Thursday, December 28, 2006

Last tag?

LITTLE ROCK, AK

New U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin says he wants to focus on aggressively fighting crime, not on the way he was appointed to his position.


Griffin, a former assistant to President Bush adviser Karl Rove, was sworn in last week as the interim U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The 38-year-old Magnolia native replaced Bud Cummins.

Arkansas Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln had questioned Griffin's appointment, saying it circumvented the normal appointment process.

Griffin acknowledges the appointment process is a political one, but says --quote-- "the moment you become U-S attorney, politics stop." He asks that those doubting the appointment to judge him on his performance as time goes on.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

Did he get that quote from
his old boss or Alberto Gonzales?

Separated at birth

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Meet the flogger

Bill Kristol, one of the foremost architects and cheerleaders of the neoconservative agenda (AKA "the blind leading the a. vicious b. stupid c. insane d. all of the above") takes it on the chin from John Stewart. Check out the creepy, frozen smile on Kristol's face, which never once falters. But do any who would lead us down the pathway to hell ever lack confidence?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

So glad the White House isn't in denial ....


Donald Rumsfeld urged the United States not to retreat from the agonies of combat.

Donald Rumsfeld urged the United States not to retreat from the agonies and ugliness of combat. (Reuters)

Cheney calls Rumsfeld 'finest US defence secretary'

United States Vice President Dick Cheney says Donald Rumsfeld is the finest defence secretary in US history.

Soldiers and politicians have gathered at the Pentagon to farewell Mr Rumsfeld in a colourful military ceremony.

US President George W Bush has called Mr Rumsfeld a skilled public servant and leader.

"This man knows how to lead and he did, and the country is better off for it," Mr Bush declared at Friday's ceremony.

"In every decision Don Rumsfeld made over the past six years, he always put the troops first. And the troops in the field knew it."

Mr Cheney, a long-time friend and associate of Rumsfeld, went even further with the praise.

"Donald Rumsfeld is seen as one of the architects of the unpopular war in Iraq and his legacy will be fiercely debated," he said.

"I believe the record speaks for itself - Don Rumsfeld is the finest secretary of defence this nation has ever had."

Mr Rumsfeld resigned after the Republicans lost control of congress in the mid-term elections.

-- ABC News

These goobers don't just spin the fantasy, they live it.

This is just too damn good to pass up...

December 15, 2006

Firm Contracted to Build Fence on US-Mexico Border is Fined for Hiring Illegal Workers

US-Mexico Border FenceOne of the firms working on the US-Mexico Border Fence has been fined $5 million for hiring illegal immigrants. This controversy was ironically predicted by comedians such as George Lopez, who jokingly says in his new act, "They want to build a fence along the border to keep out Mexicans, but who's gonna build it?" Answer: Mexicans.

The Golden State Fence Company will not only pay a major fine, but two of its executives will have to serve jail time for the hirings.

The company's attorney stated that this all goes to show that the country needs to adopt a robust guest-worker program.

AP Photo by Denis Poroy

Is this a great country or what ...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cheney and Neo-Cons Plotting More Wars

"On March 11, 2003, as final preparations were under way for the neo-cons' greatest triumph--the invasion of Iraq--New Yorker magazine investigative reporter Seymour Hersh exposed an extortion scheme by neo-con Richard Perle, to extract tens of millions of dollars out of the Saudi royal family, in league with the infamous Iran-Contra arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. The scheme involved a Perle company, Trireme Partners LP, which wanted a piece of the billions of dollars in homeland security contracts soon to be issued by the Kingdom. The proposal, according to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, smacked of a quid pro quo: Perle, a leading critic of the Saudi regime, would drop the propaganda barrage and the calls for regime change, coming out of his Defense Policy Board, and the Saudis would cough up.

"Several senior U.S. intelligence officials recently told EIR that some higher-ups in the Saudi royal family, perhaps including Prince Bandar, who is now the national security advisor to King Abdullah, regret that they didn't take the bait and pay off Perle and his partners back in January 2003. A few million dollars might have saved them several years of headaches, as the neo-con propaganda Wurlitzer waged a non-stop regime-change campaign against them. But even more to the point, suddenly, the Saudis, along with several other Sunni Arab regimes, find themselves as strange bedfellows with Washington's neo-cons and with the Ehud Olmert government in Israel--in common cause against Iran.

"A Nov. 3, 2006 teaser from Vanity Fair magazine revealed that the neo-cons are going through a major retooling--wiping their hands of the entire Iraq fiasco, and placing the blame for the failure squarely on the shoulders of President George W. Bush and his team of national security incompetents and nincompoops. In a preview of a story to appear in the January 2007 Vanity Fair, author David Rose delivered excerpts from interviews he conducted in October 2006 with some of the cream of the neo-con crap--starting with the `Prince of Darkness,' Perle himself, and also including Kenneth Adelman, who gained infamy by proposing that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq would be a ``cakewalk'; Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, and Michael Rubin.

"Lovers of Iraqi faker Ahmed Chalabi, and Iraq warhawks to a man, these neo-cons are now saying that if they had it to do over again, knowing that the Bush-Cheney-Rice team was the most incompetent national security management group in the post-World War II history of America, they would have opted for an alternative to war.

"In a scene worthy of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, these modern-day Brutuses have stabbed President Bush and Condi Rice in the back. As far as the neo-cons are concerned, according to a number of informed Washington sources, both Iraq and George W. Bush are yesterday's news. They are now preparing to survive the fall of the House of Bush, and are already making plans for the next confrontations: against Iran and Russia, to name the top two targets du jour."

-- Jeffrey Steinberg, Znet, read more here.

Proof positive that any impeachment proceeding that does not include Cheney is a job half-done.

Dollar disinformation?

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has warned U.S. private financial services of an al Qaeda call for a cyber attack against U.S. online stock trading and banking Web sites beginning Friday, officials said on Thursday.

The officials -- a person familiar with the warning and a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security -- said the Islamic militant group aimed to penetrate and destroy the databases of the U.S. stock market and banking Web sites.

Homeland Security said it had no evidence to corroborate the threat [my emphasis] but had issued the warning out of an "abundance of caution." The department said in a statement that the threat was for all of December.

"There is no information to corroborate this aspirational threat. As a routine matter and out of an abundance of caution, US-CERT issued the situational awareness report to industry stakeholders," said Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke.

US-CERT is the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team. The U.S. government said the threat was to avenge the holding of suspected terrorists at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo.


Hmmm, curious how this comes out as the buck goes into a tailspin ...

What Dubya's sound fiscal policy has wrought

US setbacks see dollar plunge to 15-year low

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, 12/1/2006, UK Telegraph


The dollar tumbled to a near 15-year low against sterling yesterday on fresh signs of economic trouble in the United States.

An 8.3pc crash in US industrial orders and an admission by the Federal Reserve chairman that Washington does not know how bad housing really is set off another day of wild gyrations on the currency markets.



Dollar woes poised to carry over into next year

Greenback is down about 50% vs. euro in past five years; down 6% vs. yen

By Wanfeng Zhou, MarketWatch
Last Update: 6:48 PM ET Nov 29, 2006

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- After a precipitous slide in the last week that caught many traders off guard, the dollar is vulnerable to further losses and may continue to weaken against major rivals heading into 2007, analysts said Tuesday.

"Sentiment for the dollar has been deteriorating steadily over recent weeks," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global foreign-exchange strategy at French investment bank Calyon. The decline was not prompted by a particular piece of news or data release, "but rather a general worsening in sentiment that saw long held technical levels breached," he said.

"We expect the dollar to weaken further into year end, and retain this tone in the early months of 2007," he said.

Death Knell of the US Dollar

by Clive Maund, GoldWatch

"The conditions leading to an inevitable dollar panic sell-off did not come about overnight. They are the result of years of abuse, principally by the Federal Reserve of the US, which has created a veritable blizzard of dollars, and the universal acceptance of this “funny money” has, up until now, allowed the United States to freeload economically on the rest of the world, living way beyond its means. The exponential growth in dollars has been and is created electronically at the touch of a button, so that paying for anything is never a problem, whatever you want you simply print the extra money to pay for. Because foreigners have so far played along with this game, they are now widely, and to some extent understandably, regarded as stupid. However, it is a dangerous mistake to underestimate the mental capacities of other peoples. The Chinese, in particular, have an ancient and deep culture, and when it comes to strategic considerations, can outthink - and outflank virtually anyone."

US dollar 'will keep falling'

by Heather Stewart, Sunday November 26, 2006, The Observer

"The US dollar has reached a 'tipping point' as foreign exchange markets wake up to the threat that the Federal Reserve will have to slash interest rates in the new year to stave off recession, analysts say. After a sharp sell-off on Friday took the greenback to 18-month lows against the euro, and pushed the pound to $1.93, economists warned that there was worse to come for the US currency.

"'We are just at the start of what we think will be a downtrend for the dollar - a tipping-point has probably been reached,' said Tim Fox, currency strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, who expects sterling to hit $2 within the next three months."

U.S.- Iran history, beyond the fear

"So warm, gracious and welcoming were the people of Iran, in just two days I felt safer walking the streets of Tehran, a city of 16 million, than I did in Albany. Where was this 'axis of evil'?

"The rhetoric of fear and misinformation often promoted by the U.S. government and news media quickly dissolved as our delegation, Academics For Peace, met face to face last year with former President Mohammad Khatami and various officials in Tehran. As we traveled to Esfahan and Shiraz, the depth and beauty of Iranian culture became readily apparent, and we shed any remaining vestiges of fear. I wondered what was a truthful accounting of U.S. foreign policy with Iran as our delegation began to initiate dialogue between the people of Iran and the U.S. with hopes of preventing a war between our two countries.

"In 2003, Stephen Kinzer, a New York Times correspondent, provided a vivid account of the 1953 CIA-led coup against the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. In his best-selling, 'All The Shah's Men,' Mr. Kinzer documented how, during the Eisenhower administration, the CIA's Kermit Roosevelt, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles, subverted this fledgling Iranian democracy.

"Prime Minister Mossadegh was replaced by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a brutal dictator who ruled for the next 25 years, thus explaining much of Iran's distrust for the U.S. During the shah's reign, the Iranian oil industry previously nationalized by Mossadegh, was "un-nationalized," with U.S. firms reaping a 40 percent interest. During the shah's reign, the United States also encouraged the beginning of Iran's nuclear industry. In 1979, the shah was deposed resulting in the Islamic Republic of Iran headed by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Why is this history important to us?"

-- John Amidon, Albany (NY) Times-Union, 11/17/2006

Find out here or here. But one hint: when George W. Bush tells us to fear, we should only fear him.

Who killed Bobby Kennedy?

In 1968, a high school kid, I was poised to volunteer for the Presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. My dreams, and those of many in my generation were shattered on June 5 when he was gunned down in a Los Angeles hotel, a mere 2 months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. A year after the "Summer of Love," and four-and-a-half years after the the killing of JFK in Dallas, the loss of these men to the tar pits of violence that run below the surface veneer of the American Dream would have rippling effects that last to this day. The sixties will one day be recognized for the true benchmark that it was in American history and culture - the start of the unraveling.

Shane O' Sullivan is an independent researcher who has made a startling discovery - that three CIA agents were present in Los Angeles on the day Bobby was murdered - not only present, butin the crowd at the campaign rally site. Moreover, the three agents had every reason to hate the Kennedys.

"Three years ago, I started writing a screenplay about the assassination of Robert Kennedy, caught up in a strange tale of second guns and 'Manchurian candidates' (as the movie termed brainwashed assassins). As I researched the case, I uncovered new video and photographic evidence suggesting that three senior CIA operatives were behind the killing. I did not buy the official ending that Sirhan acted alone, and started dipping into the nether-world of 'assassination research,' crossing paths with David Sanchez Morales, a fearsome Yaqui Indian."

Read more
here or here, and watch an interview with O'Sullivan here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

One for the great decider


Headlines from page 11A of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this morning:

"Iraq panel to recommend troop pullback"


"3,500 more troops may head to Iraq in early '07"


Now, aren't you glad the Great Decider is getting his guidance directly from God?

The sound of silence

I know that things have been quiet around here, but, well, sure the election results took a bit of the rage against the machine out of my sails, and then of course Thanksgiving and all that. And I mean afterall, according to Tom Tancredo I live in the Third World (the irony being of course that "white of European descent" Miamians have been saying that to each other for years), so you shouldn't expect too much anyway.

So just to keep things rolling along, some bits and pieces guaranteed to sober you up real fast.

An article in last week's Science (which my friend on the right Jason Coleman thinks is an outlet for "junk science" - as opposed to the spewings about global warming that emanate from right wing ideologues at the Hoover Institution) basically suggests that we are likely to see a meltdown in ocean biodiversity by mid 21st century unless we change the way we exploit and pollute the cradle of all life on the planet. Very sobering indeed. Human beings have an unmitigated history of violating that cardinal rule of right living: "don't shit where you eat."

And just in case you can't get access, here is the summary of the article:

Science 3 November 2006:
Vol. 314. no. 5800, p. 745
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5800.745



News of the Week

ECOLOGY:
Global Loss of Biodiversity Harming Ocean Bounty

Erik Stokstad

Environmental groups often argue that biodiversity offers tangible benefits to people. Now, a group of ecologists has put that argument to the test with the most comprehensive look yet at the human impact of declining marine biodiversity. On page 787, they report that the loss of ocean populations and species has been accompanied by plummeting catches of wild fish, declines in water quality, and other costly losses. They even project that all commercial fish and seafood species will collapse by 2048. "It's a gloomy picture," says lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Yet the team provides a glimmer of hope, concluding that people still have time to recoup these ecosystem benefits if they restore biodiversity.

Although none of these points is new, some experts say the study strengthens the case for the practical value of biodiversity by marshaling multiple lines of evidence and taking a global look. "This is a landmark paper," says Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University in Corvallis. Others aren't convinced yet. "It falls short of demonstrating that biodiversity losses are the primary drivers of why the services have declined," says Donald Boesch of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Cambridge.

Junk science, eh, Jason?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ted Koppel (and John Stewart) on Iran

Jim Webb, new champion of the middle and lower class? (Sounds good to me).


Senator-elect from VA, Jim Webb, had an amazing op-ed piece in the ... ready? ... Wall Street Journal highlighting the ever-widening income inequality in the USA. An excerpt:

"The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes."


This could be the start of something good.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Challenger defeats Pombo in a stunner

This one is REALLY sweet...

(11-08) 10:19 PST -- Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, a relative newcomer to politics, unseated seven-term GOP Congressman Richard Pombo of Tracy Tuesday in a stunning demonstration of voter disenchantment with the Republican Party nationally.

McNerney, a wind energy consultant from Pleasanton, took Northern California's 11th Congressional District with 53 percent of the vote. Pombo, who held a leadership position in the Republican-held House, received 47 percent. More than 9,000 votes divided the two candidates this morning.
-- Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer

Previous Muttering Jam posts on Pombo:
First
Second
Third
Fourth

Congrats, Jerry!


Push, shove or orchestration?


There are other ways to view what took place on November 7, 2006:

"The Democrats didn’t win anything; that’s all hogwash. Bush was buried beneath an avalanche of bad news which was timed to begin with the release of Bob Woodward’s book “State of Denial”, followed by the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Lancet’s Iraqi casualty report, the Mark Foley page fiasco, and a barrage of ethics-scandals, corruption investigations, and intensified coverage of the war. It was a carefully-coordinated coup intended to install “adults” (like Robert Gates) in positions of power, change the policy in Iraq, and remove Rumsfeld and Cheney from office. " -- Mike Whitney, Information Clearing House. Read it all here.

Whitney, like Chris Floyd, take a deeper, somber, and ultimately cynical view of the process in the 21st century USA. I have to admit, I sometimes visit there, too. But a part of me still believes that it is not all about the "old order" (Jim Baker, Bush I) and "new order" Republicans (Cheney and Co.), warring behind the scenes. And if it is true, then it has always been true, and America, since perhaps the beginning, has been Mr. Jefferson's worst nightmare.

No, I'm not ready to live there yet. And it is a nasty place to visit.

"The American power structure -- across its (extremely narrow) ideological spectrum -- will never acknowledge the true extent of the criminality, inhumanity and moral evil that the war of aggression in Iraq represents. How can they, when Bush's policies are only slightly more radical, slightly more brazen versions of the bloodsoaked arrogance, aggression and impositions of the glorious bipartisan past?"
-- Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque. Read the whole thing here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What the hell is wrong with South Florida?


Miami-Dade County voter turnout: 37%


Broward County voter turnout: 44%

Are you people brain dead or what?!?!?!?!?

... or did you just lock your keys inside the Hummer on Election Day?



Checks and balances

Why is this man smiling?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The ass that kicked

As I told Jim DeFede this morning, "I'm 80% jubilant..." What can ANYONE say, but "yes, Virginia, sometimes the system does work." We're a two party nation, and all cynicism to the contrary, there is a difference between the two. Vive la differénce! The overwhelming message square in the eye of a failed and sorrowfully bankrupt administration is no more subtle than the heavy-handed mismanagement of our tax dollars, a foolish military adventure, the full-frontal attacks on free speech, fair trade, living wages, and waging life that the Bushites have pursued with grim determination. In the late Jack Kirby's lexicon, The Bush administration personified the "anti-life equation." And America finally just said "no." Or, rather, NO!

Sadly, Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq, didn't succeed in beating the Republican jerk who actually used the "cut and run" line in a debate with her. And alas, Clint Curtis failed to topple Tom Feeney in the 24th Congressional district of Florida, a race in which I had established a small personal stake. Honestly, to expect the Space Coast of Florida to break out of its collective delusions that most of its residents belonged to the privileged 1% that reap the benefits of Dumbya's tax cuts was probably too much to hope for. And I doubt any of Clint's TV spots ran on Fox.

Yet I never expected Ron Klein to pull of his defeat of incumbent E. Clay Shaw, particularly as Shaw's district had been so heavily gerrymandered to favor Republican voters. Bush's strange micture of anti-democracy and theocracy apparently had finally gone too far for a large swathe of non-lobotomized GOP members.

I worked the polls in my precinct as an inspector, also a mole for "Pollworkers for Democracy."

On the whole, things went smoothly my precinct, which I was told is the county's largest. We had a total of 16 ES&E "iVotronics" machines (one for disabled access). One unit had sensitivity issues from the beginning, then started giving wrong choices, which recalibration didn't help. It was taken out of service before noon. Vote tally was recovered.


Biggest incident: a machine froze around 6 PM. Our Voting System tech reported that the flash memory had been removed, presumably by a voter! We all freaked out, but a tech from the elections board was able to access the vote tally on the redundant internal memory and also replace the flash card.

I noticed "machine fatigue" on some units, several of which had to be put out of service in the last hours of the polls being opened.

At end of a very long day, machine tally and signature count was only off by two. Our clerk seemed to think that that was sufficient cause for jubilation. I wish it had been that way everywhere ...

In FL, Electronic Voting Shortfall Raises Eyebrows
by Paul Kiel - November 8, 2006, 11:03 AM

A recount battle is brewing, fittingly, in Katherine Harris' old seat, where a voting shortfall on buggy electronic voting machines is calling the election results into doubt.

Republican Vern Buchanan was clinging to a 368-vote edge over Democrat Christine Jennings for the 13th Congressional District early this morning.

Although Buchanan declared victory just before 1 a.m., the razor-thin margin kept Jennings from conceding defeat and will generate an automatic recount....

The results were loaded with controversy as nearly 13 percent of all ballots cast in Sarasota didn't include a choice for Congress. That difference, and scattered reports of difficulty finding the race on Sarasota?s touchscreen ballots, raised concerns about under votes in the race.

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent couldn?t explain why 8,000 to 10,000 fewer people voted in the congressional race than in other high-profile races for governor, attorney general or U.S. Senate. But she said nothing mechanical went wrong with the county?s $4.7 million touchscreen voting machine system....

Throughout the day voters complained that touchscreen voting machines were not registering votes for Jennings properly. Jennings campaign held a midday press conference to warn the problem was widespread.
_______________________________

Pennsylvania Tops List of Complaints So Far Coming in to Election Incident Hotline as of Noon ET
Right-Wing Talk Show Host Encourages Listeners to Jam Voter Complaint Hotline…

Diebold Voting Machines Failing to Start Up in Utah, Voters Being Turned Away…
Smartcard Encoders Reportedly Not Working…Paper Ballots Not Available Everywhere…

Myriad Problems Reported to Local News Outlet in Chicago…
From machines not working or being available when the polls opened, to votes flipping on touch-screens and more…

Missouri Election Integrity Org Says More Reports of Touch-Screen Vote Flipping…

USA Today Reports 'Voting machine problems bedevil multiple states'
Trouble With Machines in Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Illinois

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Who better?

As Dubya, lameduck though he may be, continues on the pathway to global crisis. When our grand-children are starving in a garbage-heap world, will there finally be a reckoning for men like this?

Bush Names Exxon Chief to Chart America's Energy Future

Even for an administration dedicated to putting industry lobbyists in charge of the very agencies they have devoted their careers to undermining (coal and oil lobbyist J. Stephen Griles as Deputy Secretary of the Interior is one of dozens of examples), President Bush has recently outdone himself. He has named Lee Raymond, the retired chief of ExxonMobil, to head a key study to help America chart a cleaner course for our energy needs.

Raymond currently chairs the National Petroleum Council (NPC), one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says the study
will address the supply and demand of oil as well as "…assess the potential contribution of conservation, efficiency, alternative energy sources, and technology advances" and determine "the potential long term impact of alternative energies that are plentiful, affordable, reliable and transportable." Energy Department Under Secretary David Garman, added that the NPC is "well qualified to provide a balanced and informed perspective on strategies and action affecting the energy future for both the U.S. and for every country on earth."

Environmentalists are outraged about the appointment of Lee Raymond. During his long tenure at ExxonMobil, the company spent $19 million on front groups designed to discredit the science on global warming. It also resisted funding clean energy alternatives and lobbied aggressively to drill in the Arctic Refuge.
In a Wall Street Journal article on June 14, 2005, Mr. Raymond said, "it's yet to be shown how much of this [global warming] is really related to the activities of man."

ExxonMobil is considered a rogue company even among its peers. It vocally opposes U.S. energy independence and presses for deeper reliance on oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, where the company has sunk heavy investments. Critics argue that Mr. Raymond's legacy is to deny that oil dependence is a problem. ExxonMobil is the only major oil giant calling renewable energy an "uneconomical" investment.

Known for abruptly shutting off the microphone at shareholders meetings when opposition is voiced, Mr. Raymond has the reputation of an impatient, authoritarian leader who shows no qualms about publicly belittling those who disagree with him.
The Exxpose Exxon coalition, a collaborative effort of many of the nation's largest environmental and public advocacy organizations representing millions of Americans, called on Secretary Bodman "to remove the Global Oil and Gas Study from the purview of Raymond and the NPC."

"This issue is too vital to be handed over to a company and an industry that have demonstrated again and again that they will maximize profits at the expense of our national security, the environment, and U.S. consumers," they argued. The coalition recommended the study be given to an independent body such as the National Academy of Sciences. "Putting Lee Raymond in charge of solving U.S. energy problems is like putting Jack Abramoff in charge of solving corruption," said Shawnee Hoover, campaign director for the Exxpose Exxon Coalition.

Take Action - Tell Secretary Bodman Not to Let Exxon Chart America's Energy Future.

Election protection

I'l be a "Pollworker for Democracy" at my precinct all day Nov. 7, but afterhours I'll be listening to these guys:

SPECIAL ELECTION INTEGRITY MARATHON BROADCAST ELECTION NIGHT!

CO-ANCHORED BY RADIO HOSTS PETER B. COLLINS AND ELECTION INTEGRITY ADVOCATE/JOURNALIST BRAD FRIEDMAN

LIVE Team Broadcast to be Carried over Multiple Radio Networks, Stations, Internet Outlets -- All Invited to Carry Program Free All Night Long!

Coverage will focus both on continuing, growing election problems around the country, as well as the "horse race."

Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 7nd at 3pm PT (6pm ET) and continuing
until 1am PT or as long as events on the ground warrant

Peter B. Collins (host of the daily syndicated Peter B. Collins radio show) and Brad Friedman (radio personality, investigative journalist at BradBlog.com, election integrity advocate and co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us) are announcing plans for a coast-to-coast Election Night Marathon Broadcast to be carried LIVE over multiple air affiliates via the Jones satellite feed and multiple streaming internet outlets. The landmark broadcast is as a joint effort of Collins, Friedman and VelvetRevolution.us' Election Protection Strike Force effort in coordination with a number of national organizations and sponsors to be announced soon.

Read more.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Mr. Curtis goes to Washington, Part 2

The Democratic Headquarters of Brevard County is located in a low rent strip plaza on the downside of Cocoa, about an half hour north of Melbourne and an hour south of Daytona. The Clint Curtis Campaign (henceforth CCC) rents a table and computer access from the Dems. CCC is run by Marty W., an instantly likable ball of energy who was so impressed by the CC story that she dropped her plans to relocate to Annapolis, MD and became the full time field campaign manager for the CCC pro bono. At first, I feared that we well-intentioned interlopers from south Florida would be more of a hindrance to Marty than a help - with characteristic aplomb she replied to my concern with a "So did I at first - but don't worry, we'll put you to work." And work we did. Mailing out DVDs of "Truth in the Booth: the Clint Curtis Story," re-writing radio spots, doing whatever we could. This particular strip mall was a congregating spot for some of the areas's homeless people (there was a cheap place to eat at the far end). Throughout the day, some of these folks would drift in and ask if they could help out. And we so we put them to work. They never asked for money for their labor (but we gave them a few bucks for lunch anyway). I was struck how these people realize what is at stake in America on November 7, 2006, while far too many of the shrinking middle class remain mired in denial.

That night we travelled with Marty and the independent film-maker Dorothy Fadiman to Altamonte Springs where there would be a screening of a rough cut of Dorothy's important film "Stealing America, Vo
te-by-Vote" along with "Truth in the Booth."

Dorothy's film is must-see cinema (even tough it is not yet finished). It is the most cogent, plain-as-day account of how our electoral system has been hijacked. I will never forget one of the closing scenes in which an African-American women in Ohio, who spent weeks registering and convincing black Ohioans that their vote mattered, plaintively asks the camera as tears run down her cheeks, "What do I say to these people now?"

After the films, I had the chance to chat with Clint. It is clear that Mr. Curtis has little ego invested in the race for Congress. Oh, don't get me wrong. He WANTS to win
, but for all the right reasons. Clint Curtis is all about doing what is right in the face of everything that has gone wrong.

This is the face of what has gone wrong in our nation since 2000. Rather, one of them. Take a good look at Tom Feeney, Clint's Republican opponent. What do you see? What I see is every thick-necked bully that has ever stalked the schoolyards, ballfields, and corporate offices of America. This is man who swore that Florida's electoral votes would go to George W. Bush in 2000 no matter the cost. Twice now, Feeney has sent out two pieces of mail that boomeranged back against his campaign - that made him look like a fool. The CCC couldn't have done a better job for Clint than Feeney himself. He has tried to make Clint appear deranged. He has tried to paint Clint as a delusional conspiracy nut. But where Clint Curtis has taken and passed a lie detector test concerning his allegations against Feeney and Yang Enterprises, Feeney will not. And so one of the favorite campaign slogans of the CCC is "TAKE THE TEST, TOM!"
So
, Clint and I chatted, and I told him, "Clint, I think you're gonna win." He took a deep breath, pursed his lips, and tentatively replied, "I'm finally starting to think so, too."

All indications are that the shoest
ring CCC is giving Feeney a run for the money, despite his war chest of millions.

That night we were hosted by a retired couple from Michigan who live in Daytona. Ed and Maggie are the type of Dems I remember from growing up in blue collar NYC. Ed would be joining us the next m
orning for a canvas operation in Port Orange to the south. Our target neighborhood was a development of modest-sized homes. You got the feeling that most of the residents were either first-time buyers or else had stepped up from condos or townhouses when Florida's real estate market went insane and rates were low. Predominantly white and Christian (I joked, "I get the feeling that I am the only Jew in a 10 mile radius"), these are the people who are really getting sucker-punched by the Bushite regime, but who have either become saturated with fear disease or been brainwashed by the Fox hatemongers. We didn't engage them unless they happened to be in their garages or frontyards, just looped a two-sided "palmcard" outlining Clint's platform over their doorknobs. The people with whom I did directly speak appeared, with a few hostile exceptions, receptive to our message. Let's hope so. Gayle and I managed to cover about 400 homes before beginning the long drive south.

So, why do this? Why journey 4 hours up the coast to work for 2 days for a dark horse candidate when there were were plenty of races closer to home that could use the support? In my opinion, these are precisely the types of candidates that deserve our support: courageous individuals with a finely honed sense of what is right and what is wrong. Clint Curtis is one such individual. And I find his story inspirational.

Buy "Truth in the Booth, the Clint Curtis Story" today!

Shut up and sing

NBC is refusing to run the trailer for the Dixie Chicks documentary, Shut Up and Sing, because: 'it won't accept the spots... disparaging of President Bush."

Harvey Weinstein, said in a statement that: "The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American."

Watch it here:

Big Brothers' data bases

In case you didn't know ...



Oh, right. You don't have anything to hide...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mr. Curtis goes to Washington, Part 1

The 24th Congressional District of Florida is spans a broad swathe of eastern-central part of the peninsula, including portions of Brevard, Orange, Seminole, and Volusia Counties. It includes Kennedy Space Center and all of its attendent industries, as well as Daytona Beach, always a biker mecca and now a secondary locale for collegiate spring break revels. It is also one of the more conservative areas of the state, traditionally voting Republican, and, of late, attracting migrants from elsewhere in the nation who find it (relatively) reasonable cost of living and white, Christian homogeneity comforting.

Last weekend, I journeyed up to the red zone to lend 2 days to the dark horse campaign of Clint Curtis for the 24th Congressional District seat on Capitol Hill. He is running on the Democratic ticket against Republican incumbent Tom Feeney.

Clint Curtis is a computer programmer who once worked for Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), a computer consulting firm in Oviedo, Florida. On December 6th, 2004, the Brad Blog published a sworn affidavit by the soft-spoken Curtis. In his affidavit and later videotaped sworn testimony presented before members of the U.S. House Judiciary committee, Curtis claims to have been asked by Feeney to design a "vote-rigging software prototype". This request took place in October 2000 during a meeting at Yang.

At the time of the alleged meeting, Feeney was the incoming Speaker of the Florida House, and also a registered lobbyist and the general corporate counsel for YEI. Previously, he had been the running mate of Jeb Bush during his 1994 unsuccessful first bid for Florida Governor. He eventually ascended to the U.S. Congress and today sits on the House Judiciary Committee.

Curtis, a life-long Republican up until then, had been a programmer at YEI, which had several top-secret clearance contracts with the state, NASA and other government agencies. Curtis' understanding at the time was that the prototype he was being asked to create (built to the very precise specifications of Feeney) was to address Feeney's concerns that the Democrats might attempt to electronically rig the election and Feeney wanted to know what to look out for in that event. After informing YEI CEO Mrs. Li-Woan Yang that he would not be able to hide the vote-flipping routines in the software source-code as Feeney had requested, Curtis testified that Mrs. Yang informed him that the program was needed to "rig the vote in South Florida."

Curtis also reported in his affidavit and to the Florida State Inspector General that YEI was employing an illegal Chinese alien by the name of Hai Lin "Henry" Nee who was inserting "wire-tapping modules" into sensitive database programs which YEI had built for NASA and other companies.

Tom Feeney has categorically denied all charges made by Curtis and has refused to comment on the record about any of the allegations beyond telling MSNBC that "Curtis has defamed a lot of people. . .

After many months and many requests and many challenges from both critics and Mainstream Media types, The St. Petersburg Times reports that Clint Curtis took a polygraph test on March 3rd, 2005...and passed.

The lie-detector test, administered by Tim Robinson, the retired chief polygraph operator for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, found that Curtis was indeed found to be truthful in all of his responses.

On February 13th, 2006, Clint Curtis declared his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida's 24th District.

Mr. Feeney, BTW, refuses to take a lie detector test himself ...

Full index of Brad Blog posts about Clint here.

TO BE CONTINUED

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

1st base

The politics of denial


Bush: 'We're Winning in Iraq'

Bush: Iraq 'essential' to U.S. security

Read another and far more riveting perspective here, from Kevin Tillman, a vet who served and lost something in Mr. Bush's "winning" game that the architects seem to have no moral capacity to comprehend.

As he has repeatedly, Bush predicted that Republicans would hold control of the House and Senate in two weeks' time, despite widespread predictions to the contrary. He jabbed at Democrats who he said are "dancing in the end zone" or measuring the drapes for new offices.

"The American people will decide," who wins, he said.

Will we? Or will it be decided for us?

Report Warns of Potential Voting Problems in 10 States

Recipe For A Cooked Election

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More mischief in Ohio?

From (all places) the National Review:

Blackwell to disqualify Strickland?

"Voters in Ohio can be forgiven if they feel they have been beamed out of the Midwest and dropped into a third-world autocracy. The latest news from the state's governor's race is that the Republican nominee, Kenneth Blackwell, who is also the Ohio secretary of state, could rule that his opponent is ineligible to run because of a technicality. We'd like to think that his office would not ultimately do that, or that if it did, such a ruling would not be allowed to stand. But the mere fact that an elected official and political candidate has the authority to toss his opponent out of a race is further evidence of a serious flaw in our democracy.

"Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee, is leading Mr. Blackwell by as much as 28 points, according to one recent poll. In their panic, some Blackwell supporters have hit on the idea of trying to prevent the election from occurring. One of them filed a complaint alleging that Mr. Strickland, who is a member of Congress, does not live in the apartment where he is registered to vote. Mr. Strickland owns a condominium in another part of Ohio, and the complaint alleges that he actually lives there. If Mr. Strickland was not a qualified voter, he would be prohibited from running for governor."

More here.

Greg Pollowitz is a political junkie who lives in New York City and is the founder of iQ Venture Partners, Inc., a private equity investment bank that specializes in early stage companies.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Media reform news

Media Reform Daily

Bill Moyers will tackle Net Neutrality, community broadband, media ownership and the digital divide in the final installment of his "Moyers on America" series of specials on PBS -- Then go online for a debate between Mike McCurry of Hands Off the Internet and Ben Scott of SavetheInternet.com Tune in to The Net at Risk tomorrow night.

AT&T Makes Some Net Neutrality Concessions
AT&T is willing to adhere to the FCC Net Neutrality principles for only 30 months after the official closing of its proposed merger with BellSouth.
Roy Mark, Internet News

AT&T Suggests Possible Merger Conditions
The concessions AT&T are offering in their merger with BellSouth are certainly a step in the right direction, but they come with a few caveats: They have their own definition of broadband, and many of consumer-friendly provisions expire after 30 months.
Nate Anderson, ars technica

AT&T, BellSouth Shares Fall After FCC Delay on Deal
AT&T and BellSouth shares fell after the FCC announced a delay on their merger approval. Although the telcos are confident the deal with go through, some analysts say that a further delay may cause problems for the merger.
Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters

AT&T's '30-Month' Net Neutrality Merger Trade-in Offer: What a Joke!
AT&T's offer underscores why permanent network neutrality safeguards are worth fighting for. The very companies who will provide the vast majority of broadband service, such as AT&T, really don't want the public to have it.
Jeffrey Chester, Digital Destiny

Oops: AT&T-BellSouth Forgets Net Neutrality
AT&T-BellSouth has filed a new version of its proposed merger conditions with the FCC. It corrects a "typo" that omitted from the Net Neutrality condition, that they would only adhere to Net Neutrality rules for 30 months.
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

AT&T's Promises to FCC Are Full of Holes
Memos bouncing around between AT&T and the FCC appear to have AT&T pledging that if the FCC breaks its 2-2 deadlock and approves the acquisition of BellSouth, then AT&T will be good. But the language is so generalized that it is full of holes.
Russell Shaw, ZDNet

Don't Let Ma Bell Monopolize the Internet

Save the Internet

Against An Imperial Internet
The monopolists tell us not to worry: They will take care of us, and see to it that the public interest is honored and democracy served by this most remarkable of technologies. Will future historians speak of an Internet Golden Age that ended when the 21st century began?
Bill Moyers & Scott Fogdall, TomPaine.com

No Room for Neutrality on Net Neutrality
The public discourse on Net Neutrality has been polluted by the telecom industry to needlessly problematizing issues that are already settled in the scientific community, and propping up positions that would be discredited in any objective analysis.
Victor Pickard & Sascha D. Meinrath, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

Oregon Senator Addresses the Internet at Risk
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will speak about Net Neutrality and the fight in Congress over the future of the Internet at a press conference tomorrow in Portland.
Glendale Oregon News

Joe Lieberman Sells Out the Internet
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) says that he supports the principle of Net Neutrality, but he will vote for the telecom industry's bill which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee without any Net Neutrality provision.
David Isenberg, Isen Blog

Lieberman Opts for Net Neutrality Sell-Out
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has announced that, while he suppports Net Neutrality, he is going to vote for the telecom industry's bill.
Mitch Ratcliffe, ZDNet
Tell Your Senators to Save the Internet

Journalism and Beyond

As Talk Radio Wavers, Bush Moves to Firm Up Support
An influential group of conservative radio hosts were at the Oval Office for an unannounced, private audience with the president as part of an intensive Republican Party campaign to reclaim and re-energize a crucial army of supporters.
Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

152nd Journalist Killed in Iraq
The weekend killing of an Iraqi radio correspondent and producer has brought the number of journalists killed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to 152.
United Press International

Jailed Journalist: Sami's Shame, and Ours
There is no public evidence that Sami al-Hajj committed any crime other than journalism for a television network the Bush administration doesn't like.
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

Pentagon Defends Detention of AP Photographer in Iraq
The Pentagon has brushed off a request from a journalist organization seeking more information and a decision on Bilal Hussein, an Associated Press photographer held for six months in Iraq without formal charges.
Associated Press

Blogger Stays in Prison, Defying Grand Jury Order
Blogger and anarchist Josh Wolf, spending his 57th day in federal prison today for refusing to surrender video he shot of a violent San Francisco protest, is well on his way to becoming the longest-jailed journalist in U.S. history.
Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle

Publisher and Top Editor of Toronto Star Resign
The Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper, said on Monday that its publisher, Michael Goldbloom, and its editor-in-chief, Giles Gherson, had both resigned.
Ian Austen, New York Times

Senate Debate in Hartford: Not Live, and No Local Media Allowed
WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn. is sponsoring the only debate of all five candidates in Connecticut's Senate race, but it has banned representatives of the news media -- other than its own -- and will show a 1-hour canned version after a 27-hour news blackout
Jon Lender, Hartford Courant

Twelve ways Bush is now stealing the Ohio vote

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/810

The Republican "November Surprise" to steal the 2004 election is in full force here in Ohio. With polls showing a dead heat, the GOP is staging an all-out attack on a fair vote count in the Buckeye State.

Here are a dozen ways they're doing it:

* Under an archaic Ohio law, both the Republican and Democratic Parties, or any slate of five candidates, may embed official election challengers inside polling places. The New York Times reported on Oct. 23 that the Republican Party intends to place thousands of lawyers and other GOP faithfuls inside the polls to challenge voters. Republican insiders confide here that the key goal is to jam lines and frustrate new voters. The GOP apparently figures many voters in key Democratic precincts won't wait in line more than 15 minutes to vote. This is certain to be a major tactic in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County and other Democratic strongholds. The GOP is not planning to challenge voters in Republican districts.

* The Republican party has sent letters challenging thousands of Franklin County students who are registered to vote absentee. Franklin County is home to Columbus, the state's largest city and its capitol. Though it is also home to Ohio State University, thousands of local students go to schools outside the county or state. The GOP apparently does not want their votes counted. This unprecedented mass challenge has prompted the Franklin County Board of Elections, whose director is a conservative Republican, to reserve the large Veterans Memorial Auditorium downtown to process the challenges this Thursday, as John Kerry comes to town with Bruce Springsteen. The County has told thousands of students that if they don't appear in Columbus to answer the GOP challenges, they may lose their right to vote.

* The Franklin County Board of Elections has called or written an undetermined number of voters who obtained absentee ballots, challenging their addresses. In at least one case, after a series of angry phone calls, the Board admitted there was nothing wrong with the address in question and re-instated voting rights. The voter in question was a registered Democrat. His wife, an independent at the same address, was not challenged. It is unclear how many others have been wrongly knocked out.

* Even if they are counted, Franklin County's absentee ballot forms are rigged in ways strikingly reminiscent of those in Florida 2000. On many absentee forms, Kerry is listed third on the list of presidential candidates. But the actual number you punch for Kerry is "4." If you punch "3" you've just voted for Bush. Sound familiar?

* Franklin County's right wing Elections Director is insisting on e-voting machines which have malfunctioned in at least two Congressional elections, and which have no paper trail. The November issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics Magazines ran the following headlines on their covers, respectively: "E-vote emergency: And you thought dimpled chads were bad'" and "Could hackers tilt the election?" Vigorous protests against the paperless machines have been staged here, but many will be used, rendering a meaningful recount impossible.

* In four other Ohio counties, the notorious Diebold company, whose CEO Wally O'Dell has pledged to deliver Ohio's votes to Bush, will provide the e-voting machines to count votes without any paper trail while using proprietary "secret" software. O'Dell lives in the wealthy Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington and is a major Bush donor.

* Twenty GOP-dominated Ohio counties have given wrong information to former felons about their voter eligibility. In Hamilton County, home of Cincinnati and the Republican Taft family, officials told numerous former felons that a judge had to sign off before they could vote, which is blatantly false.

* Franklin County, which normally cancels 2-300 registered voters a year for felony convictions, has sent at least 3500 cancellation letters to both current felons and ex-felons whose convictions date back to 1998. The list includes numerous citizens who were charged with felonies but convicted only of misdemeanors.

* Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has reversed a long-standing Ohio practice and is barring voters from casting provisional ballots within their county if they are registered to vote but there's been a mistake about where they are expected to cast their ballot. In this year's spring primaries, Blackwell allowed voters to cast provisional ballots by county, even if they were in the wrong precinct. But this fall, such voters will have to leave the wrong precinct and find their way to the right one. Blackwell hopes to succeed Republican Bob Taft as governor, and has labored hard to install e-voting machines with no paper trail, to give the statewide contract to Diebold, and to take a long series of steps apparently designed to help hand Ohio to George W. Bush. Blackwell is being widely compared to the infamous Katherine Harris, who handed Florida to George W. Bush in 2000 and was rewarded with a safe Congressional seat.

* The Columbus Dispatch (which has endorsed Bush) and WVKO Radio have both documented phone calls from people impersonating Board of Elections workers and directing registered voters to different and incorrect polling sites. One individual was falsely told not to vote at the polling station across the street from his house, but at a "new" site, four miles away. Under Blackwell's new rules, such a vote would not be counted.

* In Cincinnati, some 150,000 voters were moved from active to inactive status within the last four years for not voting in the last two federal elections. This is not required under Ohio law, but is an option allowed and exercised by the Republican-dominated Hamilton County Board of Elections.

* Secretary of State Blackwell ruled that any voter registration form on other than 80-pound weight bond paper would not be accepted. This is an old law left over from pre-scanning days. Many voters who had registered on lighter paper, had their registration returned, even though the forms had been officially sanctioned by local election boards.

No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio. This year the GOP seems determined to win it, no matter what they have do to the electoral process.


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Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of GEORGE W. BUSH VERSUS THE SUPERPOWER OF PEACE and IMPRISON GEORGE BUSH, from www.freepress.org