Many European cultural traditions, in particular Celtic cultures, hold that Halloween is one of the liminal times of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent (according to, for example, Catalan mythology about witches and Scottish and Irish tales of the Sídhe).
Others find pleasure in things I despise, I like the Christian life
Decent Right-wing evangelical leaders (whatever that is) want to throw these people under the bus, but do they really disagree, or is it just bad publicity:
A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.
Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.
. . . Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."
. . . The church members testified they are following their religious beliefs by spreading the message that soldiers are dying because the nation is too tolerant of homosexuality.
The Westboro Baptist Church, of Topeka, Kansas, is a hate group masquerading as a Christian church. Led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, the misguided members of this church target homosexuals and a range of others with messages of hate. The church’s ourageous protest actions - the group prefers to picket funerals(!) - have earned the Phelps and his ilk much media coverage.
The church’s web site, www.godhatesfags.com, is deservedly listed as a hate site by many internet watchdog organizations. Its content is the verbal equivalent to what you would find in any other sewer. The same is true for its companion web site, www.godhatesamerica.com.
Phelps and his followers say his civil rights advocacy in the early 1960s was “the Lord’s work.” They insist it arose from the same strict reading of the Bible that propels them to savage homosexuals. Daughter Abigail Phelps, one of several children who live near their father in the Westboro Baptist Church compound in Topeka, says Phelps “isn’t flip-flopping” from one extreme to another.
But Topeka civic leaders counter that Phelps’ metamorphosis from civil rights lawyer to anti-gay scourge was motivated by his craving for publicity and gadfly’s obsession with stirring up trouble. “He’s made himself an institution in town by attacking people,” said Bill Beachy, an official with the Concerned Citizens of Topeka, a local civic group.
Church members released an open letter to Thompson this week, saying he had discussed his views on homosexuality with them while handling the case of a woman who had sued the state's Republican attorney general for sexual harassment.
"We know what your position used to be on the homosexual question — and it was wonderful, and we saw eye to eye," church members said in the letter to Thompson.
Is this wishful thinking, or true pot, meet kettle? I don't know, but it's interesting.
Regardless, both the Right-wing "base" and the WBC wackos are far out of touch with the middle of the American electorate, which is a good thing for the Progressive Left.
The WBC are who will be left behind. And while I don't at all agree with the violence shown in the above video, the point is that these people are actively seeking these confrontation.
The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians
Then I saw this story:
Blackwater not offered immunity, official says - CNN.com No immunity deal was offered to Blackwater USA guards for their statements regarding a shootout in Iraq last month that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, ... www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/30/blackwater.immunity/index.html?iref=topnews - 6 hours ago
And yet ... and yet ... when you click on the link the headline reads: Officials: Blackwater guards offered limited immunity
So the CNN article disappeared from the time I read it till the time I got home. Now obviously CNN was lied to on their original article, but it brings up the question of why they just didn't correct it instead of making it vanish? (Obviously it's time to have another Blogger Ethics Panel.[/snark])
And it brings up even more questions: Why won't the media out their 'unnamed sources' when they know they've been lied to? Why, after 7 years of Bushco manipulating them with lie after lie, do they still collaborate with 'unnamed sources' in the Bush misAdministration who only lie to them?[/naive]
MS. PERINO: This is what I can tell you: Secretary Rice has made it very clear that she takes the situation very seriously. It is under review. She said that anyone who has engaged in criminal behavior will be prosecuted. I don't have additional detail that I can provide for you, and I'll have to refer you to the State Department and Justice Department for more.
Q Has the President been briefed on this, or what does he think? What is he saying?
MS. PERINO: I do not know if the President has been briefed on it specifically. I can ask.
Q Were they given immunity or weren't they?
MS. PERINO: Helen, as I said, it's a matter that's under review.
Q (Inaudible) tough questions. Why can't you answer them?
MS. PERINO: Because it is a matter that's under review, and I'm going to refer you to the State or the Justice Department for more.
Q What do you mean "under review"? Why don't you say yes or no?
MS. PERINO: The State Department is the one that is looking into this and they are the ones answering questions on it.
Q So the administration hasn't decided whether or not the reports of that are true? You're still looking into whether or not they actually were?
MS. PERINO: I am going to refer you to the State Department on that, who is looking into it.
Q As a general question, how could you both be offered immunity and promised prosecution?
Of course Ms. Thomas never got a straight answer. But at least she asked and pursued the right questions.
Country music is often described as "people's music", telling stories about regular folks. Certainly the stereotype of songs about lost loves, favorite dogs and trucks abides, but there is really truth in the thought that it isn't "high-minded" music, but an art form rooted in the triumphs, tragedies, and pathos that occur in everyday lives.
Porter Wagoner, the blond pompadoured, rhinestone-encrusted personification of Nashville tradition, host of the longest-running country-music variety show in TV history and mentor to Dolly Parton, died Sunday night of lung cancer. He was 80.
Wagoner died at a hospice in Nashville, according to an announcement on the Grand Ole Opry's website.
Wagoner came of age during the wholesale embrace of country by the country at large:
Over a period of nearly 40 years, Wagoner placed 81 songs on the country-music chart, 19 of those duets with Parton, who joined his show in 1967 as a replacement for his first female co-star, Norman Jean. Wagoner and Parton were named country group and country duo of the year in 1970 and 1971 by the Country Music Assn.
Wagoner's music often told dark tales of desperate people in stark terms that placed him in the gothic tradition of country music. This was best exemplified in his 1971 recording "The Rubber Room," a song about a man wrestling with the dark side of his psyche. "The Cold Hard Facts of Life," a 1967 hit, recounted the tale of a husband returning home early from a business trip to find his wife in the arms of another man. Without directly describing the outcome, the song ends with the husband sitting in his cell on death row, asking himself, "Who taught who the cold hard facts of life?"
His image, presented by a lesser talent, might have seemed parody. He embraced the glitz and flash of the late '50s-early '60s, a style not too far from early Elvis's nod to Little Richard. But he strode the stage sure and confident, delivered his songs in a calm smoky baritone, and people believed what he sang:
"I don't try to show off a so-called beautiful voice, because I don't feel my voice is beautiful," Wagoner once said. "I believe there is a different kind of beauty, the beauty of being honest, of being yourself, of singing like you feel it."
Here's Porter doing some bluegrass Gospel:
Here he is doing one of his biggest hits, "Satisfied Mind":
What with all the attention payed to Britney's child custody issues, an important issue seems to have been forgotten lately:
As of Monday, Oct. 29, 2007, at least 3,840 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 3,129 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
But I guess that's not as important as Hillary's cackle, or . . . whatever.
Joshua C. Brennan, 22, of Ontario, Ore.; sergeant, Army. Brennan died Friday in Asadabad, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered a day earlier when his unit was attacked with a rocket- propelled grenade and small-arms fire in Korengal Valley, east of Kabul. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy.
Anamarie San Nicolas Camacho, 20, of Panama City, Fla.; seaman, Navy. She was one of two sailors shot to death Monday in their barracks in Bahrain, allegedly by a male sailor who apparently also shot himself. The suspect was in critical condition. Camacho was assigned to U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
Adam Chitjian, 39, of Philadelphia; private first class, Army. Chitjian was killed Thursday when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire in Balad, Iraq, north of Baghdad. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas.
Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19, of Lithonia, Ga.; seaman, Navy. She was one of two sailors shot to death Monday in their barracks in Bahrain, allegedly by a male sailor who apparently also shot himself. The suspect was in critical condition. Gresham was assigned to U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
David E. Lambert, 39, of Cedar Bluff, Va.; specialist, Army National Guard. Lambert was killed Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near him in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command in Blackstone, Va.
Hugo V. Mendoza, 29, of Glendale, Ariz.; specialist, Army. He was killed Thursday when his unit was attacked with a rocket- propelled grenade and small-arms fire in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, east of Kabul. Mendoza was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy.
Edward Philpot, 38, of Latta, S.C.; sergeant, Army National Guard. Philpot was killed Tuesday when the Humvee in which he was riding overturned in a noncombat- related accident near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 263rd Armor Regiment in Dillon, S.C.
Larry I. Rougle, 25, of West Jordan, Utah; staff sergeant, Army. Rougle was killed Tuesday when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire near Sawtalo Sar mountain in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy.
Robin L. Towns Sr., 52, of Upper Marlboro, Md.; staff sergeant, Army National Guard. Towns was killed Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee in Baiji, Iraq, north of Baghdad. He was assigned to the 275th Military Police Company, 372nd Military Police Battalion in Washington, D.C.
Know what you have in common with these people? Everything.
The latest attempt is by holding 'public hearings' all around the country, gathering 'public comments' and then doing exactly what their corporate masters wanted them to do in the first place. If you examine, (Science! I sampled 35% of the latest 300 comments going back 2 months, and only left out the responses from law firms. After all, these were public comments, not corporation comments), 100% of the public comments are against further consolidation.
Yet the FCC seems determined to relax the rules. It's so blatant that even Trent Lott(R- KKK) is determined to stop it:
[...] Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., said they would seek support from their fellow lawmakers for what is known as a resolution of disapproval, in effect a vote to overturn a rule passed by an executive agency like the FCC.
The senators are concerned over a plan circulated by Martin that would see him put forward proposals for reforming the media ownership rules in November and then hold a vote on those proposals only a month later. [...] The resolution of disapproval is so rare, it has only been attempted one time previously said the senators, and that was the last time the FCC attempted to overhaul the media ownership rules.
Well, good luck with that. Seriously, I wish them good luck with that.
You're always on the right side, When you're conservative
Paul Krugman, finally released from the shackles and chains of the NYTimes paywall, goes all peacenik on us:
In America’s darkest hour, Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged the nation not to succumb to “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” But that was then.
Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president — including all of the candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republican nomination — have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece of their campaigns.
Consider, for a moment, the implications of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is taking foreign policy advice from Norman Podhoretz, who wants us to start bombing Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible.”
Well, yes. NoPod is clearly batshit crazy, goes without saying. But one minor quibble. I loves me some Krugman, but in 1933, FDR wasn't talking about the nascent Nazi threat, but the internal threat America faced from quarterly profits-driven business and investors too stingy to spare a dime to help the general economy:
Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Here's the audio of the famous speech:
Indeed. As the Right-wing machine grinds away against the sand in its gears, we are reminded, again and again, that the mantra of today's Right is profits, tax cuts, and . . . well, little else.
Where is the Republican party of Ike:
Update: NoPod's handle changed at the suggestion of a commenter.
On Tuesday, FEMA held what was called a "news briefing" on the California fires, but the questions asked did not come from reporters. They were asked instead by FEMA staffers. [...] “It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House or that we -- we certainly don't condone it,” Press Secretary Dana Perino said.
Yeeees, this misAdministration would never do anything like that:
Continuing on with my series about under-appreciated guitarists:
The one required ingredient for guitar greatness is passion. Sure, mad skillz are great, but unless there's some 'soul' behind them, technical chops are fairly empty.
There have been, through the years, breakthroughs in skill. Witness Van Halen's first album release in '77. Unless you had been lucky enough to have caught one of their shows at the Whiskey, you were likely caught off guard by EVH's technical wizardry. But absent passion, which Edward clearly has, it would have been just a bunch of notes.
Another breakthrough came in the late '50s, when a young singer-songwriter-guitarist from St. Louis, MO, began recording for Chess Records:
Chuck Berry had been playing the blues since his teens and according to the 1987 Taylor Hackford film "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll," by early 1953 was performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio, a band that played at a popular club called The Cosmopolitan, in East St. Louis, Illinois and whose namesake would become Berry's long-time collaborator. Although the band played mostly blues and ballads, the most popular music among whites in the area was hillbilly. Berry wrote, "Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering 'who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?' After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it."
Berry's calculated showmanship began luring larger white audiences to the club. He also began singing the songs of Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters. "Listening to Nat Cole prompted me to sing sentimental songs with distinct diction," he said at Blueberry Hill. "The songs of Muddy Waters impelled me to deliver the down-home blues in the language they came from. When I played hillbilly songs, I stressed my diction so that it was harder and whiter. All in all, it was my intention to hold both the black and the white clientele by voicing the different kinds of songs in their customary tongues."
Indeed. Chuck was a pyramid, with the 4 supporting corners being pop, country, blues, and his own innate genius. And the peak of the pyramid, the confluence of related but yet divergent styles, was Chuck's songwriting and guitar playing.
Listen to the YouTube and imagine his double-string and triple-string guitar stylings as horn lines. Chuck is truly the bridge between Swing and Blues and the nascent rock'n'roll movement of the late '50s:
Roll Over Beethoven from '65, live:
And while I could find no video of Chuck doing my favorite song live, this lets you at least hear it:
Update: From darkblack in the comments, a reverent and fun reading of "You Never Can Tell" by the late Ronnie Lane & friends:
These lyrics are as much American literary treasure as anything Steinbeck, Frost or Hemingway wrote:
It was a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell, "C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell
They furnished off an apartment with a two room Roebuck sale The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale, But when Pierre found work, the little money comin' worked out well "C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell
They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell "C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell
They bought a souped-up jitney, 'twas a cherry red '53, They drove it down New Orleans to celebrate their anniversary It was there that Pierre was married to the lovely mademoiselle "C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell
I remember you, you're the one who made my dreams come true
The current Right-wing position vis-a-vis the crop of Presidential wannabees is that they need another Reagan. Because he was so, you know, big and tough and strong and the Daddy some of them never had.
The continual deification of this flawed man amazes me. While I'm sure he was a nice Daddy (not sure what Patti Davis thinks about this), he was a simple-minded man who saw things as pretty black and white. And while that may be a good trait for a school crossing guard, a President needs more nuanced thinking.
You can't denigrate Reagan because he no longer exists. There's only Robo-Reagan, the better, stronger, faster, more conservative president that the Right has retroactively constructed and forced into the history books. But Reagan's flaws and shortcomings weren't necessarily his fault: You have to do something about immigration, and that will require some sort of earned amnesty for the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the states. You can't outlaw abortion. You can't outlaw tax increases, of which Reagan passed many. You can't gut Social Security, which he tried, and failed, to do. Hardline conservatism just isn't very popular. Policy problems have their own logic, and their own demands. The Republican Base is demanding fealty to a platform that even Reagan, for all his formidable political gifts and advantages, couldn't hew to. His would-be successors, in office, will do no better.
Keep in mind that this Champion of Liberty™ spoke in favor of repealing the 22nd Amendment:
Reagan himself seemed to warm up to the idea in 1987, telling an interviewer that he’d support an effort to repeal the 22nd Amendment for his successors so Americans would be free to “vote for someone as often as they want to do.” Though the Iran-Contra scandal had already damaged Reagan’s reputation, and Alzheimer’s symptoms were slowly becoming apparent, a group called Project ‘88 formed to try and change the law to allow for Reagan’s second re-election effort.
Swell. There's some great leadership to remember. The man whose brain was already becoming Swiss cheese by the end of his 2nd term of office supported the ability to run for a 3rd term.
Another case of Right-wing idolatry and revisionist history: If the past wasn't good enough, try it again.
Tell Harry Reid: No Immunity for Lawbreaking Companies
Join 11,885 other people who have signed the letter.
The Senate is considering a bill that would grant immunity to any telecom company that assisted in the administration's illegal wiretapping. Chris Dodd promised to put a hold on any such bill, and Joe Biden and Barack Obama pledged to uphold it. We believe that any bill coming before the Senate that includes provisions for so-called 'amnesty' for large companies involved in illegally spying on Americans should be opposed, and have authored a letter to this effect addressed to Majority Leader Reid. You can co-sign it below. The letter will also be sent to Senate Democratic leadership and the Senate Judiciary Committee members. You can read the full text of the letter here.
While the Right-wingers yearning to be spied upon by Daddy GWBush will cry "traitor!", people who value freedom, responsibility, and the Constitution will see immunity for what it is: carte blance for corporations to do anything illegal, any time the Executive branch asks, knowing that they will be forgiven. Where are the limits? Only in GWBush's brain.
Tell it like it is, Don't be ashamed to let your conscience be your guide
Here's a great example of how the memory hole re-writes our history every day. When I started posting about this, the headline said: White House Says Draft Testimony On Climate Change Wasn't Diluted But now when I access the link to that headline I find CDC Director Says White House Didn't Dilute Climate Testimony
And there is no mention of the original article. OK, so I'll go with it:
ATLANTA-- Julie Gerberding, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, defended Wednesday her congressional testimony on the health effects of climate change earlier this week. [...] Dr. Gerberding, speaking Wednesday at a luncheon hosted by the Atlanta Press Club, dismissed as "ridiculous" such allegations.
"This is not an issue of cover up related to climate change and health," she said.
The original, unedited testimony presented to Congress by Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and obtained by ABC News was 14 pages long, but the White House Office of Management and Budget edited the final version down to a mere six pages. [...] In response to the controversy that followed, White House press secretary Dana Perino stated that the White House Office of Management and Budget redacted the majority of the information on the basis that the science in the testimony did not match the science reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). [...] "The science that Dr. Gerberding was trying to bring forward was based on the IPCC report," Knowlton said. "It's quite stunning that only weeks after that group received the Nobel prize for their work that the White House is deleting scientific statements based on that work. [...] "We talk of the politicization of science," said Dr. Linda Rosenstock, dean of the UCLA School of Public Health. "In the politicization of this topic -- the science wasn't changed, it was deleted."
And what was the White House response? I'm so glad you asked. Direct from the WH press briefing:
Perino: [...] And so the decision on behalf of CDC was to focus that testimony on public health benefits -- there are public health benefits to climate change [...] And in the meantime, we are working with experts like Julie Gerberding to figure out what are going to be the health benefits and the health concerns of climate change, of which there are many.
Yes, of course, there will be many health benefits from climate change ... there will be a lot fewer people to object to Bush's eviscerating science and stuffing the corpse with his political and big bidness press releases.
In another example of a Democrat doing the right thing, Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI) has slammed shut GWBush's rubber checkbook:
In a press conference today with Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and Congressman James McGovern (D-MA), the Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee, Seventh District Congressman Dave Obey (D-WI), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that he will not take up President Bush’s nearly $200 billion war supplemental request this year; calling the policy behind the President’s request “a dead end policy.”
“The policy outlined by the President is being sold to the country as a plan to reduce our troop levels in Iraq, but it is quite the opposite. When you strip away the fog, it’s simply a plan to get us back six months from now to the same place we were six months ago before the surge began. It is not being undertaken because of any new determination to reduce troop levels. It is simply recognizing that we do not have enough troops to sustain the surge level. It’s a confession that the President has not a clue about how to get us out of that civil war and instead plans to punt the problem to his successor – ruining two administrations rather than just one,” Obey said. “As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I have no intention of reporting out a $200 billion supplemental that will give the President a blank check for an entire fiscal year and I have no intention of acquiescing in a policy that will result in draining the treasury so dry that it will result in the systematic disinvestment of America’s future.”
Go Dave! This is a smart move, I think, because it forces GWBushCo into a defensive posture. He and the other administration tools will now have to try and explain themselves to the 75% of the American people who want the war to end.
That will be a lot like explaining to Mom & Dad the dent in the car you weren't supposed to drive.
In what seems to be an oft repeated theme, the Bush Administration again put politics over policy. And that has had an effect on the forests of Southern California.
San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman has harsh words for D.C. regarding preparations for large-scale forest fires, and was told to shred his report on forest renewal during the drought in 2002:
Before the string of blazes that lay siege this week to nearly all of Southern California, even before the historic firestorms of 2003, then-San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman told his bosses in Washington about the problem before him.
The most populous national forest faced a mounting threat of catastrophic fire, and reducing it would cost a lot of money, he said.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Department Undersecretary Mark Rey, the nation's top fire official, said funds meant to restore forests to health have reached record levels in recent years -- and that the San Bernardino National Forest has received proportionately more money than any of the country's 155 national forests.
Yet Zimmerman, along with experts and lawmakers, points to a series of obstacles they believe have hampered more progress:
Funding for the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, unveiled by President Bush in 2003 with much fanfare, remain hundreds of millions of dollars beneath levels authorized in the legislation -- an assertion Rey disputes.
A boost in federal money for tree thinning in the San Bernardino National Forest after the 2003 fires dissipated as more resources were dedicated to the war in Iraq and Katrina relief efforts.
And back in 2002:
He said it would take a lot of money and a lot of time to return the forest to health -- $300 million at $30 million a year for 10 years, to adequately reduce the fire danger facing the tens of thousands of residents in Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Idyllwild and other forest communities.
In the months before the October 2003 fires, Zimmerman was told during a conference call to shred the document, he said during an interview this week.
Is this always going to be the story of Right-wing governance, always an agenda in search of reality? As with No Child Left Behind, and many other initiatives touted loudly by the administration as examples of leadership, the follow-through seems to be missing:
People took notice when many of those trees became giant torches during the 2003 fires. Lewis, often joined by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was able to help secure in excess of $80 million, above and beyond the regular budget amounts. It included a large portion of a $150 million pot of money for tree removal under the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Zimmerman lauded the Forest Service's intent and competence but said the money was initially limited to cutting only dead trees, which didn't alleviate the threat in wide swaths of forest dangerously crowded with living trees. The effect, he said, was a failure to make the most of the money.
A failure that has now cost the State billions, and many residents their homes and livelihoods. Yet GWBush parachutes in today, to give phony comfort:
After touring one partially gutted neighborhood in the path of Southern California's firestorms, President Bush noted "a lot of people are suffering," but urged those affected by the catastrophe to begin turning their attention to recovery.
Speaking at an Escondido fire command center, Bush pledged additional federal help to fight the nine blazes still burning across the region, as well as an infusion of funds to help victims and communities rebuild.
"We're not going to forget you in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Right. Focus on rebuilding, instead of what his administration should have done to prevent this catastrophe. And in terms of helping people, this is how his trip helped today:
Rancho Bernardo residents began their journey back home with a surprise today.
They were stuck in traffic for two to three hours sitting in their cars at a standstill because of President Bush's visit to their community.
Police and the CHP had blocked off Interstate 15 ramps to West Bernardo Drive, which leads to the recovery center that was opened yesterday. Cars lined up for miles on the freeway.
"I'm glad he's coming but it's unfortunate to keep us all waiting," said Joy Fleming, who lives in North Oaks.
Fed up with waiting, Barbara Gandre said she needed to drive her 87-year-old mother home to pick up medication for her 89-year-old husband.
Her mother just recovered from pneumonia in September and the family did not have masks to wear over their faces. They sat in their car with the windows rolled down because they only had a quarter tank of gas left.
"I cannot run the air conditioning or I'll run out of gas," Gandre said. "I am sick of this," she said.
Phony photo-ops are a sad reality after any tragedy, but to insure that Bush could pose for his, he insults the people who hurt the most.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and local officials have made media appearances claiming credit for swiftly responding to the disaster. “There is much more equipment available, more manpower is available, quicker action,” Schwarzenegger said, according to the Associated Press.
What the Governor failed to mention is that he vetoed four bills that would have increased staffing and fire resources after the Cedar Fire, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. A fifth bill, signed by Schwarzenegger, requires local governments to first submit safety plans to the California Department of Forestry and will not take effect until 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported in a May 20, 2007 article titled “Fire danger acute as 2003 lessons fade.” That article has since disappeared off the newspaper’s website, but a copy is here.
The same story cited Dallas Jones, former director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and current official with California Professional Firefighters union. Jones damned Schwarzenegger for failing to provide additional firetrucks. “How many years are we since the ’03 fire siege?” he asked, “and so far, nothing.”
Other unfulfilled recommendations made to Schwarzenegger by his Blue Ribbon Fire Commission include replacement of aging fire helicopters, increasing staffing to assure four person crews on each state fire engine sent to major wildfires, and nighttime air drops.
Today in Chicago, Senator and Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd, who has been endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters, addressed its Occupational Health and Hazards Convention, and harshly criticized the Administration for leaving first responders and citizens in California without additional support from National Guardsmen from the state who had been deployed to Iraq.
"As you know, Governor Schwarzenegger has had to ask other states for help because so many of California's National Guard, who provide critical support to the citizens while you are fighting the fires, were deployed to Iraq," Dodd told conference attendees. "In a Dodd Administration, never again will our houses be on fire because our troops are taking fire in Iraq. Never again will our first responders be left without the support they need because our President failed to do what it took to keep our communities safe. That is why in 2008, nothing will be more important than leadership that can get results that make us stronger and more secure. That's the first responsibility of an American President."
Indeed. This guy continues to surprise in a positive way. Hillary, John, anybody, anybody?
White House May Stop Plan For Anti-Radiation Pills
The White House may scrap a plan that would give anti-radiation pills to millions of people, five years after Congress ordered that the tablets be made available to anyone living within 20 miles of a nuclear reactor. [...] Although the White House at the time called potassium iodide pills crucial to preventing thyroid cancer in cases of radiation exposure, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) argues against wider distribution of the drug. According to the NRC, the pills may not be the most effective way to prevent cancer and could undermine confidence in U.S. nuclear plants. [...] In July, President Bush stripped the Health and Human Services Department of responsibility for the program and turned it over to the NRC. [...] [Patricia Milligan, the NRC’s senior adviser for preparedness] says the NRC is concerned about undermining the reputation of the nuclear industry. “It’s always a concern that if you expand the distribution (of the pills), you don’t have confidence in the plants”
Bush is breaking the law again. Bush shouldn't have the power to not enforce laws mandated by Congress. It's the freakin' LAW!
Bush is breaking the law so people 'won't lose confidence' in nuke reactors. (Hmm, where have I heard that before?) Like anyone who lives within 20 miles of reactor wouldn't have moved already if they could afford to.
Eritrea has replaced North Korea in last place in an index measuring the level of press freedom in 169 countries throughout the world that is published today by Reporters Without Borders for the sixth year running.
“There is nothing surprising about this,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Even if we are not aware of all the press freedom violations in North Korea and Turkmenistan, which are second and third from last, Eritrea deserves to be at the bottom. The privately-owned press has been banished by the authoritarian President Issaias Afeworki and the few journalists who dare to criticise the regime are thrown in prison. We know that four of them have died in detention and we have every reason to fear that others will suffer the same fate.”
After falling steadily in the index for the past three years, the G8 members have recovered a few places. France (31st), for example, has climbed six places in the past year. French journalists were spared the violence that affected them at the end of 2005 in a labour conflict in Corsica and during the demonstrations in the city suburbs. But many concerns remain about repeated censorship, searches of news organisations, and a lack of guarantees for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
There were slightly fewer press freedom violations in the United States (48th) and blogger Josh Wolf was freed after 224 days in prison. But the detention of Al-Jazeera’s Sudanese cameraman, Sami Al-Haj, since 13 June 2002 at the military base of Guantanamo and the murder of Chauncey Bailey in Oakland in August mean the United States is still unable to join the lead group.
Let's get right to it and talk about how we stop retroactive telecommunications immunity from becoming law.
The way I see it, there are three ways to get this provision stripped from the final bill:
1.) The first step would be to make sure the idea doesn't make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- where it will be considered shortly.
If we can get it stripped there, it will have to be offered as an amendment to the overall bill where it will be a lot easier to get 41 votes against retroactive immunity than 41 to sustain my filibuster if necessary.
Take a moment and call up members of the committee, let me know what they said, and join others in tracking our progress in stopping the provision right there. http://chrisdodd.com/immunity
The other two ways:
2.) If retroactive immunity does make it out of committee, Senate leadership can honor the hold I've placed on any legislation that includes retroactive immunity.
3.) If leadership does not honor my hold, I remain committed to filibustering, and working to get the 41 votes necessary to maintain it.
This has the potential to be a long fight -- so let's build a solid foundation for our effort today by asking members of the Judiciary Committee to vote against any FISA bill that includes retroactive amnesty.
To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
Time for Hillary and the rest to stop with weasel words and step up to the plate. We on the Progressive Left (as opposed to the LieberDem left) take spying on Americans and telecom amnesty seriously.
In fact, it may even be a deal breaker. Please pay attention, and lead, if you want us to follow. You aren't Pied Pipers, we're not children nor rats. We're sentient beings who care about the direction of our country. And we won't put up with crap from our candidates.
More from Chris Dodd. Links go to pages with Senators' office phone #s:
[...] Before the end of the year, the United Nations is expected to take up its annual reauthorization of a Security Council resolution that allows the presence of U.S. troops here. Iraqi leaders have complained that the U.S. military has used too much force in responding to attacks, leading to the deaths of civilians, and that the Americans have not coordinated enough with Iraqi forces. [...] The parliament speaker’s office, which includes representatives from all three of Iraq’s major ethnic groups, issued a statement Monday saying: “The Iraqi parliament condemns these violations that are against the basics of military work and human rights. . . . The Iraqi parliament is taking these negative violations seriously as it touches the life and dignity of Iraqis.” [...] It is not clear what recommendations the committee might ultimately make, but members of parliament speculated Monday that they could include limiting the U.S. presence to certain areas in Iraq. The committee also could express a desire for a mission statement that the primary goal of American troops should be to train Iraqi forces, while establishing a timeline for U.S. withdrawal.
But, but, but, a timeline will just embolden the terrerists!
But seriously folks, maybe the Iraqis can accomplish what the Dems have refused to do.
Of course, there is a fly in the ointment:
Although Iraq’s position would carry great weight in the deliberations, said Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the U.N. on Iraq issues, the U.S. is one of five Security Council members that has veto power and it could dash any changes it finds unpalatable.
I'll exercise some self restraint and forgo the obvious snark attacks on the 'dash' & 'unpalatable' phrasing because I have a loftier goal.
[...] NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years. Since ending the interviews at the beginning of 2005 and shutting down the project completely more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge the results publicly.
Just last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers. [...] The AP sought to obtain the survey data over 14 months under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
"Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," [senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke] wrote in a final denial letter to the AP. [...] Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry."
Once again, Bushco has perverted prevented a taxpayer funded agency from presenting the truth. Their excuse for denying a Freedom Of Information Act request would have been laughed at in any other era. But it's not a laughing matter, Bushco has quashed several lawsuits and investigations claiming 'state secrets', but to claim an 8.5 million dollar tax payer funded investigation should not be released because it might hurt commercial interests is proof of how far our country has descended into a corptocracy.
Besides, if long lines, delays, deaths in custody, mandatory disrobing, body searches and hijacked planes being flown into buildings haven't stopped people from flying I reeeealy don't think a little airspace incursion uptick will stop us.
The west is sleeping in a fragile freedom, Forgotten is the price that was paid
(Lee Atwater, center, Ed Rollins, left, and Lyn Nofziger, smoke cigars during the final session of the GOP National Convention in 1984 in Dallas. Atwater's insistence on censuring David Duke split the state Party. Photo by AP/Wide World Photos)***
Veteran GOP consultants said Monday that they were relaunching a drive to change the way California allocates its electoral college votes, aimed at helping the 2008 Republican presidential nominee capture the White House.
Political strategist David Gilliard said he was taking over the ballot initiative campaign, along with strategist Ed Rollins and fundraiser Anne Dunsmore. Consultant Mike Arno will oversee the signature-gathering effort.
"Our budget is going to be whatever it takes to make the June ballot," said Gilliard, who played a key role in getting the recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis onto the 2003 ballot.
The proposed initiative would change California's method of allocating its 55 electoral votes from a winner-take-all basis, which favors Democrats, to a congressional district-based approach. Republicans hold 19 congressional seats, so presumably the GOP nominee could win a similar number of electoral votes.
The effort stalled last month when its original organizers failed to raise the $2 million needed to place the initiative on the June ballot.
Following the 1993 elections, during a breakfast debriefing, Rollins admitted to journalists that one factor in the success of Christine Todd Whitman in the New Jersey governor's race against incumbent Democrat Jim Florio had been the distribution of "walking around" money to influential persons in inner-city precincts, including African-American pastors.
According to Rollins, workers who had been hired to help get out the Democratic vote were told, "How much have they paid you to do your normal duty? . . . We'll match it. Go home, sit, and watch television." In addition, Rollins said, "We went into black churches and we basically said to ministers who had endorsed Florio, 'Do you have a special project?' And they said, 'We've already endorsed Florio.' And we said, 'That's fine, don't get up on the Sunday pulpit and preach. . . . Don't get up there and say it's your moral obligation that you go out on Tuesday and vote for Jim Florio.'" Ministers who cooperated, Rollins said, received contributions to their "favorite charities." As a result, Rollins said, "I think, to a certain extent, we suppressed their vote."
Republican campaign strategist Ed Rollins has dropped an important clue to the mystery of whether the Reagan-Bush era started in 1980 with an act of treachery that bordered on treason. But it's a clue the mainstream media has misread completely.
In his new book, Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms, Rollins recounted a dinner he had with a top Filipino politician in 1991. Over drinks, the man casually asserted that he had delivered an illegal $10 million cash payment in a suitcase from Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos to Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign.
"I was the guy who gave the ten million from Marcos to your campaign," the Filipino told Rollins, who was Reagan's 1984 campaign manager. "I was the guy who made the arrangements and delivered the cash personally. ...It was a personal gift from Marcos to Reagan."
Makes me proud to be an American.
The Constitution says that states are supposed to decide their own election and Electoral College issues, and only 2 states, Maine and Nebraska, use the proportional Elector system, where the number of electors is split like the popular vote. So why not challenge the system is, say Texas, which is dependably Republican?
Because CA has 55 Electors, while TX has only 34. Splitting the vote in CA would possibly deliver 19 Electors to the Republicans.
The minute the other 48 States decide to go proportional, then it will be OK for CA. Until then, not so much. Of course, the GOP has been trying this crap in CA for a long time. Remember back in 2005 when Arnie wanted to gerrymander the state:
If Schwarzenegger stands his ground, congressional Republicans may have the option of supporting a state ballot initiative later this year that would excuse Congress from any mid-decade redistricting effort.
Such a measure was submitted to the state last month by David Gilliard, a Sacramento political consultant who has discussed it with members of the state's congressional delegation. Before it could go before voters, Gilliard's proposal would need to pass review in the state attorney general's office, and then he would need to gather about 600,000 valid signatures.
Why, look! It's the same Dave Gilliard, back again. Like a zombie that wouldn't die.
The vital stats are this: they have about 3 1/2 weeks to gather about half a million more signatures to qualify for the ballot. The deadline is November 13. I used to think that this will cost so much money from the Presidential nominee that it would be a negative. Now I'm persuaded that this will be fine. We'll crush this if it gets on the ballot, all the while unifying our caucus, and that will slingshot against Republicans for years to come.
***Imagine, censuring David KKK Duke split the Texas Republican Party in 1984. Clearly NOT the party of Lincoln.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas did the right thing on Friday by revoking a subpoena that was an egregious abuse of prosecutorial discretion, violating not only freedom of the press but the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Arizonans.
Chillingly, however, it took the willingness of two courageous newspaper publishers, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, to go to jail in order for this abuse of government power and its wholesale violation of privacy rights to come to light.
For standing up for freedom and being willing to sit in a jail they get my Hero Award of the week. ORIGINAL POST:
Two executives from Village Voice Media — a company that owns a number of alternative weeklies including The Village Voice, The LA Weekly and The Phoenix Times — were arrested Thursday night in Phoenix on charges that a story published earlier in the day in The Phoenix New Times revealed grand jury secrets.
Whoa, that sounds bad, they 'revealed grand jury secrets!'
All documents, records, email, notes, images ... meetings, discussions, conversations, communications between or among reporters, editors, employees or other staff members ... all internet web site information for the Phoenix New Times internet site related to the web pages [...] Sheriff Joe's Real Estate Game Stick It To 'Em Enemies List Joe Strikes Back [...] The information should include, but not be limited to: The Internet Protocol addresses of any and all visitors to each page of [the above.]
It gets so much worse:
The grand jury subpoena also demands Web site profiles of anyone and everyone who visited New Times online over the past two and a half years, not merely readers who viewed articles on the sheriff.
The subpoena demands: "Any and all documents containing a compilation of aggregate information about the Phoenix New Times Web site created or prepared from January 1, 2004 to the present, including but not limited to :
A) which pages visitors access or visit on the Phoenix New Times website;
B) the total number of visitors to the Phoenix New Times website;
C) information obtained from 'cookies,' including, but not limited to, authentication, tracking, and maintaining specific information about users (site preferences, contents of electronic shopping carts, etc.);
D) the Internet Protocol address of anyone that accesses the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;
E) the domain name of anyone that has accessed the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;
F) the website a user visited prior to coming to the Phoenix New Times website;"
And that's when Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin decided they needed to protect not just their reporters, not just their sources, but the privacy of everyone who'd accessed their newspaper's website. And all they released of the secret grand jury proceedings was the warrant asking for this material.
What kicked this whole feud off a few years ago was the newspaper discovering that Sheriff Joke managed to buy over a million dollars worth of commercial property on his sheriff's salary and then attempted to hide the transactions by removing them from the public record because he's a 'law enforcement officer.'
The law he abused was meant to protect cops home addresses' from criminal retribution, not public knowledge of crooked business deals. The newspaper was just doing their job in exposing public corruption. But these days you get fired and/or arrested for that.
Jeebus, we need folks like this in Washington DC! (Umm, I meant, the publishers, editors and reporters, not the sheriff and prosecutor ... we already have enough of those.)
Stop me if you've heard this one; Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld conspire to trash the reputation of a CIA specialist in WMDs, while breaking American and international law. Sound familiar? But I'm not talking about Valerie Plame, she was just the latest episode ... that we know about.
I'm referring to Rich Barlow, a former covert CIA operative, analyst, WMD specialist, and Pentagon WMD specialist who has been trying to clear his name for almost 20 years.
In the late 80s, in the course of tracking down smugglers of WMD components, Barlow uncovered reams of material that related to Pakistan. It was known the Islamic Republic had been covertly striving to acquire nuclear weapons since India's explosion of a device in 1974 and the prospect terrified the west - especially given the instability of a nation that had had three military coups in less than 30 years . [...] He soon discovered, however, that senior officials in government were taking quite the opposite view: they were breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to shelter Pakistan's ambitions and even sell it banned WMD technology. [...] Next he discovered that the Pentagon was preparing to sell Pakistan jet fighters that could be used to drop a nuclear bomb. [...] the nuclear weapons programmes of Iran, Libya and North Korea - which British and American intelligence now acknowledge were all secretly enabled by Pakistan - would never have got off the ground. "None of this need have happened," Robert Gallucci, special adviser on WMD to both Clinton and George W Bush, told us. [...] As the first Gulf war came to an end with no regime change in Iraq, a group of neoconservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Donald Rumsfeld were already lobbying to finish what that campaign had started and dislodge Saddam. Even as the CIA amassed evidence showing that Pakistan, a state that sponsored Islamist terrorism and made its money by selling proscribed WMD technology, was the number one threat, they earmarked Iraq as the chief target.
There's so much more I encourage you to read the whole thing.
I've long said that the average top-tier country musician is a better technician than the average top-tier rocker. Agree, disagree, discuss, I think there's ample evidence to support this. And there are couple of country singer-songwriters who are also truly great pickers. So I introduce today's underrated guitarist: Keith Urban.
Sure, he's married to Nicole Kidman, but that's not important right now, because he can play some guitar. And how many country guys regularly play Les Pauls.
Here he takes Charlie Daniels' "Devil Went Down To Georgia" and spins it a bit with a Telecaster:
Telephone line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight
Chris Dodd has shown some real leadership, unlike the actual leadership in the Democratic Party. While he is a long shot for the nomination, Dodd has certainly won some serious points with his latest move to filibuster the deeply flawed Telecom Amnesty FISA bill:
From an email
Are you willing to go to the mat to restore the Constitution?
Just last night, we heard there are plans to disregard Senator Dodd's intention to place a hold on a FISA bill that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies.
That would be a pretty extraordinary move, but Chris Dodd has pledged to stop this horrible bill any way he can.
So if the hold is not honored, he is prepared to go to the Senate floor and filibuster.
Rolling back the Bush Administration assault on the rule of law has been a major focus of Chris Dodd's work in the Senate -- and it's also a centerpiece in his campaign for President.
Commentor Shoephone adds:
Chris Dodd is a real man. Harry Reid is a diseased little weasel.
I would be quite happy with an Edwards/Dodd ticket.
In August, California Senator Dianne Feinstein helped the Bush administration push through Congress a bill that made the warrantless wiretapping of Americans legal. Many Democrats -- with Feinstein leading the way -- voted for the bill because they feared they would be seen as soft on terrorism if they stood up for the Constitution.
The bill only authorized warrantless wiretapping for six months, and now Bush is pressuring the Congress to renew the bill and add language that would grant retroactive immunity to the telecom companies who were complicit in his illegal spying program.
Bush wants amnesty for the telecom companies to thwart civil liberties lawsuits and cover-up his own lawbreaking. If these lawsuits aren't allowed to go forward, we may never know the extent of the Bush program to spy on Americans.
Urge Senator Feinstein to stand up for civil liberties and not let the telcos off the hook.
DiFi always takes the side of Big Business against the people's interests, so let's see what this does to move her closer to reality. But is it all really about cash?
Top Verizon executives, including CEO Ivan Seidenberg and President Dennis Strigl, wrote personal checks to Rockefeller totaling $23,500 in March, 2007. Prior to that apparently coordinated flurry of 29 donations, only one of those executives had ever donated to Rockefeller (at least while working for Verizon).
In fact, prior to 2007, contributions to Rockefeller from company executives at AT&T and Verizon were mostly non-existent.
But that changed around the same time that the companies began lobbying Congress to grant them retroactive immunity from lawsuits seeking billions for their alleged participation in secret, warrantless surveillance programs that targeted Americans.
So Reckefeller is willing to sell us out for $23k? I had no idea Senators could be bought that cheaply.
Harry Reid himself took $22,000 in contributions from AT&T between 2001-2006. OpenSecrets reports that he also owns between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of stock in Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Sector Index Fund, the largest holdings of which are AT&T and Verizon.
Seems too cheap. Maybe we can figure out a way to funnel some $$ to these idiots to insure some loyalty.
Bastards. (Not Chris Dodd, he's riding a white horse right now).