Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sagebrush nation

Interesting: did you know that Maine fits into the "Sagebrush" region of the United States, according to the analysts at Commonwealth?

It's because of our libertarian leanings. Sagebrush America is a place of open spaces and suspicion of government regulation - a stronghold of reform candidates and third-party challenges.

Meanwhile, Chris Bowers has done an interesting analysis of Bush's standings in each of these ten regions, concluding that while Bush is losing ground where he was already unpopular, he's actually gaining support in strongly Republican areas (how can this be, God; please tell me), and that we're becoming a nation more divided than ever before.

Maine's numbers, by the way, are static at 39% approve, 57% disapprove.

Straight talk from a Democrat

Holy smokes! Byrd to Rumsfeld:

I don't mean to be discourteous, but I've heard enough of your smart answers. Get off your high horse when you come up here. I have to run for re-election and you don't. We represent the American people and they are asking questions. They haven't been told the truth. The administration says we're unpatriotic if we ask questions, but that's our job.

Why wasn't this all over the news?

Framing 101: Democrats miss another opportunity

George Lakoff is over at Huffington Post today deconstructing the latest Rovian framing ploy. He chalks it up as a win for the bad guys and slams John Kerry in the process for his wonky op-ed on Iraq. Interesting reading. Paul Waldman's Kerry Fever: Catch It! will clue you in further.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A democratic medium

Here's Kos testifying before the FEC yesterday:

How are Internet technologies different than their offline media counterparts?

The barriers to entry are ridiculously low. A computer and an Internet connection can turn anyone into a publisher who can speak to a mass audience. Every single one of the communication technologies I mentioned above - the blogging, podcasting, Yahoo Groups, etc - is available to people for free. By comparison, it takes millions to start or buy a newspaper, television station, magazine, or radio station.

And that low barrier to entry ensures that anyone can communicate. It ensures that corporations or labor unions or wealthy individuals have no bigger say than people like me. I am a former war refugee from El Salvador. Didn't speak English when I came to this country. I never had friends in influential places. I wasn't part of an old boy's network. My father, a Greek immigrant, loaded freight in a warehouse. My mother, a Salvadoran immigrant, started off as a secretary. It is rare to see people of such modest backgrounds become media stars. Yet here is a medium that didn't care about things that didn't matter - like class, wealth, influence, or social networks. . . .

The Daily Kos is the highest ranked political blog of any stripe, registering more than 500,000 unique hits per day. It has more than 50,000 registered users who post a collective 275-300 diaries per day. Unquestionably it has changed the nature of political dialog in this country. All in three years. Thank you, Markos.

Interesting analysis on the stagnation of the right-wing blogosphere here.

Best headline ever

You have to love Buzzflash.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Best poll ever


Is George Bush the problem?
o Yes

You have to be a registered Kos user to vote. Do read the accompanying diary - it has valuable advice for Democrats on framing our current political debate. (Hint: A single response works for all questions!)

Bad news

From Equality Maine:

We watched with heavy hearts today as Michael Heath announced they had collected over 57,000 signatures to send the non- discrimination law to voters for a veto.

Although Maine law provides the opportunity for citizens to veto legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, the League was incredibly dishonest by claiming they were collecting signatures to "ban gay marriage."

This law is about discrimination in jobs, housing, schools, and businesses and we will illustrate this fact over and over throughout the upcoming campaign.

We must now turn all of our attention to the upcoming 4-month intensive campaign to rid this state of discrimination against LGBT people. Go to Maine Won't Discriminate to find out what you can do to help preserve this very important law.
I suppose we can also hope that some of the signatures won't pass muster.... For more on the fine work of Heath's organization, check this piece at Maine Politics.

Maine horror writer scares conservative watchdogs

Found this over at Alternet's blogwatch:

The hysterics at the Media Research Council put out a CyberAlert™ (boo!) upon watching King's address to the graduates of his alma mater, the University of Maine at Orono. Here's what spooked 'em (video and transcript here): "King urged the graduates to 'give away a dime of every dollar you make,' arguing, to applause," recounts the MRC's Brent Baker, "that 'if everybody did it, maybe we could make Mr. Bush let go of the weapons he loves so well and give back some of the money that he spends on them to the farmers, the unwed mothers and the working poor.'" As yet, no calls for the revocation of his citizenship. . . .

I love Stephen King. He's been unbelievably generous and loyal to the citizens of Maine, and now this.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fafblog on flags

If you have not yet met up with Fafblog, here is your chance:
Well a lot of you are probably sitting around today going "oh well finally I can sleep peacefully! a solution has arrived to the nationwide flag-burning epidemic." Well you are wrong! The flag-burning amendment would only allow Congress to punish people for desecrating the actual flag - when there are dozens of other ways to humiliate Freedom by defacing other Freedomlike objects! . . .
While you're at it, don't miss his explanation of treason or his interview with James Dobson.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Independent news on the horizon

Tired of infotainment? Angry at stenography journalism? Wondering where your democracy went?

Here's something to celebrate: Independent World News is building a news network free of
corporate or government sponsorship. It's the brainchild of Toronto filmmaker Paul Jay, who has put together a half-million in seed capital, an impressive advisory board, and a netroot-heavy fundraising plan for ITW's $25 million annual budget. They plan to start broadcasting in 2007.

This really is good news. Check out the website, watch the video if you have a high-speed connection, and consider making a small donation. As one visitor commented, "One day a formerly ignorant person will thank you for this."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Flag burning

I know, our most important national issue. Allen voted against the amendment, Michaud voted for it. Next up is the senate, where it looks likely to pass. Snowe and Collins both support the amendment, by the way.
UPDATE: I'm hearing calls to reframe this now. This is not a "Flag Burning Amendment." This is a "Repeal of the First Amendment." Do not use their frame!

Adds Beemer: "It's far better to uphold the Constitution and burn the flag than it is to hold up the flag and burn the Constitution."

Bangor Daily News calls for DSM Commission

I'm surprised and pleased by this:

How can members of Congress avoid looking like anything but irrelevant busybodies if they will occupy themselves with Major League Baseball's steroid policy but refuse to consider information that President Bush may have intentionally misled the nation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein? Though the series of meeting minutes now known as the Downing Street memos may not turn out to be a smoking gun, they are worth knowing more about because they could help explain why the Iraq war has turned out as it has.

They go on to call for a bipartisan investigation modeled on the 9/11 Commission - which, they remind us, Bush initially opposed - to look at the assumptions that went into the war, how they might have been flawed, and how they have affected the "prolonged, bloody post-war period."

Bangor Daily News trumps Washington Post.

Soul searching can save your soul

Walter Jones, one of the most conservative representatives from one of the most militarized districts in the country, has done a complete about-face on Iraq, from grandstanding on "freedom fries" to standing with Dennis Kucinich on holding Bush accountable. He says that Congress "must be told the truth" about the war.

Jan Frel at AlterNet tells how this change came about:

A congressional staffer who works closely with Walter Jones' office right now told me that Jones changed his mind about Iraq after some "difficult soul searching," and that the "growing gap" between the truth about Iraq that plays out in his district and the Republican party line he's supposed to toe in committee hearings has taken a "terrible toll on him." When I asked Jones' press secretary what led to the shift, she told me it was a combination of "the top-secret briefings, researching the issues, and talking to families."

In every single direction, Iraq is staring at Walter Jones in the face, and it's turned him into an emotional wreck. Jones hangs photographs of the fallen soldiers from his district at the entrance to his congressional offices, and their eyes meet his every time he enters the offices. More than 100 Marines from Camp Lejeune have lost their lives; Jones has written letters to the 1,300 family members who survive them. Mix in the closed-door sessions he attends with generals and intelligence experts telling him every single thing is going wrong, the despair of wives and children on the bases who have seen tours of duty extended, and the disquiet, misery and injuries of the returned combat veterans. Jones still talks about the funeral he attended two years ago of Sgt. Michael Bitz, who never saw the birth of his twin sons.

It wasn't politics, in other words. It was compassion and integrity. I hope some other Republicans regain their sanity and souls in the face of his example.

Please, sir, may I have another?

Oh, great. Dick Durbin caves and apologizes for criticizing torture. Not only that, he cries while doing it. Puffy-eyed, voice quavering, our number two Democrat in the Senate bows down to all the neocon thugs and bullies to beg forgiveness. "Please, please, please don't think of me as an anti-military, traitorous, weak Democrat who hates America," he sniffles as they prepare to beat him to a pulp.

Thanks a lot, Dick.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Club Gitmo

Source: EIB Collection.

Rush Limbaugh is offering "Club Gitmo" T-shirts for sale. On the front it says,"Club Gitmo," and on the back it says "What happens in Gitmo stays in Gitmo." For $19.95.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Old news

[Because of its extraordinary force, I'm printing this piece by colinb in full, edited slightly for space. --Alna Dem]
The Downing Street Memo may be old news
But this is new news:

Jay grad killed by bomb is S.A.'s latest loss in war

When Jonathan Flores returned to Jay High School, his alma mater, he talked to students in the Junior ROTC.
Flores, 18, was killed Tuesday in Iraq by a roadside bomb near Fallujah, said retired Air Force Col. Dennis LeVan, one of Flores' ROTC instructors at Jay....

The fact that George Bush told his ghostwriter in 1999 that, if given the chance, he would invade Iraq so that he could gain "political capital" may be old news
But this is new news:

Henderson Marine Killed in Iraq

It's the second time in a week that a Southern Nevadan has died, fighting the war on terror. Marine Corporal Jesse Jaime was killed Wednesday when the vehicle he was riding in hit an explosive device. Jesse Jaime enlisted into the Marine Corps following in his twin brother Joel's footsteps....

The fact that Bush was planning to invade Iraq during his first month in office may be old news
But this is new news:

21-year-old Henderson Guardsman dies in Iraq

Sitting on a sofa in his Henderson condominium Thursday, Joe Cometa wondered: "When is it going to end?"
"It's got to stop," he said. "I sound bitter because I lost my kid, but bring these kids home. ... I don't want other families going through this." ...

The fact that Dick Cheney's energy task force was mapping out Iraq oilfields in March of 2001 may be old news
But this is new news:

Marine killed in Iraq

The explosion of a roadside bomb in Iraq has sent waves of grief and shock through Northwest Pasadena and Altadena.
Lance Cpl. Dion Whitley of Altadena was one of five Marines to die in a predawn attack on Wednesday. The convoy in which he was riding hit an improvised explosive device near Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. Whitley, 21, was a machine-gunner. He had been in Iraq for three months….

The fact that Bush diverted $700 million, without the permission of congress, to Iraq war preparations in the summer of 2002 may be old news
But this is new news:

A Kentucky Guardsman was killed in Iraq this week during a rocket propelled grenade attack.

All who knew him had nothing but praise for 29-year-old Specialist Michael Hayes of Morgantown….

The fact that former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter stated in July of 2002 that Saddam had no WMDs, but was ignored, may be old news
But this is new news:

Librarians Honor Fallen Central Ohio Soldier

Staff at a community library in Sunbury said they will still send Fourth of July cards to Spc. Anthony D. Kinslow, who was killed this week in Iraq, NBC 4's Nancy Burton reported.
The Westerville soldier died when his military vehicle came under a grenade attack while conducting combat operations in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.
Kinslow's mother regularly visited the community library in Sunbury twice a week with his 7-year-old brother.
His mother visited staff at the library Tuesday to personally tell them about her son's death.
Library staff members said they will still send the cards, because that's what Kinslow's mother would have wanted, Burton reported.
Staff at the library said they will never forget the expression on her face.

The fact that the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq's weapons capabilities was purposefully stripped of doubts and dissenting opinions may be old news
But this is new news:

Jacksonville Marine dies in Iraq blast

Nathan Clemons grew up on Alderman Road in Jacksonville, received his diploma through Terry Parker High School and was active in the youth group and band at University Boulevard Nazarene Church before joining the Marines early last year.
On Tuesday, the 20-year-old private first class was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force….

The fact that Sen. Bob Graham received a 25 page report from the CIA in the summer of 2002 that stated evidence of Saddam's WMD was inconclusive, but Graham was roundly ignored, if not outright mocked, may be old news
But this is new news:

Marine killed in Iraq recalled as 'angel,' 'jokester'

Joshua Klinger joined the Marines to serve his country, but also to prove to himself that he could do it.
He was ''the goof-off, the jokester,'' who liked to keep busy. He didn't talk much, but when he did, it would make his brother and sister crack up. He was a hero to his younger brother and his 8-year-old cousin, who wrote a school essay saying as much. He played the piano and taught himself the guitar. His sister called him the family's ''angel,'' watching over the family.
All of those memories came flooding out of Klinger's family members in Williams Township as they struggled Wednesday with the news that their son, their brother, a 21-year-old Wilson Area High School graduate, was killed by shrapnel from a roadside bomb in Iraq. The family said the attack happened Tuesday at 1:07 a.m. Iraqi time, or 5:07 p.m. Monday locally….

The fact that chief Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz admitted that WMDs were just a convenient excuse to convince the country to go along with the invasion of Iraq may be old news
But this is new news:

Two Ohioans serving in Iraq killed in grenade attack

Sgt. Larry Kuhns Jr., 24, had three more weeks to serve in Iraq, shooting heavy artillery.
Three more weeks, after 18 months there, until he would rejoin his wife and toddler at their Fort Carson apartment in Colorado.
The Ohio native died Monday in a grenade attack on his Humvee.
It's better it happened that way. He didn't know what hit him. He didn't linger," his father, Larry Sr., said Wednesday.

The fact that coalition forces drastically stepped up bombing runs during the summer of 2002 in order to goad Saddam into war may be old news
But this is new news:

Antigo Marine died Monday

A Marine who was the president of his class three out of four years in high school in Antigo died Monday from wounds he received in Iraq last week, the Department of Defense said.
Lance Cpl. John J. Mattek Jr., 24, suffered the injuries in a June 8 explosion as part of combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, the Pentagon said.
Mattek is the 39th Wisconsin service member to be killed in Iraq….

The fact that 25 former CIA officers accused the President of manipulating intelligence may be old news
But this is new news:

MS guardsman killed during tour of duty in Iraq

Sgt. Larry R. Arnold Sr., a Mississippi National Guardsman, was killed in Iraq this past weekend when an improvised explosive device went off about 25 miles west of Baghdad.
In addition, Spc. Terrance Lee, of Moss Point, was killed in the blast that occurred near their vehicle while the two men were on patrol.
Arnold, 46, and Lee, 25, were part of Company B 150th Combat Engineer Battalion of Lucedale and deployed to Iraq with the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team….

The fact that in 2002 the White House killed Pentagon plans to strike Zarqawi's camp in Northern Iraq in order to maintain the White House's claim that Iraq has ties to terrorists may be old news
But this is new news:

A family recalls son, soldier and friend

For Gaye Lapinski, her son was a gentle human being, her best friend, one who got all her bad habits, she jokes. She hoped he would one day get married and give her a grandchild.
For Stanley Lapinski, a World War II Marine veteran, his namesake was the epitome of dedication and personal responsibility. He talks proudly about his son, the Army specialist who could imagine doing nothing greater than giving his life defending his country.
On Saturday, Stanley "Stash" Lapinski did. On patrol with his unit in Iraq, Lapinski died instantly after suffering head injuries when a roadside bomb exploded nearby, his father said. He was 35….

The fact that the White House Silenced Experts Who Questioned Iraq Intel Six Months Before War may be old news
But this is new news:

Brownwood Marine killed in Iraq

A 20-year-old Marine from West Texas died in an explosion in western Iraq.
Military officials say Lance Cpl. Mario A. Castillo of Brownwood died Friday when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle.
Castillo was assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division of the Second Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Castillo's family said he decided to join the Marines when he was a junior in high school.
He wanted to enlist before he graduated, but his parents wouldn't sign the papers.
His sister, Julia Rodriguez, told the Brownwood Bulletin her brother's dream was to be a Marine.

The fact that Vice President Cheney made numerous unprecedented trips to the CIA in order to pressure analysts may be old news
But this is new news:

Louisiana soldier killed in Iraq

A Louisiana solider died last week while serving in Iraq.
Sgt. David J. Murray, 23, died Thursday when a bomb exploded under his armored personnel carrier as he and other soldiers of the 1088th Engineer Battalion patrolled in the Baghdad area, his mother and stepfather said….

The fact that our tough guy of a President said in March of 2002 "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out" may be old news
But this is new news:

Iowa Guardsman Killed in Iraq

National Guard soldier from northwest Iowa who volunteered for a second tour of duty overseas was killed over the weekend when insurgents detonated a bomb under his armored Humvee, a military official said Monday.
Spc. Casey Byers, 22, of Schleswig, the father of an infant daughter, died about 8 p.m. Saturday south of Ramadi, said Lt. Col. Gregory Hapgood, the Iowa National Guard's public affairs officer. Also killed in the attack was Sgt. 1st Class Neal Prince, a regular U.S. Army soldier based at Fort Carson, Colo. He is not an Iowan.
Last fall, Byers volunteered for duty in Iraq and arrived there in January with the Iowa National Guard's 224th Engineer Battalion. Before his deployment, he had worked for Casey's General Stores at the company's Ankeny warehouse.
Byers was the fourth soldier from the Guard's 224th Engineer Battalion, based in southeast Iowa, to be killed in Iraq this year.
Byers' survivors include a daughter, Hailey; his mother and father, Ann and William Byers; a brother, Paul; and a sister, Jennifer. Funeral arrangements are pending.
In Schleswig, a town of 833 people in Crawford County, residents reacted with stunned sadness. Word spread around the city on Sunday after worshippers were notified at Schleswig United Church of Christ, which the Byers family attended.
"I think everyone is shocked. It hit very close to home," said the Rev. Chris Burtnett, who was called early Sunday morning to be with the Byers family. "There was visible shock. A lot of tears, just disbelief."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Media responsibility

(Apologies - this will be brief as I'm short on time.) The media spin on yesterday's hearing appears to be:
  • The Downing Street Memo contains nothing new. Everyone already knows that Bush lied. We don't have to report on it.
  • The Downing Street Memo is of interest only to antiwar activists and ultra-lefties who want us out of Iraq.
  • The Democrats are so marginalized that yesterday they "played house" in order to feel important.
  • Move along, no story here.
Read this disgraceful editorial in today's Washington Post to see what I'm talking about. Then read John Conyers' response to it. (For extra credit, check out this piece by former diplomat and US Army Colonel Mary Ann Wright on the importance of the memo and the irresponsibility of the media.)

Our job is to write the Post and maybe local papers too, using the talking points outlined in Conyers' letter. Even a one-line email to Michael Getler, will be hugely helpful.

Thank you, thank you. More tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The hearing

Okay, technically it was a "forum" held in a tiny basement room, even though much larger rooms were available and had been requested. It was fully partisan; no Republicans stopped in to say hello. We don’t know yet how the press will handle the event. Nevertheless, John Conyers' inquiry into the Downing Street Memo was a blockbuster success.

The room was bristling with cameras and microphones. Nightline was there taping. CSPAN did a live broadcast and webstreaming. People crowded into the room and were forced to leave to make room for new attendees (House leaders may have miscalculated in forcing them into a small room, since it magnified the buzz effect on TV). Highly credible people said things you have not seen in print nor heard in the lofty chambers upstairs. And afterwards, Conyers set off to the White House to deliver his letter signed by 120 122 members of Congress and 540,000 560,000 other Americans.

Money "near-quotes" (instant transcription; not completely accurate):

Ambassador Joseph Wilson: "I have played for the American team. Not Republican, not Democrat, just the American team.

"The administration has been less than candid with Congress . . . We're having this discussion today because we didn't have it 3 years ago."

Gold Star Mothers for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan: "It appears my boy was given a death sentence even before he left . . . The most tragic part of it is that if the DSM proves to be true, Casey and thousands like him should still be alive today . . . When a president lies to the American people, it is a serious offense.

"Casey was not asked his party affiliation when he signed up . . . Please hold someone responsible."

27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern: "Let's take the anatomy of a lie. Cheney's lie . . . deliberate subversion . . . Hussein Kamel lie . . . Cheney played a superb role in conjuring up a nuclear threat out of whole cloth, to deceive you, our members of Congress.

[Recalling Bush at the White House Correspondents' dinner, looking for imaginary WMD under his desk] "We're not talking about fraternity jokes. These are consequential, death-dealing lies . . . You all laughed with him [looking at the press]. But I will tell you who is not laughing. Cindy and I are not laughing. Cindy's son was killed 11 days after the President put on this show.

"People ask me, 'Is this unusual for a VP to come to the CIA [as Cheney did]?' I tell them: No, it's not unusual - it's unprecedented. I was at the CIA 27 years and never saw a vice president visit. Cheney did so 9 times.

[Asked why did they do it?] "O - I - L. 'O' for oil, 'I' for Israel, and 'L' for neocon logistical base."

Constitutional lawyer Jon Bonifaz: [Calls for a Resolution of Inquiry as an appropriate first step in an impeachment process] "If the evidence revealed by the DSM is true then the president's submission of this letter to Congress would violate criminal law . . . felony to defraud the US . . . felony to submit false statements to the US Congress.

"The Iraq war has led to the deaths of more than 1,700 US soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians, many others injured, cost the American people tens of billions of dollars at the expense of basic human needs here at home.

"If the president has committed high crimes in connection with this war he must be held accountable. The US Constitution requires no less. If the evidence in the Downing Street Minutes is true, then . . . the US Congress has a duty to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to impeach George W. Bush, President of the United States . . . The US Constitution demands no less."

The hearing will be re-broadcast on C-SPAN 2 tonight and Friday night (6/17) at 8:00pm EST.
UPDATE: BooMan calls the hearing "a parallel world where the truth is spoken, pollsters and consultants are ignored, and no one hesitates to say that the President and his whole national security apparatus should be frog-marched into Leavenworth prison."

I don't mean to be rude,

but this is where my thoughts are ranging.

Source: Dood Abides

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Conyers hearing update

All good news. First, Conyers dodged Sensenbrenner and got a hearing room after all, along with an overflow room. The event will be held at HC-9, The Capitol, 2:30-4:30 pm tomorrow.

Second, one source reports that every major network will be there with the exception of Fox. (They don't have to 'cause they're fair and balanced.) CSPAN-3 will broadcast the proceedings live.

Third, Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones, the conservative NC representative who has now turned against the war and is asking for a withdrawal plan, announced today that he will co-sponsor legislation calling for the truth on the Downing Street Memo.

Fourth, six additional British memos have surfaced to solidify the case against Bush with respect to lying and incompetence around the Iraq invasion.

Fifth, our stunned and clueless press seem to be waking up to the fact that they may have to cover this story, even while they cling to the defense, "it's not news because everyone already knows Bush lied, even though we never told you."

And sixth, Conyers has come up with the definitive answer to the "memo versus minutes" terminology. He's calling it the Downing Street scandal.

Some people are taking bets that we'll have a sudden terror alert tomorrow, but I prefer to be optimistic for once.

Down to the wire on public broadcasting

Please sign here.

MoveOn is asking us to sign their petition to save PBS and NPR from drastic cuts. Last chance: the House Appropriations Committee votes tomorrow. And by "drastic," I mean "cut 25% of public funding for NPR and PBS immediately and 100% within two years."

Snowe gets it right on trade, Collins undecided

Max Schlobohm, coordinator of the Maine Fair Trade Campaign, sends this report:

Yesterday, Senator Olympia Snowe announced her opposition to CAFTA during the Senate Finance committee mock mark up of the agreement. The Maine Fair Trade Campaign and all of our allies have been working for the last year to pressure Sen. Snowe to publicly oppose CAFTA. Everyone’s efforts calling, writing, attending public hearings & pressuring Sen. Snowe made the real difference. Senator Snowe’s staff told us that Sen. Snowe had been getting “an incredible amount of pressure against CAFTA from within Maine.” They said, “they had never had this much opposition to a trade agreement from within the state.” In a conversation one of our contacts had with Sen. Snowe this past weekend, the Senator noted the “stiff opposition to CAFTA in Maine.” This is great work that we all should be really proud of. And we really made the difference because Sen. Snowe’s staff also told us that she was getting “unbelievable pressure from the Administration to support CAFTA.” Our grassroots opposition & pressure won out! Great work, everyone. This is a huge victory!

He asks that we call and thank Snowe. (Sigh.) Augusta office: 622-8292.

Despite Snowe's vote, the committee passed the enabling legislation by 11-9. Schlobohm continues:

The very close committee vote does continue to show the difficulty CAFTA is having in Congress. The administration is pushing forward on CAFTA with the hopes of bringing it to a vote in Congress before the August recess. Things will really be heating up over the next month and we will need to keep our pressure up. We can now focus all of our energy on Sen. Susan Collins, who still remains undecided on CAFTA. Our goal has always been to have Maine’s entire Congressional delegation oppose CAFTA. We have one more to go so we will definitely be asking you to call & write again soon.

Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This is how they wield power

I knew John Conyers would run into roadblocks when he announced his Downing Street hearings. The very next day Sensenbrenner threw his Patriot Act tantrum and shut off the mikes on Democratic witnesses. Today, majority staff for the House Judiciary Committee announced a new policy to deny any request from a committee Democrat for the use of a committee hearing room. Cute, huh?

Sean McLauglin, Sensenbrenner's deputy chief of staff, expressed himself thusly in a note to a minority staffer: “I’m sitting here watching your ‘forum’ on C-SPAN,” McLaughlin wrote. “Just to let you know, it was your last. Don’t bother asking [for a room] again.”

Conyers is moving his Thursday forum to the DNC at this writing, though many would prefer to see it unfold in a more bipartisan locale - say, on the Capitol steps, or on the Mall with thousands of cheering witnesses.

Next task is to ensure coverage for the event. Let's drop a note or two, shall we?

See you at the hearing.
UPDATE: C-Span will be there, and there is unconfirmed news that Sensenbrenner is backing down and letting Conyers hold the event on Capitol Hill.

Thursday, June 16
Democratic Members of House Judiciary Cmte. Hearing on Downing St. Memo and Iraq War
On C-SPAN3 at 2:30pm ET

More good cheer

Source: gspan

Just in case this story doesn't make it into your evening news, here's the scene that greeted Bush when he spoke to high school students on the Penn State campus today. Local progressives handed out flyers to more than 1,000 townspeople before and after the speech, and 100 sign-bearing regular folks turned up as well.

P.S. Did I mention that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin passed a resolution over the weekend calling for the impeachment of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld? (On account of high crimes and misdemeanors.)

Send a message

No doubt Dean has the fortitude to stand without us, but word is, he's appreciating the outpouring of support from the grassroots. If you'd like to add your voice, click on this link to sign a respectful letter asking DC dems to lay off the carping. You can also go here to give a small donation to the DNC that will be earmarked "We've got Howard's back."

Either way, they're getting the message.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The perfect answer

Who says Howard Dean can't be reasonable?

"My view is FOX News is a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party and I don't comment on FOX News," Dean said. That was in response to vice president Dick Cheney calling Howard Dean "over the top" on Fox News on Sunday.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Another week in DC, ho hum

From Carpetbagger Report via MyDD, here's a list of stories coming out of Washington in just the last seven days:
  • The Bush White House let a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute re-write a government report on global warming, editing out scientific conclusions he didn't like.
  • Bush's Interior Department offered to overpay a wealthy Republican donor for oil and gas rights on Everglades land that the government apparently already owns, overruling the advice of career officials.
  • The Pentagon's inspector general released a report on a lucrative Air Force contract for Boeing that cost too much for planes the military didn't want. Bush, who has enjoyed generous campaign contributions from Boeing, was involved with the contract, personally asking White House aides to work out the deal and dispatching Chief of Staff Andrew Card to participate in the contract negotiations. When the inspector general's report came out, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to the Bush gang's involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing.
  • Documents from the U.S. State Department published this week show that the president backed away from the Kyoto global warming treaty after being pressured by ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries.
  • Bush officials at the Justice Department inexplicably decided to reduce its settle request with the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion, and urged government witnesses to soften their recommendations about sanctions.
To which I would add:
  • At yesterday's House Judiciary hearings on abuses of the Patriot Act, the Republican chair interrupted witnesses in mid-sentence, abruptly ended the hearing, and walked out, ordering the mikes shut off.
  • A newly released Justice Department report shows that the FBI missed at least five chances to pull in two of the 9/11 hijackers in the months prior to the attack. (Which is why we should give up even more of our civil liberties in an expanded Patriot Act? Just asking.)
  • 16 American and 3 Iraqi contractors were jailed at Camp Fallujah last month, where they say they were humiliated and physically abused by U.S. Marines over a period of 3 days.
I only spent 10 minutes on the addendum, so I'm sure I missed a few. (Yawn.) Oh well, there's always next week.

I don't know, is this too tentative?

Dear Senator Biden:

You may speak for MBNA but you don’t speak for me when you go after fellow Democrats in public. Next time you have a beef with Howard Dean, kindly address it in private so that you don’t give AMMUNITION TO THE OTHER SIDE. COULD YOU DO THAT FOR US, PLEASE?

Then, with the air time you aren’t using to betray 58 million Democratic voters, you could go after the band of criminals bent on DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY.

Excuse me for shouting but I had to assume you are deaf to the average voter.

Great rant here by William Rivers Pitt.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Freeway blogging

These signs were seen by 10 million Californians and cost less than $75.
As some of you may know, I collect information on how to change minds. I've read treatises by recovering Republicans, salesmen, social scientists, historians, fascists, logicians, cult deprogrammers, and standup comedians. (Also astute lay observers.) My fondest dream is to meld it all into one grand unified theory of political argument for the deliverance of my country. Meanwhile, I suggest you don't hold your breath but do go check out Freewayblogger.
UPDATE: And visit Freedom Press Handbills while you're at it.

Media wakeup, day 8

Today's targets:
  • CNN, Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno. email: phone: 202-898-7900 fax: 202-898-7923 webmail (CNN’s story idea form)
  • U.S. News & World Report, Editor Brian Duffy. email: [state at top: ‘Not for publication’] phone: 202-955-2000 fax: 202-955-2049
  • LA Times, Readers’ Representative. email: phone: 877-554-4000 fax: 213-237-3535
Backstory here. If you really like sinking your teeth into things, check out the 15 corroborations that support the statements recorded in the Downing Street Memo.

The big news now is John Conyers' DSM hearings scheduled for June 16. A word of caution, though. This morning, during hearings on extending and expanding the Patriot Act, House Judiciary chair James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) evidently didn't care for the testimony he was hearing - and simply shut down the proceedings and walked out. At the time their mikes were cut, witnesses were testifying about prisoner abuse, racial profiling, long detentions, and other civil rights infringements stemming from the existing Patriot Act. Ironic, yes. Also deeply disturbing.
UPDATE: Better media wakeup backstory here.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Vichy, toady dems

John Edwards, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Bill Richardson, Christopher Dodd, and Barack Obama all found it necessary to speak out against Howard Dean this week after the DNC chairman made some blunt statements about Republicans, most recently calling them "pretty much a white, Christian party." Omigod that is so divisive and hateful!!! Even though people in Texas drive around with actual bumper stickers like this one (courtesy and even though former GOP senator John Danforth said in a NYT editorial earlier this year, “Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians.”

But the accuracy of Dean’s comment is not the point.

This is the point:
FOX's Dick Morris: "[T]here never will be any" moderate Muslim voices
On FOX, Tony Blankley called Soros "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust"
Sean Hannity: God is "no Democrat"
Dennis Miller: Jesus "prefers Bush to Kerry"
"The Democrats want Saddam back" and other Coulterisms
Republican reverend ignored recent history in condemning only Democrats for atrocities against African Americans
Coulter on MSNBC and FOX: called Americans who don't support Bush "traitors"
Oliver North: "Every terrorist" wants Kerry to win
Coulter blamed Democrats for 9-11, USS Cole attack, embassy bombings
Coulter: "Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry"
Gingrich: George Soros "wants to spend $75 million defeating George W. Bush because Soros wants to legalize heroin"
Coulter on tour: "I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days" to talk to liberals
FOX peddles false report that California school "banned Declaration of Independence because it mentions God"
Rush Limbaugh on the Abu Ghraib photos: "I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?"
Michael Savage: "When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son."
Oliver North: "Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States."
Bill O'Reilly to Jewish caller: "[I]f you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel."
(hat tip to bonddad)
Think. Did you ever hear a single Republican apologize on behalf of these sociopaths for these and the countless other outrages they commit against Democratic American citizens every single day of the year? No. They attack the questioner instead. They change the subject. They toss another bomb.
And don't even get me started on the hatred perpetrated by the Christian right.

(Okay, this photo is an over-the top parody, but I am REALLY FURIOUS.)

So Dean makes some provocative statements. Are the wingnuts frothing at the mouth? Yes. Do we care? No. They're always frothing at the mouth; what we do makes no difference one way or the other.

Are the pundits frowning and acting all serious, talking about danger and moderation and what wise Democrats ought to do? Yes. So - and here's a test, Democrats - do we run to the nearest camera and frown, act serious, apologize, denounce, distance, and equivocate?

No. Hello! Earth to Vichy Dems: the pundits are not your friends and do not have your interests at heart. You don't have to listen to them, okay? Why don't you try listening to Harry Reid instead? Also - NEWS BULLETIN - it's not worth selling out your party to get some face time on TV just because you're thinking of running for president. And another thing: when you do it you look weak, irrelevant, cowardly, and selfish. How about you speak to Dean in private if you have a beef with him, then get on TV and rip the worst president this country has ever had?

To see a Gonzales-loving, MBNA-representing Beltway hack like Biden race to capitulate makes me sick.
Even worse is the self-righteous, Bush-kissing, Iraq-war-supporting toady Joe Lieberman.

Luckily for us, Dean isn't backing down.

Sen. Biden: 202-224-5042
Sen. Lieberman: 202-224-4041

John Conyers, Jr., American hero

This just out:

Congressman John Conyers (D. - Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, working with, has scheduled hearings on the Downing Street Minutes and related evidence to be held on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 16 (time and place to be determined).

Numerous Congress members will take part, along with an ambassador, a WMD expert, a CIA analyst with 27 years experience, parents who have lost sons in Iraq, a constitutional lawyer, and other witnesses.

Following the hearings, Congressman Conyers will attempt to deliver to the President a letter signed by 500,000 Americans asking him to reply to questions raised by the Downing Street Minutes. Supporters will rally in Lafayette Square Park. (Time to be determined.)

ADS is a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war.
Read the rest at After Downing Street. And if you haven't already done so, sign Rep. Conyers' letter!
UPDATE: The timing is probably a coincidence, but it was 51 years ago today that Joseph Welch, legal counsel to the Army in the HUAC hearings, said those beautiful, career-ending words to Senator Joseph McCarthy. You know, "Have you no decency, sir? Have you, at long last, no sense of decency?"

This should cheer you up

Pointed out by our fellow Mainer at Cheers and Jeers:

Bill Clinton's approval rating on the day of his impeachment: 73%
George W. Bush's approval 6 months after re-election: 48%

Enjoy your day.

Media wakeup, day 7

Here’s today’s list:
  • Knight Ridder, Washington Bureau Chief John Walcott. email:
  • Boston Globe, Ombudsman Christine Chinlund. email: phone: 617-929-3020 (or 3022, to leave a message)
  • Houston Chronicle, Reader Representative James T. Campbell. email: phone: 713-220-6303
Backstory is here. And USA Today has a provocative story this morning on yesterday’s press conference and Bush’s growing memo problem….