two others, John Paul Stevens and Rehnquist, have been on the court for more than 30 years.”
But even though the quotes end there, that’s not the last time that Jacoby’s words and ideas appear in the Constitutional lawyer’s article. Other sources that Whitehead pilfers from – without citing – include portions of a commentary written by two law professors, Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar and Northwestern’s Steven Calabresi of Northwestern, published on August 9th, 2002 in The Washington Post which Jacoby specifically cited; a couple of lines from an August 23rd, 2002 “brothers in law” column at Findlaw.com by Vikram David Amar and Akhil Reed Amar; and long passages from an article (pdf file) written by two law students, James E. DiTullio and John B. Schochet, and published on May 13th, 2004 in the Virginia Law Review entitled “Saving This Honorable Court: A Proposal to Replace Life Tenure on the Supreme Court with Staggered, Nonrenewable Eighteen-year Terms.”
Whitehead does Jacoby:
Whitehead: “Of course, Hamilton also described the judiciary as “the least dangerous branch” since it exercised no force or will but only judgment.”
Jacoby: “Alexander Hamilton described the judiciary as the ''least dangerous branch," since it had no authority to appropriate funds and no way to enforce its decisions.”
Whitehead: “Lifetime tenure, for instance, vastly increases the stakes in filling each Supreme Court (and lower federal court) vacancy. Senate battles over judicial nominations would not be so bitter if the consequences of losing were not likely to persist for decades. Supreme Court justices are also tempted by the current arrangement to time their resignations for political reasons...”
Jacoby: “…lifetime tenure vastly increases the stakes in filling each Supreme Court (and Court of Appeals) vacancy. Senate battles over judicial nominations would not be so bitter if the consequences of losing weren't likely to persist for decades. Second, high court justices are tempted by the current arrangement to time their resignations for political reasons.”
Whitehead does Amar and Calabresi via Jacoby:
Whitehead: “Life tenure as well encourages presidents to nominate younger candidates with minimal paper trails and maximal potential to shape the future, thereby passing over more experienced individuals whose resumes might trigger an ideological assault.”
Jacoby: “Third, as law professors Akhil Reed Amar of Yale and Steven Calabresi of Northwestern wrote in 2002, ''life tenure encourages presidents to nominate young candidates with minimal paper trails and maximal potential to shape the future" -- by passing up more experienced individuals whose resumes might trigger an ideological assault.”
Whitehead: “Moreover, life tenure deprives the judiciary of regular infusions of “new blood,” especially given the fact that judges are living, and thus serving, much longer. The result of this is a decrease in intellectual vigor and awareness of contemporary culture among some judges.”
Jacoby: “And fourth, with justices staying on the court longer than ever, the judiciary is deprived of regular infusions of new blood. Result: a decrease in intellectual vigor and awareness of contemporary culture.”
Whitehead does the Amar “brothers in law”:
Whitehead: “Another would have the Senate insist that all future Court nominees publicly agree to term limits or risk nonconfirmation. While legally unenforceable, such commitments by justices would likely be honored.”
Vikram & Akhil Amar: “The Senate could insist that all future Court nominees publicly agree to term limits, or risk nonconfirmation. While legally unenforceable, such commitments by Justices would likely be honored.”
Whitehead: “The average age at departure for Supreme Court Justices from 1789 to 1970 was 68.5 years. From 1971 to 2000, it was 78.8 years.”
Vikram & Akhil Amar: “The average age at departure for Supreme Court Justices from 1789 to 1970 was 68.5 years; whereas from 1971 to 2000, it was 78.8 years.”
Whitehead does DiTullio and Schochet:
Whitehead: “The role of the modern Supreme Court is much different than originally intended by those who drafted the Constitution. The Court today routinely decides cases of great magnitude. These include school desegregation, state electoral districting schemes and even the outcome of a presidential election.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “This phenomenon is exacerbated by the dynamics and role of the modern Supreme Court. The Court decides cases of great magnitude. It would have been unfathomable to the Framers that the Supreme Court would one day order the desegregation of public schools, strike down almost every state electoral districting scheme in the nation, and serve as the final arbiter in the election of the President of the United States.”
Whitehead: “And the Court enters the “political thicket” with increasing frequency."
DiTullio & Schochet: “The Supreme Court has also entered what Justice Frankfurter called the “political thicket” with increasing frequency since the beginning of the twentieth century.”
Whitehead: “Problematic consequences have arisen as Justices have grown in power, become more invested in their decisions and inserted themselves in the “culture wars.””
DiTullio & Schochet: “…three primary problems…justices have exercised more power…become more personally invested in their decisions…as the Court has entered the “culture wars”…”
Whitehead: “Arguably, this system will remove the problems of strategic retirements, incentives for young nominees and unfairly distributed appointments.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “This proposed amendment would eliminate the justices’ ability to strategically retire, temper the incentives for presidents to nominate young justices to the Court at the expense of older candidates, and guarantee each president two nominations per term.”
Whitehead: “Alexander Hamilton was the leading proponent of this provision in the Constitution.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “Alexander Hamilton was the principal proponent of this provision…”
Whitehead: “He argued that life tenure was essential to assuring the absolute independence of the judiciary from the influence of the political branches.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “For Hamilton, life tenure was essential to assuring the absolute independence of the judiciary from the influence of the “political” branches.”
Whitehead: “..one that would amend the Constitution to limit Supreme Court Justices to 18-year, non-renewable terms, with one expiring every two years.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “…this Note proposes a constitutional amendment which would limit Supreme Court justices to eighteen-year, nonrenewable terms, with one term expiring every two years.”
Whitehead: “If a Justice left the Court prior to the expiration of his/her term, the President would nominate (and Senate confirm) a “replacement” Justice who would only serve for the remainder of the retiring Justice’s term. Under no circumstances could a Justice - even a “replacement” Justice who only served for a short period of time - be reappointed to the Court.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “If a justice left the Court prior to the expiration of his term, the President would nominate (and the Senate would confirm) a “replacement” justice who would serve only for the remainder of the departing justice’s term. Under no circumstances could a justice—even a “replacement” justice who only served for a short period of time—be reappointed to the Court.”
Whitehead: “Once the Justices’ term expired, each former Justice would be permitted to serve for life on the lower federal court of his choice.”
DiTullio & Schochet: “Once his term on the Court expired, each former justice would be permitted to serve for life on the lower federal court of his choice.”
Congratulations, Mr. John Whitehead - the Right Wing Constitutional Lawyer - you are now the seventh right wing columnist to be exposed as a plagiarist at this blog, joining Jeff Gannon, Steve Roeder, Leslie Wetzel, Jim Hauser and Bobby Eberle from Talon News and Time Magazine covergirl Ann Coulter.
Although you're not my first victim, John, if it's any consolation I believe this is the best (or worst) example of plagiarism I've caught so far.
And if you ask me, I think you should be disbarred for this.
You stole from other lawyers.
You stole from law students.
Mr. John W. Whitehead, in my opinion, you have no ethics.
There is no freaking way that the farmer at corrente has ever been accused of plagiarism because no one ever, ever, ever has written like him.
Not only is the farmer the mutherfucking William Faulkner of the blogosphere, he's also brilliant and one of the best diggers that there is.
Here's a sampling from the farmer's post, "John W. Whitehead: pettifogger plagiary":
"Apparently the great and glorious Intelligent Designer failed to outfit Mr. Whitehead, for the long haul anyway, with enough original multiplying fruitfullness of his own. Hence, JWW, it would certainly appear, has been reduced to accessorizing his treatsies with entire sentences plucked from others more bountifully blessed orchards."....
"Perhaps some charitable Christian order of some variety or another will drop one of those 4000 pound marble obelisks with the ten commandments drilled into the rind on the floor of Whitehead's office. Just as as a reminder. Kind of like a enormous inexorable posty-note from hell."
jeebus...not to slight the other folks at corrente - who are all wonderful, fearless and liberal - but the farmer's posts are transcendental.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
More To Come On MEI
There might not be a blog update for another day or two because I've been busy doing some more digging into Middle East Institute, the subject of my last post: "Under Auspices of Middle East Institute."
Plus it's my birthday on Sunday and I've been dragging a bit because of it.
(Off topic: I wanted to draw attention to a recent editorial written by Paul Krugman at The New York Times about the urgent need for significant election reform called "What They Did Last Fall" but I guess I'll just throw a link to Lambert's post at Corrente on it. I mostly agreed with Krugman's column but I would have added something - as you can probaby guess - about the A-list blogs' deafening silence on the subject, except for the excellent bloggers at Brad Blog, Corrente, The Booman Tribune, Cannonfire and, of course, Raw Story, where I also toil as a researcher.)
Thursday, August 18, 2005
'Under Auspices of Middle East Institute'
The National Security Archive, a non-govermental non-profit research institute and public interest law firm founded by journalists and scholars, have posted newly declassified State Department documents on their Website which reveal that "planning for post-Saddam regime change began as early as October 2001."
As Shakespeare's Sister put it in an e-mail to all the bloggers that banded together in May after British documents were leaked which more than suggested that the Bush Administration had not been honest with the American public regarding it's pre-Iraqi Freedom actions and policies: "American Documents Appear to Confirm Downing Street Memos."
"The declassified records relate mainly to the so-called "Future of Iraq Project," an effort, initially run by the State Department then by the Pentagon, to plan for the transition to a new regime after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. They provide detail on each of the working groups and give the starting date for planning as October 2001."
This is a pdf link of a State Department briefing held on November 1, 2002. The "Project History" section includes a timeline which mentions this interesting event held on April 9th and 10th of 2002:
"Planning Meeting with Iraqis under auspices of Midde East Institute."
According to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary auspices can be defined as "kindly patronage and guidance."
According to the Middle East Institute's About page:
"Since 1946 the Middle East Institute has been an important conduit of information between Middle Eastern nations and American policymakers, organizations and the public. We strive to increase knowledge of the Middle East among our own citizens and to promote understanding between the peoples of the Middle East and America. Today we play a vital and unique role in expanding the dialogue beyond Washington, DC, and actively with organizations in the Middle East. Our Public Policy Center and Department of Programs present programs with top regional experts and officials from the US and foreign governments."
Former Ambassador Edward S. Walker Jr. became president of the MEI on May 1st, 2001, after serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State under Colin Powell for five months (Walker was a Clinton Administration holdover).
On October 2nd of 2001 an "MEI Policy Brief" written by Ellie Gettinger, coordinator of the Young Leadership Division for the Milwaukee Jewish Federation was posted on the MEI Website, three weeks after 9/11.
Excerpts from "MEI Policy Brief: Iraqi Leadership on Trial?":
"After pushing the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, the United States abandoned the area leaving Saddam Hussein in power. On October 2, Bakhtiar Amin spoke about his organization’s effort to bring the Iraqi leadership to trial for war crimes and other human rights abuses."
"Amin is the director of the Human Rights Alliance, an advocacy group supported by 270 non-governmental organizations. Through a branch of the organization called the Coalition for Justice in Iraq, he pushes the international community to form an ad hoc tribunal to try the Iraqi government. In his lecture on the three-decade rule of Hussein, Amin cited numerous abuses of international law. According to the Coalition for Justice, one million people, approximately five percent of the total population in Iraq, died at the hands of its authoritarian government. “Iraq, under Saddam Hussein’s regime,” stated Amin, “has become a land of sorrow and hopelessness.” Two examples of this misery in the history of Saddam’s rule are the gassing of Kurds in 1988 and the confiscation of Kurdish property."
"The Coalition’s efforts are two-fold. Within Iraq, people collect evidence of Hussein’s abuses. At this point, according to Amin, twenty tons of documents have been gathered and are being translated in preparation for future tribunals. Through offices in both the US and France, the Coalition for Justice in Iraq pushes for an expert commission to look into this documentation and decide whether or not the Iraqi government should be brought to trial."....
"Yet Amin recognizes that the coalition requires more than European backing. He understands that there are no regional or national authorities able to conduct litigation against the Iraqi government. In order to bring Saddam Hussein to justice, the Coalition for Justice requires international support— problematic because of shifting allegiances and lack of consensus on the United Nations Security Council."
Beneath the "Policy Brief":
"The views expressed in this document do not necessarily reflect those of the Middle East Institute, which does not take a position on Middle East Issues."
According to the MEI Website:
"Policy Briefs serve as the official record for events held at the Middle East Institute and are brief summaries of the general lectures."
Interestingly enough, last year Bakhtiar Amin became Iraq's interim Minister of human rights.
There is no disclaimer beneath this "MEI Perspective" posted on January 22nd, 2002, written by MEI Vice President David L. Mack, a former Deputy Assistant US Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs during the Clinton Administration, called "To Help Overthrow Saddam, Announce a Pro-Iraq Policy."
Excerpts from the January 22nd, 2002 "MEI Perspective":
"Iraq is back on the US policy agenda with a momentum and intensity not witnessed in almost a decade. About time -- our Iraq policy stalled out years ago."
"Containment is no longer effective. It worked only as long as Saddam believed that we had the means and the will to back up UN resolutions with military action that would threaten his regime. Since the mid-1990s, he has successfully ignored our hostile rhetoric. The show of inspection and monitoring continued until 1998. But without the implied military threat backing its mandate, the UN Special Commission was increasingly frustrated by Iraqi half-truths and outright deception. September 11 was a good reminder of Saddam's long record of supporting terrorism with a global reach -- from bombs in downtown Damascus to assassinations in Amman, Abu Dhabi and London. Such terrorism linked with linked with his known readiness to use weapons of mass destruction is the ultimate nightmare."....
"It seems obvious that a different government in Baghdad -- even a government that did not meet ideal standards of democracy -- would increase the prospect for Iraq's reintegration into the international community. The problem is devising a persuasive plan for reaching that end. Many proponents of regime change have made it sound far too simple. They underestimate Saddam's military and political resources and exaggerate the potential of the Iraqi exile opposition. The latter, with whom I have worked since 1991, are for the most part courageous and admirable. While they do not constitute a replacement government and are badly divided among themselves, they could be an important catalyst for changing the regime and assuring that the outcome is a better deal for the Iraqi people and the region. To do that, however, they would need both a decisive US military commitment and the support of at least a few key regional states. Before they take the obvious risks, key insiders also need to know that Iraq's future without Saddam will be dramatically better. Right now, those components are lacking."
That "MEI Perspective" draws heavily on an essay that David L. Mack wrote a few weeks before that was published in The Guardian.
Excerpts from "Iraq after Saddam":
"At issue now is the likely development of US policy toward Iraq. Will we take reckless measures? Or by failure to act forcefully as well as prudently, will we be reckless by omission? The Middle East can greatly benefit from the re-entry of Iraq into the international community under a new leadership. The United States should take the lead in making this happen."....
"Current Washington thinking does not include the option of giving in to the Iraqi government. Instead, the debate is between restored containment and regime change. Put me down as a hawk at heart but a skeptic in my head. Most if not all at the top of the Bush administration reflect the same skeptical anti-Saddam approach. In the end, given a plausible plan for regime change, Secretary of State Colin Powell would be a ruthless hawk. Conversely, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are not given to rash action."
"Saddam Hussein has a history of supporting terrorism with a global reach - from bombs in downtown Damascus to assassinations in Amman, Abu Dhabi and London. Such terrorism linked with weapons of mass destruction is the ultimate nightmare. Make no mistake, this Iraqi regime harbours a desire for revenge against at least Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the US and the UK. As a hawkish senior advisor to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recently remarked to me, "Saddam will get us if we don't get him first"."
"To believe that you do not have to believe that Saddam Hussein was connected to the events of September 11 or the anthrax-laden letters. Personally, I do not subscribe to the view that he is behind everything bad, including the earlier bombing of the World Trade Centre. But I have no doubt that he retains both the desire and the potential ability to do us grave harm."
The Middle East Institute seems to have been an active player in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, even though MEI "does not take a position on Middle East Issues."
In February of 2002, Edward S. Walker Jr., President of the Middle East Institute, told The Washington Post that "contributions [from Saudi Arabia] covered $200,000 of the institute's $1.5 million budget."
But $200,000 only amounted to roughly 12 percent of MEI's budget in 2001.
Who else funds the Middle East Institute?
Sure wish I had an answer. But I can report that MEI offers corporate memberships:
"One of the main activities of the Middle East Institute is building bridges between corporations in the United State, Europe, and the Middle East. When we travel to the Middle East to meet with the region’s leaders, we actively promote U.S. trade and investment and work to develop emerging markets. At home, we maintain strong relationships with the U.S. Commerce Department, State Department, U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Chamber of Congress. We work to promote Middle Eastern economic reform and growth, especially job growth, because it is through jobs and the increasing integration of the Middle East into world markets that regional stability will be increased and the sense of isolation and frustration that breeds terrorism will be reduced."
"MEI maintains a confidential database of the business interests of our member corporations. Prior to making a trip to the region, we survey corporate members (at the higher membership levels) to see if there are special concerns related to their interests that we can raise during our trip. We tell the leaders with whom we meet which U.S. companies are supporting our efforts, and of their interest in doing business in the region. Upon request, we can also speak with a country’s ambassador in Washington and/or arrange a meeting between a company representative and the ambassador."
"Under the auspices of MEI, corporate members receive specially tailored, private briefings from U.S. ambassadors to the region, administration officials, members of Congress and Capitol Hill staff, the media, as well as MEI experts. A corporate advisory board assures that MEI programs address the true interests of corporate members."
Do you think any oil and gas companies help fund the Middle East Institute?
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Keeping It Real...'Liberal'
Thanks, Joe Trippi, for including me on your e-mail list.
I'm not sure what treacherous liberal bastard gave or sold you my e-mail address but it's very easy for me to continue my work looking into how Simon Rosenberg, Rob Stein (and you, Mr. Trippi) are selling out the left while actively promoting the "liberal" bloggers who belong to BlogPAC if all I gotta do is check my inbox.
I'm not sure if this e-mail and conference call qualifies as an endorsement for a candidate for the office of Public Advocate, but it seems to come pretty close, at least (but then Joe, you did explicitly endorse Andrew Rasiej at your blog a few months back, though it's not mentioned in your invite).
Norman Siegel, the longtime civil rights and civil liberties activist and the former Executive Director of the NYCLU is the candidate that I'm supporting for Public Advocate, but maybe I've made a mistake.
After all, other "liberal" bloggers that I respect such as Jeff Jarvis and Instapundit seem to think an awful lot about Andrew Rasiej (which is trumpeted about at Rasiej's campaign blog) and they especially dig the column that my favorite "liberal" pundit, Thomas Friedman wrote about Andrew for The New York Times.
And just like Simon Rosenberg and Joe Trippi, Andrew Rasiej seems to be a loyal friend to his buddies in the blogosphere. Like it says at his Website:
"By now, many Democratic activists know that there are a couple of places on the web that have become hubs engaging tens of thousands of people in a constant conversation over the news, the direction of the country and what we can do to affect current events. I’m talking about sites like DailyKos.com, Talking Points Memo, and Eschaton."
This editorial that Andrew Rasiej wrote for the "liberal" New York Sun attacking the ACLU the other day is also a real vote swayer for a liberal like me.
In a May interview with Andrew Rasiej The Gothamist a publisher's note was added:
Joe Trippi, Jerome Armstrong, Bob Brigham, Liza Sabater, and Jeff Tiedrich invite you to meet Andrew Rasiej — bloggers,conference call
Dear friend:Sometimes, politics has to be about more than fighting the Right and defeating its latest terrible idea or nominee. It should also be about moving forward, making government work for all of us, and giving people a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives. That's why we're writing you about Andrew Rasiej, candidate for New York City Public Advocate, and inviting you to join a national bloggers conference call this Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30pm EST to meet him and find out why he's running. At first glance, you're probably thinking, "Why should I pay attention to this race? It's hardly the most powerful office in New York, and whatever happens in the primary I'm sure it will be held by a Democrat." And you'd be half-right; in a city dominated by registered Democrats, there isn't a serious Republican vying for the office. But what happens in New York City can affect politics across America, as we know all too well. And more than just about any major candidate that we know, Andrew is running to prove that the power of networked politics is real and can fundamentally alter not just campaigns, but also how citizens and elected officials engage in civic life. He's a candidate of new ideas, and here are his two most important proposals: 1. To make America's largest city a Wi-Fi hotzone, and to close the digital divide by creating a low-cost, high-speed wireless mesh network for everyone in the city. 2. To use the ideas behind open-source and peer-to-peer networks to reinvent the Public Advocate's office, and turn from being one person's modest soapbox into a sounding board, connecting hub and amplifying megaphone for all the hundreds of thousands of volunteer public advocates in the city. Andrew's getting attention for his innovative and common-sense approach, as these articles by Thomas Friedman (http://www.iht.com/ protected/articles/2005/08/03/opinion/edfried.php), Errol Louis (http://www.nydailynews.com/05-24-2005/news/col/story/ 312362p-267188c.html) and David Kirkpatrick (http://www.fortune.com/ fortune/fastforward/0,15704,1085718,00.html) show. And he's not just a idea guy; he has a track record of getting things done. From starting the rock club Irving Plaza to founding MOUSE.org, an education nonprofit that has trained thousands of NYC students to be their schools' own technologists, to advising top Democrats like Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean, to starting the Personal Democracy Forum—he is a doer, not just a talker. You may not agree with everything he has to say, but we urge you to give him a listen. Check out what he's saying right now over at Talking Points Memo Cafe: http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/ 2005/8/15/8488/56208. In our view, for the next four weeks until the Democratic primary, this is the most interesting race in the country. To join the conference call, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org . The dial-up number is 563-843-7510 and passcode is 884105#. The call will start with the audience muted, but after some opening remarks we'll open it up for questions and dialogue. Sincerely, Joe Trippi (JoeTrippi.com) Jerome Armstrong (MyDD.com) Bob Brigham (SwingStateProject.com) Liza Sabater (DailyGotham.com) Jeff Tiedrich (SmirkingChimp.com) -- Reconnect New York: Andrew Rasiej for Public Advocate http://www.advocatesforrasiej.com
"Gothamist has run some ads for Mr. Rasiej's campaign, but our editorial and publishing operations are entirely separate, and no advertisement ever affects our interview schedule or contents."
Great. What a relief. As I'm a huge fan of tranparency.
BlogPAC rocks because they're there for us liberals.
(Note: Although the e-mail doesn't mention BlogPAC, according to 2004 I.R.S. filings, Jerome Armstrong acts as President of the "liberal" blogger political action committee)
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
So What About The 'F' Word
On Tuesday, August 2nd, at around 9:30 PM, Chris Bowers of the MyDD blog wrote an urgent post regarding the special election in Ohio's second district between Paul Hackett and Jean Schmidt called "Find out about Clermont County."
Initially - before Bowers added an update (which I'll get to later on) - the post was short and almost frantic:
"Clermont County might be the key to the Hackett--Schmidt election. Find out whatever you can about their voting machines. Do it here. Do it now."
And his readers went to work. They recognized the urgency. There were a lot of weird things that had been reported about the going-ons in Jean Schmidt's hometown county: machines jamming because of humidity forcing handcounts, the Clermont County Election Website was offline, and there was a caller to Air America who claimed that he had video of Jean Schmidt electioneering within 100 feet of the polling place, and then went inside the precinct after it was closed.
Within the comments section of that MyDD post, Bowers' readers left a number of links to weird things that had occured in Clermont County before, during and after Election Day 2004. One of the weirdest things was this Cincinnati Enquirer story about the FBI "conducting preliminary interviews" in February with members of the Clermont County Board of Elections about "white oval-shaped stickers, about the size of an M&M, placed on fewer than 100 ballots." The "preliminary interviews" stemmed from a letter written by Congressman John Conyers that requested an FBI investigation of "vote-tampering if not outright fraud."
A few days later Tim Tageris of Swing State Project, who spent election night in the Hackett Campaign "War Room" along with Bob Brigham (also from Swing State Project), provided more details on what led to Bowers' frantic post:
I put out the call to Chris and other bloggers to start looking into Clermont County. There were delays that no one had an explanation for at that point. To be sure, things were not looking good, but it was so close that we really wanted all of our bases covered. We found out the type of vote counting machines used in Clermont, and Bowers commented on MyDD that we needed all the information we could get about the county. It turned out that in the primary a number of votes were "found" for Jean Schmidt in Clermont, which happens to be her home town."
"The mood began to sour in the room, and there were tears. The county had already gone for Schmidt she would probably end up distancing herself even further by the time the last 91 precincts came in. People started calculating how many votes were probably left based on voting patterns and what we would need to win or get within the 1/2 of 1% margin to trigger the automatic recount."
"At the same time, bloggers were flooding my inbox with information on Clermont County. Atrios called and asked what was going on--he was very realistic, but pleased at what we had accomplished. I still held out hope."
"We started talking about the amount of money needed for a recount and compared it to what the campaign had left over in the bank. I don't know why it took anyone longer than 30 seconds to figure it out, but by the end of the discussion, they knew the blogosphere would be there for the campaign."
To be sure, the blogosphere was definitely committed for Paul Hackett. In the week leading up to the election, there was hardly a left-leaning blog that wasn't blogging about the anti-Bush and anti-Iraq invasion Marine running for Congress.
Hackett was running in as red a district as one can get, but since the polls on support for Bush and the war had nosedived in recent months and Schmidt was busy proving herself to be one of the worst candidates for political office since at least California gubernatorial long shot Gary Coleman (or Bernhard Goetz, the infamous subway vigilante who ran for NYC mayor in 2001, and is currently running for NYC Public Advocate), there were many, many bloggers who believed that Hackett could win. Ironically, many of the A-list bloggers who were closely connected to the campaign thought otherwise; they expected and anticipated a loss but were hoping that it would be close (more on that in a future post).
"As the research came in, people started bandying about the "f" word on the blogs--the stage was being set for something entirely too close to call. In a land far far away, another blogger was preparing a one page report based on the DNC's study of voting irregularities in Ohio's 2004 election--specifically in Clermont County. The stage was being set for us to own the first few hours."
To the partisan bloggers, FRAUD is a dirtier word than all the seven George Carlin dirty words put together. After November 2nd, 2004, countless Daily Kos diarists had been banned from the "community" for using that word or others like it (including me).
"The discussion among others in the room at the time centered around what the number was that we should demand a recount and if the candidate should make a statement; he was getting phone calls from the press at the time."
"It was from the television news we found out the problem. Ballots had "stuck together" because of the humidity, and the machines were having a hard time reading them. No one knew how much longer this would take."
But then the results came in, and that was that.
"One of the staffers in the room picked up his cell phone and got the final results from Clermont. It was over, Jean Schmidt had won by some 3000 votes. The phone call to Paul was made, who was waiting at home, informing him of the results--the candidate said he was making his way down to the celebration to concede."
"The war room cleared out pretty quickly, the only people left behind was Bob, the nameless blogger, and myself. We talked about everything the grassroots had accomplished in this race and began to pack up our things. At that time, Jean Schmidt appeared on television to accept victory, before she even received the call from Paul. We thought it fitting that we were the last three left in the war room, considering it was the grassroots that was the first to really step up and make this race everything it turned out to be. So we posed infront of the television screen with Schmidt on in the background--you know, one of those photos where the person in the front gets their arms out far ahead and takes the photo themself."
Not to take anything away from the blogosphere's efforts, but I'm kind of curious as to what polls are out there that attributed the close race to anything that happened online. Do Ohioans read blogs more than in other states? Because, to tell the truth, I don't know anyone in the flesh who reads blogs that doesn't have one herself (or, if you'd prefer, himself). I'm sure the blogs helped get the race a little attention in some sectors of the mass media, but I think it was the tough talking, telegenic Marine himself who made "this race everything it turned out to be."
But, to the A-list bloggers (and the powerbrokers such as Simon Rosenberg who have harnessed them), "everything it turned out to be" was exactly what they wanted. If Hackett won, the bloggers might not have gotten that much credit. But since Hackett lost, the bloggers and the New Democrat Network could instead use the race to blame the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (and, even, the DLC) for not doing enough to help their martyred candidate (more on this, too, in a future post).
And so, no doubt, shortly after another phone call from the Swing State Project bloggers to Chris Bowers, the following update was added to Bowers' frantic post:
"Thanks everyone, but its over now. The concession has been made. We'll get 'em in 2006."
Ask Al Gore if a concession is binding, he might argue with you. And even though John Kerry conceded the day after November 2nd, 2004, his team of lawyers continued to work with the third party candidates who pushed hard for a recount in Ohio and pursued lawsuits there and elsewhere.
But as I wrote a few days ago, there are 80 Million Reasons To Ignore Election Fraud.
Other bloggers, some of them as close to A-list as you can get, saw no reason to give up the fight.
But then again those tin foil heads aren't aligned with Simon Rosenberg's "New Dems."
An hour or so after Hackett's concession, Armando of Daily Kos posted this infamous diary (which I am reprinting in full again since it bears repeating):
"Let me be the first asshole to tell you that bullshit fraud theories and bullshit conspiracy theories are not welcome."
"Markos has said it. He means it."
"I believe tonight was a great night and a sign that a Fighting Dem Party can and will take back the Congress in 2006."
"I don't want to hear baseless theories on fraud and other nonsense. I think, no, I know markos feels the same way."
"You want to waste your time, do it somewhere else."
"My tip jar will be the fraudster's chance to troll rate me. Cuz once you start diarying your cock and bull fraud theories, markos will show you the door. With my applause in the background."
One brave soul decided to "waste [his] time" at the right-leaning Red State blog, rather than take the chance of getting banned from Daily Kos.
On August 9th, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman wrote a must-read article about the Ohio special election which, of course, received no links from the A-list BlogPAC bloggers.
Excerpts from "Did the GOP steal another Ohio Election?":
"Overall, experts estimate more than 7,000 votes were stolen outright from John Kerry under the Noes' supervision in Lucas County in 2004."
"Whether similar theft defeated Paul Hackett remains to be seen. Hackett ran extremely well in a district thoroughly gerrymandered as a permanent Republican safe seat. Democrats are now crowing about how well Hackett did in "serving notice" that the GOP may be in trouble. But the bottom line is that the Republicans still won the election."
"As of 1 am election night/morning (Aug. 2–3), Hackett was within 3,600 votes—-about four percent—-of Schmidt."
"But election officials announced a mysterious "computer glitch" that delayed reports from Clermont County, which accounted for roughly a quarter of all the ballots cast in the district."....
"Clermont's "technical malfunction" with optical scan readers was blamed on the humidity. Election officials said the southern Ohio summer had soaked into the ballots, making it hard to pass them through opti-scan machines."
"Once the problem was "solved," Schmidt picked up more than enough votes to guarantee victory. The percentages by which she won in the post-glitch vote count were far higher than those by which she had been winning prior to the glitch. Vote counts were also higher than expected in the strongest Schmidt precincts."....
"But along with Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, Paul Hackett has become another Democratic candidate whose campaign went suddenly and mysteriously down to defeat late in the evening of a close election. Amidst the obligatory computer glitches, the GOP candidate was declared the winner before the vote count could be investigated."
"Did Clermont County do for Schmidt in 2005 what it did for Bush in 2004? Did that "glitch" in the evening vote count give GOP dirty tricksters time to once again hack the machines they needed to win?"
"Who in the Bush/Rove Justice Department or major media will even ask the question?"
But - as my readers know - it ain't just the "major media" that doesn't give a shit. It's the A-list bloggers, too. And I'm one of the few left-leaning bloggers with the balls to say that because I don't give a shit about being blacklisted.
I'm going to close out this post with a couple of lines from an incredible article from this month's Harpers Magazine entitled "None Dare Call It Stolen: Ohio, the election, and America's servile press" (the Harpers link is only an excerpt but if you Google the title you can easily find the full article).
The article was written by Mark Crispin Miller who has a full length book due to be published on October 18th called "Fooled Again" which hopefully will sell a lot of copies and help election reform get the attention it rightfully deserves.
Many non-BlogPAC bloggers have posted the following lines from Miller's article:
"The point of the Conyers report...is not to send Bush packing and put Kerry in his place. The Framers could no more conceive of electoral fraud on such a scale than they could picture Fox News Channel or the Pentagon; and so we have no constitutional recourse, should it be proven, finally, that the wrong guy 'won.' The point of our revisiting the last election, rather, is to see exactly what the damage was so that the people can demand appropriate reforms. Those who say we should move on from that suspicious race and work instead on 'bigger issues' -- like electoral reform -- are urging the impossible; for there has never been a great reform that was not driven by some major scandal."
Hell, if the A-list bloggers were ignoring the irregularities and working instead on election reform I wouldn't have a bone to pick with them. But they're not. They've all but ignored election reform and have chosen to work on 'bigger issues' such as social security which only a fool would believe was ever in jeopardy.
But there is a danger about blogging on election reform, and it has nothing to do with the dreaded "C" word: credibility. Significant election reform could lead to Democrats actually winning elections instead of coming close and that might disturb Simon Rosenberg's ten-year plan to replace the Democrat Party (only so much I can fit in a post...so, again, more on that in a future installment).
It's the last lines of Mark Crispin Miller's Harpers Magazine article that I'm hijacking to close out with, since they best explain why it is I feel the urgent need to blog against Simon Rosenberg and his merry band of BlogPAC bloggers:
"This democracy can survive a plot to hijack an election. What it cannot survive is our indifference to, or unawareness of, the evidence that such a plot has succeeded."
Monday, August 15, 2005
Simon Rosenberg Will Destroy The Democrat Party!
(Sorry, but I've been backed up doing research the last few days so I haven't been able to follow-up my last post: 80 Million Reasons To Ignore Election Reform. Although I ended that article with a note that the next installment would cover last Sunday's Washington Post article about the Democracy Alliance, I've decided to instead work on another related post about the special election in Ohio which should be up sometime Monday night, and repost this article which I posted last November 12th about Simon Rosenberg's - thankfully - unsuccessful campaign to chair the DNC)
Simon Rosenberg will destroy the Democratic Party.
Simon Rosenberg will strengthen the neoconservative stranglehold on our Republic.
Simon Rosenberg will force groups like MoveOn to move out of the fold.
If Simon Rosenberg thinks that the illegal invasion of Iraq was justified then he should practice what he preaches. Let him go to Fallujah and sacrifice his blood for oil!
Has Kos lost his mind? The other day he backed Howard Dean but now he's pulled a dangerous flip-flop. A Diary by Sterling Newberry ran at the top of his site and it's entitled "Why Simon Rosenberg Should NOT be DNC Chair" but it's supposed to be ironic; it's an endorsement.
I happened to catch an interview with him today on Air America (Unfiltered MP3: fast forward about an hour and fifteen minutes into the show):
Simple Simon soundbites - "I would've voted for the war, personally, I mean, if I had been in Congress." "The American people overwhelmingly supported the war."
Strictly speaking, Rosenberg's a lying sack of shit. In the interview, he kept saying...no I'm not trying to lurch the party to the center or right but forward...but then he kept saying things that are as ZellLiebermanish as a "Democrat" can get. Not to mention, that he misrepresented Senator Kerry's reasons for voting in favor of the Iraq war resolution (he did NOT support the President to "go in and take out the bad guy") and spent much of the interview mercilessly attacking his candidacy. Earth to Simon: At least 56 million people voted for Kerry!
He thinks that Kerry should've backed the war in Iraq. This fucker's for it! He thinks Kerry would've won if he had disagreed with the Bush post-war plan and not the war himself. He's completely delusional. Does he really think thousands of New Yorkers would've taken buses to Pennsylvania on election day to support a pro-war candidate? Does he really think that Kerry would've gotten even half the support from African-Americans and the youth of America that he got if his election might've led to a draft? If Joe Lieberman had been the nominee this "past" election, there would have been a million protesters in Boston for the DNC.
Simon Rosenberg, take your moral minority New Democratic Majority and shove it up your chickenhawk ass!
Friday, August 12, 2005
80 Million Reasons To Ignore Election Fraud
On July 25th, 2004, Matt Bai wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine entitled "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy."
If you're a left-leaning Democrat, Progressive or Independent who is confused about why this liberal blogger spends so much time and energy in what seems to be an internecine battle I suggest you take the time to read (or re-read) that Sunday NY Times Magazine article and not just rely on the parts that I am excerpting.
I plan to devote a substantial amount of time at this blog fleshing out the reasons why I've been such a vocal critic of the left-of-center A-list bloggers who have formed their own political action committee in a quest, aided and abetted by a trio of supposedly progressive operatives and consultants - as I suspect and fear - to not only "grab a seat at the table" but to overturn and replace it.
Does this mean that I am taking my eyes off the prize? Does this mean I plan to overlook the crimes and almost-and-should-be crimes committed by the Bush Administration?
This blog only reaches a certain amount of readers (and every not-so-friendly fire post I write pushes more away than it draws readers in). The work I do with ePluribus Media, Raw Story, and many others travels further and has a higher potential of bypassing the gatekeepers of the mainstream media and reaching the ears of the Congressional leaders who are honestly committed to Democratic ideals.
Plus, my stories have less of a chance of being ripped off or plagiarized if they originate from a larger outlet.
This blog is not going to become a 7-days-a-week bash BlogPAC affair (the Iraq invasion, propaganda and plagiarism via the media, election reform, illegal detentions, and all the other issues I've often examined will still be covered), but it will take a while to post everything I've learned and everything I'm still looking into, so - for now - you can expect more to come like this.
As for concerns that I am fueling right wing propaganda, all I can say is that I've been a Democrat all my life, and any true reality-based liberal knows that much of the problems that our country (and the world) is facing stem from the actions of both major political parties.
I'm only human. I may make mistakes (I may be wrong on this). But I've always gone out of my way to face up to any mistakes I've made here - or throughout the blogosphere - and add a correction or apology if I felt it was warranted (at times...apologies have been extended not because of what I felt, but because of what another person or persons have felt because sometimes that's the right thing to do).
I won't be spreading my links around the blogosphere, and I certainly won't be e-mailing right wing bloggers or mainstream news outlets to give them the dibs on what I've dug up. And since I've written many, many, many articles against the A-listers the last six months, and not one of them has ever turned into a right wing talking point I wouldn't expect that to happen now. I'm an unabashed liberal blogger known for digging; the right wing blogs are certainly not going to do anything to spotlight my work, especially because this liberal blogger has also blogged an awful lot about the desire to reach "Real Republicans" and get them to realize that their party has been taken over by opportunistic and hypocritical fundamentalists and dangerous neocons.
I also think of myself as a journalist. An objective, if liberally biased, journalist. The truth means much, much more to me than partisanship, and I can't help it if people that are mostly on my side don't understand that.
"Why has election reform been ignored or pushed aside by the A-list blogs?" is a question I have asked on many an occasion.
For now, I have no smoking gun evidence. But I might very soon.
Matt Bai's "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy" involves two key players who may be on the verge of becoming powerbrokers, unprecedented by anything this country has ever seen before (a third player will be addressed in future posts). These two people, Simon Rosenberg and Rob Stein, seem to want to do more than just reshape the Democrat Party. They apparently want to replace it.
But how far will they go, and, more importantly, how far did they go?
Matt Bai's story basically begins sometime in 2003 with a phone call to Andy Rappaport, a "political venture capitalist" and "an avid investor in liberal causes."
"Last summer, [Rappaport] got a call from Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, a fund-raising and advocacy group in Washington. Would Rappaport mind sitting down for a confidential meeting with a veteran Democratic operative named Rob Stein? Sure, Rappaport replied. What Stein showed him when they met was a PowerPoint presentation that laid out step by step, in a series of diagrams a ninth-grader could understand, how conservatives, over a period of 30 years, had managed to build a ''message machine'' that today spends more than $300 million annually to promote its agenda."
"Rappaport was blown away by the half-hour-long presentation. ''Man,'' he said, ''that's all it took to buy the country?''"
"Stein and Rosenberg weren't asking Rappaport for money -- at least not yet. They wanted Democrats to know what they were up against, and they wanted them to stop thinking about politics only as a succession of elections. If Democrats were going to survive, Stein and Rosenberg explained, men like Rappaport were going to have to start making long-term investments in their political ideas, just as they did in their business ventures. The era of the all-powerful party was coming to an end, and political innovation, like technological innovation, would come from private-sector pioneers who were willing to take risks."
That was just the beginning.
"In March of , Rappaport convened a meeting of wealthy Democrats at a Silicon Valley hotel so that they, too, could see Stein's presentation. Similar gatherings were already under way in Washington and New York, where the meetings included two of the most generous billionaires in the Democratic universe -- the financier George Soros and Peter Lewis, an Ohio insurance tycoon -- as well as Soros's son and Lewis's son. On the East Coast, the participants had begun referring to themselves as the Phoenix Group, as in rising from the ashes; Rappaport called his gathering the Band of Progressives. More recently, companion groups have come together in Boston and Los Angeles."
"What makes these meetings remarkable is that while everyone attending them wants John Kerry to win in November, they are focused well beyond the 2004 election. The plan is to gather investors from each city -- perhaps in one big meeting early next year -- and create a kind of venture-capital pipeline that would funnel money into a new political movement, working independently of the existing Democratic establishment. The dollar figure for investment being tossed around in private conversations is $100 million."
"''You're talking about raising a lot of money,'' I said doubtfully. Rappaport tilted his head to one side. He looked as if he felt sorry for me. ''A hundred million dollars,'' he said, ''is nothing.''"
Who is Rob Stein and what exactly is this PowerPoint presentation all about?
"By the time we met, in the middle of May, Stein estimated that some 700 people had seen his PowerPoint show. He told me his story and explained how he had ended up at the center of a minimovement. He had been a Democratic operative, rising to become chief of staff at the Commerce Department under the late Ron Brown. Then he managed a venture capital firm. After 2000, he, like a lot of Democrats, watched with growing alarm as his party ceded ground at every level of government. ''I literally woke up the day after the 2002 elections, picked up the paper, had breakfast and we were living in a one-party country,'' he said. ''And there it was. That was my wake-up call."
"''I said: 'O.K., there's now Republican dominance down the line. It's not only that they control the House and the Senate and the presidency. But it's growing. There's no end in sight.' It wasn't only that they had reached a milestone, but they were ascendant.''"
"Stein read a few reports that liberal research groups had published on the rise of the conservative movement. Then he began poring over tax forms from various conservative nonprofits and aggregating the data about fund-raising and expenditures. He spent hours online every night, between about 9 p.m. and 1 in the morning, reading sites like MediaTransparency.org, which is devoted to tracing the roots of conservative groups and their effect on the media. To call this an obsession somehow seems too mundane; Stein spent much of the spring of 2003 consumed with connecting the dots of what Hillary Clinton famously called the ''vast right-wing conspiracy'' and then translating it into flow charts and bullet points."
"The presentation itself, a collection of about 40 slides titled ''The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix,'' essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million network of policy centers, advocacy groups and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda. The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's ''700 Club.'' And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 ''anchor donors.'' ''This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system,'' he said."
There's certainly nothing wrong with studying the "vast, right-wing conspiracy" in order to learn from it or effectively battle it.
But to emulate it? That's something that doesn't sit well with this liberal blogger and shouldn't sit well with many others that think like me. While I'm not an out-and-out socialist I do believe that money is the defining answer for almost everything that has corrupted our government and infected both major political parties. Again, any true liberal should have deep concerns about the effect that money has on our political system. I'm a firm believer in stronger campaign finance laws, and while I'm not ready to assert that the 527s, which have sprouted from the legislation passed in recent years, are inherently evil, I certainly don't go out of my way to promote them.
But how does Rob Stein feel about the "vast right-wing conspiracy"?
"'What you need to understand about me is that I try to be respectful and objective about this,'' Stein went on. ''Not only is it a legitimate exercise in democracy, but I think they came up with some extraordinary ideas.''"
Who is Simon Rosenberg and what does he stand for and what are his goals? I couldn't even begin to address all of that in one post, many of the answers are still shrouded in mystery anyway, but, turning back to Bai's article:
"In the spring of 2003, a friend Stein knew from the Clinton White House arranged for him to meet Simon Rosenberg at the New Democrat Network. Ambitious and hyperarticulate, Rosenberg once worked for the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist group that laid the groundwork for Clinton's '92 campaign, before splitting off and forming his own political-action committee in 1996. Although he made his name in the party as a centrist New Democrat, Rosenberg, now 40, saw opportunities for his organization -- and, naturally, for himself -- in the increasingly confrontational slant of the party's base during the Bush administration. He didn't agree with all of Howard Dean's positions, but Rosenberg was among the first centrist Democrats to embrace Dean, sensing early on the potential of Dean's following. While the Democratic Leadership Council attacked Dean for his angry brand of populism, Rosenberg looked for a way to tap into the genuine passion among Democrats for a more creative, more defiant kind of politics. He talked to donors around the country, like Andy Rappaport, who were angry at the Clintonesque rhetoric that obscured the sharp ideological divide between them and the Rush Limbaugh right; they were desperate for new policy ideas and for a more aggressive, coherent strategy."
"Rosenberg had hired a Silicon Valley consulting firm to suggest ways for the New Democrat Network to find a niche in this new world. One recommendation, which Rosenberg embraced, was to bring together a group of progressive contributors to talk about financing new kinds of ventures outside the party structure. It was Erica Payne, his New York director, who put a name to the fledgling project: the Phoenix Group. Payne, a business-school graduate and one-time Clinton campaign official, seized on the name one night after getting sucked into a Harry Potter book."
"To Rosenberg, then, Stein's presentation was like an elaborately wrapped gift on Christmas morning: the deeper into it he got, the more enthusiastic he became. Stein had given him, in 30 minutes' worth of slides, a jolting summary of the challenge that needed to be met if the Democratic Party was to avoid total collapse. And the idea was inherently neither centrist nor leftist. Here was something he could take to donors and say: This is why you're losing. Forget this election. Plan for the future."
Remember these unattributed words: "Forget this election. Plan for the future." Those words are a large reason why I believe the A-list bloggers have done little to advance the cause of election reform, and why they mostly ignored the work of Congressman Conyers (and many others in the blogosphere) in compiling evidence of possible/probable election fraud and disenfranchisement.
Getting back to Simon Rosenberg's agenda:
"What Rosenberg envisioned was a ''virtual marketplace,'' patterned very consciously after the kind of incubators that venture capitalists set up in the 90's, in which major investors could systematically get to know like-minded bright, young innovators. Then the investors, given a choice of ideas, could decide which projects they wanted to get behind."
It's going to take a long time to show what this is all about. I'm certain that many readers will disagree with my suspicions and conclusions, but, let's get this straight, the crux of the "vast not-really-liberal conspiracy" is not really the "grass roots Net." We're just fucking pawns in the hands of the big money donors. The money collected on the Internet with the aid of the A-list bloggers is a drop in the bucket. But it's the collection of that money, and the relationship between a few of the A-list bloggers and the "progressive" powerbrokers which attract the real revenue.
"''We will only succeed if we build an entrepreneurial culture in Democratic politics,'' Rosenberg said. ''What we are is this beleaguered group of badly funded, nonscalable nonprofits. You know, Luke Skywalker was able to kill the Death Star with his beleaguered band of warriors, but I'm not sure that that's the model we should shoot for -- shoot the thing down the middle of the tube and hope it blows up the Death Star. We need to build our own answer to the Death Star.''"
Those are not the words of a Jedi Knight, that's for sure.
Remember to keep in mind those words that I highlighted: "Forget this election. Plan for the future." Aside from those words, the following paragraph is the closet thing to a smoking gun that I'm drawing from this article:
"Given how desperately the activists behind the Phoenix Group want to dispatch Bush this November, the paradox is that their longer-term goals, from a purely tactical standpoint, may be better served if he wins. Millionaire Democrats are being driven to act by a perception of powerlessness and deterioration. If Kerry wins, some of the passion will likely drain away, and a lot of Democrats will tell themselves -- like gambling addicts after a hot streak at the blackjack table -- that everything is just fine and that, despite the statistics and the polling, the party remains as vibrant as ever. Raising $100 million for a bunch of think tanks might no longer be so easy."
Remember that 2002 phone call:
"Stein and Rosenberg weren't asking Rappaport for money -- at least not yet."
Many of my readers might still think everything I've alluded to is fine with them; since at least all the money raised will be directed toward Democrats.
But will it?
"The second potential outcome to which Dean alludes -- that the Democratic Party, per se, might not always exist in America -- might sound, coming from Dean, characteristically overwrought. But it does raise a significant question about the political venture capitalists: what if, in the future, they decided not to support Democrats at all? Suppose there came along an independent candidate, free from the baggage of Democratic Party politics, who espoused with conviction the kind of agenda that donors of the Phoenix Group or America Coming Together really wanted to hear? The forbidding barrier to independent candidates has always been money. But the 527's aren't tied to a party; they can provide unlimited amounts of money to support any cause they want, provided they adhere to certain legal technicalities."
"When I suggested this to Stern, the service employees' union president, he thought about it for a moment before answering. ''There is an incredible opportunity to have the infrastructure for a third party,'' he said. Stern assured me that he himself has no interest in that, but, he added, ''Anyone who could mobilize these groups would have the Democratic Party infrastructure, and they wouldn't need the Democratic Party.'"
Who do you think will hold more power in the new arrangement: grass roots activists/bloggers or million dollar donors? One scenario: If the Machiavellian powerbrokers view a future Democrat candidate as too liberal, and - in their view - unelectable, then they might put their stock behind a centrist insurgent or even a moderate Republican.
One last excerpt from Matt Bai's article:
"We tend to think of the two political parties that have ruled American politics for the last 150 years as being cemented into the framework of the Constitution. In fact, parties, like the political movements that sustain them, have shelf lives. In the 1840's and 1850's, the Whig Party, at various times, controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. By 1860, at a loss to coherently address slavery, the defining debate of the time, the Whigs vanished from the planet like a bunch of pterodactyls, replaced by Republicans. It is not unthinkable that the privatization of Democratic politics is a step toward institutional obsolescence. People like Andy Rappaport and Jonathan Soros might succeed in revitalizing progressive politics -- while at the same time destroying what we now call the Democratic Party."
Why did I use 80 million in the title of this post when the Bai article referred to 100 million?
The answer can be found in a Washington Post article published last Sunday called Rich Liberals Vow to Fund Think Tanks." In my next post, I'll continue with more on Thomas B. Edsall's WaPo article which bears a subtitle: "Aim Is to Compete With Conservatives."
Future installments will be devoted to the third powerbroker, Simon Rosenberg's stances on the illegal invasion of Iraq and liberal social matters, the incestuous relationships of a few of the A-list bloggers to the powerbroker troika, and more on why all of us should be very deeply concerned about the whole damn thing.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
'Reach Out' To BlogPAC
Atrios of Eschaton, who serves on the advisory board of a political action committee called BlogPAC, thinks that "the best way for candidates to reach out to the netroots now is to begin by reaching out to local bloggers."
He links to an article written by Markos of Daily Kos, the treasurer of BlogPAC, which advises campaigns that "[i]f you need help finding your local bloggers, use the BlogPAC's directory."
Atrios (aka Duncan Black) adds:
"The buzz about campaigns, and the "infiltrating" into the netroots, is for the most part going to come from the ground up now. Reach out to local bloggers."
What the fuck does "reach out" mean?
A promise: if any campaign operative ever reaches out to this liberally biased but not propagandistically partisan blogger - as much as I could use the cashflow that the A-list bloggers generate from traffic, ads, and perhaps by being "reached" - I'll tell you to go fuck yourself and blog about how you tried to buy my influence.
Why do I continue to rail against these elitist, circle jerk, irresponsibly partisan (not to mention: misogynistic and racist when it suits them) bloggers?
Because I've spent the last six months tracking the same kind of - if not illicit, definitely improper - relationships between right wing Websites such as GOPUSA.com and the Republican Party.
(Sidenote: Check out the latest article by ePluribus Media written by Philip Curtis which details the strange relationship between Assistant Secretary of Commerce Israel Hernandez and George W. Bush. It's cross-posted at Daily Kos and the wonderful Booman Tribune, but you can also find it at the brand spanking new - though still in the preview stage - ePluribus Media Scoop Website: "Balancing Truth and Loyalty: Portrait of a Grand Jury Witness." Disclosure: I'm listed as a contributor in researching the article but I really didn't do that much work on it, though I'm honored to be credited.)
I don't trust the FEC to do a good job of reining in the kind of shenanigans that went on with the Thune bloggers in South Dakota last year, but I think idiots that run blogs that reach hundreds of thousands of people that advocate campaigns to "reach out" to bloggers prove that self-regulation is not going to work. And it's a fucking shame that other blogs that don't consult or work for political parties may be adversely affected.
I'm a liberally biased blogger, although I try to give the other side (or sides) their due. I've endorsed a couple of Democrats since I started up almost two years ago (but it wasn't until January that I became a daily blogger), but I would never, never, never cross the line that these guys have pretty much erased.
I do my best to maintain my objectivity, because unlike most of the A-list activist bloggers, I consider myself more of a journalist and I accept the responsibilities that come with it (and...no...I don't bother writing these assholes ahead of time before I publish because they don't respond to e-mails and they simply don't give a shit).
Last month, I worked on an article for Raw Story that hit pretty hard at the Clinton Administration for bombing the hell out of Iraq.
That's probably not something that my Democrat handlers - if I had any - would approve of.
My number one question:
What fucking Democrat handlers reach out to the BlogPAC advisory board and urge them not to blog about election reform?
Wake up, blogosphere, the new bosses are the same as the old bosses.
Chris Bowers of BlogPAC, Advertising Liberally, and A-list blog MyDD left a comment at Watching the Watchers (on the post linked to above) filled with lies and threats.
(NOTE: Aug. 11th. I may be completely unfair to Chris Bowers in the following paragraph even though I use the word "presumably." I'm not changing the wording...yet...but if I find I'm wrong I'll add a correction and apology)
Chris Bowers, a candidate for Committeeperson, Ward 27, Division 23 in Philadelphia, who presumably stands to garner an awful lot of money for his Democrat campaign - with the aid of his buddy bloggers aligned with BlogPAC - ends his comment with this perhaps, brief preview of his political nature, if elected:
"It's sad that on a site where you aim to dismantle Republican propaganda, you are giving them fuel for more propaganda. It is sad that when so many of us are working for free to help build a better progressive blogopshere, you seem more interested in tearing it down. Its sad taht this will permanently damage your place within that blogopshere. I had a lot fo hope for this site, and I tried to support it. No more."
Go to Watching the Watchers to read my not-so-nice response and an impartial response from a reader (Disclosure #2: ~A! is a good friend of mine and we've discussed the way these fucks operate on many an occasion) which takes both of them to task, but only one for lying and threatening.