Sat Jan 01
Alterman vs. Beinart
This is fun; I have heard both gents speak - Beinart in the spirited October 17 Amherst debate with Ann Coulter, and Alterman on AirAmerica Radio. Alterman and Beinart are articulate, independent, and passionate thinkers. The present editorial exchange is a refreshing contrast to what passes for debate on, say, Crossfire.
Thu Dec 23
Watchdog group Media Matters and conservative misinformant Bill O'Reilly have been going at it for some time now, with entertaining results. Bill O'Reilly has referred to the Media Matters team as vile, despicable, creeps, and as character assassins, despicable weasels, sneaky, deceitful, and disgusting. Media Matters has continued to call attention to O'Reilly's ongoing lies, distortions, mischaracterizations, and occasional grossly offensive remarks, issued an open letter to O'Reilly calling him a coward based on his own definition of the term, and, today, bestowed upon O'Reilly the coveted title of MMFA's MISINFORMER OF THE YEAR.
I would like to encourage Media Matters readers to donate to Media Matters for America every time Bill O'Reilly finds a new epithet for Media Matters. Give generously; it's fun!
News is what powerful people want to keep hidden. Everything else is publicity. - Bill Moyers final NOW broadcast, December 17, 2004.
Sun Dec 12
House Forum on Ohio Election Voting - "massive voter suppression"
On Wednesday, Dec 8, Representative John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, hosted a 3-hour forum on voting irregularities in Ohio during the recent election. The best account I have seen is the "DC Pol Sci" Wed Dec 8th, 2004 diary entry on dailykos.com.
... what I heard today was irrefutable evidence of massive voter suppression on a scale that I never even knew was possible: elderly people collapsing because they wouldn't let them vote; people standing out in the rain for four hours; students in a hot gymnasium; someone who lost her job because she had to stand in line for so long to vote. Now, even if all of these stories are true, I'm not sure that they'd create enough votes to swing the election to Kerry.
But that's not the point. That's not where the story is. The story is the suppression of voters, all in one direction: US. Traditionally Democratic groups of voters. As someone pointed out, there hasn't been a single, solitary report of any Republican voter who wasn't allowed to cast her ballot. It's all coming from the inner cities, from the college campuses, from places that would have voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.A complete recording of the forum is available from C-Span, either DVD or video stream.
Where is it all going? Here are a couple late items:
Disenfranchised Voters Ignored by Press, Republicans
A few sidelights to the Conyers forum (see above):
Fri Dec 10
Books on CD: Pat Buchanan, John Dean
I just finished listening to Where the Right Went Wrong, by Pat Buchanan, read by the author. The idea was to add readings from the right to my admittedly left-leaning reading list.
Buchanan speaks out plausibly, in my opinion, against the occupation of Iraq and imperialist efforts in general, and in favor of protectionism. He offers a brief history of Islam from its inception to modern times. On the other hand, the customary right-wing railings against abortion, gay marriage, and separation of church and state were unenlightening and tiresome.
I am about 1/4-way into the Books On Tape CD edition of John Dean's Worse Than Watergate, and find it far better than the title might suggest. This is no mere exercise in Bush-bashing; it is a lucid, insightful, and frightening look at Bush's first term as president from the perspective of a veteran of the Nixon White House, another administration which has come to be known for its extremes of secrecy and duplicity. The description of Bush's earlier financial exploits with Harken Energy and the Rangers is the clearest account I have seen anywhere.
Sun Dec 05
This item from the Kazakhstan 21st Century Foundation, back on Apr. 3, 2003, mentions one James Giffen: DO I GET ONE PHONE CALL?
[Giffen] was charged with funneling some $25 million in bribes to senior Kazakh officials in exchange for lucrative oil deals ... The alleged bribes, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday, were in connection with six separate oil transactions involving Mobil Oil, Amoco, Texaco and Phillips Petroleum and the sale of oil and gas rights in Kazakhstan.
In his defense, Mr. Giffen claimed to be working for the CIA.
On December 2, 2004 we see from the court this MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, in which it is stated:
Oblivious to the requirements of Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) and Rule 12.3 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Government initiated public filings with this Court. Then, in an abrupt about-face, the Government began submitting every document under seal and insisted that Defendant James Giffen do the same. The Government now asserts that its earlier public filings contain potentially classified information and ought to be sealed.
I confess, I do not know where this is going, but I did find this White House press release lauding the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.
Statement by the President
I congratulate Russia, Kazakhstan, and Oman, and their consortium partners, for the commissioning of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). U.S. firms, notably ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, have played leading roles in this project.
And according to this World Press Review article from October 6, 2004, Condoleezza Rice was on the board of directors of ChevronTexaco during the formation of the consortium.
ChevronTexaco was so grateful for Rice's service that it named a tanker after her.
A little background:
Kazakhstan holds about 2.5% of proven recoverable world oil reserves. Industry analysts believe that planned expansion of oil production, coupled with the development of new fields, will enable the country to produce as much as 3 million barrels per day by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations.
Sun Nov 28
How the Election Was Bought
Wayne Madsen has written a two-part report at Online Journal:
According to informed sources in Washington and Houston, the Bush campaign spent some $29 million to pay polling place operatives around the country to rig the election for Bush. The operatives were posing as Homeland Security and FBI agents but were actually technicians familiar with Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, Triad, Unilect, and Danaher Controls voting machines. These technicians reportedly hacked the systems to skew the results in favor of Bush.
This bellaciao summary has a fairly high noise level, but contains leads that may be useful.
The holiday season is a time for many of us to go to the movies. Here are some of my favorite documentary features. As a youngster, I enjoyed the Twentieth Century series on television. For a short time - the era before Junkyard Wars - Discovery and Learning channels on cable had some worthwhile material, but Fahrenheit 9/11 was what truly renewed my enjoyment of the documentary.
Thu Nov 25
American Progress Action Fund has a list of 21 Reasons to Give Thanks. My favorite is presidential term limits. But the APAF list is of course part of their valiant ongoing attempt to restore balance, honest government, the social contract, etc.
Personally, this year I am thankful not only for the embarrassment of riches I enjoy as an American, but also for the opportunity to join with so many thoughtful and dedicated individuals who have taken it upon themselves to direct this country back toward integrity, altruism, freedom, and decency.
Tue Nov 23
Vote Fraud - Coyote Memo, Revised Freeman Report, and Others
Last Friday, this message from Peter Coyote appeared on the web. Media Locked Down - Will Not Cover Vote Fraud.
On Friday I received a phone call from a good friend who works at CBS--I've known her for years and she is a Producer for some of the news programs, one well known one in particular. She tipped me off that the news media is in a "lock-down" and that there is to be no TV coverage of the real problems with voting on Nov. 2nd.
Here's one local newspaper where the subject is receiving less than short shrift from the mainstream: National media muzzled on vote fraud, by Joe Baker, Senior Editor, Rock River Times.
Why haven't we heard more on the national media about alleged vote fraud in the recent election? ...
Here's an example of blogosphere commentary on the Coyote message and related items:CANNONFIRE - Joseph Cannon's blog:
I'm not sure we can completely understand what it's like to be a member of the press and be intimidated by the White House. Let's put it this way, if there is a "lockdown", it means that any stories journalists write about illegalities in the Bush White House will not be printed. And they will not be aired on TV. This has nothing to do with daring to write an "exclusive". This means that any exclusive you write won't be printed and you'll be fired.
Buzzflash is carrying the first part of a new version of the Freeman report on the exit poll discrepancy. Dr. Freeman begins the new version with this explanation:
Note on this revision: The thesis of the initial drafts of this paper that were widely circulated on the Internet, was that exit poll discrepancy could not have been due to chance or random error. My purpose was to raise as a legitimate question, What caused it? In this version, I begin to try to answer that question.
I'm releasing this paper in two parts, so as to replace the early drafts as soon as possible. Part I is to clean up the previous draft. Part II will be new analysis.
Finally, this website sums it up nicely: donotconcede.com - WE DO NOT CONCEDE.
WE DO NOT CONCEDE Coalition urges you to continue to help get the word out - we are making a difference! Unite in your communities, protest in numbers, deliver petitions to your elected officials. Let your friends, family, email lists, and groups know about this growing coalition of concerned Americans who are questioning the results of the 2004 election. Write letters to the editor urging members of your community to NOT CONCEDE their votes. We must all do what we can to help get this issue out front and center in our communities!
Mon Nov 22
Condoleezza Rice Redux
Slate's Fred Kaplan explained in his article of April 8, 2004 Why Rice is a bad national security adviser:
She has been a bad national security adviser: passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.
Donald E. Knuth, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and author of the classic series The Art of Computer Programming, sent this open letter to Ms. Rice in 2002.
When I knew you at Stanford I had the greatest admiration for your abilities and good sense. (And I was disappointed that we never were able to get together to play four-hands music.) But now I cannot help but express to you my chagrin that the warm feelings I once had have basically evaporated. I hope you can pause to try to understand why this might be the case.
Thu Nov 18
Stenholm's Last Address to the House
On Nov 18, Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-TX), who was defeated by by Randy Neugebauer in the recent election, offered some final remarks on the deficit. (At the link, take #3, INCREASING THE PUBLIC DEBT LIMIT, then Page: H9985.) Mr. Stenholm will be missed.
I want to say it is with a little bit of mixed emotion tonight that I address this body for the last time. ... I tried to offer an amendment to this bill to say pay-as-you-go, which worked, bipartisanly. It worked. Why did my colleagues choose to knock it out in 2002 and say we are not going to have pay-as-you-go anymore? Why do you insist on that when you know in your heart that it works? We tried to do this in the rule today, but we lost, because you said, no, we are going to increase the debt ceiling by $800 billion. So I assume that means you are going to continue with the same policies that you have been carrying for the last 4 years.
Thu Nov 18
Another Stolen Election
Evidence of vote fraud continues to mount. We have this preliminary report from Steven F. Freeman, faculty member at the University of PA who got his Ph.D. from M.I.T.: The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy, continuing disturbing news from Bev Harris's team at blackboxvoting.org, and Colin Shea's write-up, which concludes with these words:
One of his [Bush's] many enduring and shameful legacies will be that of seizing power through two illegitimate elections conducted on his brother's watch, and engineering a fundamental corruption at the very heart of the greatest democracy the world has known. We must not permit this to happen again.
Fallujah in Pictures
Gore Vidal Predicted The Present Mess
I have just (re)started reading Gore Vidal's Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta; this book is the second in his trilogy on contemporary America. It opens with an essay originally published in the January 8, 2001 issue of The Nation. Nostradamus, move over: it is to our sorrow that Vidal accurately predicted the course of Bush's first term:
Expect a small war or two in order to keep military appropriations flowing. There will also be tax relief for the very rich. But bad scenario or good scenario, we shall see very little of the charmingly simian George W. Bush. The military--Cheney, Powell et al.--will be calling the tune, and the whole nation will be on constant alert, for, James Baker has already warned us, Terrorism is everywhere on the march.The entire essay is online; I recommend it with enthusiasm: Democratic Vistas.
There are a couple great inverviews of Gore Vidal at The Nation's audioblog and DemocracyNow. After watching the latter, I am eager to read the third volume of the trilogy, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia.
APAF has a new report that summarizes the record of Condoleezza Rice as national security advisor, now that she has been nominated as secretary of state. Highlights include a dazzling disregard for repeated warnings on terrorism pre-9/11 and wholehearted participation in the campaign of disinformation to sell the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Sticky Rice.
Rice was one of the primary perpetrators of misinformation in the push for war with Iraq. In September 2002, she claimed, "We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon." Weapons inspector David Kay and his successor, Charles Duelfer, debunked that outright, saying Saddam had no nuclear program.
Sun Nov 14
What is the Bush administration doing to eliminate U.S. dependence on foreign oil? The issue is fundamental not only to our economy but to our national security. In a way, less than nothing: they put through a massive tax deduction for extra-large SUV's. (This boondoggle was partially reversed in October of 2004.)
If the vehicles on the road today averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would save more than 3 million barrels of oil a day, more than we currently import from the Persian Gulf.
- David Becker (cited in The Book on Bush, paperback edition, p. 22)What if we were to put the resources now dedicated to the carnage in Iraq toward greater fuel efficiency at home? As it once led the world in exploration of space, the U.S. should lead the world in averting the coming fossil fuel crisis, instead of descending into the bloody endgame of a doomed industry.
Here are two reports on oil. Both are pdf's; both are brief. The first is from The Century Foundation. (12 pages) Over a Barrel? Myths and Facts about U.S.Dependence on Foreign Oil.
... the United States consumes 25 percent of the world's oil each year, but possesses only 3 percent of the world's proved oil reserves
The second report, more disturbing, is from UNESCO. (5 pages) Impending World Oil Shortage. Discovery of new oil reserves peaked in the 1960's.
Global oil production will peak some time between 2004 and 2008. Thereafter, the global production of oil will fall and never increase again. There will then be a rapid and considerable increase in problems associated with the diminishing production of oil and the parallel demand for more.The author of this report has more references at his website; much is in Swedish, but links are offered to English language reports, including this: Special Report, Berlin Conference on Peak Oil.
A portal for further study is the HubbertPeak site.
Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. - Abraham Lincoln, letter to Wm H. Herndon, cited in Robert Byrd's "Losing America", p. 137.
Sat Nov 13
Vote Fraud Concerns Persist
Greg Palast's write-up on the vanishing votes for Kerry has been updated. Although the tone is dismissive, accounts of election chicanery are reaching mainstream media, as indicated in this article from MediaMatters.
We gave up too easily in 2000. Never again. We need to keep the heat on until every instance of election fraud has been bruited about. We dare not let this become business as usual. It is important to continue the outcry against yet another tainted election.
I just finished reading Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency by Senator Robert C. Byrd. This book is a gem; it would be great reading for any high school class in American history or current events. Losing America is an account by a senator with 45 years of experience of the first three years of the Bush administration. It gives a rich mix of personal anecdotes and historical perspective and has succeeded in reawakening my interest in American history and the workings of government.
I wish I had found this one sooner: MediaMatters for America whose contributors seek to stem in real-time the tide of conservative misinformation. David Brock, author of Blinded by the Right and The Republican Noise Machine, is one of the principals.
Wed Nov 10
Questions of Vote Fraud
Serious doubts have arisen regarding the legitimacy of the election. The first I saw was Greg Palast's Kerry won, a write-up on voting abuses in several states involving "spoilage", challenges, and provisional ballots.
Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded.
But even more troubling are the reports involving touchscreen voting machines. The leading source is blackboxvoting.org. Use the Google cache if the site is unreacheable - they get a lot of traffic. BlackBoxVoting.org has been around about as long as the voting machine scandals in California and the Diebold memogate. Here's a background summary from Common Dreams, as of Feb 25, 2004. In the time between the previous troubled election and this one, despite substantial evidence of shameful lack of security on the machines, Jeb Bush ensured there was no paper trail from the Florida's electronic voting machines as indicated in this AP item from Oct 25, 2004.
A quick check of Google News will take you to bellaciao.org which is a proper link farm on the subject.
Mon Nov 08
What Global Warming?
Another case of Bush vs. the facts, from the AP, November 7, 2004: Bush stands firm against Kyoto pact:
President Bush is holding fast to his rejection of mandatory curbs
on greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, despite
a new report from 300 scientists in the United States and seven
other nations that indicates Arctic temperatures are rising.
Here's the report: Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change. A colleague writes: If you look at a graph of climate change variability (since climate changes are not all human induced) over the last 1,000 years, you will see that in the last 10-20 we are beginning to "peak out". That is, in the last 10-20 years we have seen some of the largest climate changes in the last 1,000 years. This GAO report explains how the change is already impacting people in Alaska.
Sun Nov 07
Freeing the Media
Here are a couple ways to help get back some balance in the media.
First, go to freepress.net and have a look at the Media Reform Action page.
There are many ways to get involved, from clicking a button to organizing in your community. You can demand that the FCC hold a hearing in your state, ask candidates & elected officials to answer 10 Questions about the Media, sign a national petition, and more.
Next, check out The Nation's PBS Action Alert and sign the petition.
PBS has brought out two new shows, seemingly designed to delight its rightwing critics: Tucker Carlson's Unfiltered and the Journal Editorial Report - a program hosted by the far-right editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. Both shows represent a significant rightward shift in PBS's programming at the same time as Bill Moyers program Now is being scaled back to a half-hour show after Moyers gives up his post at the end of the year.
The weekend before the election, PAX-TV showed the Swift boat smear "Stolen Honor" ten times. Equal time? How many times do you think they ran Going Upriver or Fahrenheit 9/11?
we had a chance to change the world and opted for the Home Shopping Network instead - Stephen King, On Writing
Thu Nov 04, Deeper and Deeper in the Red
One day after the voting, the Bush administration admitted they exceeded their credit limit again. Today China and Japan together hold more than 50% of U.S. Treasury Bonds. The Euro has risen 5% against the dollar in the past 3 weeks.
The government hit the current debt ceiling of $7.384 trillion
on Oct. 14, forcing Treasury to begin a series of bookkeeping
maneuvers to keep financing the government's normal operations
without breaching the debt ceiling. But Treasury Secretary John
Snow has warned that those special measures would last only until
Wed Nov 03, After Kerry's Concession - Keep the Faith
Never give up. Sign up for the APAF bulletins now. Go read something on Common Dreams now. When you finish that, go to WorkingForChange and read something there. Many of us in this country still have a conscience. And for those of you who saw The Daily Show last night, God bless Al Sharpton, he made us laugh during a truly dark evening.
The 2006 and 2008 campaigns start today.
Wed Nov 03
I saw Barack Obama interviewed last night. Here's a guy accustomed to being in the minority, and now he's going to D.C. as a Democrat and the only black in the Senate. He talked about building relationships and making deals with persons from all sides to get things done. There's a lesson there for all of us. You'll see the same thing if you read George Lakoff or look at Michael Moore's notes throughout the campaign season. The key to winning our country back is inclusion, not division.
If at the end the current presidential election is lost, the first exercise in inclusion is to be every bit as active and involved the day after the election as we were throughout the preceding campaign: to participate, to take heart, to make connections, to lead. The campaign for the 2008 presidency starts now.
The Fifth Estate
No doubt about it, there's a lot of hard work ahead. And while we need to dog the conventional news media relentlessly to wake them up and ask tougher and more meaningful questions, we have plenty of other channels: not just blogs, but usenet, email, progressive websites, Internet streams (think democracyNow, C-Span speeches, AirAmerica Radio where broadcast can't reach, etc.), and of course so many excellent books.
1:30 a.m. CST
We gave in too easily in 2000 and look where it got us. Are we absolutely sure that electronic voting machines with no paper trail aren't doing now what the FL felons list did four years ago?
There's no need to rush to concession.
Prior material is here: Prelude to 2004 Election