Monday, February 28, 2005

Bush Tax Policies Created Monstrous Deficit

From American Progress....

"The current budget problem in Washington has little to do with slower-than-normal economic growth, the attacks on 9/11, or the resulting war on terror. Senior Fellow Scott Lilly explains that even with the increased military, law enforcement and homeland security spending, and a 50 percent increase in foreign assistance, the deficit we are currently running was not created by terrorists. It is the result of Bush's tax policy."

Your share of the US deficit today....just over $24,000

Half of Seniors in Poverty Without Social Security

From Tom

Social Security isn't just a nice extra bonus check for many senior citizens. For millions, it's the difference between being poor and being able to make ends meet comfortably. In fact, if Social Security income is not factored in, one in every two seniors would live in poverty. Adding Social Security reduces that number to one in 12. And these figures hold true for every state in the nation.

These are among the findings of a new report from the Center For Budget And Policy Priorities. Also included is state-by-state data tallying the number of seniors protected from poverty by Social Security—figures our policymakers should be keeping in mind. SEE THE REPORT

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Checks & Balances, Bush-Style

From Pulitzer Prize winning writer Maureen Dowd in the New York Times. This is a tiny of excerpt of her briliant op-ed today.

"The only balance W. likes is the slavering, Pravda-like "Fair and Balanced" coverage Fox News provides. Mr. Bush pledges to spread democracy while his officials strive to create a Potemkin press village at home. This White House seems to prefer softball questions from a self-advertised male escort with a fake name to hardball questions from journalists with real names; it prefers tossing journalists who protect their sources into the gulag to giving up the officials who broke the law by leaking the name of their own C.I.A. agent.

W., who once looked into Mr. Putin's soul and liked what he saw, did not demand the end of tyranny, as he did in his second Inaugural Address. His upper lip sweating a bit, he did not rise to the level of his hero Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Instead, he said that "the common ground is a lot more than those areas where we disagree." The Russians were happy to stress the common ground....

"I live in a transparent country," Mr. Bush protested to a Russian reporter who implicitly criticized the Patriot Act by noting that the private lives of American citizens "are now being monitored by the state."

Dick Cheney's secret meetings with energy lobbyists were certainly a model of transparency. As was the buildup to the Iraq war, when the Bush hawks did their best to cloak the real reasons they wanted to go to war and trumpet the trumped-up reasons.

The Bush administration wields maximum secrecy with minimal opposition. The White House press is timid. The poor, limp Democrats don't have enough power to convene Congressional hearings on any Republican outrages and are reduced to writing whining letters of protest that are tossed in the Oval Office trash.

When nearly $9 billion allotted for Iraqi reconstruction during Paul Bremer's tenure went up in smoke, Democratic lawmakers vainly pleaded with Republicans to open a Congressional investigation.

Even the near absence of checks and balances is not enough for W. Not content with controlling the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and a good chunk of the Fourth Estate, he goes to even more ludicrous lengths to avoid being challenged....

Administration officials went so far as to cancel a town hall meeting during Mr. Bush's visit to Germany last week after deciding an unscripted setting would be too risky, opting for a round-table talk in Mainz with preselected Germans and Americans.

The president loves democracy - as long as democracy means he's always right.

Transparent as a Steel Wall

From American Progress....

"I live in a transparent country. I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open and people are able to call people to – me to account, which many out here do on a regular basis."
- President George W. Bush,

"Secrecy in [the United States] government appears to be on the increase."
- Judge Robert W. Sweet of the Southern District of New York,

Jeb Bush & Arnold Ignore Urgent Education Conference

From AP via MSNBC....

As President Bush's 2006 budget proposal decimates, guts, eviscerates (picks your fave destructive word) and politicizes education for all Americans at every level, including complete elimination of 48 programs, especially for lower-income, disabled and limited Engish-proficient students.... Read the
entire article here.

"The nation’s governors offered an alarming account of the American high school Saturday, saying only drastic change will keep millions of students from falling short.

“We can’t keep explaining to our nation’s parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can’t do the work,” said Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, as the state leaders convened for the first National Education Summit....

The high school summit drew at least 45 governors from the 50 states and five U.S. territories, along with top names in U.S. industry and education. The leaders broke into groups late in the day to debate ideas, and planned to do the same through Sunday.

Dire assessments abound. Most of the summit’s first day amounted to an enormous distress call, with speakers using unflattering numbers to define the problem. Among them: Of every 100 ninth-graders, only 68 graduate high school on time and only 18 make it through college on time, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education....

The most blunt assessment came from Microsoft chief Bill Gates, who has put more than $700 million into reducing the size of high school classes through the foundation formed by him and his wife, Melinda. He said high schools must be redesigned to prepare every student for college, with classes that are rigorous and relevant to kids and with supportive relationships for children.

“America’s high schools are obsolete,” Gates said. “By obsolete, I don’t just mean that they’re broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools — even when they’re working as designed — cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.....

Among the more high-profile governors who did not attend Saturday were two Republicans: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jeb Bush of Florida, the president’s brother."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Bush Strips Protections from National Forest System

A news release from Common Dreams.....

A coalition of conservation groups lodged a complaint today in Federal District Court in San Francisco challenging the Bush administration’s new rules for managing the nation’s 192 million acre National Forest System, a magnificent network of forests and grasslands in 42 states that encompasses 8 percent of the country.

The challenged regulations are supposed to govern activities on all national forests and ensure the protection of wildlife and the environment, but the Bush administration has watered them down to the point where they are virtually meaningless.

Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Vermont Natural Resources Council as they challenge these regulations on the following grounds:
- they fail to include the environmental protection measures mandated by Congress in the National Forest Management Act of 1976;

- they reverse more than 20 years of protection for wildlife and other resources without any sound or scientific basis for doing so, or any adequate replacement; requirements to use quantitative measurements of wildlife populations and mandatory duties to conserve wildlife on national forests have been eliminated or made discretionary;

- they were crafted through a flawed process – the environmental impacts of this far-reaching action were never analyzed and many significant changes first appeared in the final rule, depriving the public of an opportunity to comment on them.

“The nation’s forests and the people who own them deserve better than this,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. “We are hopeful the courts will send these rules back to the industry lobbyists who wrote them, stamped ‘illegal’.”

“The new Bush forest rules aren’t rules at all – they’re more like suggestions. They turn forest management to mush, mocking the intent of Congress and undermining public participation in the process,” said Trent Orr, an attorney with Earthjustice. “Agencies need leadership and clear guidance, not this wink and a nod that encourages the exploitation of the public’s resources.”

“Some basic protections for non-timber resources like wildlife and water made sense to the Reagan administration, which put them in place,” said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society. “But this administration just went on a search and destroy mission for any environmental safeguard that might stand between the administration’s industry donors and the public’s trees.”

“The Bush administration is eliminating national forest wildlife protections that have been in place and effective for decades,” said Sean Cosgrove, forest policy specialist with the Sierra Club. “Americans want to protect the places where they hike, hunt, and fish, not turn them over to the logging companies.”

Local conservation groups are concerned and have joined this legal challenge. The ramifications of the new regulations may be felt in Vermont, where the Forest Service is updating a plan to manage the Green Mountain National Forest. “The regulations seemingly instruct the Forest Service to ignore the monitoring of wildlife species that Vermonters and visitors value and cherish,” said Jamey Fidel of the Vermont Natural Resources Council.

The complaint is being filed as a supplement to a lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs in November against a related rule more specifically attacking national forest wildlife and other resource protections. The lawsuit is Defenders of Wildlife v. Johanns, and was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

For more information on these regulations, including opposition from Congress, scientists, and the public, visit:
Read the complaint online here:

Uttering the "F" Word: A New Phase of US History

From See the Forest blog (via the superb Political Strategy)....
The Vice President of the United States was the
keynote speaker at a conference where other speakers called for "a new McCarthyism" to bring "terror" to intellectuals, saying "let's oppress them [liberals]," and "the entire Harvard faculty" are "traitors." A Congressman said, "America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," ? Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq."

Meanwhile, right-wing commentators talk about
killing American journalists, their premier blogs talk about former president Carter as being on the side of the enemy and leftists have "seamlessly taken up the cause of Islamic fascism". I have provided only a few examples.

When you hear threatening talk like this,
in the company of the country's leadership, you know that whatever comes next isn't going to be pleasant. Things do not appear to be heading in a good direction at all.

If you have been following this in the blogs, you know that more and more people are becoming concerned that the Right's rhetoric is growing ever more violent and totalitarian. Serious people have started referring to
the "f-word." (See also here, here, here, here and many other places.) ....

I think we are entering a new phase of American history. These are not normal times, the pendulum is not swinging back, and historical trends of American politics no longer apply. American democracy was built on a system of checks and balances, and mechanisms of oversight and accountability. But the checks and balances and oversight and accountability are being removed.

There is no Congressional oversight of this administration, the Justice Department does not investigate its crimes, the Federalist Society judges block all attempts to enforce the laws and the new media is no longer functional. The military acts as an arm of The Party and The Party is firmly in control of the State.

The system of controls and protections that was carefully built over the last two centuries was put in place for reasons, by people who learned the lessons of history. I can not think of a time in history when a society left itself so wide open to tyranny from its leadership without it occurring.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Republican Advises...Prey on Peoples' Emotions

Like we didn't know this?

In his 160-page playbook (ZIP file) on how to spin the right-wing agenda, Frank Luntz tells conservatives to "resist the temptation" to use "facts and figures" about the economy. He advises preying on people's emotions surrounding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 instead: "Much of the public anger [over the state of the economy] can be immediately pacified if they are reminded that we would not be in this situation today if 9/11 had not happened." For more on Luntz's attempt to manipulate public emotions, check out

It's my understanding that DailyKos is hosting this document. Much thanks to that excellent, trend-setting site!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Why Europe and China Urgently Matter...Why Consequences Matter

From American Progress....

"The European Union (EU) is the fastest growing political system in the world. In the last ten years, the EU has grown from 12 countries to 25, and has brought 450 billion people, speaking more than 20 different languages, into a single political system. And it is still growing. Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania are scheduled to join in 2007, and Turkey has begun the long accession process. Over the next five years, the European Commission will advance efforts to incorporate the Western Balkans (the countries of the former Yugoslavia and Albania)."

As The EU expands and as China grows in power and matters more everyday that the United States' fiscal underpinnings become weaker and weaker, that the US is regarded as a interntional bully and moral hypocrite, and that the US public education system, from kindergartens to universities, grows ever enfeebled.

The grotesque budget deficit matters. The denigration of US education matters. The continual war-mongering and ministry of hatred matter. There will be consequences. There are consequences. The US fades in world significance as Europe and China rise in power and influence.

I weep for the pitiful legacy being left for my grandchildren.

Bush Joke of the Day by "Anonymous" Official

This gem was buried in an AP story today....

"A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on Air Force One on the flight to Germany, said Bush rejects Putin's defense of his tightening of government controls in Russia — that the Russian people are accustomed to strong rule by czars and a large government role in everyday life. "An argument that `My people need a strong ruler — me' is an argument that does not fit with the way the president talks about democracy," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "

Huh? ........Uhhhh...except at home?

An "anonymous" official, secretly saying nice things about the wisdom of George Bush. Maybe he was joking. Speaking in tones of rich irony.

After all, we all know how much George Bush detests a big government that interferes in its citizens' lives. NOT.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Far Right Publishes Disgusting McCarthy-Style Enemies List

Don't believe me? Here it is.....Discover The Network - A Guide to the Political Left...complete with pages and pages of ugly speculations, exaggerations and out-and-out lies for 1,500 people (complete with unflattering photos) who are not one of "them."

Democracy is truly dead for these "my way or the highway" political gossips.

The only reason I can imagine to publish this data is to allow others to freely use this disgusting data to bully, smear, intimidate and blackmail committed and caring American patriots and community leaders.

Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon would be delighted.

Is this the "faith & values" that the Republican party professes to stand for? Is this what they believe Jesus would do? Is this what the formerly respectable Grand Old Party has degenerated into?

Whatever happened to decency?

Bush Says His Social Security Plan is "Going Nowhere"

How could I have missed this New York Times story a few days ago?

"2 Top G.O.P. Lawmakers Buck Bush on Social Security" By Richard W. Stevenson and Robin Toner....

"The Republican majority leader in the House expressed opposition on Thursday to the idea of increasing or eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax, deflating President Bush's first effort to promote bipartisan trust over how to address the retirement system's projected financial troubles.

The majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, said subjecting more earnings to the payroll tax amounted to a tax increase and was unacceptable. His comments came a day after the publication of newspaper interviews in which Mr. Bush left open the possibility of lifting the earnings cap as part of a plan to put Social Security on permanently sound footing.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert joined Mr. DeLay in distancing House Republicans from the idea. Their quick and negative reaction underscored the difficulty the administration is having in moving forward with its plan to overhaul Social Security, the issue Mr. Bush has put at the top of his domestic agenda and made a test of his political clout.

Acknowledging that he has yet to gain much momentum, Mr. Bush said at a news conference at the White House that his plan was 'going nowhere' unless he could convince Congress and the American people that there was a problem that must be addressed now."
Read the rest here....

Mr. Bush, sounds increasingly like Congress isn't buying it. And neither is the American public.

Mr. Bush, there is NO Social Security crisis. But we do have many other crises and priorites to address as a nation. Time to move on.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Were the "Secret" Bush Tapes "Leaked" ?

Avedon Carol of The Sideshow read my mind when she wrote about those "secret" Bush tapes that were "leaked" to the New York Times.....

"Some people say the man who secretly taped Bush is a creep for bringing this stuff out; I say it's mighty convenient that it comes out just at the moment when yet another White House scandal is generating calls for investigation. Nothing on those tapes hurts Bush, but the Gannon thing and continually emerging exposure on torture and on 9/11 have not been covering him with glory lately. Gosh, isn't Bush an amazingly lucky guy?"

Paranoia or reality-based thinking? Bush is brilliant and greatly underestimated politician. Reality-based thinking.

And besides. All those I-really-do-like-gays comments is a convenient and well-targeted swipe at Dr. James Dobson, who is now attempting to control Mr. Bush's agenda, claiming he owns Bush after singlehandedly reelecting him.

Bush Rationale for War on Oil Countries: The End of Oil?

This might make sense out of Bush/Cheney's ferocious drive to fight for "democratic reforms" only in oil-rich countries. In many nefarious ways.

Excerpts from Technology Review, an MIT publication. It's urgent that you read the entire article here. I found this article via Cyberedoubt.
The End of Oil? by Mark Williams, Febuary 2005

If the actions—rather than the words—of the oil business’s major players provide the best gauge of how they see the future, then ponder the following. Crude oil prices have doubled since 2001, but oil companies have increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only a small fraction. Likewise, U.S. refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built.

If those clues weren’t enough, here’s a news item that came out of Saudi Arabia on March 6, 2003. Though it went largely unremarked, the kingdom’s announcement that it could not produce more oil in response to the Iraq War was of historic importance. As Kenneth Deffeyes notes in Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak, it meant that as of 2003, there was no major underutilized oil source left on the planet....Globally, according to some geologists’ estimates, we have discovered 94 percent of all available oil.

The Saudis’ announcement arrived right on schedule—at least, once the three-year delay imposed by OPEC’s anti-U.S. embargo and production cutbacks of the 1970s was factored in. In 1969, the prominent geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that a graph of world oil production over time would look like a bell curve, with a peak around the year 2000. Thereafter, he argued, production would drop—slowly at first, then ever faster.

Hubbert had a track record as a prophet: his 1956 forecast that U.S. domestic oil production would peak in the early 1970s proved correct. Kenneth Deffeyes, who started out in 1958 as a young petroleum geologist at Shell’s Houston labs working alongside Hubbert, became so convinced by the man’s theories that by 1963 he had left the oil business, except for occasional consulting work; he is now a professor emeritus of geosciences at Princeton University....

The prognosis? Deffeyes has no doubt that by 2019, the year in which Hubbert’s theories indicate global oil production will drop to 90 percent of current rates, human ingenuity will have found replacement energy sources.... In the short term, he foresees continually rising oil prices that force industry after industry closer to the wall. He fears not just escalating resource wars around the world but also mass starvation in some countries...

Because 15 years ago we failed to begin developing the new energy sources and technologies we need now, Deffeyes argues, in the immediate future we’ll have to rely on what we’ve got. In Beyond Oil, he examines how we might optimize the use of our geologically derived energy sources....

Ultimately, says Deffeyes, we may just have to resign ourselves to relying more on coal, wind, and nuclear fission for ­electricity and switching to high-efficiency diesel and hybrid automobiles in order to ration our remaining oil reserves for as long as possible.

Abundant energy from fossil fuels was a one-time gift, Deffeyes concludes, that lifted humanity up from subsistence agriculture and has led to a future based on renewable resources.

Scott Ritter: US to Bomb Iran in June 2005

I offer no assurance about the reliabiity of this story. I only offer it for your edification....and prayers for the US and the world.

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)February 19, 2005
Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia’s Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

Olympians like to call the Capitol Theater "historic," but it's doubtful whether the eighty-year-old edifice has ever been the scene of more portentous revelations.

The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans’ duty to protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.
Asked by UFPPC's Ted Nation about this shocker, Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.

On Jan. 17, the New Yorker posted an article by Hersh entitled The Coming Wars (New Yorker, January 24-31, 2005). In it, the well-known investigative journalist claimed that for the Bush administration, "The next strategic target [is] Iran." Hersh also reported that "The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer." According to Hersh, "Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran. . . . Strategists at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, in Tampa, Florida, have been asked to revise the military’s war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran. . . . The hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that the Europeans’ negotiated approach [to Iran] cannot succeed, and that at that time the Administration will act."

Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded an even greater conflagration.

Scott Ritter's talk was the culmination of a long evening devoted to discussion of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. Before Ritter spoke, Dahr Jamail narrated a slide show on Iraq focusing on Fallujah. He showed more than a hundred vivid photographs taken in Iraq, mostly by himself. Many of them showed the horrific slaughter of civilians.
Dahr Jamail argued that U.S. mainstream media sources are complicit in the war and help sustain support for it by deliberately downplaying the truth about the devastation and death it is causing.

Jamail was, until recently, one of the few unembedded journalists in Iraq and one of the only independent ones. His reports have gained a substantial following and are available online at

Friday evening's event in Olympia was sponsored by South Puget Sound Community College's Student Activities Board, Veterans for Peace, 100 Thousand and Counting, Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace, and United for Peace of Pierce County.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rock Star Bono on America & Europe

As President Bush heads off to the Continent for five days of chilly talks, the New York Times asked a number of prominent Europeans what the US can do to reinvigorate US-European relations. Here is one of the responses today, "Give a Little" by Irish rock star Bono...
"Europe is securing its ports, steeling itself for an American charm offensive. Over the coming days, President Bush and his hosts will shake hands, slap backs, make toasts. But if the United States and Europe really want to repair their relationship, they should look to another continent: Africa.

Both America and Europe have a stake in preventing African states from crumbling. Both have an interest in ending the poverty that breeds violence. And both feel a moral obligation to stop the hemorrhaging of life.

Aren't those shared interests obvious? Not lately. We lament - but secretly indulge - our differences. Points of tension are points of pride. Snottiness is the new patriotism.
So what can Mr. Bush do? Well, he can clear up some confusion about America's basic beliefs.

Americans are overtly devout. And yet Europeans, who inhabit a more secular world, give more per capita than Americans to what the Bible calls "the least of these" - the world's poor. The United States is in 22nd place, last in the class of donor nations. (Add private philanthropy and it's up to 15th.) Europeans see the discrepancy, and they smell hypocrisy.

President Bush should try to help Europeans understand American generosity. He should remind people that the United States has gotten more AIDS drugs to more Africans than anyone else. But he should also underscore that Americans want to ensure that the money is spent responsibly.

To Europeans, this "tough love" approach seems cruel. But there is compassion at its core. Mr. Bush can demonstrate this by putting more financial muscle behind his push for "accountability." If he does, Europeans will follow suit. They will see talking tough on poverty as a perfect rhyme for talking tough on terrorism.

If Europe and America work together, a breakthrough for Africa is within reach. Then, other obstacles will fall away - as will the misconceptions that blind us to one another. "

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Unintimidated CBS: Rove-Gannon Connection?

CBS has apparently not been intimidated by the White House strong arm in the Rathergate affair, from reporting news and views. Thank God.

Excerpts from an on-point, in-your-face CBS story by Dolly Lynch, Senior Political Editor for CBS News. Read the entire
"Rove-Gannon Connection?" here.

For simplified background on the tawdry Jeff Gannon/James Guckert White House mess, I wrote

"....Tired and timid are two adjectives never applied to Rove. The architect of the Bush victories in 2000 and 2004 came through the ranks of college Republicans with the late Lee Atwater, and their admitted and alleged dirty tricks are the legends many young political operatives dream of pulling off. So when Jeff Gannon, White House "reporter" for Talon "News," was unmasked last week, the leap to a possible Rove connection was unavoidable. Gannon says that he met Rove only once, at a White House Christmas party, and Gannon is kind of small potatoes for Rove at this point in his career.

But Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius."
Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon.

GOPUSA and Talon are both owned by Bobby Eberle, a Texas Republican and business associate of conservative direct-mail guru Bruce Eberle who says that Bobby is from the "Texas branch of the Eberle clan." Bobby Eberle told The New York Times that he created Talon to build a news service with a conservative slant and "if someone were to see 'GOPUSA,' there's an instant built-in bias there." No kidding.

...what Gannon was up to was not just writing opinion columns or using a different technique to get information. He was a player in Republican campaigns and his work in the South Dakota Senate race illustrates the role he played. It is also a classic example of how political operatives are using the brave new world of the Internet and the blogosphere. Gannon and Talon News appear to be mini-Drudge reports; a "news" source which partisans use to put out negative information, get the attention of the bloggers, talk radio and then the MSM in a way that mere press releases are unable to achieve....

This week Democrats, who have serious case of Rove envy, went a little nuts and started sending around information and graphic pictures of Gannon and his porn Web sites. But it is the more routine part of Gannon's life that deserves serious scrutiny. Planting or even just sanctioning a political operative in the WH press room is a dangerous precedent and Karl Rove's hope to become a respected policymaker will be hampered if the dirty tricks from his political past are more apparent than his desire to spread liberty around the globe.

Friday, February 18, 2005

California Bypasses Bush to Fight Global Warming

It's great to be a Californian for many reasons. One reason is the multitude of progressive public policies that seem to elude much of the rest of the US and certainly the Bush Administration.

Here's one reason that makes this native daughter proud....excerpts from a San Francisco Chronicle story. Read the
entire article here.

"As the Kyoto Protocol went into effect Wednesday, obligating its 141 member nations to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases linked to climate change, the accountants and engineers at PG&E were hard at work on tasks that could become almost as important for Planet Earth.

The electricity giant is carefully assessing the innumerable facets of its California power network, cutting back its output of greenhouse gases...and gradually switching to generators that use renewable energy technologies.

It's part of a move by some leading corporations, directed by California state regulatory agencies and echoed by a growing number of other state governments, to bypass the Kyoto debate and take direct action against global warming.

'PG&E recognizes that climate change is an important issue, both for the country and the electric industry, and we're taking a proactive role in grappling with it,' said Wendy Pulling, director of environmental policy at PG&E.

To be sure, important questions remain in the Kyoto Protocol debate. Will Europe and Japan, which must make deep cuts in their emissions under the treaty, be able to do so without hurting their economies? Will the U.S. government, which pulled out of the protocol in 2001, continue to oppose international negotiations on climate change? And will the companies make painful cuts in operations that are polluting yet profitable?

But many experts say California's actions could help defuse the tensions in Washington and bring pressure on President Bush and Congress to take action against global warming, with or without Kyoto...."

Black-Gold Cowboy Chooses Profits Over Humanity

Vice President Al Gore was an architect of the landmark Kyoto Protocol, and in 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the first international pact to halt global warming, caused by greenhouse gases, and the disastrous effects or warming.

Despite promises made in his 2000 campaign, George Bus withdrew US support for the agreement as one of the first acts of his presidency. He dismissed the Kyoto Protocol as too costly for businesses, describing it as "an unrealistic and ever-tightening straitjacket." This, despite the shocking fact that the US produces 25% of greenhouse gases worldwide via manufacturing, our military and gas-powered vehicles.

So the black-gold cowboy who longs to roam without restrictions once again places profits over the health and welfare of humanity and our planet.

The Kyoto Protocol went into effect this week afteer ratification by 141 industrialized countires, including all of Europe. But not the US.

I simplified global warming basics and its destructive effects, and Kyoto Protocol politics here for your reading.
And this today from the Office of the House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi....

This week, as the Kyoto Protocol goes into effect, the world will take a significant and long-awaited first step toward curbing global warming. But among the 141 participants, there is one glaring absence - the United States.

This Administration has repeatedly defied critical environmental commitments and international cooperation, and its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol is an embarrassing display of both. Despite the overwhelming evidence of global warming, the Bush Administration has ignored the threat and failed to take any meaningful steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While the President and Republican leadership in Congress dismiss the threat of global warming, many Americans are ready to take up the challenge. We have a responsibility to our children to address this issue today, rather than simply pass it on to future generations.
Read Leader Pelosi's statement.
Learn more about the Administration's record on the environment.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I Work for the New York Times?

I've worked for exactly one week as the Editor of US Liberal Politics for One week. got acquired today by the New York Times. I'm not sure if this means I am very short-termer, or if my journalistic fantasy of working for the Times has divinely materialized.

Whatever happens happens. In the meantime....I work for the New York Times!
The New York Times Company announced yesterday that it would acquire About Inc. and its Web site,, from Primedia Inc. for $410 million.

Times Company officials said the acquisition would add a fast-growing, highly profitable Web site to the company's portfolio and would increase the company's revenue from the expanding online advertising business.

"This deal provides a very attractive return on our investment going forward, and I feel very comfortable standing up in front of shareholders and telling them that," said Leonard P. Forman, chief financial officer of the Times Company.

By adding About's 22 million monthly users to the Times Company's 13 million monthly users - from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and more than 40 other Web sites - the company said it would have the 12th-largest presence on the Internet.

"This scale is important as content companies compete for market share in readership and advertising," said Martin A. Nisenholtz, named by the Times Company yesterday as senior vice president for digital operations. uses a network of about 500 experts to write online about hundreds of specialty topics, from personal finance to quilting to fly-fishing. Primedia wanted as a way to provide a link with its many print publications, Web sites, newsletters and video programs.
Kelly P. Conlin, Primedia's president and chief executive, said that selling would help Primedia reduce its debt and strengthen its own balance sheet.

The Times Company's acquisition of comes after it was among the losers in a bidding war in the fall for CBS MarketWatch, the financial news Web site. The site was acquired by Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, for $519 million.

Times Company officials said would help diversify its online advertising base by adding "cost per click" advertising, in which advertisers pay only when a reader clicks on an ad.
Cost-per-click ads are the fastest-growing segment of online advertising. The Times Company said it also expected to market its products to users. "The appeal of About is that it gets the NYT Company into the fastest-growing component of the advertising market place, and therefore it makes strategic sense," said Peter Appert, a media analyst for
Goldman Sachs.

"The challenge is that About is very small versus the total scale of the NYT business," he said, adding that About's revenues last year were $40 million, a fraction of the Times Company's revenues. "It represents barely over 1 percent of NYT revenue, so while it's strategically appealing and it's a step in the right direction, it's financially too small to really change the growth story at the NYT," Mr. Appert added.

Times Company officials said the demographics of About's users were somewhat different from those of users of The Times's Web site. The median age of About's users is 37, which is five or six years younger than that of users. About 65 percent of About users are women, while The Times's site attracts more men than women. The average income of About users is $61,000 a year, while that of The Times's online readers is $80,000 a year. And there is little overlap between current About users and The Times's users.

"It adds a huge new base to our mix," Mr. Nisenholtz said.

Hugh Hewitt was Right???

To my utter astonishment, I just watched a ten-minute segment on Judy Woodruff's CNN lunchtime program about blogs. Well, not about blogs. Reading the news from the political blogs.

Two correspondents cited or read news from PowerLine and others on the right, and AmericaBlog, Atrios, Daily Kos and more on the left. They openly used the blogs to bring us up to speed on John Negroponte's nomination to the Intelligence chief position....pointing out which blogs were updating their headlines during the day on this issue.

They even reported right and left blogs "takes" on the Negroponte one in the blogosphere thinks he's such a great candidate, but he's the one who took the job. CNN reported that as fact.

They went to explain that Hugh Hewitt, a right-leaning broadcaster and blogger, recently wrote a book based on the thesis that blogs have overtaken the main stream media (MSM) as a primary source of current info.

Here's the hysterical part....they shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders in bewildered disagreement with Hewitt's idea that they had been replaced. As they, CNN correspondents, read timely news from the blogs.

I don't agree with Mr. Hewitt much on his political views. But he got this one right and CNN proved it today. Political blogs have replaced the MSM as a primary source of political and current information.

Greenspan: Negatives of Bush Social Security Ideas

Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan spoke yesterday in his semi-annual report to the Senate Banking Committee. Mr. Geenspan's wise comments, of course, perfectly summarize major negatives about the President's Social Security "reform" ideas.

By the way...I watched part of Mr. Greenspan's testimony. He admitted that Medicare is in far more financial trouble than Social Security, and should be the higher presidential priority.
Highlights and a summary from American Progress.....

Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan appeared before the Senate Banking Committee and – buried beneath an avalanche of cryptic econo-speak – was forced to concede some fundamental truths about President Bush's Social Security privatization scheme. The mainstream media keyed in on Greenspan's tepid support for private accounts if they can be implemented in a fiscally responsible way. (They can't.) But there was a lot more there. The Progress Report wades through the transcript so you don't have to:

PRIVATIZATION WON'T INCREASE NATIONAL SAVINGS: During his testimony, Greenspan said, "the problem essentially is that we have an unprecedented potential increase in the number of people leaving the workforce and going into retirement over the next 25 years" and argued that the key to fulfilling our commitments to future retirees is to increase national savings. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) asked Greenspan, "Would you also agree…that the private accounts will basically leave national savings unchanged since the government is borrowing money to give to individual citizens to invest in the market?" Greenspan replied, "Yes, I do."

PRIVATIZATION WON'T MAKE SOCIAL SECURITY MORE FINANCIALLY SECURE: Greenspan expressed concern about Social Security's long-term financial stability. Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY) asked if "setting up a private account under current conditions, not starting from scratch...does anything to alleviate the problem." Greenspan replied that setting up private accounts "surely doesn't alleviate the current problem."

EXPANDING 401(K) ACCOUNTS ARE A BETTER IDEA: Greenspan also conceded that expanding 401(k) accounts would do more to increase national savings than carving out private accounts from Social Security. Sen. Shumer said expanding "401(k)... will more [sic] to increase net savings than simply shifting some money from the present system to a so-called private account." Greenspan said, "I'm not disagreeing with you."

BUSH'S RECKLESS FISCAL POLICY WEAKENED SOCIAL SECURITY: Because of the Bush administration's reckless fiscal policies – especially tax cuts for the wealthy – the federal government will rack up another record deficit, expected to exceed $400 billion. Those irresponsible policies make it harder to improve Social Security. Sen. Schumer asked Greenspan if "we'd have a(n) easier time fixing Social Security if our debt went down." Greenspan said, "I think that's fair to say."

TRANSITION COSTS ARE A HUGE CONCERN: Greenspan said yesterday that, in the context of changing Social Security, "I would be very careful about very large increases in debt." Greenspan said, "small increases are not something that would concern me…I would say over a trillion is large." The administration's Social Security privatization scheme is expected to add $2 trillion over the first 10 years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pharisee Nation - "Must Read" for Christians

This is an excerpt from "Pharisee Nation," an extraordinary, heartfelt essay published yesterday by Common Dreams. The author is John Dear, a Jesuit priest, peace activist and author/editor of more than 20 books.

I ask that every Christian take a couple minutes to read the
entire piece here, and seriously ponder the words of the author. The vocabulary and tone may be overwrought, but the message is urgent and relevant.
"A Culture of Pharisees

We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.” And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.

In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence. Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God. This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them. The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy. It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction. Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God.

In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called “blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful.” Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world’s poor. But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent. As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings..."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Request from Howard Dean, DNC chair

Part of letter today from Howard Dean, new chair of the Democratic National Committee.....

Dear Deborah,

You run the party.

On Saturday, I was honored when your representatives on the Democratic National Committee elected me Chairman. And I can't wait to get started. But when they voted, it wasn't about me -- they were voting for a plan for the future of our party.

That plan came from people like you -- from conversations I had with ordinary Democrats across the country. When those 447 people voted in Washington this weekend, they united around that plan.

Now I'm asking you to do the same. Those 447 people were a good start, but make no mistake -- I know that this is also your party. And our plan to reform the party can only become a reality with your endorsement.
Please read our plan -- and commit to making it a reality: ....

Millions of Americans became Democrats last year. They sensed that they live in a society where ordinary people's problems and interests don't matter to our government. They chose the Democratic Party because we represent commonsense reform.

And millions more will become Democrats this year as we protect the Democratic Party's greatest achievement. We will not allow George Bush to phase out Social Security -- a Democratic policy that cured an epidemic of poverty among seniors and provides the guarantee of retirement with dignity.

Most importantly, millions of Democrats have become true stakeholders in our party. With grassroots action and small-dollar donations, you have taken our party's future into your own hands.

The stakes are too high to wait for others to lead. Every one of us has a personal responsibility for the future of our party -- and the future of our country.

This isn't my chairmanship -- it is ours. So let's get to work together.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman, Democratic National Committee

"Yawning at the Needy"

From American Progress Action, "Losing Faith in Compassionate Conservatism"

David Kuo, former deputy director of the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has decided to speak candidly about his experiences. His message: this administration doesn't care about the poor. In a piece published on Beliefnet yesterday, Kuo writes, "From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.'"

As a result, while President Bush spoke a lot about providing funds to "groups caring for drug addicts, at-risk youth, and teen moms," most of that assistance never arrived. In a bizarre attempt to rebut Kuo's charge that the administration was all talk on the issue, White House spokesman Trent Duffy noted, "The president has mentioned the initiative in every State of the Union." (Share your thoughts on the state of compassionate conservatism on

YAWNING AT THE NEEDY: The White House ignored opportunities for the president to make good on his commitments. For example, Kuo writes that in 2001 former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) approached the White House "with an offer to pass a charity relief bill that contained many of the president's campaign tax incentive policies plus new money for the widely-popular and faith-based-friendly Social Services Block Grant."

The reaction: "The White House legislative affairs office rolled their eyes while others on senior staff yawned." The White House felt comfortable it could get away with this kind of behavior because there was no one to hold it accountable. Kuo writes, "Drug addicts, alcoholics, poor moms, struggling urban social service organizations, and pastors aren't quite the NRA."

THE LATEST DECEPTION: At the State of the Union, President Bush proudly announced a new three-year initiative – to be lead by First Lady Laura Bush – "to help organizations keep young people out of gangs." Kuo reveals that the money for the program – $50 million over three years – is being "taken out of the already meager $100 million request for the Compassion Capital Fund," supposedly a central component of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives programs. If the Bush request were granted, "it would actually mean a $5 million reduction in the Fund from last year." Since 2002, President Bush has "sponsored a 44 percent overall reduction in delinquency-fighting and anti-gang funds."

Fighting Moderates Find Their Voice, Defend Social Security

From a New York Times op-ed today, "The Fighting Moderates" by Paul Krugman. Make sure to read the entire's quite perceptive.

Count me in as one of the Fighting Moderate Democrats!
" 2005 it takes an act of willful blindness not to see that the Bush plan for Social Security is intended, in essence, to dismantle the most important achievement of the New Deal. The Republicans themselves say so: the push for privatization is following the playbook laid out in a 1983 Cato Journal article titled "A 'Leninist' Strategy," and in a White House memo declaring that 'for the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win - and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country.'

By refusing to be bullied into false bipartisanship on Social Security, Democrats have already scored a significant tactical victory. Just two months ago, TV pundits were ridiculing Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, for denying that Social Security faces a crisis, and for rejecting outright the idea of diverting payroll taxes into private accounts. But now the Bush administration itself has dropped the crisis language, and admitted that private accounts would do nothing to improve the system's finances.

By standing firm against Mr. Bush's attempt to stampede the country into dismantling its most important social insurance program, Democrats like Mr. Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer have, at a minimum, broken the administration's momentum, and quite possibly doomed its plan. The more time the news media spend examining the details of privatization, the worse it looks. And those Democrats have also given their party a demonstration of what it means to be an effective opposition.

In fact, by taking on Social Security, Mr. Bush gave the Democrats a chance to remember what they stand for, and why. Here's my favorite version, from another fighting moderate, Eliot Spitzer: 'As President Bush embraces the ownership society and tries to claim that he is the one that is making it possible for the middle class to succeed and save and invest - well, I say to myself, no, that's not right; it is the Democratic Party historically that created the middle class.'

Monday, February 14, 2005

Second Thoughts about Valentine Chocolates

How about dinner and a movie instead of that giant box of chocolates this Valentine's Day? Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) write in the LA Times that child slaves in Ivory Coast "are whipped, beaten and broken like horses to harvest the almond-sized beans that are made into chocolate treats for more fortunate children in Europe and the United States."

NYTimes: Bush Budget a Map of Reckless Policies

And this today from the New York Times editorial page on Bush's budget proposal....
"The Importance of Being Earnest"

"For all its talk of deficit reduction, President Bush's 2006 budget is a map of reckless economic policies and shows how they have backed the United States into a precarious position in the global financial markets.

Mr. Bush needs to convince foreign investors that he's serious about cutting the budget deficit....

It's not hard to see what brought the United States to this juncture. Mr. Bush's first-term tax cuts were too expensive and too skewed toward top earners to work as effective, self-correcting economic stimulus. Instead, predictably, they've driven the nation deep into the red. Having reduced tax revenue to a share of the economy not seen since 1959, the cuts are a huge factor in the swing from a budget surplus to a $412 billion deficit....

Lately, Mr. Bush has been talking the deficit reduction talk, but there's no sign that he is willing to walk the walk. In his 2006 budget, he pledges to slash spending, but largely in areas that would have only a small impact on the deficit and where cuts would be politically difficult, not to mention cruel, such as food stamps, veterans' medical care, child care and low-income housing.
Oh, yes. Mr. Bush also wants to borrow some $4.5 trillion over two decades to privatize Social Security, which is a bad idea even without the borrowing and a horrendous one with it....

The global financial community won't be fooled....

Congress can avert this crisis-in-waiting by forcing Mr. Bush to be serious about deficit reduction. The first-term tax cuts should be allowed to lapse. Cuts that are not yet in effect should not be allowed to begin. And no new programs should be started that require megaborrowing. If the president doesn't see that he has more important tasks than cutting taxes for the rich and undermining Social Security, Congress should set him straight.

Bush Proposes a Ticking Budgetary Landmine

No big surprises in this Washington Post report that Bush's pledge to "cut" the deficit is actually a lethal budgetary landmine, timed to detonate exactly when he leaves office.

His inexplicable hostility to the American public becomes both more obvious and puzzling as his priorities of big business and continual war are increasingly revealed.

The intro from MSNBC, via the Washington Post is below. I urge everyone to read the entire story here. Our country needs to understand who and what we are dealing with as we move forward to correct the currently bankrupt path ofthe US.
"Bush could leave budgetary landmine- Deficits projected to grow after he leaves office" by Jonathan Weisman and Peter Baker....

"For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.

Congress and the White House have become adept at passing legislation with hidden long-term price tags, but those huge costs began coming into view in Bush's latest spending plan. Even if Bush succeeds in slashing the deficit in half in four years, as he has pledged, his major policy prescriptions would leave his successor with massive financial commitments that begin rising dramatically the year he relinquishes the White House, according to an analysis of new budget figures."

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Coincidence? Bush Budget Cuts Hit Blue States Hardest

Interesting coincidence...or is it merely a coincidence? From Common Dreams...."Bush Cuts Hit Democratic States, Analysis Finds" by Susan Milligan

"Massachusetts and other traditionally Democratic states would see their share of federal grant money shrink under President Bush's 2006 budget, compared to Republican states in the South and West, according to a Globe analysis of funding projections compiled by the White House budget office.

Critics and defenders of the president's $2.6 trillion budget say they do not believe the budget proposal represents a deliberate attack on states that voted for Democrat John F. Kerry, but rather that Bush's budget priorities tend to hurt those states that rely more on the health, community development, and housing programs that are targeted for reductions.

The result is that the highest percentage increases in state and local grant money would go to Arkansas, North Carolina, Arizona, and Missouri, while New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Vermont would be among the states with the smallest increases. Massachusetts -- with a projected 1.9 percent increase -- is tied for 35th, while liberal-leaning California and Washington state (along with conservative-leaning North Dakota) would see a reduction in federal grants next year.

With the proposal to eliminate or reduce funding for home-heating assistance, the Northeast would be especially hard hit by the president's budget-cutting, said Senator Jon Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey....."

Read the entire article here.

Dean Making Positive, Party-Friendly Changes

Interesting excerpts about the election of Howard Dean as DNC chair, from the Los Angeles Times today. Looks like Dean is making excellent changes to his leadership style that'll help focus attention on his message, not his energetic personality.

He's also immediately focusing on correcting Democratic party 2004 mistakes. An even better sign for the future.....
Capping an improbable political comeback, Howard Dean was unanimously elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, accepting the job with a low-key speech that depicted the struggling party as the nation's voice of fiscal responsibility and social progress.

....he won the chairmanship the same way he went from dark horse to onetime front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination: by developing an ardent following at the grass roots and tapping widespread contempt for the party's inside-the-Beltway leadership....

Rejecting talk that the party requires a thorough overhaul of its message and image, Dean said Democrats should not change what they have "always stood for and fought for."He described the party's core principles as "fiscal responsibility and socially progressive values," and said Democrats simply need to do a better job communicating their views.

Toward that end, he pledged to spend much of his four-year term as chairman in the so-called red states that President Bush carried handily in the last two elections."We can't run 18-state presidential campaigns and hope to win," Dean said, an implicit rebuke of Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, who wrote off large chunks of the country in his narrow loss to Bush in November.Dean's red-state strategy for Democrats is simple, he said: "Show up."

His acceptance speech was strikingly subdued for the man who emerged as one of the fieriest speakers of the 2004 campaign, thrilling left-leaning partisans with his lacerating attacks on Bush as well as fellow Democrats. The 20-minute address was tame even compared with the pugnacious speeches he gave while campaigning for chairman.

Dean, 56, assailed Bush's proposal to restructure Social Security as a "dishonest scheme." And he said the $2.5-trillion budget the White House unveiled last week brought "Enron-style accounting to the nation's capital" by failing to include the costs of the war in Iraq and revamping Social Security.

Tellingly, the glancing reference to Iraq was Dean's only mention of the issue that fueled his presidential bid.Citing the record deficits the nation has accumulated under Bush, Dean gibed, "Americans are now beginning to see you can't trust Republicans with [taxpayers'] money."

But deviating from the style that marked his presidential race, Dean worked off a written text, never raised his voice and abandoned the mocking tone he had often used when referring to Bush.At a news conference afterward, Dean denied that he had purposely toned down his approach.Responding to the question, he said: "I'm not a Zen person. It's hard to answer stylistic questions. I am who I am…. It's not intentional."

....In his speech and comments afterward, Dean was highly deferential toward House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).... Days before Saturday's vote, Dean met privately with Pelosi and Reid to pledge his cooperation, and he demonstrated his loyalty Saturday by declining to discuss his opposition to the war in Iraq, even when prodded by a reporter.

The proper place for such talk is Capitol Hill, Dean said, adding that he saw "no need to make announcements on anything I won't be voting on soon."Reid joked about his initial resistance to Dean's candidacy when he spoke to the DNC meeting on Friday. The senator thanked "all the Democrats who ran for chair — and all the Democrats I tried to get to run for chair."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Toasting a Reformed, Grassroots DNC

I don't usually publish self-congratulatory notes from political organizations, but the Progressive Democrats of America deserve kudos for their hard work and support of Democratic causes and candidates since those dark days in November 2004. "Why Dean is Good for Progressive Grassroot Democrats" by Steve Cobble, PDA Advisor....

An effort that began in the dark hours after Kerry’s "loss" last November will end Saturday in victory as Howard Dean is elected the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Despite intense opposition from the business, conservative, and Beltway elements of the Democratic Party, Deaniacs, Kucitizens, reformers from DFA, PDA, and the netroots community, (and some DNC members), united to push Dr. Dean ahead of his six opponents, one by one, until only the good Governor was left standing....

So this Saturday let us take this moment to savor our victory, to toast Howard Dean, to toast the energy, persistence, and vision of grassroots Democrats, and to toast the remarkable lift-off of PDA.

Only six months ago, in Roxbury, MA, PDA brought Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Barbara Lee, and Reverend Jesse Jackson together, along with one thousand progressive grassroots activists, to promise to keep the grassroots energy from the Progressive Democrat primary campaigns alive.

Only three months ago PDA jumped headlong into the Ohio election results fight, simultaneously with entering the Dean for DNC fight. One path led Barbara Boxer and a core group of House members led by John Conyers and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones to stand fearlessly against voter suppression of African Americans. The other path led to a new DNC Chair, a man who believes in small donors and volunteer energy, who comes from outside the Beltway, who opposed the war in Iraq, and who stands up for principles when challenged.

And on the weekend after the inauguration, PDA fought back with a Progressive Summit conference attended by 500 snow-braving activists.

PDA is now deep in the fight to expose the Bush Administration’s propaganda about Social Security, so we can protect the most successful anti-poverty program ever established. We’re taking on the $80B war and occupation appropriation, refusing to be spun out of our conviction that an aggressive war initiated on patent falsehood is just plain wrong.

We’re continuing the voting rights fight from Ohio, joining with John Conyers and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones in the comprehensive voter protection bill that has been introduced into Congress. And we’re working with Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., who brilliantly keynoted the PDA Conference in Washington 2 weeks ago, in his push for a Constitutional Amendment for the right to vote.

Most importantly, PDA has organized dozens of state caucuses and congressional district chapters from coast to coast and is holding our first regional caucus in Arizona this weekend. PDA is on the move. We’re proud of all we’ve accomplished and there is much much more to do. We’ve got a full agenda, and we’re not going to let up.

But for a few moments on Saturday, we’re going to take a small break, make a toast to the new possibilities for a reformed DNC, and savor a victory. Chairman Dean will need all of our help; and we’ll be there, both to prod him and to back him. On Saturday, we’ll just smile and say, "Way to go, Mr. Chairman!"

Friday, February 11, 2005

AAUW: Bush Budget Guts Education for Families

From the American Assn of University Women....

"When President Bush released his proposed Fiscal Year 2006 budget on Monday, AAUW was deeply disappointed to see it contained the first cut in overall federal education spending in a decade. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) would receive $12 billion less than was promised. Forty-eight education programs would be terminated under the proposed budget, including those providing college-readiness training to low-income high school students, federal vocational education initiatives, and programs under the Women's Educational Equity Act.

AAUW is concerned about the president's priorities in these lean budget times: he is proposing to cut education funding for working families while at the same time extending tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. AAUW strongly believes that women and girls from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, age and disability backgrounds should have a fair, equal, and meaningful opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.

Tell Congress that the president's educational priorities are not your priorities, and ask them to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act, provide a meaningful increase in college aid for working families, and support training and vocational programs that prepare workers for the 21st century economy.

Action: Send an email urging your Representative to oppose a fiscally irresponsible budget that guts education and other critical social programs."

My New Gig at

My new gig as National Editor/Guide to US Liberal Politics at began yesterday when my site officially went "live." It's a work in progress, and it always will be. I'll posting there almost daily.

Heart, Soul & Humor and US Liberals at will be complementary, not competitive. Posts, items and articles will not be repeated at both sites.

Heart, Soul & Humor will continue to blossom and grow with four main types of posts....
- In-depth essays on issues and policies...more in-depth than possible at
- My overtly Christian take on matters
- Excerpts from incisive and interesting news and views by others
- My most passionately stated opinions

US Liberals at will feature the following....
- Profiles of and interviews with liberal, progressive and other leaders, activists and opinion-makers
- Info and links explaining US liberal and progressive politcal issues and stances
- Current news and views, mainly through daily blogging
- A weekly newsletter, to be sent out on Tuesday mornings
- A Forum/Discussion board that I moderate

I'll soon program a link from here to US Liberals at

Thank you for your continuing support and readership. I'm truly appreciative!