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Haven't figured out a costume for tonight, but somebody put Dr. Seuss in my head this morning... And it is election season...
But I'm not sure I have enough green makeup.
The Interior Department said their case was hopeless, so they dropped it. Quietly. A confidential letter 3 months ago. "Never mind about those royalties," they said. You just go ahead with those record profits, and remember where to send your gratitude in the form of campaign donations, eh?
Audits? Enforcement? Renegotiation? Don't be silly.
The same sort of private access to the Vice President that these companies have enjoyed is extended as standard operating procedure over at Interior.
To protect what energy companies consider proprietary information, the Interior Department does not announce that it is accusing companies of underpaying royalties nor does it announce its settlements in these disputes. The government also does not disclose how much money each company pays in royalties.
Louisiana's lawyer—who won $100 million from Chevron in a suit over underpaid royalties—puts it this way:
Is it even remotely likely that oil companies systematically underpay private royalty owners and state governments, but pay the federal government perfectly properly? Isnít it more likely they are underpaying everybody?
That's ok, if the oil and gas companies don't want to pay the tens and hundreds and thousands of millions of dollars they owe, there are plenty of regular old tax-payers to pick up the bill. Or, we can just run up the debt and have some future generation pay for our wars and entitlements.
The B.S. campaign manager answered my email, saying "this is a very difficult issue." and a mention of the press release posted on their website. She let me go find it myself, but I can do better than that for my readers... SALI CONTINUES RESEARCH ON PROPOSITION 2.
He hasn't "finalized" his position, "no matter what anyone else claims." He's been saying all along he favors the "concept," but as a lawyer, he acknowledges that the specifics matter.
True enough. Given how much of his funding is beholden to the Club for Growth however, and given his rather limp repudiation of the Prop. 2 supporters' prominent use of his name in their literature and website, we're smelling a dodge rather than a principle here.
Note to Bill: this is not a "false and inaccurate charge" against you, just a stinking suspicion.
I have of course heard the phrase "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," but I didn't know it by author, or in any context before today, when I read Alexander Pope's words anew, in Juan Cole's Informed Comment, where they're given currency by attack of the pundits.
But it was never about Iraq. It was about the all-purpose punditocracy, the vicious jab, the smearing of those with whom one disagrees, in the service of the rich and powerful. It is about the cheapening of our democracy, the termite-like boring at the pillars of our republic. Goldberg began by attacking me for saying that the 1997 elections in Iran were more democratic than the January 2005 election in Iraq. He did not critique my reasoning in saying this. He just attacked me. It turns out that he didn't even know anything about the 1997 elections in Iran. Likewise, Jarvis did not actually present any arguments about my coverage of Iraq, he just accused me of spinning it negatively. It is easy to make such an accusation, but hard to do the research and engage in the years of study it would require to address the substance of my weblog.
Leonard Pitts Jr., on the subject of rewriting history: Simply Orwellian: Cutting and running from 'stay the course'
Sadly, there is more than this ludicrous attempt to deny the blindingly obvious that we need to be concerned about. Stephen Glain describes the active exclusion of ideas and the people that hold them, for our "protection against terrorism."
We who love freedom so dearly.
It's a "Victory Rally" that the Veep will stage with his closest friends in Coeur d'Alene. No doubt the hand-picked crowd will greet him as a liberator. Maybe there's a statue in the park they could pull down, too?
Here's another item for Bill Sali's reading list, for when he has more free time after the election: the Wilderness bills that Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Mike Simpson produced after many years of working with a broad cross-section of interested groups and citizens.
You would hope that someone running for office would be embarrassed to admit that he hasn't taken the trouble to read important, current legislation for his state, but not Sali: earlier this month he had to tell Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell that he hadn't done his homework.
I'm sure if it were important, he would have, but his Club for Growth philosophy leans toward "throw it at the free market," which has no need for public lands. Idaho's forests are just a new boom on the hoof; "forty percent of the mass of every tree in the forest is crude oil," he says. (Do they teach a different sort of biology at BSU than I learned at the University of Idaho? I remember xylem and phloem in trees, but not petroleum.)
Along with the questions about the Idaho races, the Statesman poll asked about the country and the President. The headline tells the result: Even Idahoans are questioning President Bush's performance.
There are still more respondents rating his overall performance as "excellent" or "good" (46%) than "poor" (40%), but the gap is closing. More than half rate it "fair" to "poor," rather like little George Bush's report cards. But Idahoans disapprove of his Iraq performance, 49% to 42%, and those seeing the country as on the "wrong track" now exceed the "right track" group (albeit well within the poll's ±4% uncertainty), 45 to 43%.
We haven't run out of optimism, though: more than three times as many respondents still think Idaho's on the "right track" rather than the wrong one.
The Statesman/Today's 6 poll is the big draw for the Sunday paper, and the news is that three statewide races are a dead heat: Governer, 1st Congressional District, and State Superintendent of Schools. All three are for open seats, with our current 1st CD representative, "Butch" Otter, running for governor against Democrat Jerry Brady.
Five of the six candidates in the races talked to the Statesman about the poll results. Bill "Mr. Personality" Sali sent a written statement, blaming "the efforts of the media to vilify me while helping Larry Grant deceive voters on essentially every key issue" for making the race so close. Those deceptive media! If not for them, "voters would understand that he doesn't reflect Idaho values and what little support he has would fall quickly."
Two-thirds of the poll respondents had an opinion about Sali, and they were evenly split negative and positive. Fewer than half had an opinion about Grant, but the tally was well more than 2:1 positive for those who did (34% vs. 13%). I'd say that speaks of a lot of upside for the Grant campaign.
So does the Idaho Press-Tribune's unequivocal endorsement of Grant! "Bill Sali does not have the quality of character required to serve Idaho voters." Ouch. But wait, there's more.
(I)t is Saliís abrasiveness, poor judgment and misleading tactics—rather than politics—that make him unfit to serve Idahoans who care about traditional values....
Finally, Sali insults Idahoans because he wonít come clean in his opinion on Proposition 2, which threatens to make it very difficult for local communities to manage growth. By not denouncing this defective initiative like the supermajority of his Republican colleagues, Sali threatens the quality of life for all Idahoans.
In today's mail, a fold-out pin-up from the YES on 2! gang, "Please post in your window." They call their business "ThisHouseisMYHome.com," and they want free advertising in my window? Ha! I don't think so! MY Home!
This is better than the black helicopter scare: the bulldozers are coming. "Is your home at risk? YES!" Big yellow print, you can't get more scary than that, can you?
Truth is, the value of your property and your ability to enjoy it is more at risk from passing this Prop than killing it.
But that's not what I'm writing about. They claim a long list of supporters, starting with Mr. Bill Sali of Kuna, candidate for U.S. Congress. Yes, that's the same Bill Sali who said, on live TV Tuesday night, that he was still "in the middle of my analysis," and hadn't even read the proposition yet.
In his defense, Proposition 2 is long. Complicated. Legalistic. Stealthy. Misleading, even. It's so long that what appears on our ballots is not the propostion itself, but rather a "short title," followed by a "long title," which unprepared voters may suppose is the actual proposition. But no.
Back to Sali's endorsement of the Proposition. Did he give it "just after" the debate, with this print job holding until the last moment? If this went to print on Wednesday and out via bulk mail... no later than Thursday, it could have been delivered today. But not likely. Nor is it likely that Laird Maxwell and friends decided without Sali's approval to add him to the list.
Since Sali didn't do what he said he would, post his "decision" on his website by the end of the week, we're left to draw our own conclusions. Given that Sali's supporters include many others who appear with him on the Prop. 2 mailer (Sweet, Beck, Auld, Bayer, Kulczyk), we infer that this is not an accident, and that Sali lacks the integrity to actually admit and support his position in a public forum.
Given the much longer list of organizations and people who oppose Prop. 2, it's not that difficult to cut through the B.S.
There are no "smart bombs." War is about destruction, and about killing. It is not something to be undertaken lightly, or as anything but a last resort. George W. Bush and his cohort gave lip service to that "last resort" idea, but I find it impossible to accept their assurance in any form.
Not to put too fine a point on it, that was a lie.
They were impatient. They were worried about Saddam's weapons, about his oil, about their many corporate donors with a financial stake in the Middle East. They were careless. They abused what intelligence was available and either let themselves be deceived, or deceived us all to accomplish ends they had already decided upon.
And now, hundreds of thousands are dead as a result. Iraq is in shambles, in a civil war, with U.S. and other countrys' soldiers in the middle of it, unable to make a positive contribution, as an occupying force provides a focus for revenge, retribution, desperation.
The New Hampshire license plate has the state's motto on it: Live Free or Die. It's been a long time since that sentiment had to be carried out on New England soil, but it is in every news report from the Middle East.
We watched Laura Poitras' remarkable film, My Country, My Country on POV the other night. Just one story, really, but seeing Dr. Riyadh standing outside the fence at Abu Ghraib, trying to catalog the names and despair being called out from the prisoners, challenging the assertion that a 9-year-old had any place behind the barbed wire... what more description of hell is needed?
We are an occupied country with a puppet government? What do you expect?
Whatever the intentions behind the war, the hopeful, rosy scenario for it didn't turn out, and there is no realistic chance that our occupation can make it turn out. Enough is enough. It's time to Wage Peace.
God bless the Independents, for they shall inherit the decision-making power from the straight-ticket voters. Maybe. The power and money behind our two-party system is one hell of an obstacle to overcome. The RNC does not care that there are Republicans for Grant any more than they care that Idaho Republicans voted in the primary for anybody-but-Sali by a 3:1 margin.
This is about control. They aren't interested in the best man for the job, they need a foot soldier with the R brand.
In the endorsements from Nampa's Idaho Press-Tribune, in neighboring red-to-the-bone Canyon County, they actually found themselves with a Democrat to support, prefacing the amazing event with this remarkable statement:
There are some jobs where it matters if the person is from the majority political party of the state.
(Never mind Otter's monopoly on the headline, or the unformatted heading that fell in with the preceding paragraph, "Twilegar has skills for role.") In other words, for some of the "jobs," they would recommend voting for the party, not the particular man or woman? Idaho's Controller is a "non-partisan servant." As opposed to our partisan servants in those other elected positions.
Do endorsements matter, or will this state's voters just look for the R and punch away? If they do matter, Twilegar is a lock, and Grant will be elected too.
Then there's the money to be followed. Signals are mixed, but some hedging is going on, just in case the Party of Big Money loses its grip.
Washington Week with Gwen Ifill has only half an hour to run down the week's news, and with the election bearing down on us, there's a lot to talk about this week. Hence, having our normally anonymous state get mentioned is a Big Deal. Speaking of the problems Republicans are having, Janet Hook of the LA Times made the point: "This is really a bad year if they have to fight for Idaho."
And fight they must, with almost $400,000 from the RNCC flowing into to pump up their man Bill Sali.
Constitutional Initiatives 97, 98, and 154 aren't going to pass in Montana because their Supreme Court said so. I like the proposed means to make it so: don't count the votes "for." If you can't help but count them, then we'll just say "they don't count."
The judges' affirmation, and the lower court ruling that was affirmed didn't speak to the initiatives themsleves, but rather on the process used to get the voter signatures that enabled them to go on the ballot: "a pervasive and general pattern and practice of fraud and procedural noncompliance" makes those ill-gotten gains no good.
The Veep? Again?! Yessirree, he and his boss need every House Republican they can get, no matter how far off the deep end they fly. Dick "no-brainer" Cheney slated to fly into North Idaho's luxury zone to stump some more for Bill Sali. Or something. (Sali's campaign must not have got the memo, as they couldn't find the appointment on Bill's calendar. Insufficient security clearance?)
Maybe there will be more "supporters" than "protesters" this time? At any rate, it's not about the money; we're told it's not a fundraiser this time... which makes me think that is indeed true that money can't buy you love.
Tip to the nice lady at NewWest for the news.
George Lakoff writes that it just doesn't work to stop staying the course once you've started, "Staying the Course Right Over a Cliff." All the virtue earned with that clever turn of phrase, the motherhood-and-apple-pie framing that can't be beat, turns against you when you try a new route.
It's like inertia. Or quicksand: the more you fight, the more it fights back. I don't know if he chose the metaphor of his last sentence carefully, or not, but since he is writing about the power of metaphors, we suppose he did.
"Pitfalls" are most effective as a defense against people who "stay the course"; you simply build your pit in the middle of the course.
Ever-vigilant in search of dirt on their opponents, the Republican Party of Texas is apparently shocked, shocked, that a candidate for public office could be a "professed atheist." The Bible just a "collection of myths"? Say it ain't so!
If we can believe the Party's web page (I'd do my own research, if it were me), one must swear an oath ending with so help me God in order to take office in the state. Again, it's all just innuendo, but the implication is that... Ben Franks would have to choose between compromising his non-belief (or, "his out of touch 'atheist. belief system," as the Party puts it), or the state Constitution, so ha ha! Or, so don't even think about voting for this guy! Or, something.
Should Franks decide to follow the script given in the Constitution, we wonder if the Party would jump up and down and go "oo! oo! But he's an atheist!" Of course, as an atheist, Franks can follow the script without worrying about divine retribution.
Apparently the Texas GOP shares George H.W. Bush's attitude and isn't very high on atheists. Citizens? Patriots? No way. Electable? We should hope not! This is a theocracy, ain't it?
George W. Bush comes clean and levels with the American people. In David Corn's dreams.
To move ahead, we must show the world—particularly our friends and allies in Iraq—that we believe in accountability and responsibility and, more important, that we can learn from our mistakes. So today I am announcing that I have requested and received the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld....
Even with his own party controlling the Senate, their advice and consent is a bridge too far for President Bush. Here's a thumb in their eye with a recess appointment of Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Senate had sent the proposed appointment back to Bush twice this year, with good cause, as West Virginia Senator (Democrat) Jay Rockefeller notes:
The mines he ran when he was in the industry were some of the most dangerous and the most frequently cited for safety violations in the entire industry. In fact, despite broad bipartisan support for new, more aggressive mine safety laws, Richard Stickler said in his Senate nomination hearing that no new laws were necessary.
Are you getting well targeted mail, email, phone calls, or badly targeted ones? Or have you stopped paying attention to the flood of marketing messages coming your way?
This election season, the data mining of the electorate is reaching record highs, or lows, depending on your point of view. A Marketplace segment earlier this month describes what's going on: "17,000 different data points," "on about 150 million voters nationwide." And that's just the Democrats.
"You should assume that the mass marketers know about any transactions with respect to which you have swiped a credit card."
The first time Jeanette told me about this, it couldn't get through the cognitive dissonance filter. My credit card? Our transactions? Available in the wholesale market to political operatives and anyone else willing to pay... whom, exactly, is maintaining the Big Brother Database in the sky?
Lilley Coney of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says "it's just about impossible to opt out of the data gathering, but you can limit your exposure."
How would you know? Consider what you're up against by looking at the list of forty-three companies that have been subsumed into ChoicePoint, on that EPIC page linked above.
Jeanette reminded me of what that first question was that Bill Sali didn't want to answer, before he puffed himself up for the opening statement. I took a look at the archived file on the Idaho Debates page, and also at Betsy Russell's blog entry (written from her perspective as one of the three reporters on stage).
John Miller of the AP asked:
"Your campaign has given about $120,000 to Spartac (LLC), a firm run by Christ Troupis, he's also the lawyer for groups hoping to restore the Ten Commandments monument to a park in Boise. Can you tell us what you gave him the money for, and whether or not any of this money has gone to other groups that he represents?"
Sali started with a thanks to the hosts, and launched into an opening statement. Marcia Franklin directed him to answer the question, and noted that the format didn't include opening comments. Sali ignored the instruction, and carried on, over Franklin's repeated instruction, until he was done. Then he said
Spartac is a, uh, company that's registered with the State of Idaho, we have, uh, used them for, uh, media advice, uh, media purchasing, uh, we've used them for um, uh, some polling information, and, uh, obtaining, uh, services for the campaign, uh... as far as I know, none of the money that's been paid out of my campaign has gone to anything other than direct services for the campaign.
Normally, I'd give the benefit of the doubt and elide all those "uhs" in writing a transcript, but it's interesting to listen (or read) and see the delays (evasion perhaps?) up until he gets to the "I know nothing" legal disclaimer.
Check out the fellow travellers that met at the Thomas Hammer coffeehouse to watch, cheer, and blog together: The Sniff Test, Grassroots for Grant, NewWest, IdaBlue, and the previously noted mcjoan, of Daily Kos.
Right out of the chute, one candidate is dodging. The very first question. Marcia Franklin had to ask twice:
"Mr. Sali, could you please answer the question?"
I start to see what people might not like about this guy. And Larry Grant summed it up in his closing statement: largely ineffective in his 16 years in the state legislature, and failed to earn the respect of his colleagues. And Bill Sali wants Idaho to send him to the big House? You cannot be serious.
Sali's main effort seems to be to (a) recite his list of key issues, and (b) trick Grant into saying some key phrase that he can throw back at him. This has apparently been an ongoing theme of the interaction between the candidates.
I will concede that Sali's idea for his first legislation is a good one: require Congress to act on single-subject legislation, rather than these omnibus woolly milk-pig things that have a little pork (and wool, and milk) for everyone and everything.
My guess is that it has no prayer of going anywhere.
Another good idea, from 4th-party candidate Olson: no pay raise if the Congress is deficit spending, and start cutting the pay by 10% every year they don't get it done. How about... pay Congressmen only out of the budget surplus. No surplus, no pay.
Three candidates had thoughtful responses about the immigration issue. Sali supports the 700 mile fence. Canada too! No amnesty. Workforce? The law we have doesn't work, because workers don't "stay put," they find better jobs. Damned immigrants seem to be hijacking our American dream, how do you like that?!
Hedden-Nicely: "It's easier to come in illegally than it is to come in legally." Grant: "We shouldn't be chasing people who want to work across the desert." It distracts us from the security task, for one thing.
There were some "people on the street questions" directed to the candidate, and for one of them, a classic Sali-ism: "I beg to differ with the person asking the question."
Bill Sali said "the answer is about getting along with people." I had to check my ear wax. Was he trying to get people to vote against him, or is this an affirmation he's trying out?
More jes' folks quotes from the debate:
H-N: "We don't need any more lawyers in Congress!" "We're gettin' squoze all over the place."
Sali: "the last thing we want to do is let the tax cuts go." It's the Laffer curve all over again, let's party like it's 1982.
Grant: (about Nancy Pelosi) "I don't know what's so scary about a 66-year-old Italian grandmother."
Sali: "I'm not ready to say I do or don't believe" in global warming. He is sure there are a lot of people talking about it. Study it more?
H-N: $800,000, what is up with that, Bill Sali? Do you think this is
healthy for Idaho politics? How would you fix this?
Sali: I believe in free political speech, people able to give me all the money they want to.
H-N: "vast amounts of out of state money" are bad for Idaho.
Grant: Prop 2, Howard Rich and Club for Growth says go, you say... ?
Sali: "I am in the middle of my analysis" and will be posting his position on his website later this week.
I'm supposed to be connected via the coffee shop, but my site survey didn't turn 'em up. Next best link... doesn't quite work. It's scary being out of the house.
So, I'll get there eventually, but not right during the debate, apparently. Nevertheless, I am sitting next to mcjoan of the Daily Kos, which seems pretty cool. And found out we've known her mom and brother for years.
Jill graciously offered me the use of her computer, but I had to explain that I couldn't get here from there. Home-grown blog software. Worth some sort of distinction, but "ease of use in strange places" is not one of its features.
The memories of reporters are shorter than decades, at least, so we can forgive Blaine Harden for comparing the prospect of a Democrat winning a Congressional seat in Idaho with that of hell freezing over. And while we do have "sacrificial lambs" from time to time, Larry Grant was never one of them. The "suddenly" in his headline has more to do with the MSM finally catching wind of what has been a competitive race since the mustering of the 6-way Republican primary.
Nothing says "we might lose this one" like a third of a $million on radio and TV advertising.
Fred Barnes plays the "suppressing the vote!" and the "liberal media are all for Democrats!" cards together, feeling it's a winning hand for his Weekly Standard editors.
He cynically snarks at David Kuo's "cynically timed" book about the Bush White House cynically using evangelical Christians, even as they make fun of them behind their backs. The "home team" of the mainstream media is the Democrats. Did you know?
On his side, there is the Republican Party, "the only vehicle through which conservatives and moderates can accomplish their goals." Nice dividing line, eh? All you lot in the middle, you're with us. He asks whether Democrats would support his laundry list of conservative causes. "Don't bet on it." And this:
Would they satisfy moderates by compromising with conservatives? Only under duress.
And how about the conservatives compromising with moderates once in a while? When is that going to happen?
Democrats no longer want to carry on a real war against terrorists.
Said "real war" being everything—and anything?—George Bush says it is, the Churchillian tools to "finish the job" whatever GWB&Co. say they need.
Howard Kurtz gives Fred the raspberry he so richly deserves for his anti-petulance petulance, citing Andrew Sullivan's pithy prognostication for good measure:
If the Republicans lose this election, it will be for a simple reason. They have forgotten what conservatism means. You cannot spend and borrow more than any Democratic Congress since FDR and remain a credible conservative. You cannot elevate executive power permanently above individual liberty and remain a credible conservative. You cannot wage a war without the care, resources, and troops needed to win and remain a credible conservative. You cannot wage a religiously-based culture war and remain a limited government conservative.
I would add that you cannot start a war of adventure, either. No amount of "care" can make such a war credible or legitimate for any political stripe.
Dan Froomkin's column (or blog? or whatever it is) is making my head spin. Scroll for Cheney's World, where the pre-war Iraq-al Qaeda connection has never foundered, the worse it gets the better we're winning, and his biggest regret is announcing we were over the hump too soon. Bush stumping for mistress-beating Don Sherwood during "National Character Counts Week"—that's just icing on the cake.
This is not comedy, however, but tragedy. Ask Daniel Ellsburg, reassessing what might not have been, in Vietnam, if he'd blown the whistle sooner:
The run-up to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf resolution was almost exactly parallel to the run-up to the 2002 Iraq war resolution. In both cases, the president and his top Cabinet officers consciously deceived Congress and the public about a supposed short-run threat in order to justify and win support for carrying out preexisting offensive plans against a country that was not a near-term danger to the United States....
What do you do when your duty to the Constitution conflicts with your secrecy oaths? There aren't many who can avoid the rationalization that supports the more immediate, less catastrophic path of supporting lies, one by one, until disaster comes.
Iran is the third act. Is there someone who will tell the truth before it's too late this time?
The campaign is heating up, which can only mean the ads are aiming more directly for the lizard brain. Here's one for Larry Grant, answering the RNCC's buy for Sali in Idaho's 1st C.D. With panache.
Funny how much more powerful it is to have someone read a nice quote... highlighting a few words helps, too. "Incompetent," "dishonest," "deceitful," "embarrassment." And the bad picture, with the dark circles around the eyes. (Presumably not stolen from the opponent's campaign site.)
Personally, I wish more people—a lot more people—would vote. It astounds me that so many people are willing to forgo the most basic and important of their civic rights and duties. A positive interpretation is that it's a measure of what a good life we have in this country, I suppose. The less positive interpretation is that it speaks of the hopelessness of being unable to change a corrupt system that has no interest in serving the people who aren't on the inside.
I have worked in politics and for political issues for many years, nowhere near the top, but doing my part. Election day and the final act of submitting my ballot is the thrilling conclusion of all that went before, the Moment of Truth. It's hard to say what difference, if any, I've made, but I know I've made an effort. And never in my life have I been part of, or had direct experience of anything like a "suppress the vote" effort. It's always been about getting out the vote. Yes, I'll work much harder at convincing those who I agree with to get out their vote, but if you're here on November 7th, there will be only one, uncategorical command from fortboise: VOTE.
I am not so naïve as to imagine that some do not work to surpress the opposition through legitimate and illegitimate means. When I read a broad and unsubstantiated accusation that "the left" has been working to surpress their opponents' voting, it only makes me suspicious about the person pointing the finger. The Gore-Bush election in 2000 stands as a signal event of manipulation, and it was not "the left" that did all they could to surpress the opposition. At the top, "the left" was prepared to accept the result, even before it was fully tested and validated. Imagine that, the benefit of the doubt. And "the right"? They manufactured a "riot" to stop the recount.
You want radical ideas, try the message concluding another email I received this morning, from one of my left-leaning friends:
Our real enemy is not another human being. The real war we have to wage is against our fear, our wrong perceptions and our anger.
The most extreme and illegitimate forms of argument are useful for their self-revelatory qualities. One of our local fundamentalist firebrands, deposed minister and now self-appointed Executive Director of the Idaho Values Alliance, Bryan Fischer sends out a daily newsletter. Working his own GOTV angle, he writes under the subject "Voting and Voting Our Values":
The left has been working ceaselessly to discourage the family and faith community from even showing up on election day. Leftists know that we are the only thing that stands between them and a complete secularist takeover of every major social institution in our nation.
Never mind that we've "pulled out the stops, using hate, vitriol, anonymous accusations, and even unrepentant gay-bashing" (he's talking about Mark Foley, not Larry Craig, btw) to scare conservatives away from voting, those two introductory sentences speak volumes about the mind behind them.
Do note that these damnable and faithless leftists are all devoid of families. (Were they hatched?) And what they want! A complete secularist takeover! Every institution! It's a wonder conservatives even come out from under the covers in the morning.
Ken Mehlman is spurring the troops with positive talk, under the subject "Motivated to Win," uncharacteristically reciting some relatively dry poll statistics to support his argument that the intensity is balanced, at least. The first two sentences drip with unintended (I presume) irony:
In recent days and weeks, the mainstream media have repeatedly claimed that the Republican base is suffering from "low voter enthusiasm." It is easy to believe a story that is repeated so frequently, but in fact there is ample evidence to the contrary.
Given the demonstrable success the Republicans have had in getting people to believe stories that have been "repeated so frequently," in spite of ample evidence to the contrary, reading this statement from the RNC chairman put me into an irony spiral that it might take a while to break out of.
In the meantime, if I have any "base" readers out there, just keep clicking your heels together and repeating this magic phrase: "my enthusiasm is low. My enthusiasm is low."
Not so much a choice anymore, as an impossibility? Baghdad Burning is back, after more than two months' hiatus, adding a personal perspective to the mind-numbing casualty figures from Iraq.
We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations, car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons—with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?
John Yoo seems to be working full-time to earn a position in the pantheon of American villians. And teaching law at Berkekey in his spare time. Maybe this is what the people warning us about "trial lawyers" were talking about. Here's his message to the whole judicial branch: we cut off your legs.
It's all about "wartime" now, and the Executive is in charge, with Congress left with a supporting role. The Global War on Terror is against... well, everybody, potentially. (God knows, we're losing friends in a hurry.) And none of them wear uniforms. So, Habeus corpus simply doesn't apply. Even if it did,
the Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine the jurisdiction of federal courts in peacetime, and also declares that habeas corpus can be suspended "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion" when "the public Safety may require it."
That settles that, and a "stinging rebuke" to the SCOTUS, to boot! Stay out of our business, eh?
I guess I missed the news about Congress actually carrying out its Constitutional duty and declaring war. There have been plenty of political figures who are declaring "we're at war," but this is a subtlety that does not trouble the mind of Mr. Yoo. The general hue and cry has been taken to establish that we are at war. With anyone we say we are.
All those responsible for excess enthusiasm in bombing, rendering, detaining, assassination, torture (we like to call it "coercion") and so on, take heart:
Except for some clearly defined war crimes, whose prosecution would also be up to executive discretion, it leaves interpretation and enforcement of the treaties up to the president. It even forbids courts from relying on foreign or international legal decisions in any decisions involving military commissions.
Now this is the lawyer you want on your side when you're taking over. Get out of War Crimes Free! Abrogate Treaties! Ignore the rest of the world!
Pui-Wing Tam reports on herself, as object of HP's leak-investigation spying. She had nothing to do with it, it seems, but the company was watching her for almost a year. Very creepy.
If, as Patricia Dunn suggested in one of her lame attempts at a defense, "everybody's doing it," expect that this is the general shape of the world of corporate espionage. There are still some bounds to what the government can do, although the Unitary Executive Team has worked dilligently to address that problem, too.
Thinking outside the box has given us clever solutions such as enhancing "No Child Left Behind" into a data mining opportunity: "military recruiters are entitled to receive the name, address, and telephone listing of juniors and seniors in high school." Quoted from your Department of Education!
O brave new world, That has such people in't!
Latest missive from the Team Leader Leader, hailing "a significant victory in the War on Terror" with Bush's Monday signing legislation "ensuring that America can continue interrogating dangerous terrorists like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."
"Shockingly, 84% of the Democrats in the House voted against interrogating terrorists, as did 73% of the Democrats in the Senate," Mehlman writes, underlining the point. Is that what the Democrats voted against? "Out of concern for terrorist civil liberties," as he then puts it? Mehlman has all the civil liberty he needs apparently, as chairman of the party in control of all three branches of our government, at least for a few more weeks.
The rest of us might wish for a different sort of "security" that empowers our president to imprison whomever he wishes, as long as he wishes, beyond the reach of what we used to know as the rule of law.
Idaho's elections almost all go "likely" Republican, so when a contest is upgraded to only "leaning," there's excitement in the air. Julie reports on the hot, hot race for the Idaho 1st Congressional District and the attention it's drawing from national media.
The trouble with a one-party super-majority is that you end up with so much room in the big tent that a stiff breeze can cause trouble. A six-way contest in the Republican primary with two quality candidates set up our present circumstance: the best-connected and most rabidly right of the six edged the field thanks to well-targeted attacks on Shiela Sorenson and Keith Johnson's relatively low profile as State Controller. (Put another way, Republican primary voters preferred someone other than Bill Sali by almost 3 to 1.) Hence, Republicans for Grant, along with the Democrats.
And here's a class act: stealing a photo from your opponent's website for your attack ad. Is this the sort of "free political speech" Sali was talking about on Sunday? Maybe he should've been in church instead of summoning demons in the Lewiston Tribune.
Having just spent a weekend with my 'net connection throttled back to dialup speed, this headline evoked some sympathy: Iran cuts Internet speeds to homes, cafes. I'm guessing the flow of essential ideas will not be checked by this, but the overall annoyance level will be increased.
83 comments and counting in the NewWest thread following Mike Rogers' report bringing the rumors of our Senior and formerly Singing Senator back to the surface. Somewhere between the extremes there is an interesting discussion relating to the inevitable recognition of same-sex relationships. Some folks will be dragged kicking and screaming, but we'll all get there sooner or later. If progress follows the poll numbers of support for G.W. Bush, Idaho will be last or close to it.
Did you hear the one about the babysitter shooting a bear? Stock in trade for "News of the Weird" and its ilk. Henslee's 15-year-old sister, who "did not want her name revealed" is referred to as a woman rather than a girl in the AP story from Porthill (on the US/Canada border), and justifiably so.
(She) loaded her 7mm rifle and waited. The bear was distracted for a moment by something at its feet and it looked down. Using that as her chance, the babysitter slid the door open a foot and shot twice from the hip at the bear just three feet away.
The bear dropped dead on the step.
Here's the part that makes it a genuine Idaho tale (as reported by the AP): "Henslee said her sister had a valid Idaho bear hunting tag."
The elder Henslee didn't say what might happen when the next bear comes out to play.
The last thing Carol said before we left her house on Paradise Ridge was "watch out for deer... and moose!" A moose would've been a lot worse for us, when our turn finally came after more than half a century of driving Idaho roads. As it was, our very-early start for the drive home had an unpleasant side effect. The right side. Where I was trying to catch some of the sleep I'd missed the night before with the ironic combination of "a cold" and a fever.
Jeanette said it jumped up from the left side of the road, just after a couple cars and a big truck had gone by. She didn't have time to swerve or brake, as the deer almost made it across the road ahead of us.
But not quite. After a bit of fender rebending, it was driveable, and somewhere south of Lapwai in the morning twilight, that seemed like the obvious option: drive on.
The rest of the trip to Boise was uneventful by comparison... rain showers, fresh snow in the mountains down below 6,000', still the vibrant fall colors in the draws and canyons, the occasional pocket, hillside, or lone flaming arrow of a tamarack set against evergreen, cottonwood and aspen yellows and gold, the prairies black and gold in the Idaho colors of mollisol and stubble.
The Salmon River canyon above White Bird was dark gray, silver and green from the first good rain in quite a while. Cooler. Smelled like winter up in McCall.
Butch Otter, likely next governor of the great state of Idaho, speaking about one of the state's greatest treasures: wilderness is just "a nice place for you to walk around and take pictures." (Quoted in Eye on Boise)
Betsy Russell profiles "professional thorn in the side of Idaho Republicans" and smear specialist Laird Maxwell. (He's no pal of any Democrats I know, either.) Maxwell is a prime promoter of Proposition 2, supposedly a tonic for "eminent domain abuse," but in reality a "sweeping new regulatory takings law, requiring government to pay property owners if any land-use regulation or change in farming or forest practice rules diminishes their potential profits from full development of their land."
How about this for "home-grown" politics? "Of the initial $337,050 it cost to get the measure on the ballot, just $50 came from Idaho—and Maxwell paid that $50 himself."
Robert Scheer describes the latest broken leg in the Bush administration's response to the tripod of evil: mirabile dictu, ideology and confrontation are not enough. His immediate call is for Bush &Co. to give a listen to James Baker; it's a start.
That's one of many conclusions Tom Englehardt draws in the teaser for his new book (Mission Unaccomplished, Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters). His essay, George Bush's War of the Words, selects a few quotes from those interviews, and describes how the sometimes stumbling, sometimes comedic, sometimes frightening Bush administration has redefined its way to a new American century.
You can read for yourself the long list of words that have been redefined into tools of pacification. The most chilling of them is democracy.
One full column of the Lewiston Tribune isn't enough to corral all the demons Bill Sali wants to trot out and associate with his opponent for the first congressional district in Idaho. I don't know if they let him write his own headline, but it had the right tone of pugnacity to it: Who says Grant's stands are moderate?
There's the usual rundown of Us vs. Them on economic issues (support the party of record deficit spending and unimaginable new debt?), defense and security (support the party that committed our military to an unwinnable quagmire in the Middle East?), the illegal alien bogeymen (an issue for which Sali misrepresents Grant's position), all the fellow travelers that Grant would be beholden to as a Democrat ("San Francisco ultraliberal" Nancy Pelosi leading the parade as usual), and much, much more.
"Méngele-like experimentation on human embryos." "Valueless sex education in the schools." (As opposed to... faith in the notion that "abstinence only" could suffice?)
Sali wants to make English our official language; Grant opposes it. Sali wants a Constitutional Amendment to override the First one in regard to flag burning, and Larry Grant? Larry Grant is "supporting flag burning."
Without irony, Sali derides Grant's desire for "more government control over our First Amendment right to free political speech."
That's "free" as in the "free money" that Sali likes to collect from wealthy donors who love the idea of the "majority of the majority" Republican Study Committee keeping their lifestyles safe from democracy.
Bill Sali starts with a litany of sameness: his views "hardly ever differed from Butch Otter's" while Otter represented the district. "There isn't a dime's worth of difference between Butch and me on national policy." Golly, it's almost like he's the incumbent, huh? (All except the part about being really likeable.)
Somewhere, there must be a measurable mark that Butch Otter made on Congress during his stay, that Sali could aspire to? Unfortunately, the only thing that comes to mind is Otter's pivotal vote in the overtime manuevering that got Big Pharma's Medicare Drug Benefit through the House of Representatives, long hours after midnight when his arm had been twisted near off.
"Hard-core liberal" demons haunt Mr. Sali, in spite of their being damn hard to track down in Idaho. He's promising more of the good old policies that brought us where we are. As a campaign position. There's no questioning that the man has a ton of faith, at least. What remains to see is whether the voters of Idaho have enough credulity to buy what he's selling.
Jamie Burton's nearby letter is a sign that some do. "I want Bill to be in Congress where he can keep in touch with events in our world because I can't trust the media."
"He won't burn our flag, he's not a traitor and he will keep me safe."
I had to double-check that the next letter, headlined "Your prayers needed" wasn't on the same subject.
LONDON (Reuters) - "American and Iraqi public health experts have calculated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent violence... (using) household interviews rather than body counts to estimate how many more Iraqis had died because of the war than used to die annually in peacetime."
The story doesn't mention if they also asked members of the 1,849 households surveyed "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" Let's just say that if the "liberators" were running for election in Iraq next month, their chances would not be good.
As previously stipulated, Jakob Nielsen has lots of ideas, many of them good ones. The latest AlertBox starts with an observation that won't shock anyone who has participated in online or email forums: participation is uneven, with a small percentage of people creating a disproportionate share of the heat (and light). Somehow the 80-20 rule gets translated into a "90-9-1 rule": 90% of participants just lurk, 9% make occasional contributions, and 1% account for most of the traffic.
He goes on to claim that blogs are even more unequal, with "only" 1.6 million postings a day, from just 0.1% of the 1.1 billion internet users. Wikipedia mostly gets edited by a tiny nucleus of regular contributors. And so on.
Nielsen lists the "downsides" of unequal participation, but not the upside. We don't complain that only a tiny percentage of the people who read the New York Times (or pick your favorite mass medium) ever write anything that goes into it. Everyone has an opinion, but some opinions are better informed and more intelligently expressed than others. We select for those.
He decries the idea of "netroots" nomination of a political candidate, because "postings on political blogs come from less than 0.1% of voters, most of whom are hardcore leftists (for Democrats) or rightists (for Republicans)." Maybe he's got numbers, but that sounds like a bald notion to me. And search engine results... biased by those 0.1% that do all the linking?
Not quite. Google's stunning success in making search work, simply, is based on that unequal participation, and the usefulness of the links made by active contributors to the web. Just because some active contributors are noisy doesn't mean that 90-9-1 distributions lead to a low signal-to-noise ratio. There are a lot of noisy signals in the world, more than ever now accessible to anyone with a computer, but we find our way to what we want P.D.Q. Quicker than ever.
We agree that we won't overcome participation inequality. We disagree in how hard we should try to. Yes, you can get more "participation" by letting someone submit a "review" that is one, two, three or four stars. Or posting an online "poll" with no threshold for participation or sampling of an actual group of interest. Template-based websites are much easier to slap up. Have you seen a good one lately?
Sorry Jakob, you are seriously off the cliff on this one. Come back when you have some ideas for increasing quality participation, would you? (And while you're working on that, you really should have a look at "Explaining Quality in Internet Collective Goods: Zealots and Good Samaritans in the Case of Wikipedia" (Anthony, et al., Nov. 2005), in which they found that Wikipedia's "highest quality contributions come from the vast numbers of anonymous 'Good Samaritans' who contribute infrequently." Frequency of editing is not tied to the depth or quality of contributions.)
(By the way, I heard of that paper some time in the last 6 to 9 months, but found it on Google as the top hit for "wikipedia contributor percentages quality." Must be a lot of people linking to it.)
How charming that Carly "Tough Choices" Fiorina is on a book tour, selling the product she's always been best at selling: herself. None of the bad stuff was her fault, and even better: all the good stuff that happened since she was fired is thanks to her brilliant strategy and execution. "The company was transformed under my leadership," she says.
That 56% drop in the stock price on her watch was... just preparation for the great performance that followed her departure. Leslie Stahl's softball one-on-one asked a few hard questions, but very few. Stahl seems happy to sell the idea that Carly's only problem was that she was a woman in a man's world.
Interesting that what galls her about the transition enough to mention is that her temporary successor, the CFO, got "three and a half million dollars for 45 days' work." For the gal who floated into the sunset with a golden parachute worth TENS of million$, she should talk.
Katie Breckenridge may be 61, photogenic, and a mistress of attractive ungulates, but her notion of opposition in Idaho to the eminent domain jackpot initiative is just one woman's opinion, featured to add local color to The New York Times' latest treatment. I'm not "connected to the land" by her measure, I'm sure. I've lived in Idaho more than 30 years, and have chipped in plenty of taxes to support Ms. Breckenridge's dusty, cheek-chapping lifestyle.
The Castle Coalition doesn't have any "eminent domain abuse" in Idaho to cite, and figures it's "one of the best states in the country for protecting owners from eminent domain abuse."
But that hasn't stopped Laird Maxwell's This House is My Home from being Howard Rich's surrogate stumpers here. (Warning: turn your volume down for the rock music and and Flashy Sopranos ripoff... speaking of property rights, did you pay for the rights to use that music, Laird?) Consider the less picturesque but more telling anecdote included in the NYT grab-bag: the government affairs director for the Idaho Association of Realtors sums the proposition up succinctly:
"This is crazy."
I forget who it was, but the video bite stayed with me: someone supporting our continuing war in Iraq by pointing out that more Americans died in one day on 9/11 than soldiers have died so far in the whole Iraq war. A headline brought it back to mind this morning: U.S. Puts Toll of Iraqi Police at 4,000 in 2 Years. That's just the police, mind you. More than ten times that many Iraqis have been killed since we re-started major combat operations in that country in 2003.
"Remember, we're at war" keeps coming up as a justification for all sorts of acts we wouldn't possibly excuse were we not at war. Things like sacrificing centuries-year-old legal principles, and the expectations of civil liberties that this country was founded on.
Then there's the fundamental issue which somehow can't get away from being an asterisk: this war we decided we were at after the terrorist attack in 2001 was not instigated by, started by, supported by, or in any other manner related to Iraq. Our warriors decided independently that the 9/11 attack made a good excuse to depose Saddam Hussein, and so started that war.
We have the strongest military in the world, directed by men who profess to fear bogeymen of their own making.
In between hand-picked audiences, there is the occasional opportunity to speak truth to power. That's when the Secret Service comes in handy. Steve Howards got in Dick Cheney's face, and is reported to have said "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, en passant. Next pass, ten minutes later, he was cuffed and taken to jail.
The good news is, it was the Eagle County Jail and not Gitmo. And the Eagle Co. D.A. had the quaint notion that "charges" would require "cause."
The Military Commission Act of 2006 doesn't look good on the surface of it. The Congress capitulating to the Executive to exclude the Judiciary? Is that legal? Ironically enough, it's up to the Judiciary—the recently packed Supreme Court of the United States, no less—to answer that question.
Reading that the bill is "take effect as of November 26, 1997, as if enacted [on that date]"—what are we to make of that? Richard Behan reads it as a tacit admission of guilt.
It seems only fitting that some bookstore leaked Carly's memoir, so that John Markoff could write about it a few days before the embargo was up. This is one book for which reading about it will suffice. No need to peruse, or buy.
Her opion that "some board membersí behavior was amateurish and immature" seems to have been borne out by subsequent events, and there's no question that the company started doing really well right after she left... but as a result of the "transformation" she worked on it? It would be comforting to believe that, I'm sure. It's even possible. But likely? Or provable? Probably not.
Moyers on America: Capitol Crimes. This isn't one of those tinfoil hat conspiracies, this is the Real Deal. Documented.
"Deep in the plea agreements of Jack Abramoff and his cronies is the admission that they conspired to use campaign contributions to bribe politicians..." And it worked like a champ for a while.
Take your pick of the emails to plumb the depths of the perfidy. My favorite is the part where Ralph Reed is proving himself to be an even bigger scumbag than Abramoff and Scanlon, taking them to the cleaners. "He is a bad version of us! no more money for him."
Oh, and hearing Jack Abramoff speak so glowingly about Tom DeLay's great success from "being true to our principles." That's special, too.
In their excitement over tomorrow's visit at the local Republican party HQ, the press release writer apparently had Bill on his mind, when he wrote the "WHO" line: Chairman Ken Mehlman, Gov. Bill Risch, Rep. Butch Otter & Republican-candidate Bill Sali.
No big deal, he's not going to be governor much longer anyway.
Given how many failings of the press have been so artfully timed (and/or deflected) around recent elections, it seems that Bob Woodward's State of Denial at least comes at an appropriate time: right before an important election. The debacle of the war on Iraq is being pretty fully documented while the history is still fresh. The "defense" that this is old news, no longer relevant... well, I don't buy it. The current administration has committed us to a shocking, awful mess, and they have not acknowledged the scope and breadth of their mistakes.
If you want different results, you have to do something differently. Continued lying, unfounded optimism, refusal to change course, attacking those who question decisions as unpatriotic (at least), as not supporting the troops, as wanting to "cut and run," these are not signals that give confidence we're headed in a new direction, or a the right one.
Here's Woodward, promoting his work, and its point of view on The Newshour:
The postwar period, well, they thought it was going to be easy. And so when Jay Garner, for instance, the general they put in charge of postwar rebuilding, comes to the president—now this is three weeks before the war—and says, "You've assigned me these nine tasks. Four of them I can't do, the four most important ones."
And the president—it sails over his and everyone's head. And no one says, "Well, who's going to do that? What do you mean you can't do it?" And the president says, "Kick ass, Jay."
Woodward thinks reality is soon going to trump the state of denial that is prevailing. We'll see. The administration isn't going to admit anything about reality before November 7th. If the voters can make themselves heard through Diebold's filter, reality may be imposed on them, later this fall.
The Republicans are remembering our late Congressman (as she preferred the term), Helen Chenoweth, said to be one tough lady. I was less than impressed with her as a politician, but no point speaking ill of the dead. It had more to do with disagreeing with just about every position she had than anything personal.
News is, her daughter-in-law was driving a big SUV, apparently lost control, and rolled it in a one-car accident. Chenoweth wasn't wearing a seatbelt. She had her 5-month-old grandson on her lap.
Butch Otter wrote, "in every sense of her being, she fought for the maximum individual liberty and the minimum in government." Apparently the Nevada law requiring wearing of seatbelts and using child carseats was past her personal limit.
Maybe grandson Bryan will grow with a different point of view, reminded from time to time of how his grandmother died, while he somewhat miraculously survived without serious injury, thrown out of a crashing car.
The Idaho "governor's mansion," formerly potato king J.R. "Jack" Simplot's sine qua non of personal expression, the house on the hill with the flag the flaps the neighbors awake, is halfway to garnering $3 million in fix-up donations. Sheesh, that's a lot of fixin' up, ain't it? And with so many actually worthwhile charitable alternatives to give towards, besides.
It seems Dirk and Patricia never got around to moving in before he was called away to be SecInt. Did short governor Risch move in? Both candidates in this year's election have said thanks, but no thanks for the housing deal; they don't want to move in if they win the job.
The Washington Times is calling the race for US Senate in Ohio a dead heat, as the Republican candidate seeks to cut and run from the President, and the failing Secretary of Defense. DeWine says he wouldn't have voted for the war on Iraq had he know the WMD bluster was just bluff.
In a claim worthy of Saint Peter, DeWine says "I don't use that term at all," doesn't even know "cut and run": "I don't know what it means," he said. "I don't know what it means to people."
You can watch the incumbent face off with Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown on Tim Russert's Meet the Press.
DeWine stresses that we can't leave the job undone in Iraq. That would leave two alternatives: finish the job, or never leave. As Thomas Ricks' Fiasco describes in excruciatingly detail, there never was a credible plan for men, women, and resources to finish the job, thanks to the leadership's inability or unwillingness to think beyond Shock and Awe.
So, No Exit. Bush has already told us that as an unwavering "principle" of his administration. We won't leave. Plan on ten thousand attacks on our soliders before the next Congress sits down to work.
Paul Sperry, on what was missing from (what we've seen of) the April NIE: "...the number of suicide bombings and roadside blasts from improvised explosives in Afghanistan has mushroomed by 600 percent this year, according to NATO. The Taliban say they have so many suicide bombers signed up to hit U.S. and other Western forces they can't even arm them all."
You remember Afghanistan, right? The country where Osama bin Laden operated and organized the 9/11 attack? He's still there, as far as we know, unless he's just over the border, in Pakistan.
Not that there isn't plenty of trouble in Mesopotamia. Tom Engelhardt describes George Bush's Iraq in 21 Questions. At least 23 militias. More than 5,000 killed in Baghdad alone in July and August. Torture out of control, and worse than it was under Saddam. And on and on.
By more than two-to-one, Iraqis want the U.S. out of their country. (Our promotion of Iraqi democracy doesn't extend to letting them vote on that, eh?) By staying there, we're stretching our military beyond limits, and making our "homeland" less safe, by motivating terrorist recruitment. But we can't withdraw... because it would require our leaders to admit mistakes, and they don't do that.
The continuing pattern of deception makes it clear that they know about the mistakes, and recognize the consequences that would come from the public knowing the truth. We can't handle the truth? They can't handle the truth, at least. They mishandle it.
Tom von Alten tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org