Thursday, December 27, 2007

progressive blogosphere is in the wilderness

After 2 Years The Dems Have Still Not taken Their Heads Out Of The Sand 
 
 
Chris Bowers argues that due to "superior media manipulation by the right," progressive media and the progressive blogosphere is "in the wilderness." Bowers argues that "we will never have a progressive governing majority in America unless, when major legislative fights are on the horizon, progressive media is given a seat at the strategizing table with leading Democrats on those fights." Do conservative bloggers have the same complaint? To my mind, conservative media has had a seat at the table for a long time, and conservative bloggers like Robert Bluey, Patrick Ruffini, and David All are trying hard to follow in their footsteps.

Iowa's Undemocratic Caucuses

 

In January 2004, Howard Dean's campaign was strategizing the Iowa caucuses. Confident they had locked in enough committed supporters to carry the state, staffers were reportedly thinking of ways of helping John Kerry rise in the final results. With Wesley Clark threatening Dean's dominant position in New Hampshire, the Dean campaign thought that boosting Kerry in Iowa would make him more competitive in the Granite State and siphon votes away from Clark.

Dean's caucus night ended up being starkly different from what his campaign had planned; and boosted by his Iowa triumph, John Kerry did siphon votes away from Wesley Clark, though significantly more than what Dean had in mind.

Four years later, campaigns are preparing similar ploys and alliances. Rumors are circulating of an agreement between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton to help bury Barack Obama; or is it perhaps Bill Richardson that the Clinton campaign is trying to get on board? And will Denis Kucinich renew his 2004 alliance with Edwards?

In this strategic fury, hardly anyone is pausing to wonder what Iowa's openness to such manipulation reveals about America's electoral process. Many criticize representative democracies for reducing individuals to pawns in larger power plays, but only the Iowa caucuses can reveal just how profoundly dysfunctional the system is in its indifference to local undemocratic processes.

Iowa's Democratic caucuses are anything but a straight-up election. Each precinct is allocated a certain number of delegates who are then distributed among candidates who have reached the 15 percent viability level. At the end of the night, only the percentage of delegates each candidate has carried is reported.

Read the  analysis  at the Huffington Post.
 



  
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas



  
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Monday, December 24, 2007

PROPERTY TAX PLAN FAR FROM SHOO-IN



At first glance, opponents of a $9.3 billion property tax slashing plan

on the Jan. 29 ballot appear to be a dollar short, and if not a day
late, running out of time.

Subtract time off for the holidays, and organizers have less than a
month to convince Floridians not to vote themselves an average $240
windfall — and defy a cheerfully centrist governor with stellar
approval
ratings.

Gov. Charlie Crist and supporters at "Vote Yes on 1" came out of the
starting block with a war chest of $1.5 million from the Florida
Association of Realtors. By the end of last week, Florida Power & Light

generated an additional $250,000 and the Florida Medical Association
paid a house call with a $50,000 check. Outdoor advertisers piled on an

additional $66,000.

Yes on 1 flooded the state with hundreds of thousands of fliers last
week targeting voters who are already receiving absentee ballots. The
barrage also includes a recorded phone message from Crist.

"Hello, this is Governor Charlie Crist. I am calling you today because
property taxes are out of control. The system is broken but you have
the
power to fix the system and lower property taxes for all Floridians,
guaranteed by law."

The Florida Education Association launched its opposition campaign
earlier in the week with $300,000, but it beat proponents to the punch
with a flier sent to its 137,000 members.

"Don't forget, the Republican Party of Florida also has access to $20
million," quipped Bill Phillips, a spokesman for the Public Education
Defense Fund political action committee, one of the measure's chief
opponents. "We as an individual group, and even with the other groups
collectively, can't hope to raise as much as the governor."

But don't underestimate the might of a 1 million-member coalition that
includes teachers, government workers, the Service Employees
International Union and veteran campaigners like the League of Women
Voters, opponents warn.

Floridians may be very fond of Charlie Crist, but they grew up
respecting their teachers and venerating the uniformed army of public
servants who protect their homes, fight their fires and dress their
wounds, Phillips said.

"The polls repeatedly show that the trustworthiness of police,
firefighters, teachers and nurses is always high," Phillips said. "We
like those odds."

The opponents' message is dire. Pass the amendment and schools will
take
a $2.7 billion hit over the next five years. While schools are
declining, the streets will become more dangerous when police,
firefighters and paramedics lose their jobs.

"Amendment 1 not only makes a bad tax system even worse for middle
class
Floridians, it will mean devastating cuts that put our public schools
and public safety at risk," screams the FEA flyer.

Crist doesn't buy it.

During the last economic slump, before local governments reaped
billions
from rising property values and the growing real estate bubble, vital
services survived, Crist said.

"Five or six years ago, before we had the run up, guess what?" Crist
said. "They still had firefighters and police. This argument just
doesn't hold water."

Crist even goes a step further. He argues that blue-collar workers,
including government employees, are the ones who will benefit the most
from a tax cut.

Opponents counter with a question of their own. Why would a firefighter

vote for a $240 tax break when it could cost him his job?

"That would be like the chicken voting for Col. Saunders," said Doug
Martin, a spokesman for AFSCME, the government workers union.

Opponents say other factors will offset the money disadvantage, not the

least of which is a new constitutional barrier that requires all ballot

questions to pass with a 60 percent majority.

The complicated nature of the proposal also works in their favor,
opponents say.

At Crist's urging, lawmakers put the measure on the ballot at the end
of
a raucous special session in October.

Legislators pitched it as a vehicle for doubling the homestead
exemption
for homes worth more than $50,000, but that feature would not apply to
school taxes. Another provision, strongly supported by the real estate
industry, is "portability."

That would allow homeowners to keep the accrued 3 percent annual
assessment cap savings from Save Our Homes, when they move.

The measure also would give a Save Our Homes-like 10 percent assessment

cap for commercial and non-homestead property. The cap would sunset in
a
decade and then require voter approval again to continue.

Businesses would also get a $25,000 exemption on the taxes they pay for

such things as equipment and other "personal tangible property."

It's a dizzying array of complicated provisions that don't easily fit
on
a bumper sticker.

Former Panama City Beach Mayor Lee Sullivan, who is heading a petition
drive for another property tax cutting measure in November 2008,
recently suggested that Crist and his supporters are giving voters too
much to consider.

Sullivan's proposal is being championed by House Speaker Marco Rubio.
It
simply calls for capping all taxes at 1.3 percent of the property's
just
value. Sullivan and his group, "Cut Property Taxes Now," are rushing to

gather the 611,009 signatures they need before Feb. 1 to reach the
November 2008 ballot.

One of the biggest selling points is its simplicity, Sullivan said.

"Can you imagine how many pages it's going to take to describe that
thing?" Sullivan said of the competing plan.

Conventional wisdom says that the more complicated a ballot question,
the more likely it is to fail. Early indications are that voters are
already struggling with the language.

When Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho sent out 5,700
absentee
ballots last week, the phones at his office began lighting up. Most of
the two dozen callers wanted someone to explain the ballot language,
Sancho said.

Some wanted a hint on which way to vote.

"We started getting calls right away," he said. "It's a huge question."

Taking up most of the ballot page, the question is just under 500
words.

While polls show voter support for the measure has yet to top the magic

60 percent, a recent survey suggests opponents are up against more than

a popular governor. If the polls are correct, voters are angry about
pocketbook issues like taxes.

Some 20 percent of Florida voters put taxes and government spending at
the top of their list of the most important issues in a recent poll
Mason Dixon conducted for Leadership Florida. That's a dramatic
reversal
from only a year before, when 18 percent said public schools were most
important.

"Floridians are becoming more disenchanted with the way things are
going
in the state and with government itself," said pollster Brad Coker.

Whether that signals a growing tax revolt remains to be seen.

"When their own pocketbooks get stressed, people get angry with
government," said University of South Florida political scientist Susan

MacManus.

THE AMENDMENT

Voters will decide Amendment One Jan. 29. It requires 60 percent
approval for passage. If passed, it's estimated it will cut property
taxes (and the revenue to local governments) statewide by $1.27 billion

in 2008, including $161.3 million from schools.

Over five years, it's projected to cut taxes $9.31 billion, including
$1.56 billion less for schools.

Here's what it proposes:

Increases the homestead exemption by $25,000 for homes worth more than
$50,000. The exemption does not apply to school taxes. The average
exemption would rise by about $15,000, with a $240 average savings.

Makes accrued Save Our Homes assessment protections "portable" to new
homes when homesteaders move. The total protected amount is capped at
$500,000. And homesteaders who move to a house of lesser value take a
pro-rated portion of their tax shelters.

Businesses would get a $25,000 exemption for personal tangible
property,
usually things like equipment. This would wipe thousands of businesses
off the tax rolls who pay more in bookkeeping than they owe for the
tax.

All commercial and non-homestead property would be protected by a 10
percent annual assessment increase cap. This provision sunsets, or
expires, in 10 years. It does not apply to school taxes.
 


  
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The Night Before Christmas, 2007



T'was the night before Christmas, and all through Iraq,
The soldiers were huddled, and under attack. 
Back in the capital, the White House was quiet;
Kind of makes you wonder, why there wasn't a riot. 

Who had time to worry about those poor beleaguered troops;
When Homeland Security had us jumping through hoops?
There was no time to wonder if Iraq was a scam;
Because now Iran was the next sacrificial lamb.

Vietnam, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, the history was vast;
Couldn't the people learn from the lessons gone past?
How could a nation have a foreign policy so creepy?
'Tis what happens when you elect a man, with a very small peepee. 

The new trial of OJ promised more drama;
The showdown of vapidity from Hillary and Obama. 
Breathless sensationalism from O'Reilly and the rest;
Another election where the clueless are put to the test.

But the story was the same, all round the nation;
The natives were spellbound, flipping the station.
The remote was gripped, in their chubby hands with care,
In hopes that reality shows soon would be on air.

They laid back in the recliner, zoned into the box;
For "Family Guy," "Desperate Housewives," and more shit from
FOX.
They had no time for reflection, or critical thought;
Of the despair and destruction their warmonger had wrought.

When out on the lawn, arose such a racket;
I jumped from my bed, and grabbed for my jacket.
I ran down the staircase, to the ground floor;
Just in time to see Santa, breaking in my door.

"Hey Pal," I called out, "Didn't you read the book?
You're supposed to come down the chimney, in ashes and soot."
"Well", he exclaimed, "I must take a pass;
"Cause I get can't get down there with my big, fat ass...

"Cinnabon, Krispy Kreme, and what about stuffed crust?
I've been trying to diet, but it's been a great bust.
I read Aktins, Protein Power, and also The Zone;
McDougal, and Pritiken, and yet I have still grown.

"That's why I've got this pipe clamped in my teeth;
With the smoke curling round like a new Christmas wreath.
That last time I quit smoking; I gained so much weight;
My arteries were blocked, and my cholesterol tempted fate.

"You think this job is easy, working only once a year?
What do you think will happen, if they find out I'm queer?
Romney and Huckabee will pull the knife from the sheath;
And doom me to Hell, with great gnashing of teeth."

"But wait a minute, " I sputtered, "You can't be Gay;
You have to be straight—it's the American way."
"Oh come on," he replied, "who else but fruits...
Wear red velvet, fur collars, and black leather boots?

"You must be clueless, or been living on Saturn…
Look at my reindeer, did you not notice a pattern?
If you think Dasher and Prancer, are names for a boy;
You should be drinking eggnog with Sigfried and Roy!" 

Shocked and dismayed, my head it was aching;
Feeling quite weak, my legs they were quaking.
"Aren't you done here? Can't you move on next door?
I've got my fill, I can't stand any more"

"Well no," he replied, "I hate to sound cosmic;
But next door gets nothing, because they're Islamic.
I've made out my list, and I've checked it twice,
You aint a Christian—you're lower than lice.

"Peace on earth, happy tidings, and goodwill to you,
Unless you're a God damned Hindu, Buddhist, or Jew.
We spread the gospel, and we tell it well;
Side with us now, or you'll end up in Hell."

"No wait," I cried out, "that just isn't right..."
But he kept right on walking, away from my sight.
He whistled for reindeer, and they pulled up out front;
He climbed into the sleigh, with a guttural grunt.

He reached on the dash, where some CDs were strewn
Inserted a disc, with a Broadway show tune.
Santa looked back at me, and said with a yell;
"Convert 'fore it's too late, or you'll burn up in Hell."

I bolted upright, and woke up in a sweat;
Was it just a nightmare that hadn't happened yet?
The ghost of Christmas future, or just my imagination…
The destiny of mankind, or wicked hallucination?

Whatever happened to ole Silent Night?
And loving one another, doing what's right?
The season of harmony and peace thereof,
Can't we just live it with acceptance and love?


I wish you a holiday season filled with good friends, happy reunions,
and stimulating conversations - and a New Year of hope, healing, and
highest good.  Please pray for peace.  

RM-

Legal Notice:
The holiday greeting and wishes for a Happy New Year contained in this
 email/blog are extended from  ("Wishor"), to you
("Recipient"), subject to the following terms and conditions:

This greeting is extended without obligation, implied or implicit, best
wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible,
politically correct, gender neutral, celebration of the secular summer
solstice
holiday only.   Any similarities to religious and/or national
holidays is purely coincidental. 

This greeting may be accepted in the context of the traditions of the
religious beliefs of your choice, or secular beliefs of your choice,
regardless of sexual orientation or operating system preference.  However,
such acceptance by the recipient does not imply any endorsements or
consents by the Wishor.

My wishes for your emotional state, financial success, and freedom from
disease apply to the generally accepted calendar year 2008.  Any other
calendars of choice from other cultures or sects are subject to
availability.

This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal, is
revocable at the sole discretion of the Wishor, and is non transferable.
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  The extent of the holiday spirit experienced will be determined by
the effort recipient puts into it.  The claims described are for
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law. 

"Christmas" "God" and "Jesus" are registered trademarks of
the Amway Corporation; all rights reserved. 


-----------------------------------------------------------------
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

America's Conservative Economic Policy-Caused Depression: Home Foreclosure Crisis Leads to Suburban Tent City in California

Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.

The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.

While no current residents claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree that tent city is a symptom of the wider economic downturn. And it's just a matter of time before foreclosed families end up at tent city, local housing experts say.

"They don't hit the streets immediately," said activist Jane Mercer. Most families can find transitional housing in a motel or with friends before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit tent city when they really bottom out."

Steve, 50, who declined to give his last name, moved to tent city four months ago. He gets social security payments, but cannot work and said rents are too high.

"House prices are going down, but the rentals are sky-high," said Steve. "If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a place to go."

Nationally, foreclosures are at an all-time high. Filings are up nearly 100 percent from a year ago, according to the data firm RealtyTrac. Officials say that as many as half a million people could lose their homes as adjustable mortgage rates rise over the next two years.

California ranks second in the nation for foreclosure filings -- one per 88 households last quarter. Within California, San Bernardino county in the Inland Empire is worse -- one filing for every 43 households, according to RealtyTrac.

Maryanne Hernandez bought her dream house in San Bernardino in 2003 and now risks losing it after falling four months behind on mortgage payments.

"It's not just us. It's all over," said Hernandez, who lives in a neighborhood where most families are struggling to meet payments and many have lost their homes.

She has noticed an increase in crime since the foreclosures started. Her house was robbed, her kids' bikes were stolen and she worries about what type of message empty houses send.

The pattern is cropping up in communities across the country, like Cleveland, Ohio, where Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program, said there are entire blocks of homes in Cleveland where 60 or 70 percent of houses are boarded up.

"I don't think there are enough police to go after criminals holed up in those houses, squatting or doing drug deals or whatever," Wiseman said.

"And it's not just a problem of a neighborhood filled with people squatting in the vacant houses, it's the people left behind, who have to worry about people taking siding off your home or breaking into your house while you're sleeping."

Health risks are also on the rise. All those empty swimming pools in California's Inland Empire have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can transmit the sometimes deadly West Nile virus, Riverside County officials say.

But it is not just homeowners who are hit by the foreclosure wave. People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, more expensive market as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean Beil, senior vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities USA.

"Folks who would have been in a house before are now in an apartment and folks that would have been in an apartment, now can't afford it," said Beil. "It has a trickle-down effect."

For cities, foreclosures can trigger a range of short-term costs, like added policing, inspection and code enforcement. These expenses can be significant, said Lt. Scott Patterson with the San Bernardino Police Department, but the larger concern is that vacant properties lower home values and in the long-run, decrease tax revenues.

And it all comes at a time when municipalities are ill-equipped to respond. High foreclosure rates and declining home values are sapping property tax revenues, a key source of local funding to tackle such problems.

Earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush rolled out a plan to slow foreclosures by freezing the interest rates on some loans. But for many in these parts, the intervention is too little and too late.

Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, said his organization is overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle the volume of people seeking help.

"We feel helpless," said Sawa. "Obviously, it's a local problem because it's in our backyard, but the solution is not local."


  
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Proposed gay marriage ban unneeded, insulting



South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board


ISSUE: Gay marriage ban headed for vote.

Let's call this proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage exactly what it is: unneeded, divisive, and a transparent attempt to get out the ultra-conservative vote.

And it's also one gigantic example of overkill.

Florida law already forbids gay marriage, but that's not nearly enough for the folks at Florida4Marriage.org, which claims it has enough signatures to put the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the November ballot. According to the group, there must be a constitutional amendment to guarantee a permanent prohibition.

Who are they kidding?

This is one of the oldest political ploys going — get a good red meat issue on the ballot to bring out ultra conservatives who might otherwise sit at home on election day. Maybe scare some people and get a little fear out there. The only thing surprising about this is there isn't a group — yet — that's trying to get an amendment banning flag burning onto the November ballot in Florida.

You have to wonder what Florida4Marriage and other such groups are afraid of. And what are they trying to protect us from? If they really are concerned about the sanctity of marriage, let these groups do something about the divorce rate — that's a much bigger threat to marriage than two gay people in love.

The Florida Constitution should not be the place for zealots to turn to when they want to advance their cause.

The folks promoting the constitutional gay marriage ban are insulting not only gays, but voters of all political ilk who can tell a real issue from a ruse.

Unfortunately, it will take up valuable time, and space on a ballot. It never should have gotten that far.

BOTTOM LINE: Amendment isn't needed, and looks like a political play.


AMEN

Florida Primary: By The Numbers

THE NUMBERS - DEMOCRATS
Barack Obama, 21 percent
John Edwards, 19 percent
 
------
THE NUMBERS - REPUBLICANS
Rudy Giuliani, 28 percent
Mike Huckabee, 21 percent
Mitt Romney, 20 percent
John McCain, 13 percent
Fred Thompson, 8 percent
------
 
OF INTEREST:
Clinton has long held a large lead among Democrats in Florida. Matching his rapid rise elsewhere, Huckabee has shot into the GOP contest after registering in single digits until recently. He leads his competitors among white evangelical voters. Besides a huge advantage among women, Clinton leads strongly among men. More than half of Republican voters say they could well change their minds, while less than half of Democrats say that is so.
------
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from Dec. 12-18 and involved telephone interviews with 397 likely Democratic primary voters and 397 likely Republican primary voters. For each, the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
------
 
 


  
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Fire At The White House

Yesterday afternoon, the White House confirmed that a quickly contained blaze isolated to a storage room utility closet on the third floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office building destroyed the following records:
all records pertaining to:
All Executive Branch internal correspondence since January, 2001 
All RNC computer servers, back-up servers, and archival back-ups 
The original Downing Street Memo and associated notes 
Valerie Plame and the White House investigation of the leak
 (W.H. UPDATE: no records of Valerie Plame investigation destroyed as there was no investigation) 
Bandar Bush 
God's personal correspondence with President Bush including those related to the invasion of Iraq 
No-bid Halliburton contracts 
War crimes committed by U.S. contractors in Iraq 
Troop body armor tests and procurement orders 
Jessica Lynch 
The pulling down of the Saddam statue by non-Iraqis 
All unaccounted for money in Iraq 
The "troops" fault to not guard the weapons stockpile in Iraq 
Abu Ghraib 
Scuttling of the original Abramoff investigation, by the President 
Federal court appointees and their qualifications and records 
Extraordinary rendition 
Negroponte's activities in Iraq 
Judith Miller's embedded reporting and using her influence to override generals 
Bombing Al-Jazeera television 
"Mission Accomplished" 
Bribing and threatening of journalists and planting of stories in the U.S and Iraq 
Stopping the NY Times from revealing White House secret spying on Americans 
Jeff Gannon/Guckert 
De-baathification and the breakup of the Iraqi army 
Swift Boat vets 
Terror alerts 
Bumper sticker and T-shirt slogan monitoring 
Florida 2000 voter suppression 
Florida 2000 election over-votes 
Bush v. Gore court papers 
Richard Clark's warnings about abandoning anti-terror and a returning to the military-industrial profiteering of the cold war 
Pre 9/11 domestic spying 
The Vice Presidents Energy Task Force and all meetings dividing up Iraq's oil fields pre 9/11 
Bush's vacation records 
Enron and all related activities during California's "energy crisis" 
The accompanying Gray Davis recall and Ken Lay meetings 
The Congressional records relating to passing legislation with last second changes, midnight votes, and the minority excluded from committee meetings. 
The Missile defense shield 
The U.S. national debt and holders of the debt 
The Healthy Forest legislation and associated crop yields 
The Clear Skies legislation and new acceptable levels of toxic emissions 
Able Danger and the post-it notes hiding Mohammad Atta 
The "Bin Laden determined to Strike in U.S."  PDB 
All copies of "My Pet Goat" 
Extrication of Saudis after 9/11, especially Saudis named "Bin Laden" 
The 9/11 commission 
All confiscated video tapes from 9/11 showing impact with Pentagon 
Bush and Cheney's joint un-sworn "conversation" with the 9/11 commission 
Library checkout and Amazon shopping records of every American 
Bin Laden's actual location after he "escaped" from Tora Bora 
Yellowcake documents from Niger 
Curveball 
Colin Powell's United Nations speech 
Ahmad Chalabi 
Attempts to dismantle PBS 
Using FCC's fines to quash dissent 
The IRS collection of political affiliations 
Using American troops as speech props for Presidential speeches 
Diebold 
Ohio voter suppression 
Terri Schiavo and the emergency session of Congress 
Questioning the full faith and credit of the United States to scare people into dismantling Social Security 
Payola related to the Medicare bill 
Targeting and surveillance of peace lovers as terrorists 
Hurricane Katrina 
Oil profits and tens of billions of dollars of general fund giveaways to oil companies 
Multiple consecutive tours of combat for National Guardsmen 
The $200 million bridges to nowhere 
New Orleans levies 
Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court 
Bill Frist and the FEC and insider trading 
Alito and the Vanguard Fund 
Bob Ney of Ohio and Coingate 
Duke Cunningham of San Diego and related bribes and treason 
The U.S. Attorney firings of the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Duke Cunningham and who was pursuing the investigation to the White House. 
Tom Delay's redistricting in TX and using anti-terror assets to track down legislators 
Tom Delay's ethics violations 
Jack Abramoff 
NSA wiretapping without warrants 
The failing grade from the 9/11 commission 
Data mining and reading your mail 
The 5 million missing emails
also destroyed were all records related to:
Bush's cocaine use and failure to take the ANG drug test 
Bush's drunk driving 
Bush's Texas Air National Guard service 
Bush's Arbusto stock sale, Saudi bailout, and lack of SEC follow-up 
Bush's insider trading at Harken and Bush 41's quashing of the investigation 
Bush's stealing of a public stadium from the taxpayers of Texas 
Cheney's Wyoming residency papers 
Police response to Cheney shooting a man in the face after drinking 
Push-polling smear on John McCain during the 2000 Republican primary 
All original video masters of Steven Colbert's Press Corps dinner roast
Countless other records and computer systems were apparently stored in the 3 foot by 3 foot utility closet, the content of which shall be revealed as destroyed as necessary pending any future investigations.
BREAKING: word that the Constitution of the United States was inexplicably consumed by flames in its nuclear blast-proof storage case by a glowing ember that apparently drifted from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and into a thermal exhaust port that lead directly to the Constitution. No plans to reconstruct the document are pending. 
: : :
UPDATE:
Also confirmed destroyed:
All records of clients of the DC Madame 
All IMs and emails between Republican congressmen and underage Congressional staffers 
Secret Service records of all people having meetings with the President and Vice President since January 2001 
All recorded promises, affirmations, and statements by Democratic Congressional leaders to hold the Administration accountable 
: : :
UPDATE 2
Continuing reports of records stored in the third floor closet and subsequently destroyed also include all records pertaining to:
Pat Tillman 
Free Speech zones 
Iranian Nuclear Program National Intelligence Estimate 
Guantanamo 
FEMA staged news conferences 
New Orleans reconstruction contracts 
and 
Administration banning of U.S. meat companies from inspecting all of their meat
: : :
UPDATE 3
Still more records reported completely destroyed include all items relating to:
Alberto Gonzales' memory (and "meeting" with Ashcroft in hospital) 
De-listed superfund toxic waste dump sites 
The original Nixon Tapes 
"Missing" Weapons of Mass Destruction from Iraq 
Bernard Kerik's Homeland Security application form
 
and tragically 
Joe Lieberman's Democratic Party membership card
: : :
UPDATE 4
Apparently the quantity of records destroyed was a result of a broken water pipe that has been scheduled for repair since 2001. As the sprinkler system was not functioning, the Blackwater employees hired to guard the records could only throw more records onto the flames in an attempt to contain them.
Additional records from a neighboring closet presently unaccounted for that are believed to have been destroyed in the fire now include items related to:
All subpoenas issued by the U.S. Congress to White House employees 
Walter Reed facility maintenance 
NASA's evidence of global warming (redacted and sealed by the administration) 
Looting of the Native American Trust Fund 
Forensic reports from 2001 anthrax attacks against key Democrats and media 
Dubai Ports deal 
Under-funding of Russian loose nuclear materials security programs 
Guidelines for putting American citizens on no-fly and terror watch lists 
The Vice President's red phone that directly connects the Vice-President's office to the on-air Fox news desk
 (possibly salvageable)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is The Media Scamming Americans On The Iraq War

Media Advisory

War Is Over--Say the Pundits
But it's media, not voters, who seem to have lost interest in Iraq
12/19/07

To hear many in the mainstream media tell it, the Iraq War is of diminishing importance to American voters. But the evidence for such a shift in the electorate is thin at best--suggesting that journalists and pundits are really the ones who would rather not talk about Iraq as we head into an election year.

The New York Times offered a glimpse of this argument in a November 25 piece headlined "As Democrats See Security Gains in Iraq, Tone Shifts." The article suggested that "leading Democratic presidential candidates" were having trouble acknowledging "success" in Iraq while still opposing the war: "But the changing situation suggests for the first time that the politics of the war could shift in the general election next year, particularly if the gains continue."

This was carried further a few days later by the Washington Post (11/28/07), where it was reported that the "debate at home over the Iraq war has shifted significantly," a phenomenon that "has strategists in both parties reevaluating their assumptions about how the final year of the Bush presidency and the election to succeed him will play out." The Post suggested that the "evolving public attitudes reflect, or perhaps explain, a turn in Washington as well." The suggestion that Washington might be reacting to subtle changes in public opinion is a curious one; if public sentiment were truly guiding policy, then U.S. troops would have been home long ago.

The idea that the public was ceasing to care so much about Iraq was heard again in the Post on December 3, when pundit Peter Beinart advanced the argument in a column under the headline "Non-Story Remakes the Race." Beinart's lead example was that a recent Democratic candidates' debate featured little talk about the Iraq War. As Beinart put it, "In the biggest surprise of the campaign so far, the election that almost everyone thought would be about Iraq is turning out not to be. And that explains a lot about which candidates are on the rise and which ones are starting to fall."

Beinart also noted that the rate of deaths in Iraq has seemed to decline, so too has the media's interest in covering the war, which is
showing up in the polls. Between June and November, according to NBC and the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of Americans citing Iraq as their top priority fell eight points. A Post survey recently reported a six-point decline since September.

It's worth noting that even with such a decline, Iraq still remains the top concern for voters; in the NBC poll cited by Beinart, for example, Iraq was still 10 points ahead of the next issue (healthcare). Beinart's column was nonetheless the main inspiration for New York Times columnist David Brooks' December 11 "The Postwar Election."

USA Today turned in a similar story on December 5, leading with this claim: "Growing anxiety over the economy, healthcare and immigration rival Iraq as the central issues in the presidential campaign, shifting an election landscape once dominated by the war."

But the very next paragraph explained that the issues that might "rival" the Iraq War were still well behind, since the war "still tops the list of issues cited as most important. It's raised twice as often as the next-ranking issue, the economy." USA Today reporter Susan Page explained on PBS's NewsHour (12/10/07) that the diminishing importance of the Iraq War was obvious in the campaign:
I think it's one of the repercussions of the fact that the surge in Iraq has been working, that the level of violence there has gotten somewhat lower. That's made Iraq less of an issue on the campaign trail. It's still an important issue, but we've seen issues with the economy, the mortgage crisis, health care become more important.

NBC's Tim Russert was sounding the same tune on the December 9 broadcast of NBC Nightly News: "With the surge in Iraq and the level of American deaths declining, it is off the front pages. It looks like it could be a bread-and-butter election, where people are very concerned about their homes, the financing, the economy, those kinds of gut issues." Russert's conclusion was based on polls in three early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina), but those surveys painted a mixed picture. New Hampshire Democrats, for example, still ranked Iraq as their most important priority.

It should go without saying that polls in a handful of states should not be mistaken for a notable shift in national priorities. Most national polls suggest that Iraq is hardly fading; according to a recent CBS/NY Times poll (12/5-9/07), when asked to name the most important issue facing the country, the public named the Iraq War by a large margin--twice as many as the next issue (healthcare). NBC Nightly News reporter Savannah Guthrie (12/15/07) nonetheless declared: "For many, many months, the smart thinking was this was going to be all about the war in Iraq, but that's kind of been pushed aside to some degree. Now issues about immigration and the economy [are] taking center stage."

Given the slight evidence, it's unclear why journalists would advance this argument--unless the declining interest in the Iraq War is actually more a media phenomenon than a public one. Beinart's Washington Post column and the paper's November 28 report noted a drop in discussion of the Iraq War in presidential debates. But candidates might talk less about Iraq if the questions posed by journalists are not about the Iraq War. The Post news article suggested this might be the more relevant factor when the paper noted that the "Washington debate has moved on"-- by which they meant:
Bush at his most recent news conference last month was not asked about the Iraq war until the 10th question. Not a single Iraq question came up at four of White House press secretary Dana Perino's seven full-fledged briefings this month.

The discussion permitted by the media inevitably affects voters' feelings about major issues: If Iraq is absent from the front pages of newspapers or rarely discussed on network newscasts, the war will become a lesser concern for U.S. citizens. The media, however, seem to want us to believe that their choices have no effect on public opinion, that viewers and readers arrive at conclusions about the state of the world independent of what is on their television screens or newspaper front pages.

On December 12, the deadliest car bombing in months killed dozens of Iraqis. The news elicited brief mentions on the network newscasts, and was buried deep inside the Washington Post and New York Times. Was it the public who decided to treat this as a non-story?


 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coral Springs school fundraiser with lesbian called off

 

 
 
 
 
BY NIRVI SHAH, nshah@miamiherald.com
 
A fundraiser for the band at a Coral Springs high school went down -- in flames -- before it ever began.
The band at Taravella High had hoped to raise money by charging $5 for autographs of Deerfield Beach firefighter Dani Campbell, one of two contestants left standing on an MTV reality show about a bisexual woman searching for love.
But when school district spokesman Keith Bromery learned of the Monday afternoon effort, he prodded other school district officials to take a look at the show -- A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila -- online. The result: the fundraiser was canceled.
Bromery said it doesn't matter that the show involves bisexuality. It does matter that it involves sex, however.
''The episode that I saw was a woman in various degrees of undress laying prone on a bar with guys drinking shots out of her belly button,'' Bromery said. ``Does that answer your question?''
He said he had never heard of the show before Monday.
An organizer of the fundraising effort said word about Campbell's appearance had spread throughout the state and autograph seekers were expected from as far away as Key West and Orlando.
The show is among the top 15 shows on cable and one of MTV's most popular. It features Internet sensation Tequila, a bisexual woman who has built a MySpace network of more than two million friends. All season, she has been searching for her true love, whittling a cadre of 16 men and 16 women to one of each gender.
Campbell, a lesbian, was going to appear at no charge at the band fundraiser. She is a self-described ''futch,'' not totally feminine but not totally butch.
One episode featured Tequila giving Campbell's grandmother a lap dance.
Tila makes her decision, between Campbell and Bobby Banhart of New York, on Tuesday night.
''This person, whoever pulled the rug under this event...if they had known who I am they wouldn't have done it,'' Campbell said, adding that she hopes that students see her as a positive role model.
``They think it's a remedy I've come up with for how to be positive. I want everybody to be as confident as I am, and as positive as I am. This goes for anything -- gay, straight, black, white.''