Anonymous, cybersquatter

Minnesota Democrats Exposed registered a bunch of DFL-inspired domain names and pointed them to his site (thanks for the tip-off, Flash -- his readers are the ones who uncovered this). Now he calls on all bloggers to support both his right to cybersquat and his right to remain anonymous.

Anonymous speech is important. Cybersquatting is lame, but can be useful, if you do something worthwhile with the domains (highly debatable in this case).

What I think is slimy is that he wants to do both at once. He allows his blog to be used as an unofficial propaganda wing of the Minnesota Republican Party, but he has no accountability. It's no secret that online, named voices have more credibility. MDE wants credibility without paying that price.

Why does he hide his identity? My personal theory is that he's a high-level volunteer for the Minnesota Republicans, sort of like my role with the DFL. If his identity was known, his connections to the party could be traced, and his reputation could be damaged because of what he has posted there, and how he's allowed the Republicans to use him. Also, he might be a gay male prostitute. You never know.

Bachmann Overdrive

There's a new um, kid in town, Stillwater to be exact, and she's not exactly new, she's been around for four years, but she's new on my radar and I'm gonna zero in.

The Citypages has a tidy little piece on her and her radical politics this week. Here are a few highlights:

Bachmann sounded the warning bell on Social Security, talked of "radical terrorists," and bemoaned the tyranny of taxes. And she trumpeted her two pet issues: moving away from federal funding of the education system and forcing government to embrace "the traditional definition of marriage." The Stillwater resident concluded, "I want to be a voice for the average Minnesotans who do everything right when they wake up in the morning."

She has introduced or signed onto bills that would make English the official state language, halt grants to clinics that perform abortions, make proof of citizenship a requirement at voting booths, and allow stillbirths to be officially designated as births by the state.

"Gay marriage is a very real threat to the states. We need people to be in prayer so that we can get it voted on in the Senate floor." She urged people to attend a rally at the Capitol, because "we will be beseeching the Lord." Bachmann slipped easily into the role of right-wing evangelist, entreating listeners that "our state will change forever if gay marriage goes through.

"Little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and perhaps they should try it," she continued, claiming that a gay agenda would infiltrate schools. "It will take away the civil rights of little children to be protected in their innocence, but also the rights of parents to control their kids' education and threaten their deeply held religious beliefs." Bachmann then claimed taxpayers and businesses would be forced to pay for same-sex benefits, and the rights of churches and religious organizations would be taken away.

"This is not about hating homosexuals. I love homosexuals," Bachmann concluded. "But should we allow them to teach sinful ways [to] our children?"

Republican Creds on display in the 6th

It's pretty obivious that Mark Kennedy's early abdication of his congressional seat in order to pursue a Senate seat will make for a Republican knife fight in the 6th district. Two Republicans have announced, state Sen. Michele Bachmann of Stillwater and state Sen. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud, and Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer has made eyes-on-the-prize noises. Today, Cheri Yecke threw her hat in the ring.

Bachman contorted history a couple of years ago when she rallied the troops in support of hanging the Ten Commandments in schools "The founders of the United States -- including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson recognized the Ten Commandments as the foundation of our laws." Knoblach has scored a 100 from the Taxpayers League and Minnesota Citizens concerned for Life (Bachman scores the same). During her term as Commissioner of Education in Minnesota, Yecke attempted to re-write the history standards for the state to jibe with her own intensely religious convictions. Yecke doesn't believe in and publicly argues against the separation of Church and State using arguments largely constructed of imaginary facts. Kiffemeyer, should she choose to run, can stack her wingnut creds against anybody's. All she has to do is remind us how she ran out of voter registration cards and attempted to scare the bejeesus out of voters by crying Terrorist! shortly before the general election.

With resumes like these, it should be vomitous fun to watch the conservative Olympics.


Citizen Journalism

Get ready for the New Patriot's first foray into citizen journalism. More soon...

How's that for a Josh Marshall-style teaser?


Having a Bush doesn't hurt

'Uncle Bucky' Bush scores big piles of money from Iraq war, and still he insists he never dials the 202 area code! [via Rational Enquirer]

Cheese clouds your thinking

This letter appeared in today's Star Tribune:

Tax and ban?

Does it seem ridiculous to anyone else that the state of Minnesota is looking to raise money with a cigarette tax at the same time it is trying make it more difficult for people to smoke?

How can the state justify taxing a product it doesn't want anyone to use?

I'm glad I live in Wisconsin.

Bob Strong, Hudson, Wis.

Apparently, Bob has never heard of using taxes to change consumption habits, which is kind of funny because that's been one of the primary uses of taxes throughout history.

Million Dollar Bakesale


"People can learn to be kind"

One of my favorite blogs hereabouts on the far left* is Trenches, not least because they've chosen the occasion of the Oscars to post about the dramatic increase of homelessness in Hollywood (and elsewhere). I'm not sure whether attitudes towards homelessness can have a "liberal" or "conservative" bent, though conservatives definitely seem to think the homeless acquired their problem from the innate worthlessness/laziness/drunkenness inside their bleak souls, while liberals look to external sources such as lack of affordable housing and job insecurity as key reasons. Mick Arran crystallizes the difference neatly:

On the one hand, the generosity of a community that understands what the words ‘generosity’ and ‘community’ mean; on the other, the selfishness and hatred that follows the destruction of the social contract by denying that any such contract exists or ought to. On one side, those who understand that there’s a real problem in their city with affordable housing and that many of the people now in the camps were forced there by circumstances over which they had no control and wouldn’t be there if they had any other options available to them; on the other, people who don’t give a damn how they got there as long as they go away. Soon.

One side demonstrates convincingly and with heart that there’s no problem that can’t be solved if the community works on it together. The other side demonstrates just as clearly that no problem can be solved if the community ignores it. That’s the class war in a nutshell. Generosity and community destroy class lines; ignorance and selfishness enforce them. What we need to decide as a nation—and fast—is which side we’re on.

[*By "hereabouts on the far left" I meant only myself, since I know not all us New Patriots are Far Lefties]


Buzzflash did a great interview with Mark Crispin Miller on the nature of the resounding silence of mainstream media regarding the Gannon Scandal. Check it out.

The heart of darkness - the Horowitz, the Horowitz

David Horowitz's Paranoid Fantasy at Discover the Network

David Horowitz must dream all the time now. Once a communist, a working member of the Black Panthers, and now one of the most vocal and public rightwing crusaders in America - he has finally let the fuzzy demons banging around his head out to play. Witness please, Discover the Network.

Discover the Network is a product of Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture. He proposes the idea that the left is connected by a web of money and relationships that rule us all with an iron hand. Horowitz names names. Horowitz tells it like it is - at least in the echoing canyons of his delusion.

Every FrontPage Mag reader knows that Horowitz sees liberal chicanery forming in his morning Cheerios. He checks his own mind for traces of liberal thought. Horowitz is so ideologically pure he is incapable of telling the truth - he just doesn't know what it is any more.

Barack Obama/ Abu Musab al-Zarqawi...What's the difference? Horowitz lays their pictures side by side then blames the left for interpreting a connection. Listen to him lie:

"Thus, instead of parsing and analyzing the actual contents of the site – the detailed profiles of individuals and organizations and their links to networks defined in the site – these critics have seized on a quirk in the format, an entirely innocent feature of the site, as an opening for their attacks.

A "quirk in the format," I love that. Like he farted out the pictures into cyberspace and they magically landed in that precise order, a terrorist on every row.

Ramsey Clark/Ramzi Yousef...What's the difference? Horowitz visually connects them then says their is no connection then argues that there is a connection. Horowitz needs counseling. He is having a paranoid split. which end is up? He doesn't know:

The mere listing of these figures in the database was not intended to suggest that there are organizational links or common agendas or coinciding agendas between these individuals.

If that's true, Horowitz and his staff have burned midnight oil to create a meaningless taxonomy. But Horowitz is lying. Of course he is suggesting they share agendas. And oh the nefarious schemes of the left! Oh that Gloria Steinem, for example:

volumes could be written on the feminist and internationalist crusade against football and in favor of soccer, a sport that has never been able to find a professional fan base in the U.S.

Time for your medication, David. Easy, fella. Down the hatch.

Power Line on Democrats: "Betrayal of America"

Hot on the heels of John Hinderaker's profanity-laced email, the following Blogumentary interview clip with the Power Line guys is suddenly getting big attention in the progressive blogosphere:

QUICKTIME CLIP: What Power Line Thinks of Democrats [4 MB]

I tossed out the observation that what side you're on in this country depends on whether you think we're at war with Islamofascism or George W. Bush. John Hinderaker took that and ran to a very divisive place. An excerpt:

As far as I can tell the Left doesn't care about terrorism, doesn't care about the Islamofascists, doesn't care about hundreds of thousands of people being murdered. All they care about is their own power. [...] The whole mainstream of the Democratic Party, I would say, is engaged in an effort that really is a betrayal of America.

Terribly disheartening words. Not only because they aren't true, but they betray a lack of respect —loathing, really— for people like me and half of this country. For militaristic neoconservatives like Power Line, protecting America from terrorism is exponentially more important than anything else. They take this to the extreme - whatever it takes, to Islam's last breath, and our children's last dime. If you have any less fervor on this point, you are a "betrayal of America."

This bigotry and extremism represents the very worst of the neoconservative agenda. The Power Line bloggers are actually very nice guys in person, but they're way out of line with mainstream American values, and the world needs to know that. We Democrats are the very fabric of this country, woven together with Republicans who recognize the value of working together toward common goals.

Hullabaloo: Poisonous Fruit: "Hinderocket speaking the words of a paranoid totalitarian. It's quite chilling."
Matthew Yglesias: "That there would be a very serious problem for our nation's security, and I take it the call to start up a new Gulag won't be far away."
Q&O; Blog: "Powerline appears to be as vicious--and nonsensical--as anything they've criticized on the Left."
Daily Kos 1: "This is what we are dealing with folks---SLANDER."
Daily Kos 2: " Time Magazine, with its 4,189,981 subscribers worldwide, named this jackass's rantings as the 'blog of the year.'"
Unfogged: "The Rocket Man knows he's being outrageous, and feels the thrill of scaring us poor cowering lefties."
Spymac: "Is this the Side you right wingies want to be on?"
In Search of Utopia: "...don't ask me to excuse the actions of a bigoted reactionary who believes that anyone who does not agree with him should be hanging from the nearest tree."

Lastly, a comment from Matthew Yglesias' blog:
You know what: I'm an American. I have never been anything but, having been born here. I have no meaningful contact with foreign nationals. I have spent little time outside the country. It's actually impossible for me to "betray America" in this sense.

I am an American, goddamn it, and I am sick and tired of Republicans trying to co-opt that word and turn it into a synonym for "Republican." I think you folks over there on the right are misguided and wrong on most counts. But you're still my countrymen and women. If you can't return the sentiment, you have a entered a dark, dark place. The folks at Powerline need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves what they have become.

Because the language they are using to describe Democrats is the language of war. Do they really want to go there?

The Propagannon Cycle

One of the so-far overlooked aspects of the Jeff Gannon saga is his role in the defeat of Senator Tom Daschle in South Dakota. There is a considerable amount of evidence that Gannon was used as an opposition research dumping ground by the Thune campaign. Once published on Talon "News," this oppo was then cycled into the mainstream media via Thune's paid-for bloggers and the right-wing media echo chamber. So closely did the Thune campaign work with Gannon, that an FEC complaint was filed. That decision could have a profound impact on the political blogosphere as a whole.

Based on the Nashua Advocate's excellent piece Credible Evidence Emerges That Jeff Gannon Coordinated With the G.O.P. to Bring Down Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2004 Election, I've created the following diagram (in the spirit of Uggabugga -- don't miss her Gannon graphic) to express what the "Propagannon Cycle" might've looked like.

The Propagannon Cycle -- Click for larger version

Click for larger version with explanatory text.


DFL Dynasties

While I'm posting Jeff Fecke's stuff, let me heartily endorse his call for an end to DFL dynasties. If someone named Wellstone or Humphrey or Sabo is the best choice for the job, I'll support him or her whole-heartedly. But the DFL needs to strengthen its recruitment efforts and build up its "farm team." The same is true nationally in the Democratic Party. We should focus on winning elections in local races so we constantly have new generations of leaders rising up the ranks. The 2004 Minnesota Legislature upset is a good move in that direction, giving us 13 new faces, of which a few may move on to great things in Minnesota politics.

Also, don't miss his two part series on the history of Minnesota's crazy state-wide elections since 1990 (part 1: 1990-1996, part 2: 1998-2006). It's a great resource for people like me who are relatively new to Minnesota politics.

There are no more moderates

Jeff Fecke posts a call to action:

But [is the AARP] a piece of the liberal puzzle, right in lockstep with Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Willie Horton, and Noam Chomsky? Don't make me laugh.

So why are [the Republicans sliming them]? Why would Rove and Co. go after a large, nonpartisan interest group that was supporting his policies as recently as two years ago?

Simple. They're doing it because the AARP is in their way. And they will do anything they have to do to get their way.

They will destroy the AARP if they have to. They will call John Kerry insane. They will stab Ted Kennedy in the back. They will compare Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden. They will declare Jimmy Carter a traitor. And they will not hide what they are doing.

They are doing it so that their agenda becomes law. Period. It is not about what is good for the country--not even on a Reaganesqe level, where I could disagree with the man and still see that from his point of view, he was doing what he thought was best.

They are not doing this to make things better. They are doing this to cement power.

This is why I went back to the Democratic party. Because people willing to lie to advance their agenda must be opposed. I was right to back Kerry in 2004, and I am right to oppose Bush now.

The Democratic party has tried moderation. I say this now, and I mean it: it is time to fight.

We may lose some battles along the way. There is no guarantee that standing on principle will win us Congress in 2006, or the White House in 2008.

But we must stand and fight anyway. We must stand in the way of the Bush attack on Social Security. We must stand steadfast against making permanent the profligate Bush tax cuts. And--yes--with Iraq on the way to peace and prosperity and liberal democracy (or so say the neocons), it is time for us to stand up and demand that the administration tell us when our troops are coming home.

We can work on framing these issues all we want. But it is time to believe in ourselves. We are not wrong, they are not right, and if we try to meet them in the middle they will only roll us. That's been proven time and again.

I am a moderate, by temperament and ideology. But there is no moderation in Karl Rove's world. And so I close with a quote from the man who started the revolution on the right--a man who would be aghast as what passes for conservatism today: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the defense of justice no virtue.

Bush Sharpens his ax

It's a long list:

Programs Bush Wants to Reduce or Kill


A massive, animated conspiracy of evil doers - Now that's a movie!

I forget how I wound up on Newsmax today, but wind up there I did. I was cruising for news of the right. Lo, I spied an example of a common weapon in ideological warfare: Using an isolated incident to describe the motives of a large group of people. In this case, a couple of vandals spray-painted a swastika on a pro-Bush billboard. The headline read,Hollywood Vandalizes Bush Billboards. You know, as in, all 50,000 people in Hollywood using one can of spray paint?

That Hollywood. What will they ruin next? Your kids. How will they do it? They will advanace their secret Transexual ways through clever, funny cartoons like Shrek 2. The Traditional Values Coalition has issued a Fatwah, if you will, against the film because it contains jokes about cross dressing. In a "Special Report," A Gender Identity Disorder Goes Mainstream - Cross-dressers, Transvestites, And Transgenders Become Militants In The Homosexual Revolution [pdf], the group targets the gender bending bartender and thong-wearing Pinnochio. Now, if there ever were militants in the homosexual revolution Pinnochio and a bartender voiced by Larry King would have to be it. I am absolutely frozen with terror.

But hang on a second. If you think Shrek is scary, you've got another thing coming. That's the least of your troubles. His Holiness, the Pope has taken a break from his march towards last rites. He has emerged from his ecstatic communion with God to identify an "Ideology of Evil." Defacing pictures of Bush is one thing. Pinnochio in a thong is worse. But according to the Pope, gay marriage is in an entirely different universe of bad. It belongs in the category of something "... insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man." Does that even make sense? Can one pit a human right, like say, freedom, against man himself? Does the Pope have an electric ray gun under his pointy hat that shoots crazy thoughts into his head?

Unfortunately, Newsmax, the Traditional Values Cooalition or the Pope aren't lucid, but lucky for us they have the makings of a great movie: Hollywood in a pit with Pinnochio and humans wearing thongs on their Bushes fighting for their rights against families and man. Toss in a couple of pathological priests, a robot, Sponge Bob and oh, I don't know, 1,000 live lobsters and the entire Burning Man festival - oh and that weird dude that dances on on the six flag commercials.

It would make as much sense and be more entertaining.

Kelly tacks left

St. Paul Mayor Kelly is tacking left, attempting to position himself for re-election after his endorsement of President Bush. Paul Demko was there: "Perhaps the most telling line of Kelly's speech was when he declared 'I am a Democrat.' Nobody in the crowd applauded. That's because the people there
to support Kelly weren't Democrats."

Blog Journalism: Interview with Walter Mondale

In another nice example of blog journalism, Basie! got an interview with former Vice President Walter Mondale. The conversation ranges from the "nuclear option" to the way Modale shaped the modern Vice Presidency to the upcoming open seat Minnesota Senate election.

Kudos to Basie for scoring this inverview.

Collaborative Opposition Research

The Opposition Research wiki looks like an interesting attempt to do collaborative opposition research. The best oppo is sprung unexpectedly, so a wiki isn't suitable for that, but I'll be keeping an eye on this site.

Similar efforts: dkosopedia, SourceWatch


Bringing home the cost of the war

The national priorities project has come up with a local cost of the war in Iraq. Minnesota's Tally?

$4.8 billion

It's an intersesting number when taken in the context of Minnesota's projected $1.4 billion dollar deficit.


Republican "strategists" feigning surprise on Sunday morning talk TV as they defend the latest pile of dung thrown into the fan by their colleagues is seriously good kabuki.

Talking Points Memo is doing a good job of covering this little gem below:

Here it is in it's native glory.

The gist of it is - The AARP had the temerity to oppose the Bush administration's plan to privatize social security. Therefore, regardless of their past support for the medicare bill, they will be ruthlessly crushed. Thus a little Swiftboat organization springs to life and - Whoop! - Presto! - The AARP hates the military and loves gay weddings.

Now watch - During this argument, the right will call the left Homophobic for raising the issue.

Chuck sez:
UPDATE:Stop USA Next - Sign the Petition
AARP Social Security Blog

The American War: Is There Hope?

Oliver Willis:

Wake up, folks. We're in an ideological war with these folks and the sooner you realize that the better. The goal of the modern conservative movement, as embodied by George W. Bush, is not just a simple majority of conservative thought – rather, it is the elimination of everything but conservative thought. In their dream world, a debate over war in Iran would be between differing ideas on whether a standard issue invasion or a tactical nuclear strike would best suffice. Any other sort of rational solution would be relegated to derision in the right-wing media echo chamber.

The only way to get around this is to simply reject them. By reject them, I mean deny them any sort of adult consideration. Cease the boneheaded notion that they may actually "have a point", because at best they're looking for somewhere to stick in the knife.

Is there any hope for sane dialog in this country, especially in the blogosphere? Oliver Willis is right, in that the new breed of conservatives wants to destroy the left. I have John Hinderaker on film telling me, as a former communist, that he's seen the left from the inside. And his mission is to destroy the left. Destroy.

We are in the middle of a raging ideology war. I'm calling it the American War, because it's the battle over the soul and future of our country. Oliver Willis recognizes this, and he's ready for battle in his ideological tank.

I tend to want to build bridges. More viewpoints are better. Find common ground, things we can agree upon. But these days, walking out onto the public stage, you're faced with sniper fire the moment you open your mouth.

The polarized left and right are pushing each other to extremes. People will tire of this. We can only destroy for so long, until it's intolerable or there's nothing left. Stop fighting, start talking. Stop destroying, start building the country we want.

Is there room for a rational centrism? Or is such a notion doomed to be destroyed by both sides?


"Gosh-golly, I've been shot!"

Hot on the heels of BusterGate, PBS finds itself preemptively censoring reality once again. An upcoming Frontline documentary, A Company of Soldiers, is an up-close look at the dangers facing the U.S. Army's 8th Cavalry Regiment stationed in Baghdad. As you might imagine, soldiers in the heat of battle use some foul language. The documentary contains 13 expletives. Normally, PBS sends out a "hard feed" of such programs aired late in the evening, with a warning about content that may be offensive to some viewers.

Amidst uncertainty surrounding the FCC's standards for language and content, and the House voting to raise fines for indecency to half a million dollars, PBS is distributing the censored version by default.

Stations can still arrange to record the journalistically unblemished version — if they sign a waiver absolving PBS of any obligation to kick in for the possible $500,000 fine. The price of free speech is getting really expensive, isn't it?

Out here on the internets, I have a message for the FCC: FUCK CENSORSHIP
Thank you! Thanks for coming out. Remember to tip your waitstaff. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

NewsHour: Embattled PBS [RealAudio]
Blogcritics.org: Frontline fights the FCC

Watch out for horse heads

Yikes, this Doug Wead guy better watch out for horse heads.

Outing gay reporters

COOPER: You have been very clear that you believe this is politically motivated. And I think just about everyone probably agrees with that, that you asked that question, it was a softball, and liberal bloggers went after you to find out what they could in the public domain about you. But isn't that -- and you say that's unfair. Isn't that -- aren't those the same techniques that you yourself used as a reporter that sort of -- to publish innuendo, to publish advocacy-driven, politically motivated reports?

GANNON: Well, I don't see it that way. But what was -- what's been done to me is far in excess of what has ever been done to any other journalist that I could remember. My life has been turned inside out and upside down. And, again, it makes us all wonder that if someone disagrees with you, that is now your personal life fair game? And I'm hoping that fair-minded people will stand up and say that what's been done to me is wrong, and that -- that people's personal lives have no impact on their ability to be a journalist, you know. Why should my past prevent me from having a future?

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Interview With Jeff Gannon
February 18, 2005

Something about the Gannon thing has been bothering me for a while. Hasn't this happened before?

Consider the case of Jeffery Kofman, an ABC journalist who published a story in which US soldiers griped about conditions in Iraq after being informed that they'd have to stay in Iraq longer than originally planned. One soldier told Kofman, "If Donald Rumsfeld was here, I'd ask him for his resignation."

Kofman was smeared/outed on Drudge as both gay and Canadian (Headline: "ABCNEWS REPORTER WHO FILED TROOP COMPLAINTS STORY -- OPENLY GAY CANADIAN..."). Drudge claimed that the White House tipped him off about Koffman's sexuality (and nationality) with a link to an article about Kofman in the Advocate. A synopsis of the case can be found here or here.

So here we have the White House attempting to destroy the credibility of a reporter for asking questions they didn't like. It's not totally symmetrical with the Jeff Gannon episode, but it is interesting to see how the White House is not afraid to use sexual orientation as a weapon to try to discredit its opponents. I don't remember many complaints about this from right wingers at the time, though.


Civility lessons from John Hinderaker, Esq.

Last month, I used some foul language in a highly negative reaction to John Hinderaker's comment that "the Left" had "lined up behind the terrorists." Some people thought that showed immaturity on my part. Now we get to see how Mr. Hinderaker feels about that sort of language.

MN Politics Guru sent Mr. Hinderaker a note questioning a post he did about "Jeff Gannon." Hinderaker's reply was a model of civility:

You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.

Do they teach you how to write so eloquently at Harvard? Clearly, I need to take lessons.

Update: Fixed link.

Only Nixon could go to China

There's an old Vulcan saying that "only Nixon could go to China."

George W. Bush has the singular combination of will and ruthlessness that Nixon had. I wonder what unexpected triumph our new Imperial President could accomplish?

My off-the-wall possibility is finally dragging the US into the 18th Century and switching to the metric system.

What do you all think Bush could do if he set his mind to it?

Well, duh

No kidding:

Feds Warned About Fake News Videos

WASHINGTON - Congressional investigators warned federal agencies this week that the promotion of government policies through video news releases meant to look like TV news stories may violate federal rules against propaganda.

Adios Panzerfaust

Life is full of beautiful irony.

Did anyone see the Chappel Show episode in which the nation's premier white supremacist was a blind black man who didn't know he was black?

Witness the demise of Panzerfaust Records:

Bryant Cecchini sat in a room full of white supremacist pamphlets, books and compact discs recently, lamenting what could have been.

He projects that the South St. Paul-based Panzerfaust Records company that he helped build into a force in the niche of white-power music could have made almost $1 million this year. Instead, the company is defunct.

Things would be different, Cecchini said, if his business partner and neighbor, Anthony Pierpont, hadn't been charged with a low-level drug crime in December. And if the company's clients didn't now believe that Pierpont, who founded Panzerfaust, is of Mexican descent.

Cecchini, 33, who once was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for a stabbing years ago, said he has standards for the people with whom he does business, such as being truthful and refraining from drug use.

"And, unfortunately," he added, "you have to be white."



go Minnesota! Blog

Looking through the New Patriot referrers, I found a link from go Minnesota! Blog. Their mission: go Minnesota! is a public engagement campaign to ensure that Minnesotans can get where they need to go with reliable transportation options that enhance our quality of life and promote future growth and prosperity.

Their primary goal is to support funding for a transportation bill, including funding for Northstar Commuter Rail. It looks like the Senate has passed $37.5 million bonding bill for Northstar, which is in line with what Gov. Pawlenty proposed, and the House (which has rejected this in the past) approved $10 million.

Almanac At the Capitol has more. (They should really make their site into a blog... permalinks!)

COMPLETELY UNRELATED: Disturbing yet funny video from a FOX News affiliate. [via Norwegianity]


David Strom opposes gambling expansion

Now here is something I wouldn't have expected: Anti-tax advocate David Strom opposes expansion of gambling in Minnesota, currently being touted by Governor Pawlenty as free money to help get the state out of debt. Strom opposes gambling because he says chronic gamblers cost society more money than they pay in:

What are the costs associated with more gambling? With gambling comes more crime, bankruptcies, suicides, social service costs, illnesses, family breakdowns and, of course, huge business costs as employers have to cope with addicted employees.

Earl Grinols, an economist at the University of Illinois, did a cost-benefit analysis of gambling that showed that for every dollar in added benefit to society, gambling imposed costs of more than $3.

Every pathological gambler costs society at least $10,000 a year.

Interesting. I would've expected Strom not to care about this, because by eliminating social services to gambling addicts, much of these costs could be taken off the state's ledger and placed on society's or the individual's. I guess even your most hardened ideological opponents can surprise you sometimes.

I have something of a conflicted NIMBY/libertarian attitude about gambling. I believe all froms of gambling are stupid, including the lottery. As the saying goes, they're a tax on people who are bad at math. While I enjoy a friendly poker game now and again, I don't gamble much. However, I'm not, in principle, opposed to it. But when I think of plans that would turn Minneapolis into Atlantic City, I am not happy with that idea. And I think most metro area residents would agree that they don't want a casino in their city.

Censorship and Bigotry from the Dept. of Education

Do y'all know Buster the Bunny? If you have kids you might. Buster travels around the United States in his PBS Kids show, exploring the many diverse cultures that make up our country. From Mormons in Utah to Hmong in Wisconsin, Orthodox Jews and Pentecoastal Christians, Buster learns about traditions and families different from his own. But, as you might guess, he has a whole lot in common with the kids he meets. It's really the core of public television's mission to increase awareness, provide multiple viewpoints, and create lifelong learners engaged with our world.

Enter Margaret Spellings, the new Secretary of Education. The moment she stepped into office, one of her first tasks was to champion bigotry by attempting to censor Buster.

The reason? One episode features Buster visiting Vermont, where gay civil unions are legal. He visits real kids who teach him about farm life and maple sugaring. The clincher, of course, is the kids — in real life — have two mommies. They don't dwell on it, or veer off into some sort of "gay agenda" subtext some conservatives enjoy obsessing over. It's just a fact of their lives Buster learns about. Something that any real kid visiting Vermont (or their local school or church) might well encounter.

The mission of the Department of Education is to "ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation." The DoE site also cautions, "Please note that in the U.S., the federal role in education is limited. Because of the Tenth Amendment, most education policy is decided at the state and local levels."

If that's the case, why in the hell is the education secretary interfering with it's own mission, and the mission of public broadcasting? When did the mission of the DoE become one of censorship and bigotry? Margaret Spellings needs to keep her holier-than-thou nose out of my television. Margaret Spelling needs to keep her closed-minded, anti-education, right-wing religious beliefs at home. Trust us to decide what's right for our kids. That's what Twin Cities Public Television is doing.

Tell Margaret Spellings to let families make the responsible choice. She's not the mother of our kids.
margaret.spellings@ed.gov 202 401-3000

Watch Ryanne's video interview with the senior editor of Postcards from Buster

UPDATE: Congressman Barney Frank Denounces Administration's Anti-Gay School of Thought

Winning Big

One of our regular conservative commenters said something the other day that surprised me. He said, "I didn't support our going into Iraq when and how we did. But now that were there I want us to win and win big."

That got me thinking. That's pretty much the way I saw it and still do. I marched against the war. I wrote letters to my congressman. When I saw the bombs go off on CNN, I was shocked and awed. I felt that the US was a giant wooly mammoth that had been sniffing around the edges of a tar pit and in the end finally said, "The heck with it," and did a swan dive into the black. I took down my yard sign. There wasn't much sense in having a "No War" sign if we were already at war. I have friends in the Guard. A close relative was on the plane to Iraq. I wanted them, and all the troops to stay alive, to do what they had to do to win. The troops still need to do what the need to do to stay alive. I never liked MoveOn's quicksand ad. It is deeply unhealthy. The trooper never gets rescued. I didn't like the idea of my friends and relatives seeing that thing when they are over there.

I still want us to "win and win big." But I am faced with the same predicament that faces every one of us. In spite of an election that plucks at our hearts, inspite of a bad man getting served, the invasion of Iraq is still bad for the US. The gravity of the mistakes that were made, the incompetence of the people running this war and the acceleration of recent events won't allow us a clear victory. Instead of reducing the terror threat, the invasion raised it.

The new CIA Chief testified today that the Iraq Conflict Feeds International Terror Threat. You take away the flags, and soccer fields, and elections and there it is. The action we took to decrease the terrorist threat to our country has actually increased it.

Our physical saftey isn't the only casualty. Our national character has also suffered. We have been stained with an incredibly long list of scandals. Now it comes to our attention that we are beginning to use programs modeled after those we used first in vietnam and then in El Salvador - the use of death squads. No good can come of that. Meanwhile, the diversion of funds and resources has left us vulnerable at home.

It could still turn out ok. The wild card is the Iraqi people. They could perservere and form a secular, progressive republic that serves as a beacon of freedom to the rest of the region. That possiblity real. If it happens I will bow down to King George in all deference. I don't think there's a risk of peace breaking out though. I think Tom Englehart is more on point when he describes the new Iraq as flattened.

This all leaves me unsettled. Iran and Syria are aligned and events are accelerating rapidly, perhaps kicked on by King George's will to conquer. There is no evidence - save the Iraqi election - that the US can lay plans that won't go awry rather quickly. I do not pretend to know what to do. We are there. If we cannot engineer an outright victory, we must engineer our exit. In doing so, the troops need to follow orders. They need to do what the need to do in order to stay alive - follow orders, shoot first ask questions later if need be. There is abundant honor in their service. I do not wish the death of any innocent Iraqi.

All those deaths are on the head of the President and his deluded staff. Rummie said last summer - "It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this." Coherency eludes us still.


Conservative Voice gets it

Yesterday I was wondering when both sides would view corruption as corruption and not a set of situational ethics with which one can beat the other side bloody. Ask and you shall recieve:

The Conservative Voice on Gannon:

The bigger question is how did “Gannon” gain inside access to the White House only five days after Talon News Service was established? Was that long enough to run a background check? Did he have inside help? Did an earlier background check only turn up the problem that it would not look good if he were reporting for GOPUSA?

Finally there are the blackmail questions which exist for gays who are not “out of the closet”. Was Guckert blackmailing someone associated with the White House? Was somebody blackmailing Guckert or using Guckert’s services to blackmail someone else?


The current dual blogoshpere feeding frenzies on the media have raised interesting issues. The right is breaking its arms patting itself on the back for forcing Eason Jordan to step down over at CNN. The left, including me, have been investigating and outing literal and figurative whore Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert. Both sides are performing impressive contortions in order to ignore the points of the other.

Meanwhile all kinds of MSM/SCLM mainstays are lamenting the rise of the blogosphere. The WSJ calls those who had it out for Jordan "Amateuers with Vendettas." Others describe them as salivating morons who make up the lynch mob.

The entire debate adds fuel for both sides to acuse the other of bias. Nobody, at least that I could find, is calling those that outed JimJeff a "lynch mob," that's reserved for the Easan brigade, ergo the lynch mob is "conservative." On the other hand, Wolf Blitzer certainly cozied up to JimJeff and rubbed his tummy in his vaunted exclusive interview. There have been plenty of commentators who are calling the presence of a call boy with a fake identity running around the White House a tempest in a teapot. Eason or no Eason, there is still plenty of rightwing jabber in prime time news coverage.

Me - I'm just sick of agendas. I want the truth. Anybody that saw the "Control Room" is familiar with the idea that the US military might target journalists. I am not saying that that they do. I am saying it isn't unthinkable. It would be good to find out. However, I don't want the senior newsperson at one of the most influential networks in the world to start throwing around unsubstantiated accusations. I do not mourn Eason's resignation for that reason. He should have known better than to shoot off his big mouth. Likewise, I did not mind watching Rather fry. I was pissed off that Rather's greed and ego killed the story of Bush's escape from the National Guard and his descent into drinking and drugging. Rather was a tool and deserved to go down for buying a complete load of dung and liberally spraying it all over the US.

The same goes for those crying foul as JimJeff is burned at the stake. Anybody who is outraged over Eason should be furious over the JimJeff fiasco. He is just the latest stinking, writhing worm to emerge out of a White House that is engaging in an active campaign to infuse our daily lives with misleading propaganda. They do it by editing government websites for ideological correctness; they do it by paying journalists; they do it by producing fake newscasts; they do it by squeezing the truth out of their message until all that's left is spin; they do it by staffing the White House Press Corps with whores. Enough is enough.

When will the right begin to hunger for the truth from this White House? When will both sides begin to demand equal levels of integrity from their respective blamethrowers? I am thirsty for integrity.

Update: Chuck O. Kindly pointed out that I mistakenly referred to the "Control Room" as the "War Room" in the original post. I corrected the mistake.


Right Winger Discovers Letters to the Editor

I'm back from my vacation swilling chardonnay in Sonoma, tanned, rested, and ready to rock.

First on my take-down list is Yet Another Insufferable Right Wing Lawyer/Blogger, "LearnedFoot" of the Kool Aid Report, which specializes in bitching about the opinion page of the Star Tribune.

In the middle of sliming Senate District 60 DFL chair Joel Bergstrom as a "vomitous mass", LearnedFoot throws in an offside jab at yours truly, so I couldn't resist responding.

What's got LearnedFoot's panties in such a bunch? Why, he's shocked -- shocked -- to discover that activists use letters to the editor to promote their agendas!

In this case, Joel Bergstrom wrote a letter to the editor of the Star Tribune noting the irony of Republican state representative Julianne Ortman calling for more money to train police on the same day Minneapolis announced another round of budget cuts for police services. Bergstrom sensibly asks, where's the money?

But for LearnedFoot, the important thing is that Joel's letter isn't signed "Chair, SD60 DFL":

Here's a gravitas-laden question: shouldn't letter writers be required by the editor to disclose their political affiliations if the writer serves in some official role for a party? Those that submit commentary articles are required to do so. It strikes me as rather sleazy that letter writers can be clothed in a mantle of seeming uber-mensch objectivity - "hey, it's just my opinion" - when really all these people are doing is fulfilling their duties as DFL talking-point shills.

I was curious about Joel's take on all this so (check this out) I asked him. Here's what he said:

I guess in his world everything I do is in my capacity as Chair. On this letter in particular I was not representing the views of SD60, but myself, so I did not identify myself as chair b/c it would not be appropriate to ascribe my letter to all SD60 DFLers. And to act as if the republicans don't have a machine that does similar p.r. is a joke.

Interestingly, he does not address the content of the letter itself, the main question of which is: how does Ortman propose to pay for this?

Those of us who are both activists and private citizens have to be able to separate our activities, because being an activist is not the whole of what we do. It's not like we get paid, unlike some right-wing shills I could name. I don't post my personal opinion on the DFL blog; I don't post the DFL's opinion on my personal blog or in my letters to the editor; and I never represent the opinions of my employer. If what I'm writing represents the official position of an organization, I'll indicate that.

And if Mr. "LearnedFoot" has a problem with that, he can shove his learned foot up his erudite ass.

With that out of the way, let me endorse Steve Gilliard's ingenious Fast Boat Crusade. It's the op-ed analogue to Howard Dean's Fifty State Strategy. Gilliard wants ordinary Americans to move on from letters to the editor to full fledged op-ed pieces. The genius of this idea is very simple: it creates a grassroots "farm team" of op-ed columnists who may provide some counter to the legions of corporate-funded "scholars" at right wing think tanks like Cato, AEI, Heritage, and the Manhattan Institute who get paid to spew out drivel onto the nation's opinion pages. It might not work, but it's worth a try. The name comes from the great American hero John Paul Jones: "I shall need a fast boat for I intend to sail into harm's way."

America's Next Top Fake Reporter

Tune in Sundays at 8 for the hottest new reality TV show -- America's Next Top Fake Reporter!

Thanks to Dirty Flower for the link. You may need to watch UnFairWitness's clip of some of Gannon's questions to get the full effect.

Gannon was a hooker

For all the doubters out there - Americablog got the goods on Jeff Gannon's history as a hooker.

But why care? Valerie Plame. Americablog:

So in the end, why does this matter? Why does it matter that Jeff Gannon may have been a gay hooker named James Guckert with a $20,000 defaulted court judgment against him? So he somehow got a job lobbing softball questions to the White House. Big deal. If he was already a prostitute, why not be one in the White House briefing room as well?

This is the Conservative Republican Bush White House we're talking about. It's looking increasingly like they made a decision to allow a hooker to ask the President of the United States questions. They made a decision to give a man with an alias and no journalistic experience access to the West Wing of the White House on a "daily basis." They reportedly made a decision to give him - one of only six - access to documents, or information in those documents, that exposed a clandestine CIA operative. Say what you will about Monika Lewinsky - a tasteless episode, "inappropriate," whatever. Monika wasn't a gay prostitute running around the West Wing. What kind of leadership would let prostitutes roam the halls of the West Wing? What kind of war-time leadership can't find the same information that took bloggers only days to find?

None of this is by accident.

Someone had to make a decision to let all this happen. Who? Someone committed a crime in exposing Valerie Plame and now it appears a gay hooker may be right in the middle of all of it? Who?

Ultimately, it is the hypocrisy that is such a challenge to grasp in this story. This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they are surrounded by gay hookers? While they use a gay hooker to write articles for their gay hating political base? While they use a gay hooker to destroy a political enemy? Not to mention the hypocrisy of a "reporter" who chooses to publish article after article defending the ant-gay religious-right point of view on gay civil rights issue.

Who in the White House is at the center of all of this? Who allowed this to go on in the People's House? Who committed the crime of exposing Valerie Plame? Jeff Gannon has the answers to these questions, and boy we know he loves to talk.

Let him talk to Patrick Fitzgerald.


Iraq election results split - leaves Iran policy in limbo

This is good. If the buds of negotiation and secular direction can be kept alive the insurgency will shrink.

Power Check: Verdict Is Split in Iraqi Election

The razor-thin margin apparently captured by the Shiite alliance here in election results announced Sunday seems almost certain to enshrine a weak government that will be unable to push through sweeping changes, like granting Islam a central role in the new Iraqi state. The verdict handed down by Iraqi voters in the Jan. 30 election appeared to be a divided one, with the Shiite political alliance, backed by the clerical leadership in Najaf, opposed in nearly equal measure by an array of mostly secular minority parties.

It will also make it harder for the slim Shiite majority to metastasize into a true pro-Iranian theocracy. We should be grateful for that, considering the President's willingness to start warscombined with his No Mullah Left Behind energy policy. The next few months will be nail biters. I don't think anyone knows where this will go. I can only hope that Iraq stabilizes enough so that when things go to hell with Iran, we are in a better position to deal with it.

Put blinders on, take happy pill, join GOP

The following guote is from the home page of the US Commission on Civil Rights:

On January 7th, 2005, the Commission adopted a new policy on the public release and posting of reports and Commission documents. To comply with that new policy, the website has been updated and several draft reports that failed to receive a majority of Commissioners' votes have been removed. Those reports are available upon request.

In case you missed it, this is another example of your Republican government censoring information that casts Republicans or pet republican issues, and in particular the Republican-in-chief, in an unfavorable light.

Up until now, all publications were free to download on the website - good, bad, ugly. Now, the commissioners have removed 19 reports, including the humdinger: Redefining Rights in America The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001–2004.

Fortunately, the Memory Hole has posted 17 of the missing reports.

It just doesn't matter if you are for or against Bush, or agree or disagree with whatever is in the reports. It isn't acceptable to submit objective analysis, the output of an "independent" "bipartisan" commission, to ideological litmus tests. Wrong, wrong, wrong.


Dean takes reigns of DNC

Welcome aboard Howard Dean

I am looking forward to a Democratic era in which we are not constantly adjusting our worldview to fit the current incarnation of a republican message. Dean is uncompromisingly moderate. Pro-business, fiscally disciplined, tough on crime, sensible about gun-control and strong on civil rights. Yet he has not just won the keys to set the democratic message. He's taken on the responsibility of building the party infrastructure and unifying the base. He'll have his work cut out for him.


Bush to America: We Report, We Decide

So the White House's ongoing strategy of using fake news people to sell its agenda continues. James D. Guckert, AKA Jeff Gannon spent his mornings lobbing ridiculous soft-balls to Bush at press conferences. He operated under an alias had no press credentials, no training except a two-day press seminar. He worked for Talon News, which is run by GOPUSA.COM, which sprang out of nowhere. He set up his "press" web site and within 5 days received a White House press pass.

He owned and appeared on Hotmilitarystud.com, Militaryescorts.com, Militaryescortsm4m.com as a gay prostitute.

But wait there's more:

The phony reporter, who worked for the phony news agency, who used a false name, who got their White House press creds in 5 days, who was also a male prostitute...

Was given classified information that disclosed Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.

Update: Reps. Slaughter & Conyers Call on Special Prosecutor and Secret Service to Investigate Growing Gannon Scandal

Let the Annoying Ads Begin...

Mark Kennedy announced his plans to run for Senate.

On a positive note, should he win his party's endorsement, perhaps we'll only have to endure his annoying ads once every six years!


Dean Likely To Replace McAuliffe

It's no secret, CNN even took a poll (gasp!).

Fifty-six percent of the party leaders said the party needs major changes in its approach to winning elections, and another 34 percent called for minor changes -- and 61 percent, given a choice between persuading undecided voters and mobilizing the base, said going after so called "swing" voters is the more important.

I'm not sure these DNC leaders understand what it will take to win the coveted swing vote, and I'm not sure that Dean will pave the way in that direction.  In spite of my ideological differences with Dean, I do admire his enthusiasm (really!) and this kind of role requires a charismatic individual.  I think he will do well on the organizational side of things, but there are some major questions the party needs to address. Fundraising they've got covered; connecting with voters, as we've seen, isn't going as well.

It could just be faulty polling, but there's no mention here of the need to communicate with the working class (or the wide spectrum of middle-class people who identify themselves as working class).  Kerry certainly didn't help counter the idea that Democrats are out-of-touch elitists; to win the next Presidential election the Democratic party needs an appealing populist, not a stuffy grouch like Lieberman or a near-dilettante like Kerry.

In local politics, we just need some raw honesty. Pawlenty trumpets fiscal responsibility while driving us deeper into debt and begging door-to-door on the local Indian reservations. Puh-leeze. I know we can do better.

Speaking of- breaking news! James Hohmann (co-founder of the John Hinderaker Fan Club and Rhythmic Gymnastics Society) has been reasonably successful in the speech and debate communities! Though he should really think about deleting some of that comment spam.

Franken Likely to Run

Al Franken says better than 50/50 chance he'll run.

He'll make his final decision later in the year.

He is likely to run against Norm Coleman in 2008. Not as the DFL candidate in '06.

Franken to Announce 2006 Senate Intentions, Grams IS Back

According to the Strib, Franken will make his announcement today at 1:45. It has also been reported that Rod Grams does intend to run for Dayton's seat in 2006.


Dayton Dropping Out

Sen. Mark Dayton has announced he is not seeking re-election.

Hey Franken! Won't you throw your hat in the ring?

Bad Doggie!

I was not happy with the Pioneer Press's front page infographic today, so I wrote this letter to the editor. If you would like more information about why this graphic is wrong, I recommend reading Edward Tufte's excellent book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. For the budget figures themselves, see Bush's 2005 and 2006 budgets.

The chart in question

Bad Budget Infographic

I was disappointed with the Pioneer Press's front page infographic about President Bush's budget (February 8). Because of its shoddy design, it gave readers a false impression of the relative impact of Bush's proposals on the budget as a whole. First, the graphic depicted a one-dimensional number (the percentage increase or decrease) as a two-dimensional arrow, with larger percentages represented by longer and wider arrows. This gives a mistaken impression of the relative difference between the numbers. Second, presenting the budget numbers as percentages without showing the size of each program creates a false equivalency. In dollar terms, an 11.5% cut in Housing and Urban Development ($2.8 billion) is small compared to a 4.5% increase in military spending ($17.6 billion). Showing such a large representation of a relatively small cut gives the false impression that Bush's budget will make a real difference in reducing the size of the federal deficit, which it will not.


Old Fashioned Patriot

The Old Fashioned Patriot is for "For folks who believe that patriotism doesn't include racist, jingoist, murderous lies." Sounds sort of like us New Patriots.

Minneapolis Mayoral Forum and Debate

For those of you in Minneapolis, there are two upcoming events of interest in the 2005 Mayoral campaign.

1. Mayoral Forum featuring mayor R.T. Rybak and challenger Peter McLaughlin on Saturday, February 12. Each candidate will get an hour to express his vision for Minneapolis and take questions from the audience. The forum is sponsored by the DFL Progressive Caucus and the Senate District 58 DFL.

2. Minneapolis Mayoral Debate with R.T. Rybak and Peter McLaughlin, face to face, on Wednesday February 23. The debate is sponsored by the Senate District 60 DFL.


Goosestep goosebumps

Over the entire first term of the Bush administration, there have been those among us - some on the right and some on the left - who have noted the similarities between the new American Right and the rise to power of Hitler's Weimar. These arguments have been advanced with varying degrees of stridency, from the notorious advertisements submitted to MoveOn.org's grassroots advertising campaign on the left, to David Niewerts six-part essay on The Rise of Pseudo Fascism in America in the center left, all the way to Paul Craig Roberts, former Reagan official and Wall St. Journal editor who wrote of the The Brownshirting of America on the right.

I have argued many times that the most objectionable aspects of the Bush administration is not their policies - though they represent the road least likely to result in quality of life for me, my family and the world. The most objectionable aspects of the Bush Administration are the way it does business. Loyalty oathes, jingoism, mendacity, secrecy, truth-bending propaganda, and a frightening commitment to means - such as torture - that have thus far fallen outside the range of options our leaders have considered appropriate.

The response of the right, save for a few canaries in the coal mines, has been twofold. The first response, only natural in an argument I suppose, has been to fold the argument back on the left and blame them for the trend, such as Mitch Berg did last week in response to news that a third of high-school students want to curtail free speech. The second response has been, well, fascistic, such as the threatening comments we regularly receive on this blog. The former is a response by good people who aren't paying attention. The latter is action by the precipitators of the trend. Both are complicit in laying the groundwork for the end of true freedom in this country.

I am not alone in these thoughts. There is an absolute must read by Scott Mconnell, writing in American Conservative. It's called, Hunger for Dictatorship - War to export democracy may wreck our own. A taste:

But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as “hate-filled ... advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now.” One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it’s not just us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that existed during the Cold War. “It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth—not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.”

And I like his balance:

Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish between a sudden proliferation of fascist tendencies and an imminent danger. There may be, among some neocons and some more populist right-wingers, unmistakable antidemocratic tendencies. But America hasn’t yet experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state that is willing—in an unambiguous fashion—to jail its critics. The administration certainly has its far Right ideologues—the Washington Post’s recent profile of Alberto Gonzales, whose memos are literally written for him by Cheney aide David Addington, provides striking evidence. But the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed than proud of its most authoritarian aspects. Gonzales takes some pains to present himself as an opponent of torture; hypocrisy in this realm is perhaps preferable to open contempt for international law and the Bill of Rights.

I agree with the author that we aren't there yet. But the trend is unmistakeable. That should raise the hair on your neck - right, left, center.

Pioneer Press on Minnesota blogs

We're featured in a Pioneer Press article today about Minnesota blogs (there's also a sidebar with a short list of Minnesota blogs).

Thanks for contacting us about the article, PiPress. Oh wait. You didn't.


Senior's Pay

MoveOn's anti-privatization ad is a direct takeoff on Charlie Fisher's Bush in 30 Seconds-winning ad Child's Pay. Nice. I wonder if he directed the new one, too.

(In a previous life, I used to blog political ads.)

Update: Duh, I need to learn how to read links. The ad was directed by Charlie Fisher.

Also, FactCheck doesn't like this ad, but Max Sawicky fact checks the fact check and finds it lacking:

[T]hey accuse MoveOn of unfactuality because the latter claims that the White House is scheming to reduce Social Security benefits. I would have said any fool knows this, until today. There is no reason to talk about the long-term shortfall in the program unless you mean to either raise taxes -- which Bush has ruled out -- or cut benefits. Nor is there any ambiguity about how much. If you eliminate the shortfall in perpetuity, you hammer benefits. It's not a haircut.

These benefit cuts apply to the elderly because, duh, that's who retires. So the MoveOn ad has pictures of elderly persons. Factcheck sez this is wrong because the benefits of the presently elderly are not on the table. Oh please."

Update 2: The GOP is back to their old tricks, using pressure tactics to try to get TV stations to pull this ad. From today's edition of The Note:

And how's this for hardball? The RNC is asking television stations to stop airing the MoveOn.org ads, incidentally. This morning, the party sent out the letter from deputy counsel Michael Bayes that said the spot "falsely and maliciously" claims that the President's Social Security plan cuts benefits up to 46 percent to pay for private accounts, and reminded stations that as FCC license holders, they have a responsibility "to avoid broadcasting deliberate misrepresentations of the facts."

Update 3:MoveOn responds to the RNC:

Tom Matzzie, Washington Director of MoveOn.Org responded today to false charges by RNC Deputy Counsel, Michael Bayes:

"The President is continuing a campaign of deception. The fact that the President's plan would cut benefits by up to 46 percent is drawn directly from analysis by the chief actuary at the Social Security Administration. ('Estimates of Financial Effects for Three Models Developed by the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security,' page 75: Estimated change in monthly benefit for retiree at 65...row 42 sets 2, 3 and 4). We stand by the ad. All stations are airing our ad as scheduled.

"Ironically, the president is coming after us while he is deceiving the public. The president is misleading when he says 'Social Security is going bankrupt.'

"Our statement is supported by an ideologically-broad range of prominent economists, including Henry Aaron of The Brookings Institution, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute. Further, the benefit cut figure has been widely reported in major daily newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

"Instead of threatening TV stations and trying to infringe on the free speech rights of MoveOn.org, the administration should come clean and answer the following questions:

-- How big will the benefit cuts be for future retirees?

-- How much new debt will be required for their proposal?

-- How many billions in fees will financial services corporations profit from privatization?"

Update 4:MoveOn and a stable of economists respond to FactCheck (and take FactCheck to the woodshed):

In referring to a cut against scheduled benefit levels, MoveOn was using the standard framing for the whole debate. There would be no Social Security shortfall whatsoever, if the goal was simply to provide the current benefit level. President Bush and proponents of privatization have consistently used the scheduled benefit as their benchmark when they have warned of benefit cuts, if no changes are made. This statement is not true if a benefit cut means a cut against current benefit levels -- it only could be true if they are referring to scheduled future benefits. In this sense, MoveOn.org has referred to benefit "cuts" in exactly the same way as the president. If Fact Check only considers a cut as a reduction against current benefit levels, then it should correct the president and other proponents of privatization who routinely warn of benefit cuts....

Since the longstanding debate on Social Security has proceeded from the standpoint that not paying currently scheduled benefits is a "cut," and that is the framing that both sides in the debate have adopted, and FactCheck itself finds it difficult to avoid this framing, I suggest that you adopt the standard framing. At the very least, you should not accuse an organization that uses the standard framing of being misleading or inaccurate.

I like Lee Price's response:

Your analysis of what constitutes a “cut” is internally contradictory. While asserting that price indexing initial benefits would not constitute a “cut,” your analysis asserts that “current law will force an actual cut in benefits eventually.” In fact, average benefits will grow substantially between now and 2042. As a result, your assertion that “all benefits would have to be cut 27% when the Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted in the year 2042” is “false” in your own framework because benefits would never fall below where they are today. On the other hand, if that would be a 27% “cut” (and I think it would), then Plan 2 would cause a 46% cut and there is nothing false about the MoveOn.org ad.

Your commentary also ignores the central point of the ad – that the Bush initiative would lead to “working retirement.” Administration spokesmen and their allies have consistently touted as one of the advantages of their proposal that it would cause many more people to stay in the work force longer.

I've updated the date on this post so more people will see the new developments.


When you've lost US News...

When you've lost US News and World Report, you've lost middle America.

US News is the most conservative of the US weekly news magazines. It currently employs no liberal columnists. Last week's column by editor-in-chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman should sound a major warning for conservatives eager to privatize Social Security. Zuckerman, otherwise solidly center-right, is having none of it:

A 'cure' worse than the cold

In other words, there is no current financial crisis in the program. So, what's with all the hand-wringing? Well, if you make pessimistic predictions about economic growth, immigration, and wage inflation, the projected revenues may not be enough to pay benefits. The Social Security actuaries, for instance, project that growth will average only 1.6 percent after 2010, about half the rate we have enjoyed in the past century. But if the economy grows at anywhere near the levels that Bush's own budget experts project, the surplus, in effect, would never run out. And more-optimistic forecasts than those of the Social Security actuaries are supported by the recent history of economic and demographic trends.

Most important, to the extent that there is a deficit, it could be covered by a variety of modest combinations of tax hikes and benefit cuts--each of them quite manageable....

President Bush has a different answer to all of the above. In pursuit of his "ownership society," he wants to move Social Security toward "greater individual opportunity, risk, and reward" by allowing individuals to carve themselves private investment accounts out of Social Security payroll taxes, much like a 401(k) plan. This raises a whole host of problems. It discriminates against poorer workers, for one thing. Why? Because the lower your income, the less you have to invest, and the smaller your return will be. The Bush plan offers nothing close to the financial security of the existing program. Then there's this: Are individual investors sophisticated enough to match the higher returns now being forecast? At least 10 studies analyzed by the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate a disturbing level of financial illiteracy. Only 12 percent of the investors studied could distinguish between a load and a no-load mutual fund; only 14 percent understood the difference between a growth stock and an income stock; only 38 percent knew that when interest rates rise, bond prices fall; almost half somehow believed that diversification guarantees that their portfolio would not suffer if the market dropped; and 40 percent thought that the trust fund's operating costs would not be deducted from their investment return....

Furthermore, historical stock-market returns are not a guide for future performance. A lot depends on when you buy or sell, especially when America faces not only dramatic fiscal problems but a threat to profit margins in growing global competition, particularly from India and China. If someone retires after the market dives, he or she could lose a good chunk of retirement savings. The market, after all, fell by 45 percent in real terms between 1968 and 1978--never mind the bust between 2000 and 2002. Individuals would be glad to pocket gains, but if millions of retirees suffered dramatic losses, there would be enormous political pressure to come to their rescue. We would very likely end up privatizing gains and socializing the losses.

Upside down. The macroeconomic consequences of privatization of Social Security are equally significant. Privatization fails to address the long-term gap in the program's financial resources. It would make things worse because the government would have to borrow the money that otherwise would be paid into the system. This amounts to roughly $2 trillion in the first decade, over $3 trillion in the second decade, and approximately $5 trillion in each of the third and fourth decades--a run-up of about $15 trillion in the national debt, based on a Congressional Budget Office estimate widely believed to be close to the Bush plan. Privatization does not begin to save money until 2050--hardly a solution to a crisis the administration has described as imminent. Even worse, it might create a fiscal crisis, inflating future budget deficits to unprecedented levels and sending the economy into a tailspin....

Privatization thus gets things upside down. Social Security was not meant to re-create the free market; it was intended to insure against the vagaries and cruelties of the market and to permit Americans to count on the promise that the next generation will take care of them in their old age.

Super Fun Pac Comix -- Special NON-GAY Edition

It's a SpongeBob joke

Assessing De Soto

The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Peruvian economist Hernado De Soto has been on my to-read list for a while. De Soto's thesis is interesting: the reason capitalism hasn't resulted in a robust middle class in the Third World is because the majority of people living in the Third World are squatters who do not have title to the land and house they are living in. Without a title, they cannot use their equity in their home to bootstrap a small business like is common in the West.

However, it may not work out so well, as John Gravois reports in Slate. The reason? Houses in slums aren't worth anything, so after the government gives squatters titles, the banks just change their lending policies.

Smack down Jonah

As much as I love good Jonah Goldberg fanfic:

My heart is beating hard as my eyes meet Jonah's. My body heat rises and my entire soul trembles. In his eyes I see his desire for me, but besides that I see his love. This is what causes my heart to beat so, my desire to make love with him does not stem out of lust. But rather out of the love I felt so deeply and the need I have to fully express how much I need him body mind and soul. He is nervous, yet so am I. I slide easily into his arms my gaze never leaving his although his glasses are steamed up from his exertions coming up the two flights of stairs. I run my hands up his back threading my fingers into his hair. God, he has a rich and luxurious pelt on his back. My gaze slowly slips down to Jonah's lips, a smile curving mine. He truly did have magnificent lips. Lips have always been a fetish of mine. I loved to kiss, especially this man. This pudgy slightly damp man who smelled of Ding Dongs and Hai Karate and danger. Not the kind of danger that you might find in a soldier or a fireman or an actuary. No, it was the danger of his mother coming down to the basement and finding us half-clothed, playing strip Star Wars Monopoly.

...it is even more fun to see him get the smackdown laid down on him by Juan Cole. This is almost as good as when Goldberg wussed out of fighting Al Franken. Don't miss Cole's follow up or James Wolcott's catty rejoinder.


Scorched Earth

I like this man's thinking:

From: Barry R.
Hometown: The Big Picture
Hey Doc,

I’m an economics kind a guy.  I study markets and investment strategy, not politics.  But I cannot help but notice that the GOP is very good at what they do, and the Dems should rip a page out of their playbook.

To protect Social Security, they should use the same strategy that was so successfully applied to Tom Daschle in 2004.  Some 15+ GOP Senators are up for re-election in 2006.  Pick the most vulnerable, target them, and let them know that whoever is voting for this phony “reform” will be targeted for defeat Daschle style -- with “whatever it takes.”  Treat the campaign like a Presidential election, hook up with MoveOn.org, raise 200+ million dollars -- and slaughter them politically.  Start NOW, not in 2006.  Bury their states with ads, push polls, and every sleazy GOP trick in the book, the whole 9 yards.

This is a fight for the survival of the Dems as a party, and I suspect that’s what motivated Karl Rove to go after S.S. in the first place -- to once and for all, utterly destroy the opponent, setting the stage for GOP dominance.  4 more years?  Try 4 score more years.  (Scared yet?)

My mom always had good advice for aspiring Wall Streeters: Dress British, Think Yiddish.  That meant maintaining an impeccable set of manners and business etiquette as well as professional appearance, but still being creative and innovative in clever, outside the box thinking. 

The Dems need a variation on that: Think Progressive, Campaign Regressive.  To save the most important Democratic program, use the Republicans’ hard knuckled campaign techniques.  No holds barred, salted earth.  If the Dems go limp over this, and lose, they are done, finished, kaput.  

Time to go to the mat.

(via Altercation -- no permalinks, sadly)

Norwegianity's first birthday party

Mark Gisleson, who I like to think of as the "cranky uncle" of the left-wing blogosphere, is celebrating the first birthday of his blog, Norwegianity.

Norwegianity Party, Feb. 6, 2:00 PM, Uptown Bar

Be there or be Swedish. Or something.


MN Politics Guru has a great idea:

If [Republicans] want to name a highway after Reagan, let's name it after Highway 100 in St. Louis Park. Since it's going to be congested for the next 10 years, it can be a testament to the Reagan theory of huge deficits and reducing revenue.

Then again, you've got to give Reagan props for raising taxes when he realized the supply-side thing wasn't working out so hot. If only Bush and Pawlenty would pay attention to that lesson...

Gage versus Powerline, Round 2 (or, Argument by Insinuation)

On Monday, the Star Tribune published a commentary by Camille Gage in the Star Tribune which sounded a cautionary note about relying on partisan blogs. As an example, Gage used a post by John Hinderaker on Power Line that linked to accusations of voter registration fraud in Racine, Wisconsin, Gage's hometown. Gage checked out the claims and confronted Hinderaker when he guest lectured in her class at the Humphrey Institute.

The piece got wide play in the liberal blogosphere with posts on Eschaton and Political Animal. Gage ended her essay on a sound note: "Will the Internet become a source of compelling, citizen-based journalism or the wild, wild west of news -- where bloggers post first and ask questions later? Probably a little of both, and savvy news consumers would do well to approach their news sources, both online and traditional, with common sense and healthy skepticism."

Power Line went balistic. Hinderaker refuted Gage's claims while noting that she was a Howard Dean contributor (presumably an indication of her "leftwing moonbat" status) and sarcastically asking if Camille J. Gage was even "really her name." (Aside: Hinderaker was incensed that the Strib didn't do any fact checking of Gage's piece. From the quest to "fact check" Krugman at the New York Times, I'd say it seems to be common practice to allow commentators to fact check their own work. Indeed, Powerline's op-ed response to Gage makes clear that they fact check their own published opinion pieces: "On Power Line, we apply exactly the same standard of fact checking that we use for the numerous columns we have published in the Star Tribune, the New York Times, the New York Post and other reputable newspapers over the past 13 years.")

Hinderaker's response to Gage was so forceful I decided to try to verify the Racine voter fraud story. It's clear that voter fraud did occur in Racine, but the specific incident that Power Line linked to was harder to verify. The only article that referenced the accusations of allowing illegal aliens to vote was the one Power Line linked to from the questionable source of Agape Press ("Christian News Service"). The article is singled sourced to an anti-immigration activist, unnecessarily vague and does not name names.

I couldn't find any more on the case using Google News. But lacking Lexis Nexis, I decided to wait and see what details Power Line would come up with.

They've now published the op-ed response they submitted to the Star Tribune. Again, it presents a forceful case that Gage didn't know what she was talking about when she wrote her commentary: "Because the editors did no fact checking, they did not know that the FAIR report, far from having 'no factual basis,' has been the subject of a criminal investigation."

Until you dig a little deeper, that is.

Fortunately, the California blogger (and Racine native) who runs Blogenlust did just that. He asked Gage for her evidence, which she gave to him. She covered her bases quite well, speaking with the news editor for the Racine Journal Times, the Racine County Clerk, Susan Tully (the source of the complaint), and did an internet search on the Latino registration group Tully cited, then called their press contact. This is journalism, not just making a "few calls" -- and far, far more than Power Line did to validate the story, even after Gage raised the issue with Hinderaker in class.

When Powerline published their op-ed, Blogenlust did more digging, and was unable to verify Hinderaker's claims of a criminal investigation related to their October post. The only source he was able to find was press releases on the FAIR website, including one that states that the DA decided "not to pursue criminal prosecutions resulting from FAIR's investigation." Sounds like there isn't a criminal investigation into these carges, after all.

"[A]fter doing this research," Blogenlust writes, "I'm not very satisfied with Hinderaker's response. He doesn't seem to address the content of the original article, and makes claims that aren't easily supported by evidence. Of course, I haven't put that much energy into finding the sources Hinderaker cites, but I've done enough to know that his claims are not as clear cut as he suggests. And, in fact, it seems as though he is purposely confusing the story. I say purposely because Hinderaker is a lawyer, and presumably he isn't an idiot and can figure out that these things don't add up."

Blogenlust got a reply in from Hinderaker about this, and he says: "As I understand it, the indictments are not directly related. How all of these events in Milwaukee and elsewhere fit into a general pattern of corruption is yet to be determined. The criminal investigation is pending. A joint federal-state task force is looking into the broad issue of voter fraud in Milwaukee, and I suspect it will be a while before this plays itself out."

This is not the impression you get from reading Power Line's op-ed. This is argument by insinuation.


GAO: Nation On The Road To Financial Ruin

The non-partisan Government Accounting Office has issued a stark report. It will be difficult to blame its findings on chicken-little democrats.

GAO: Nation On The Road To Financial Ruin

"Simply put, our nation's fiscal policy is on an unsustainable course. As long-term budget simulations by GAO, the Congressional Budget Office, and others show, over the long term we face a large and growing structural deficit due primarily to know demographic trends, rising health care costs, and relatively low levels of federal revenues as a percent of GDP. Continuing on our present path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately our national security. It will also increasingly constrain our ability to address emerging and unexpected budgetary needs.

Milestones for Victory; Moving towards full Iraqi Sovereignty

I agree with President Bush (and countless other commentators for that matter) that it is counterproductive to set a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The militants will just bide their time and wait for us to leave, and then strike hard against the new government.

However, unless we are going to be in Iraq forever, we need some milestones for victory. What are the criteria that need to be satisfied for US troops to withdraw?

You can hear the crickets chirping.

We need an exit strategy for Iraq, so our troops can come home and we can rebuild our military back to its peak strength and fighting trim. I don't have that strategy. Unfortunately, I don't think Bush does, either.

The elections present us with an enormous opportunity to turn things around in Iraq. Most Iraqis still want us to get out, but if they see us as protecting the government they elected, and we present them with a set of criteria for our withdrawal, I think they will accept our presence there for some time.

Juan Cole also has a great idea: a staggered withdrawal.

I suggested on the Lehrer News Hour on Monday that now would be a good time for the Coalition forces to simply withdraw from Basra province. There don't seem to me to be the kind of violent incidents in Basra that require the British presence. Surely the Iraqi forces could deal with it, especially since the Shiites of the south are likely to be loyal to an elected government blessed by Grand Ayatollah Sistani. If foreign troops were removed from Basra, it would be an important step toward full resumption of sovereignty by Iraq.

Another benefit to this plan is that the Coalition could increase troop strength in the areas where security is still non-existent.

Absolute Bottom 50 Blogs

Can you find our blog on the list of the Absolute Bottom 50 Blogs? How about yours?

PR Watch launches SourceWatch

PR Watch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy and publishers of fine books including Trust Us, We're Experts and Toxic Sludge is Good for You has re-named the Disinfopedia wiki SourceWatch to account for its increased scope. SourceWatch is a collaboratively edited database of PR tactics, personnel, and groups.

Think Progress

Good news -- the Center for American Progress has a new blog: Think Progress. It launched with the State of the Union.

Social Security Smoke Cloud

So, I've been bedridden the last couple of days and didn't watch the State of the Union [transcript]. But I did catch Sen. Bill Frist deftly hit Larry King's softballs with tenuous talking points. What doesn't appear in the transcript is a little comment Frist made to Larry: "Heh heh, now Larry, you and I won't have to worry about this." But here's the rest of the exchange:

KING: How will you respond to the risk of having young people invest in stocks with regard to their future when that's so fluctuating? (That, and how it will actually cost at least $700 billion for private accounts today before even addressing the 27% shortfall in 2042. -Ed.)

FRIST: Yes, Larry, I think it was very interesting tonight. The president, in essence, said, anybody born before 1950, nothing's going to change for you. What I -- who I'm speaking to, said the president, are people after the birth date of 1950. That is, young people, people who, for the most part, believe two to one in UFOs more than Social Security.

A-say whut? It sounds like their plan to sell this pile of B.S. to the American public is essentially this: If you're old (i.e. rightfully sensitive to this issue, and have lots of political clout) - hey! You're free and clear! Don't worry about it grandpa, it's not your problem. It's the kids' problem. And they're all dumbshits. We can do whatever we want with their retirement and they won't say a damn thing.

We're not going to let them cram this through without a fight. Diverting payroll taxes to market-based accounts is the most volatile, most expensive, and least effective of the many possible solutions to keep Social Security solvent in the long term.

  • Christian Science Monitor: Onwership Society vs. New Deal

  • Straight Talk on Social Security

  • Atrios: Benefit Offset "Zero sum game."

  • A majority, 56 percent, said they approve of his plan to create personal accounts paid for with Social Security taxes, but the number dropped sharply when the possibility that it might reduce benefits was mentioned.

  • 2/02/2005

    BLOGUMENTARY screening tomorrow

    Hey kids - come out for a special free screening of Blogumentary!

    DATE: Thursday, February 3, 2005
    TIME: 5:30 PM - 8 PM
    PLACE: Student Center – UMN St. Paul Campus – Theater, lower level (directions)
    5:30 – 5:35: Welcome and Intro – Nora Paul
    5:35 – 6:40: Blogumentary
    6:40 – 7:00: Pizza break
    7:00 – 8:00: Panel discussion with: Rex Sorgatz
    Chuck Olsen, blogumentarian
    Dan Gillmor, author of “We the Media”
    Krista Kennedy, rhetorician and blogger - Shane Nackerud, UThink coordinator

    More info here.This event is free and open to the public. Come patriots of all stripes!

    It's all in there: Power Line and Dan Rather, Trent Lott, Howard Dean, Plain Layne, Kottke, Space Waitress, Lorika, Me... it's the most blog for your buck.

  • Mother Jones review
  • View the trailer

  • Broken Coulter

    This [Video]is really funny. Anne Coulter gets her lunch handed to her by a Candadian journalist. It would be a genuine pleasure to see the re-emergence of knowlegable no BS US journalists unwilling to let half-truths and lies slip past like so much hairspray and flag flap:

    Last night, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's excellent investigative news program, "the Fifth Estate," broadcast a one-hour special on the hijacking of the American media by conservative bullies -- whose knowledge of foreign policy seems to run the gamut from A to B and tends toward scream-o-ramas in which dissenters are accused of being unpatriotic.

    Of course, it included Coulter who gloated to correspondent Bob McKeown about how her side is "winning and they're loosing." But in the next segment during a rant about how Canada is disloyal for not sending troops to Iraq -- Coulter was finally exposed -- it just isn't clear from the exchange if she is genuinely confused or purposefully misrepresenting the truth. We'll report so you can decide.

    Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"

    McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."

    Coulter: "I don't think that's right."

    McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."

    Coulter (looking desperate): "Indochina?"

    McKeown: "Uh no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."

    Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

    McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."

    Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

    McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."

    Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."

    McKeown: "No."

    Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."

    McKeown tags out in script:

    "Coulter never got back to us -- but for the record, like Iraq, Canada sent no troops to Vietnam."


    Blogging the DFL State Central Committee meeting

    The DFL State Central Committee Meeting has been rescheduled for this Saturday, February 5th at Anoka High School, starting at noon. This meeting is open to the press and interested observers.

    However, the press generally only reports on what the politicians say.

    I'd like to use blogs to connect the grassroots of the DFL with the leadership. Much as bloggers have provided valuable coverage of the DNC Regional Caucuses for DNC Chair, I want to blog the SCC meeting.

    If you are a SCC member or otherwise willing to attend the meeting and report back, please email me at look@recursion.org.  

    It's doubtful that the venue will have wireless Internet access, so you'll probably just have to type up your recollections when you get home. You can post in the DFLers diaries or on your personal blog. Email me the link to your post and I will collect them all together.


    I just checked out R.T. Rybak's blog and I was impressed that he's not only posting, he's also replying to comments. That's pretty cool.

    The birth of fascism

    U.S. students say press freedoms go too far

    One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today.

    The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get “government approval” of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.

    Asked whether the press enjoys “too much freedom,” not enough or about the right amount, 32% say “too much,” and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.

    Habeas Corpus lives

    Judge Extends Legal Rights for Guantánamo Detainees

    "Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats," the judge wrote, "that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."

    Right on Judge Green. This is a continuation of the broader context of legal decisions being handed down by an unquestionably conservative Supreme Court. Even in a time of war, even when we face unusual, shapeless threats - we have to preserve the foundations of liberty.

    Nick Coleman on the radio

    Tom Elko from Curly Tails sent me a note about Strib columnist Nick Coleman's new morning radio show on Minnesota's Air America affliate (His show preempts Morning Sedition).

    This ought to raise some wingnuts' blood pressure. For that reason, if no other, I find this amusing. Hopefully, no one pops a vein.

    Update: For all the people finding this who are actually looking for Nick Coleman's radio show, please go to the Air America Minnesota website.

    Pauper Pols

    I enjoyed this letter to the Star Tribune that appeared today about Gov. Pawlenty's renaming of MinnesotaCare:

    While I disagree with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's term "welfare health care," I must admit it is a cleverly turned phrase. It may improve political discourse in Minnesota to have a contest to develop more of these phrases. Two that have occurred to me are:

    • "Mortician politician," for politicians such as Pawlenty who seem to have the goal of burying health care and social programs that have helped make Minnesota the healthiest state in the United States.

    • "Pauper politician," for politicians such as Pawlenty who do not appear to base policy on Matthew 25:40: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

    Doug Wholey, Deerwood, Minn.