Air America Radio is On the Air

It's official. Now liberals have their own talk radio, and it's not NPR or Pacifica Radio.

Al Franken debuted "The O'Franken Factor" on Air America Radio today at noon. He ran a hilarious tape of Donald Rumsfeld stammering about weapons of mass destruction. He had guest call-ins by G. Gordon Liddy (Watergate thief) and Ben Stein (speechwriter for Nixon, Ferris Bueller's Day Off), as well as interviews with Bob Kerrey, who I had hoped at one time would run for president this year, and who now sits on the 9-11 commission, and the indubitable Michael Moore.

You can listen to Air America on AM radio if you live in New York (1190), Los Angeles (1580), Chicago (950) and Portland (1620) or on XM satellite radio channel 167. Franken, Janeane Garofalo and the others will be coming to San Francisco and San Jose soon.

And for the rest of the country, you can stream Air America using Real Player.

So will people listen? I don't know, but I will.
Drink the Kool-Aid, Kids. Drink the Kool-Aid.

Someone pour me a nice cold glass of Rushberry Cocktail. I've been reading all day and my brain hurts. I just want the pain to go away.
Texas Civil Liberties, Going Once, Going Twice...

Things are once again amiss in the Lone Star State. First case in point: Crawford, Texas. Civil rights are now on sale for $25. And protest should be considered with at least two week’s forethought, or else you’ll be visiting the newly expanded jail.

On February 16, [a local jury] convicted five peace activists of violating the parade and procession ordinance of Crawford, Texas. That ordinance required 15 days’ notice and a $25 registration fee.

At trial, the police testified that the protesters in Crawford were yelling “anti-Bush, anti-war slogans,” though the defendants deny this and a tape of the arrests backs them up, they say.

Their lawyer, Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, asked Police Chief Tidmore “whether one of the defendants would have violated the ordinance by sporting political buttons, such as those that read ‘No Nukes’ and ‘Peace,’ without the permit.” According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Chief Tidmore responded, "It could be a sign of demonstration."

Second case in point: Austin, Texas. At UT Austin, plain-clothed military counterintelligence agents mingled with students, professors and citizens at a well publicized February 4th conference titled “Islam and the Law: A Question of Sexism.”

“It was nothing out of the ordinary for a law school conference,” says Sahar Aziz, a law student and activist in Austin. "It was an academic conference discussing...sociological, political, historical, and legal perspectives [of sexism in Islamic Law]."

However, after questions surfaced about the Army’s attendance at the conference, “two U.S. Army counterintelligence special agents went to the law school to request a roster of attendees in an attempt to identify...suspicious individual[s]...”

Will Harrell, the executive director of ACLU of Texas, says, “I don't care if it's FBI or Army intelligence. The aim is the same: to intimidate.”

Where are my civil liberties? It seems that my constitutional rights are now being subsumed by Crawford, Texas, and Bush’s newly commissioned Gestapo Chief Tidmore. I want the same freedoms that Bush is so passionately stressing that we're securing for Iraq. I want the rights that our servicemen and women are being sent overseas to fight for. But until those rights are secured here at home, my fellow brothers in uniform are dying in vain! Give me back my rights YO!!
The Price of Freedom? or, At the Price of Freedom?

In the ongoing battle to forever close the US Army's School of the Americas (SOA), many have frequently encountered criticism that they are bringing up old points against the existence of the supposedly "reformed" Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). This has been Kristin Wylie's story, but given the nature of recent findings it has invariably become my fight as well.

It is a fundamental fact that the insidious massacres and atrocities committed in Latin America by graduates of the SOA will never lose salience. However, these atrocities have been accepted or ignored by Americans. We have turned a blind eye to our countries involvement in human rights abuses.

But recent developments have given renewed vigor to our counter-position. HR 1258 is before the House. It calls for the closing of the SOA and a subsequent investigation into the school's misdealings. I contend that we actively prosecute those who have knowingly committed crimes against humanity, both directly and indirectly. The horrible relationship that continues to exist between the WHISC and known henchmen in Latin America must be stopped.

Please read new research findings that further incriminate the SOA. If you want to involve yourself directly in the fight to close the SOA, you can read "ACTION A DAY TO CLOSE THE SOA!", which enumerates steps and timelines for protest, action and resistance.

Ultimately, it's institutions such as this that ensure our dominance around the world. Our fellow countrymen and women wonder why there is a global purging of "things" American. They wonder in stupified bewilderment why "terrorists" are willing to give there lives to rid themselves of US influence. More importantly, and quite disconcerting is the fact that the US government encourages this bewilderment, while it secretly continues to fund the school to the tune of $10 million a year.

Let's eliminate the bones in our closet. It's within our power. Let's sit at the negotiation table with countries from around the world without having to avert our eyes in shame. Let's end this perpetual violence!
9/11, the Current Administration, & Accountability

Krugman is awesome.

First of all, for any of you who actually might not know who he is, here's his NYT bio--
Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Mr. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.

Mr. Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His professional reputation rests largely on work in international trade and finance; he is one of the founders of the "new trade theory," a major rethinking of the theory of international trade. In recognition of that work, in 1991 the American Economic Association awarded him its John Bates Clark medal, a prize given every two years to "that economist under forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic knowledge." Mr. Krugman's current academic research is focused on economic and currency crises.

At the same time, Mr. Krugman has written extensively for a broader public audience. Some of his recent articles on economic issues, originally published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, Scientific American and other journals, are reprinted in Pop Internationalism and The Accidental Theorist.
Now...his latest NYT column comments on the 9/11 commission's proceedings and related information (I have to add, all the stuff I warned voting friends and family about nearly four years ago has come to fruition multifold, this case, I would have preferred to have been wrong). Richard Clarke is not someone I would tend to admire, he is hawkish, he wants the US to have a secret police, and I'm sure he has many views divergent from my own, but he is speaking out even after seeing the threats and consequences Paul O'Neil (another with whom I'd differ on many things, but he did try to talk about things he saw and thought should be made public) and others that occurred after speaking out. With all the cover-up, this could make Watergate look like a day at Disneyland:
Lifting the Shroud


Published: March 23, 2004

From the day it took office, U.S. News & World Report wrote a few months ago, the Bush administration "dropped a shroud of secrecy" over the federal government. After 9/11, the administration's secretiveness knew no limits — Americans, Ari Fleischer ominously warned, "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Patriotic citizens were supposed to accept the administration's version of events, not ask awkward questions.

But something remarkable has been happening lately: more and more insiders are finding the courage to reveal the truth on issues ranging from mercury pollution — yes, Virginia, polluters do write the regulations these days, and never mind the science — to the war on terror.

It's important, when you read the inevitable attempts to impugn the character of the latest whistle-blower, to realize just how risky it is to reveal awkward truths about the Bush administration. When Gen. Eric Shinseki told Congress that postwar Iraq would require a large occupation force, that was the end of his military career. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV revealed that the 2003 State of the Union speech contained information known to be false, someone in the White House destroyed his wife's career by revealing that she was a C.I.A. operative. And we now know that Richard Foster, the Medicare system's chief actuary, was threatened with dismissal if he revealed to Congress the likely cost of the administration's prescription drug plan.

The latest insider to come forth, of course, is Richard Clarke, George Bush's former counterterrorism czar and the author of the just-published "Against All Enemies."

On "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Mr. Clarke said the previously unsayable: that Mr. Bush, the self-proclaimed "war president," had "done a terrible job on the war against terrorism." After a few hours of shocked silence, the character assassination began. He "may have had a grudge to bear since he probably wanted a more prominent position," declared Dick Cheney, who also says that Mr. Clarke was "out of the loop." (What loop? Before 9/11, Mr. Clarke was the administration's top official on counterterrorism.) It's "more about politics and a book promotion than about policy," Scott McClellan said.

Of course, Bush officials have to attack Mr. Clarke's character because there is plenty of independent evidence confirming the thrust of his charges.

Did the Bush administration ignore terrorism warnings before 9/11? Justice Department documents obtained by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, show that it did. Not only did John Ashcroft completely drop terrorism as a priority — it wasn't even mentioned in his list of seven "strategic goals" — just one day before 9/11 he proposed a reduction in counterterrorism funds.

Did the administration neglect counterterrorism even after 9/11? After 9/11 the F.B.I. requested $1.5 billion for counterterrorism operations, but the White House slashed this by two-thirds. (Meanwhile, the Bush campaign has been attacking John Kerry because he once voted for a small cut in intelligence funds.)

Oh, and the next time terrorists launch an attack on American soil, they will find their task made much easier by the administration's strange reluctance, even after 9/11, to protect potential targets. In November 2001 a bipartisan delegation urged the president to spend about $10 billion on top-security priorities like ports and nuclear sites. But Mr. Bush flatly refused.

Finally, did some top officials really want to respond to 9/11 not by going after Al Qaeda, but by attacking Iraq? Of course they did. "From the very first moments after Sept. 11," Kenneth Pollack told "Frontline," "there was a group of people, both inside and outside the administration, who believed that the war on terrorism . . . should target Iraq first." Mr. Clarke simply adds more detail.

Still, the administration would like you to think that Mr. Clarke had base motives in writing his book. But given the hawks' dominance of the best-seller lists until last fall, it's unlikely that he wrote it for the money. Given the assumption by most political pundits, until very recently, that Mr. Bush was guaranteed re-election, it's unlikely that he wrote it in the hopes of getting a political job. And given the Bush administration's penchant for punishing its critics, he must have known that he was taking a huge personal risk.

So why did he write it? How about this: Maybe he just wanted the public to know the truth.
Dr. Krugman's Op-Ed page

One good thing to come from the proceedings yesterday was an apology, as a friend, Chris Nelson, points out in his blog...
The Apology

Here is the question that reporters everywhere should be asking of this administration, but none EVER WILL:

"Richard Clarke apologized to the families of the 9/11 victims and to America for not doing enough to stop 9/11. Will you?"

I was shocked when this bit of news -- that Mr. Clarke had apologized during the 9/11 hearing -- wasn't played over and over again in the TV news. Because given all of Colin Powell's hedging, Condoleeza Rice's refusal to be grilled publicly (while at the same time declassifying documents in order to smear Richard Clarke), and George W. Bush's meager hour of testimony, Mr. Clarke's admission was the first genuinely honorable moment to come out of this whole fiasco. Jeff Greenfield didn't mention it. Bill Schneider wasn't giving it his "Political Play of the Week" award. And all seemed to be treating the Bush campaign's smear tactics as justified, never noting the irony of Rice appearing on Hannity and Colmes on the same day she refused to testify in a public hearing.

The New York Times praises Clarke for the apology.
Yea, and the Nixon administration used the principle of executive privilege not to testify as well.

By the way, the opening paragraph from that NYT article today regarding the apology:
The seminal moment of this week's hearings on 9/11 surely came yesterday when Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief in the Bush and Clinton administrations, opened his testimony by apologizing to the families whose loved ones died in the terror attacks. The government, Mr. Clarke said, had failed them, "and I failed you." He added, "We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed." It suddenly seemed that after the billions of words uttered about that terrible day, Mr. Clarke had found the ones that still needed saying.
You mean President Bush isn't being straight with us about taxes!? What do you expect from a borrow-and-spend freemarket nut who believes in tax cuts for the rich whether the budget is running surpluses or deficits, whether we're at war or peace?
"Taxing the rich?" Bush said during a recent White House forum where his guests included the owners of a hair salon, a convenience store franchise and an office supply dealer.

The only problem is that most companies in the small-business world are so-called Main Street businesses with 10 or fewer employees, including restaurants, small retailers and small manufacturers, Census and IRS data show.

Their profits fall into a median range of $40,000 and $60,000, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, a leading advocate of the small-business community. That puts them just above U.S. median household income of $42,409.

"These are not rich people," said NFIB researcher Bruce Phillips. "Changing the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, for the most part, doesn't apply to our membership."

"The president's tax cuts favor the wealthy, and I guess it's in his interest to try to convince lots of people that they are the wealthy," said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

The NFIB estimates there are 13 million small-business people who are either self-employed or who employ at least one other person. Add in people who supplement their paycheck with a business venture and the number jumps to over 25 million.
That Reuters felt compelled to call the Economic Policy Institute "left-leaning" just goes to show you that the so-called liberal media is a myth, albeit a persistent one.
Whom DID you trust?

In light of Clarke's revelations, it may be worth our time to revisit some of the reasons why Iraq was always on radar scopes.

Here's a pleasant little Flash movie by Eric Blumrich.

Who Would You Trust?

On February 12, 2003, just a month before US and British troops invaded Iraq, Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations.
President Bush has not made final decisions about if and when to use military force to disarm Iraq, nor has he made any final decisions about exactly how the United States will proceed with respect to Iraq after a conflict, if one is required. Yet time is rapidly running out for the Iraqi regime to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction, as required by the United Nations Security Council. And if war comes, President Bush has made clear that it will be a war of liberation, not occupation. As the President said in his speech to the United Nations last September, "Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it and the security of all nations requires it."
Tonight former Bush terrorism advisor Richard Clarke appeared on 60 Minutes in an interview with Lesley Stahl. Clarke was a Reagan-appointee, served under the first President Bush, was held over by President Clinton to be his terrorism czar, then held over again by Bush&Co.
Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said to Stahl. "And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.

"Initially, I thought when he said, 'There aren't enough targets in-- in Afghanistan,' I thought he was joking.

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection, but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there saying we've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection."

Clarke says he and CIA Director George Tenet told that to Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Clarke then tells Stahl of being pressured by Mr. Bush.

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'
Hadley's job on tonight's segment was to defend the Bush administration against Clarke's accusations, that the White House ignored intelligence before 9-11 that Al-Qaeda was preparing a major attack, and then ignored intelligence that indicated there was no link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.
Iraq, as the president has said, is at the center of the war on terror. We have narrowed the ground available to al Qaeda and to the terrorists. Their sanctuary in Afghanistan is gone; their sanctuary in Iraq is gone. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are now allies on the war on terror. So Iraq has contributed in that way in narrowing the sanctuaries available to terrorists.
Many Americans who watched 60 Minutes will likely see this as a he said-she said situation, and that Clarke is trying to convert sour grapes into book sales. It was clear to me that he didn't have an axe to grind, and similarly damning evidence is piling up against the Bush administration on a daily basis. Given the comments made by both men, who would you trust?
Bush & Kerry Square Off on Taxes

If George Bush has a leg to stand on in his bid for re-selection, it's the popularity of his tax cuts. Republicans and Democrats love them, but what most Americans fail to consider are the consequences of diminishing federal revenues, namely less money for health care, schools, etc.
Bush took note of Kerry's proposals to expand health care, education and other domestic programs while still cutting in half the deficit. Kerry, the president, said, has promised more than he can pay for.

"He's going to have to pay for it somehow," Bush told thousands of cheering supporters at the Orange County Convention Center. "It's pretty clear how he's going to fill the tax gap -- he's going to tax all of you. Fortunately, you're not going to give him that chance."

Aides to Kerry, who was vacationing in Idaho, dismissed Bush's sharpest criticism to date by turning the argument back on the president. They said Bush had presided over an era of "hidden" tax increases in the form of higher college tuition, health care costs, gas prices and property taxes -- all while incomes had fallen.

"A jobless economy means nothing to the millions of Americans looking for work or wondering where their next paycheck will come from," Kerry said in a statement. "The Bush economic policies have failed. It's time for America to move in a new direction."

"We're beginning to see a pattern here," Bush said. "Senator Kerry is one of the main opponents of tax relief in the United States Congress. However, when tax increases are proposed, it's a lot easier to get a yes vote out of him."

Bush faulted Kerry for voting against tax breaks for some married couples and families with children and for an expansion of the 10 percent tax bracket, as well as other pieces of the tax cut bills enacted under Bush.

Kerry has said he supports permanently extending those cuts, which are due to expire at year's end. But he wants to roll back other parts that benefit wealthy people. Kerry has said that money would be used to help cut the deficit by at least half in his first term.

Kerry has proposed a health care plan that has been estimated to cost about $900 billion over 10 years. His campaign has not laid out how that plan would be paid for.
We all know what Bush means when he says "tax relief." Its about time we started explaining this to our friends, family, neighbors and coworkers.

Speaking of taxes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Cay Johnston has a new book out -- "Perfectly Legal."
"If you’re the kind of person who works hard and plays by the rules, prepare to be outraged. Perfectly Legal will show you why the American Dream is
turning into a lie. This explosive book, by an award-winning investigative reporter, reveals exactly how the tax code and many other laws have been twisted over the past three decades to subsidize the incomes and extravagant lifestyles of the richest and most powerful fraction of 1 percent of our country."
I hear that John Kerry took some time out of his busy schedule to read it. Maybe someone should sit Dubya down and read it to him.
Bush Administration: It's OK to fire federal workers for being gay

The Bush administration has reversed a longstanding federal policy of non-discrimination against gay and lesbian federal workers. Newly appointed Special Counsel Scott Bloch has announced that while a federal worker's conduct outside of work is protected, the status of being gay is not. Therefore, supervisors of gay federal employees can fire them for being gay, and gay employees will have no recourse.

The Office of the Special Counsel has removed "sexual orientation discrimination" from federal complaint forms and from materials on workers' rights.

Bloch was appointed by Bush in January, replacing Clinton appointee Elaine Kaplan. Kaplan called Bloch's legal reasoning "absurd."

As if it wasn't clear enough on the marriage issue, the Bush Administration has declared war on the LGBT community. I don't think it's because Bush hates gay people, but rather because he is pandering to his supporters who do. And doesn't that make Bush's actions even more repugnant?
Howard Dean Launches Democracy for America;
Republicans Cry Foul

On Thursday, Howard Dean announced the launch of a new grassroots organization -- Democracy for America -- to support the Democratic nominee for President, progressive Democratic candidates for Congress, and universal health care, among other things.

Dr. Dean had this to say during his appearance in San Francisco, which I attended:
"To defeat George Bush, the Democratic Party and its nominee must stand up strong for our principles, not paper over our differences with the most radical White House in our lifetime.

We can do better, and we will.

I'm going to do everything I can to make sure John Kerry succeeds in sending George Bush back to Crawford, Texas. But that is not enough. Changing presidents is not enough. We have to fundamentally change the Democratic Party."
The Republicans responded in typical fashion, not simply criticizing Gov. Dean, but accusing him of making remarks regarding the recent events in Madrid that were unacceptable.

But Gillespies didn't stop there. He went on to demand that Dean retract his comments, and more ridiculously, conflated Dean with the terrorists for repeating "the threats made by those we are trying to defeat in the War on Terror."
"In failing to retract his comments that President Bush and the War on Terror are responsible for those murdered in Spain last week, Howard Dean continues to help steer the Democrat Party even farther out of the mainstream of acceptable political discourse.

We can only hope that Howard Dean will right the wrong he created with these comments by retracting them the next time he makes a public address. Presidential candidates like John Kerry and the surrogates who speak on their behalf have an obligation not to repeat the threats made by those we are trying to defeat in the War on Terror."
What exactly constitutes "acceptable political discourse" to Ed Gillespie and the Republicans? That's easy: any discourse which concurs with their ideology is acceptable, while any which disagrees is not. This is the same sort of bully rhetoric we got from Bush and his administration after 9/11. Remember what Bush said in his "Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People" just nine days after the attacks?

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

In his collection of essays, The Great Unraveling, Paul Krugman draws parallels between the tactics of the Bush conservatives and those of a "revolutionary power" described by Henry Kissinger in his doctoral dissertation. There is a method to their madness, and its not unfamiliar to historians.

Thanks to Howard Dean, and others who were courageous enough to stand up and criticize the policies of George W. Bush when doing so seemed risky and self-defeating, the Democrats are finding their political voice, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are getting involved in politics, to take back America from the extremists now in power. The Republicans have shown themselves willing to do and say anything to get their way.

We can stop them, and we will.
911 Days After 9/11
198 Dead and 1,400 Wounded in Madrid
Millions March in Grief

From Democracy Now!
In Madrid the death toll has risen to at least 198 in Thursday's train bombings. Officials say 10 bombs ripped through four trains at the height of rush hour killing nearly 200 and wounding 1,400. The bombings all occurred within 10 minutes of each other. Newspapers in Madrid described the day as "Spain's 9/11." It was the deadliest bombing in Europe since 1988 when 270 died in the Lockerbie airline explosion. Spanish officials immediately assumed the Basque separatist group Eta was behind the attack but evidence later emerged that forced officials to investigate a possible Al Qaeda role. An Arabic newspaper in London received a letter from a group with ties to Al Qaeda claiming responsibility. But the letter was viewed with skepticism because the same group had also taken responsibility for last year's massive black out along the East Coast. A truck containing detonators and an Arabic Koran was found. The attack came exactly two and a half years or 911 days after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. Spain has begun three days of mourning. Schools, museums and the Central Bank have all been shut down. Millions are expected to participate in rallies tonight to mourn the dead.
These tragic attacks could affect this weekend's general election in Spain, and should provide an interesting case study for how a democracy responds to terror.
If the government's initial suspicion (that) ETA was behind the blasts is right, that could benefit Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's ruling Popular Party (PP) which has campaigned on its tough line against the separatist group, analysts said.

If, however, some indications al Qaeda could have been behind the attacks gain credence, many Spaniards might point a finger at the PP for stirring Muslim wrath by backing Washington and London in Iraq.

"Assuming it was ETA, the obvious emotional interpretation is this will make people back the party with the toughest line against them," politics professor Josu Mezo said.

"If it was an Islamic extremist group like al Qaeda that carried out the attack, everything would change. But it is really impossible to predict at the moment."

Moreover, mass protests called by Aznar for Friday evening under the slogan "With the Victims, With the Constitution, For the Defeat of Terrorism" were tinged with controversy.

Up to 90 percent of Spaniards opposed the war a year ago and two-thirds now want troops to come home, according to polls.
It's horrible to contemplate, but how might an attack like this one affect our upcoming election?
Gephardt Wins!

Is anyone else worried about another stolen election in Florida this November?
Florida elections workers were counting ballots by hand -- again -- on Wednesday after improperly coded ballots appeared to give former presidential candidate Rep. Dick Gephardt a decisive win in one Panhandle county.

On the other end of the country, a report Wednesday found that a computer battery problem affected about 40 percent of polling stations in San Diego County, Calif., delaying and frustrating voters who lined up to cast electronic ballots in last week's primary.

Diebold Election Systems, the maker of the electronic voting machines, is trying to determine the root of the problem in San Diego.

The future is here, and so is the unthinkable--no libraries or sports for school children

In the last several days a school district in the Bay Area has announced the unthinkable, due to budget short falls, thousands of children will no longer have a library, music, or athletics. This is shameful when we consider the huge tax breaks received by the top 5% in income. This is why we have functional layers of government, and state and federal tax systems in order to avoid such a catastrophe and outrage. We are not a third world nation--this is the United States for god's sake, and yet these children are now being forced to live with the shame of thinking that they ARE different and ARE somehow inferior crushing their optimism and hope for the future. Imagine a United States without music and art and laughing children, well that is the path we are on in a state and country led by those who refuse to raise taxes of those with incomes over $250K annually.

Students react to sports, library cuts
Many distraught in West Contra Costa

On the public campuses of West Contra Costa, where resources have always been scarce for students and schools alike, two things were generally believed to be protected, essential components of the school experience: books and sports.

So as news spread Tuesday morning that school libraries and sports programs were on the chopping block along with counselors, elementary school music classes, the district radio station and other programs, reactions were strong, ranging from anger to disbelief to denial.

"They took it personally," said former Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter, who fielded 25 calls from distraught players Tuesday morning. "We let the kids down."

Throughout the district's high schools, students angrily questioned why their programs were on the block in their district but not in Walnut Creek or Orinda. Some wondered about their own district's management, or their parents' failure to get involved; others wondered darkly if race played a factor. Most just wondered, without answers.

The reaction was most visible at De Anza High School in Richmond, where most of the 1,452 students walked out of class Tuesday morning, either to picket with signs or just vanish in protest, said Principal Dave Moss.

There wasn't much learning going on amid the outrage, he said.

"It's in the air. People are breathing this," Moss said. "They're not going to think about much else right now."

Justin Morrow 14, a freshman football player from San Pablo, unfurled a construction paper sign scrawled with the words "No Sports, No Students." Like many athletes, he said his anger at the possible loss of the program went well beyond his love of the game.

"For most of us, it's all we got to get to college," the husky linebacker said. "My moms ain't going to pay for me to go to college."

Freshman Melissa Felix, 16, said the possible loss of water polo -- a sport that already was struggling without a full-time coach -- meant to her a loss of the motivation that brought her GPA up from 1.1 in middle school to 2.7 -- the minimum required to participate in sports.

"If they take that away from us, there's nothing for me to do," she said.

Even more academically inclined athletes, such as Chazny Morris, 15, a sophomore and top point scorer for El Cerrito High School's girl's basketball team, said sports were a critical part of their schooling. Morris said she was doing well enough in school for an academic scholarship to study pediatrics, but she sees basketball as a backup financing plan -- and something important enough to her that if it is cut, she will consider another school.

"It's the only sport I play, and if it's cut, it's the only thing I have to do after school," she said. "I need something to do."

While student athletes' angry reactions were most visible, there was wide awareness that sports are not the only thing on the block.

De Anza senor Ruth Gebreyesus, 16, brought her cello when she joined football players at Tuesday morning's picket to call attention to possible cuts to music classes and planned closure of school libraries -- plans she considered particularly odious in a district that has recently pushed for wider literacy.

"They're hypocrites. If you want us to learn, the library is part of our education," said Gebreyesus, who has been accepted at UC Santa Cruz to study environmental law. "It's quite sad."

De Anza Librarian Carla Gee took a break from recommending a new detective novel for Gebreyesus to worry about the future of her collection of 17,000 books and 16 computers -- most of which don't work. When she came to the library a few years ago, she said, it had only 10,000 books, many of them out of date -- such as geology books with no mention of plate tectonics, the modern theory of what causes earthquakes.

"Our libraries are so wonderful now. We're at the peak," said Gee, who will be out of a job if the cuts go through as planned. "Here we are trying to promote literacy, and they won't have books to choose from, because the door will be padlocked."

Coaches and principals made a point of emphasizing the need for a well- rounded curriculum of athletics and academics -- an idea not lost on the students, noted Principal Moss, who said approvingly that student picketers carried signs for both football and libraries.

"I can't imagine a comprehensive high school in modern America not having athletics and libraries," Moss said.

Even further off the radar were people like Barbara Quein, El Cerrito High's counselor, who lost her position last year only to see it restored in July by a last-minute deal between the district and her union -- and now faces unemployment again.

Quein worries what will happen to students if they don't have somebody to turn to monitor their performance and plan their path to graduation and beyond.
More Skepticism and Cynicism From the "Liberal Media"

Howard Dean's candidacy is now history, but it will take years for most Americans to understand how he went from being the frontrunner to an also-ran in a matter of weeks.

Dean's slide was driven by the media. For whatever reasons -- self-interest, skepticism, cynicism -- they bought into the belief that he was "unelectable," too much of an outsider, from too small a state, etc, and dutifully reported on his shortcomings, even despite his enthusiastic supporters, record fundraising and endorsements by Al Gore, Bill Bradley, Tom Harken and others.

A Washington Post piece from last December by Marjorie Williams, who some would consider a card-carrying member of the fictitious "liberal media," shows how the press had it in for Dean.
At long last, the revelation I've been waiting for: the reason why -- beyond the prospect of epic, McGovernesque defeat -- I feel so uneasy about Howard Dean.

The man is a doctor. This is the least-examined chapter of his career. But suddenly it all makes sense: Where else but in medicine do you find men and women who never admit a mistake? Who talk more than they listen, and feel entitled to withhold crucial information? Whose lack of tact in matters of life and death might disqualify them for any other field?
Now Williams, who calls herself "a charter member of the ABB Society," has aimed her cynicism and skepticism at John Kerry in a piece called "Win One for the Flipper."
Bush is already having fun with Kerry's zigzags of the past three years alone: Kerry voted for so many of Bush's major initiatives that in order to disown them now he can only argue that they were wrongly or dishonestly "implemented." This amounts to a confession that his opponent made a chump of him for the past three years. In fact, one might argue that Kerry is a poster boy for all the ways in which congressional Democrats have allowed themselves to be rolled by the Bush administration. But this is something I am trying hard not to notice about him.

Eight months is a long time for Bush to pile up a home-field advantage while Kerry's campaign decides how to fill in, complete and polish the invention that won the primaries. It's going to be hard to sustain, for so many months, the party's fond illusion that there is such a beast as "electability."
We can expect more of the same commentary from the punditocracy in the months ahead.

If John Kerry loses to George W. Bush in November, many Democrats will wonder what could have been with Howard Dean, had the press not worked so hard to take him out of the race.

... speaking of zigzags, Daily Kos notes that Bush has plenty of his own.
So Bush has a site somewhere that tracks Kerry's "flip-flops". Reader TK probably spent three seconds coming up with this list of Bush flip flops. It's not like they're hard to find:
  • Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it.
  • Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it.
  • Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it.
  • Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it.
  • Bush is against nation building; then he's for it.
  • Bush is against deficits; then he's for them.
  • Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again.
  • Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian State.
  • Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution.
  • Bush first says he'll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn't.
  • Bush first says that 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cuts benefits
  • Bush-"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. Bush-"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care.
  • Bush claims to be in favor of the environment and then secretly starts drilling on Padre Island.
  • Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding.
  • Bush first says the U.S. won't negotiate with North Korea. Now he will
  • Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then say's he shouldn't have.
  • Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced he would not call for a vote
  • Bush said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors.  Bush later admits it was his advance team.
  • Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the US. Bush after meeting with Pres. Fox, he's against it.
Scientists Counter Bush's Marriage Claims

You read it here first on February 24, when Mexiconoclast questioned President Bush's grasp of basic anthropology. Just three days later, the 11,000-member American Anthropological Association released the following statement:
"The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies," the association's statement said, adding that the executive board "strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples."

The statement was proposed by Dan Segal, a professor of anthropology and history from Pitzer College in Claremont (Los Angeles County), who called Bush's conception of the history of marriage "patently false."

"If he were to take even the first semester of anthropology, he would know that's not true," said Segal, a member of the anthropological association's Executive Committee.

UC Berkeley anthropologist Laura Nader, an expert in anthropology and the law who played no role in drawing up the association's statement, called it a "correct assessment."

Nader, who is an association member, said Bush's proposal "serves the views of the religious right, and that has to do with getting votes."
Newspeak Is Alive and Well at Yahoo!

Take a look at a recent post here by Funk and you'll notice the headline: 9/11 Relatives Angered by Bush Ads. Click on the link, and you'll find that the original story and headline have been redacted and given a decidedly Bush-friendly bent.
Bush Supporters Defend His New Ads

WASHINGTON - Supporters of President Bush and some relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are defending his new campaign ads, which show the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

"These images honor those whose lives were lost," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of the plane that hijackers crashed into the Pentagon.
A close reader will recognize what is implicit in this article, even in its current newspeak version, namely that: 1) Bush's ads require a defense, and 2) "some," but not "many" or "most," relatives of those killed on 9/11 are defending the ads.

If you want to read the original story as it existed before someone at Yahoo decided to have Winston change it, you'll need to consult the Guardian.
Divorce rates in Texas vs. Massachusetts

Bush has been trying to work the cultural war against Kerry, especially on marriage. Of course, Massachusetts is set to allow gay marriage, while in Texas, the police were free to incarcerate gay couples, until one such Texas gay couple took it to the Supreme Court, in Lawrence vs. Texas.

So one would expect that in the family values state of Texas, where Bush Republicans respect the sanctity of marriage, that divorce is less common than in Massachusetts.

Wrong. The divorce rate in Texas is more than twice as high as in Massachusetts (which has the nation's lowest divorce rate).

Of the 10 states with the lowest divorce rates, 9 of 10 are "blue states" (i.e., they voted for Gore).

Of the 10 states with the highest divorce rates, 9 of 10 are "red states" (i.e., they voted for Bush).

The states with the lowest divorce rates are also those that are more tolerant.

Doesn't this knock down the conservative's argument that tolerance for gay marriage will make straight marriage meaningless?
Three Strikes: You’re Outta Here!

Thank you to the esteemed and right honorable Funk for providing me strikes 1 and 2 against our disgraceful and dishonorable president.

Strike 1: As quoted from Funk’s previous entry, Harold Schaitberger, the firefighter union’s president, said: “We’re not going to stand for him [putting] his arm around one of our members on top of a pile of rubble at Ground Zero during a tragedy and then…watch him cut money for first responders.”

Strike 2: “It’s a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people,” Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the twin towers, told the New York Daily News. “It is unconscionable.” If that’s not disturbing enough, “I understand that there's a corpse shown coming out of Ground Zero [on President Bush’s new campaign ads],” said Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed in the trade center attack. “I just think it's in poor taste, particularly from someone who has stonewalled the 9-11 commission.”

Strike 3: The Bush administration opposed a Senate addition to the Iraq supplemental bill that would have added $1.3 billion to veterans’ health care [Air Force Magazine, 10/02; OMB Director Joshua Bolton to Rep. David Obey (D-WI), 10/21/03], this as he was amassing troops to fight an unjust war. Also, “We can never repay the veterans—we hear those words a lot,” Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander Ron Hornsby told a stadium crowd in Waco, TX. “At times like this [during the proposed closing of a VA hospital], those words become very hollow, very meaningless.” [San Antonio Express-News, 8/17/03; Associated Press, 10/20/03, 10/28/03]

President Bush is slowly proving his worth as a leader. He focuses not on his accomplishments, but instead evokes painful memories of the past. He hides behind ephemeral slogans like “the war on terror,” and “war president,” but he’s unable to quantify or qualify his contributions in tangible ways. What has he done for our country?

His publicity is built on exploitation of images and events. It’s founded on the principles of grief and unearned honor. He cuts first responder’s funding while flashing the image of firefighters. His images rekindle feelings of fear and grief while he refuses to cooperate with investigations into the causes of 9/11. Finally, he wallows in the pride and camaraderie reserved for soldiers and sailors while cutting funding for their children’s education and VA benefits.

Everytime he swings, the breeze of confusion grows stronger and stronger. And to the fan’s dismay, there’s never connection with the ball. Just a constant anticipation of the promised hit. Mr. President, you’ve made a mess of the world, and now your tarnishing baseball! When will the madness end!?
Help me out fellow readers - is the right term ghastly? Or is it more ghoulish? Not sure which undead reference is proper. Of course, on The Simpsons, the local GOP meeting was headed by a vampire.


From the Associated Press; looks like the Flag-And-Terrorist-Attack card is already being voided:
9/11 Relatives Angered by Bush Ads

WASHINGTON - President Bush's campaign commercials ? on the air just one day ? have angered relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and a firefighters union demanded the ads be pulled.

The White House defended the commercials, which show images of the skeletal remains of the World Trade Center and firefighters bearing a stretcher through the rubble.

"It makes me sick," said Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother Bill Kelly Jr., in the attacks and leads a victims families group called Peaceful Tomorrows. "Would you ever go to someone's grave site and use that as an instrument of politics? That truly is what Ground Zero represents to me."

In Bal Harbour, Fla., the International Association of Fire Fighters Union approved a resolution asking the Bush campaign to pull the ads, spokesman Jeff Zack said. The resolution also urges Bush to "apologize to the families of firefighters killed on 9/11 for demeaning the memory of their loved ones in an attempt to curry support for his re-election."

The controversy erupted as Bush's re-election campaign began airing the commercials nationally on cable television and on broadcast stations in about 80 media markets in 18 states.

One of the ads shows the charred wreckage of the twin towers with an American flag flying amid the debris. Another ad ? and a Spanish-language version of it ? use that image as well as firefighters carrying a flag-draped stretcher through the rubble as sirens are heard. Firefighters are shown in all the ads.

Bush had told House and Senate leaders in January 2002 that, "I have no ambition whatsoever to use this as a political issue" in that election year. His aides on Thursday defended the use of the images.

The administration arranged for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and three others to appear on network and cable broadcasts to defend the ads. One Bush aide said the controversy gave the president's commercial priceless free publicity, with millions seeing clips of the ad.

But the images in the Bush ads have sparked a furor.

Kristen Breitweiser, of Middletown Township, N.J., whose husband, Ronald Breitweiser, died in the World Trade Center, said Bush should not use the tragedy as "political propaganda."

"Three thousand people were murdered on President Bush's watch," Breitweiser said. "He has not cooperated with the investigation to find out why that happened," a reference to the effort the Bush administration has made in working with the Sept. 11 commission investigating the intelligence failures.

Harold Schaitberger, the firefighter union's president, said: "We're not going to stand for him to put his arm around one of our members on top of a pile of rubble at Ground Zero during a tragedy and then stand by and watch him cut money for first responders."

Bush ad criticized for using 9-11 imagery

NEWARK, N.J. -- Karen DallaValle doesn't need President Bush's re-election campaign to remind her of Sept. 11, 2001, when her fiance, Port Authority Police Officer Kenneth F. Tietjen, died in the World Trade Center attack at age 31.

"I think it's inappropriate (for the Bush campaign) to use photos from Ground Zero. I'm reminded of it enough every day when I get up and Kenny's gone," said DallaValle, 41, of Matawan, a former Newark police officer who left the force after her fiance was killed.

For DallaValle and others deeply affected by the terrorist attacks, the use of 9-11 imagery is inappropriate and upsetting.

"I've always been supportive of President Bush, but I really think there has to be some closure of the 9-11 issue," said DallaValle, who voted for Bush in 1990. "It's very important for myself and people that I know who were affected by the disaster to move on with our lives, and it's very difficult to be constantly reminded. Every time I see something, it feels like it's that day again."

The chairman of the commission investigating the attacks, former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican, has complained that the Bush administration has not cooperated with the investigation. A New Jersey member of the commission's Family Steering Committee, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed in the trade center attack, said the imagery was "particularly upsetting."

"I understand that there's a corpse shown coming out of Ground Zero," said Breitweiser, who had not yet seen the ad herself. "I just think it's in poor taste, particularly from someone who has stonewalled the 9-11 commission."

Monica Gabrielle, of West Haven, Conn., who lost her husband, Richard, 50, in the trade center attack, had some advice for the Bush camp.

"I would rethink using the greatest failure of this administration's watch as a re-election platform," said Gabrielle, co-chairperson of Skyscraper Safety Campaign.

Bush Campaign Defends Ads With 9/11 Images

NEW YORK - President Bush (news - web sites)'s re-election campaign on Thursday defended commercials using images from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including wreckage of the World Trade Center, as appropriate for an election about public policy and the war on terror.

Some families of the victims of the attacks are angry with Bush for airing the spots, which they called in poor taste and for the president's political gain.

"It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people," Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the twin towers, told the New York Daily News for its Thursday editions. "It is unconscionable."

Two of the spots show the destruction at the World Trade Center and include an American flag flying amid the debris. They also feature images of firefighters working through the wreckage.

"It's as sick as people who stole things out of the place," said Firefighter Tommy Fee of Queens Rescue Squad 270. "The image of firefighters at ground zero should not be used for this stuff, for politics."

"I would be less offended if he showed a picture of himself in front of the Statue of Liberty," said Tom Roger, whose daughter perished on American Airlines Flight 11. "But to show the horror of 9/11 in the background, that's just some advertising agency's attempt to grab people by the throat."

---"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" {Who watches the watchmen?}---
Those Hilarious Conservatives

On February 11, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) claimed that the vast majority of American Muslims are "an enemy living amongst us" and that "no (American) Muslims" cooperate in the war on terror. Just so no one mistakes King for a run-of-the-mill crackpot conservative, he serves on the Select Committee on Homeland Security and the International Relations Committee. Now that's what I call leadership!

For the latest wingnut nonsense, take a look at Media Research Center, "The Leader in Documenting, Exposing and Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias."