Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Two DC Democratic Parties

There are the DLC Dems and the DNC Dems.

I'm not a fan of the DLC, that's for sure. Why?

Mainly because I find the DLCers offensive. Does anyone know what in hell they stand for, other than winning elections? If you do please let me know, because I cannot figure them out.

Begala, Carville, Emanuel....all these guys, I don't trust the,

Quite frankly I don't trust Hillary either and I don't see myself voting for-her under any circumstances.

They can say what they want to about Obama referring to the Clintons as Bush Lite, but I am afraid he is right.

Bill never should have been seen hob-nobbing with America's number one crime family in Maine several years back. If he cannot draw a strong distinction between his family and the Bushes, I won't even try.

Hey, Bill! They are old-dirty,bloody money. You will never be in the inner circle, just because you are now one of the 1%. Speaking of which, one does have to wonder how it is that you and Hillary entered politics with very little in the way of cash, let alone wealth. You have stayed in politics ever since, with a four year break when you lost the second election for Gov of Arkansas, which you spent as a law professor, I believe. Not big bucks in professoring, I hear. Yes Hillary was an attorney and invested money in this and that. That in no way accounts for the level of wealth you have today.

Of course, there are the two books you and Hill wrote, after the White House. And now there are the speaking fees. Nothing wrong with that,

Still, you two just seem to me a little too close to the same corporate interests that the Bushites are.

My enemy is fascism. Doesn't matter whether it comes in Blue or Red.

Purple America
By Bob Moser
The Nation

13 August 2007 Issue

North Wilkesboro, North Carolina - What on God's green earth has gotten into the Wilkes County Democrats? Here it is, the first pretty April Saturday of a snowy, blowy spring. There's yards to mow, balls to toss, plants to plant, Blue Ridge Mountains to hike-all of which you'd think would be mighty tempting on Democratic convention day in a place where Republicans have a damn near two-to-one edge. "Welcome to red-hot Republican territory," says Dick Sloop, a career-military retiree turned antiwar protester who's the new county Democratic chair. "We've been like the homeless around here: silent and invisible. The best we ever did in my lifetime, we had two Democrats once on a five-seat county commission." Even here in western North Carolina, where Republicans have proliferated since the Civil War (when the woods were full of Union sympathizers rather than pro-lifers), Wilkes County-Bible-thumping, economically slumping-has stood out for its fire-and-brimstone conservatism. It's been a stiff challenge to find folks willing to run against the Republicans. Hell, it's been rare to hear anybody publicly admit to being a Democrat. "You've got a lot of people in this county who probably couldn't tell you if they've ever met one," Sloop says.

But in a scene playing out this year all across "red America," from these lush hills to the craggy outcroppings of the Mountain West, previously unfathomable crowds of Democrats are streaming up the steps of the old county courthouse, past bobbing blue balloons and Welcome Democrats! signs. They're hopping mad about the national state of things but simultaneously giddy with a new-found hope-finally!-for their party.

Inside, as the courtroom fills up, three symbols of the new spirit bustle around. There's trim old Clyde Ingle, a onetime Hubert Humphrey campaigner who "finally just got tired of sitting up there in Deep Gap and complaining." Ingle and his wife, Eva, have spent the past couple of years cajoling shy Wilkes County Democrats to "come out of the closet," get organized and active. Then there's Mark Hufford, a young, towheaded bundle of energy who's been helping Democrats win breakthrough elections as a field organizer. And there's white-haired, wisecracking "Uncle Bob" Johnston, who retired to Wilkes from upstate New York and promptly found himself being talked into the party chairmanship. "You've got to be in trouble when you're asking an 80-year-old Yankee to run things," he quips.

Suddenly, though, things actually are running, as Johnston notes after the meeting commences. "The county has twenty-two precincts," he informs the folks. "And I'm proud to announce that every one of them is organized as of just the other day." It might sound dull as dirt, but this is the kind of meticulous organizing-and pride taken in it-that has long been key to GOP dominance in places like Wilkes. The fifty-state strategy kicked off in 2005 by that other Yankee, DNC chair Howard Dean, has begun to level the playing field by putting field organizers, media directors and fundraisers into both "red" and "blue" states to stimulate grassroots organizing and year-round party-building.

Of course, it's not the national strategy alone that's bringing record numbers out to county conventions, precinct parties and Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners. The main event this morning is going to be a heaping helping of the other ingredients in the Democratic resurrection across so-called red America-fury and frustration.

"Good morning everyone!" comes the booming drawl of Seth Chapman, the longtime clerk of court in neighboring Alexander County who's pondering a 2008 challenge to the archconservative Republican Congresswoman from these parts, Virginia Foxx. "Isn't this something-in Wilkes County of all places! I'll tell you what, I've been over here before when there was maybe six of us. This is great. How on fire the Democratic Party must be in Wilkes County-and rightfully so. You have suffered for centuries!"

Amen! shout several voices as Chapman, a plain-looking, middle-aged fellow in a dark suit ideal for funerals, serves up a couple of laugh lines, surveys the crowd with a gimlet eye and then, rather than work himself up to it, begins to flat-out holler into the superfluous microphone. "This hard work that we've got going on here, and the only thing the opposition is working for is their own sorry hides! Staying in there with the rats, looking out for nobody but their own selves and their own political agenda. And I for one am about fed up with it!"

Mmmm! a woman's voice rises from the second row. Tell it!

"Heard all the rhetoric. Heard everything they said they was going to do. What have they done? Bankrupted this country. Got us into a war needlessly! And doing nothing but telling us everything's all right. I'm going to go into a little more detail about that."

As he does, it becomes clear that Chapman, like speakers in many a county courthouse these days, is aiming not only to light a fire under the long-discouraged Democrats but also to pick apart the Republican messages that have proven so irresistible to folks, Democrats included, in places like Wilkes. "Of course, we know why Republicans oppose taxes: They want all the tax breaks. Let the rich man go, let the poor man pay: That's their philosophy, as it has been and always will be!"


Chapman pauses to shuffle his notes dramatically, Baptist preacher-style, then brandishes a copy of resolutions passed at the GOP's recent district convention. "Do you believe their resolution says, Listen to the people of their district, not special-interest groups? Republicans talking about cleaning up governmental corruption is just like saying that Lucifer will suddenly become the angel of light again!"

You know that's right!

It seems impossible, but Chapman is getting louder now, jowls swinging, sweat beading, as folks alternately "mmm!" and "amen" and whoop out loud. "You ought to be tiiiiiired of what's going on in government! It's a shame, and it's a sham. This is the party of what's right, they tell you. The party of God, they tell you. The party of moral values, they tell you. And if they can't play the God card, they'll play the military card. Now, I pray daily-and I beg you to-for our troops and what they're trying to accomplish over there with this needless, reckless war that's going on. I pray daily that God will hasten the day-"


"-that they can return home and know war no more!" That gets a standing O.

"We're fighting a war" right here at home, Chapman declares. "Let's see... what should we call it? A war against radical Republicanism!" And from there, as he swells toward one final crescendo, the Wilkes Democrats having gotten pretty red-faced and sweaty themselves.

"The day of Republican smoke-screening and hiding under the outward righteousness of pharisaical Rome is ov-ahhhhh! America has seen, America has witnessed, your party's lip service to values, and we're tired of it. We will tolerate it no more! The Republican Party has no more claim on values and principles and especially God than those crazy jihadists over there! Your party's reign of terror values is ov-ahhhhh!"

Whew! Back in the long-gone days when Chapman's style of Democratic preachment was a popular form of entertainment in the South, the folks would have started filtering away after "the speaking." But nowadays the real work starts after the officers are elected, after the barbecue lunch is wolfed down. Ingle has organized a "practice canvass," in which novices will peel out across local neighborhoods, each accompanied by an experienced canvasser, to knock on the doors of fellow party members, urge them to get off their couches and put their own frustrations to work. "Practice, practice, practice," Ingle tells the folks. "That's what 2007 is all about. In ten months, we are gonna be something. We're going to take back the halls of Congress and City Hall." Farfetched as it sounds, it wouldn't be any more so than the red-to-blue turnaround that's happened just up the road in three formerly Republican counties. Not, that is, unless the Washington Democrats revert to their old form and find a way to douse the flames.

The single oddest thing about the fifty-state strategy is surely the adjective often attached to it: "controversial."

Just how, exactly, could there be controversy over a national political party organizing nationally-especially after years of pissing billions into an ever-shrinking "target" slice of the country, ceding wider and wider chunks of territory and disdaining the grassroots while Republicans built a powerful army of ground troops? The DNC's fifty-state project is relatively inexpensive, compared with the costs of the thirty-second TV ad blitzes the party has increasingly relied on to target voters in Ohio and Florida. Salaries for the state parties run to about $8 million annually, considerably less than 10 percent of the DNC's budget and downright humble compared with what the GOP and its affiliates spend for similar party work.

In just two years, the belated catch-up effort has paid off in at least two tangible ways: It has exponentially multiplied grassroots party involvement and-in a short-term benefit not even envisioned by its architects-has helped win an impressive number of state, local and Congressional elections in majority-Republican regions. That's not to mention the intangible benefits of fanning out 180 Democratic organizers, fundraisers and communications specialists across the map, many of them working in places like western North Carolina, where, as one local activist puts it, "a lot of Democrats think of the national party as the devil itself." As the chair of the most overwhelmingly Republican of states, Utah's Wayne Holland, wrote last year, "Democrats have become outsiders who do things to us, not insiders who do things for us. The fifty-state strategy is one way to turn it around."

It is, in short, one of the brightest ideas the DNC has had in its undistinguished history. And the timing could not have been better: The organizing is providing a channel for the disgust inspired by the mounting catastrophes of the Bush years. In deep-red states like Utah, it's ticked up the number of Democrats voting and candidates running (30 percent more in 2006). In "purple" states like North Carolina, where Democrats dominate most local and statewide elections, it's helping to turn red counties purple and purple counties blue, uncorking a new strain of progressive populism-the kind that won Senate races in Virginia for Jim Webb, Montana for Jon Tester and Ohio for Sherrod Brown.

And it might not outlive the next presidential election.

Why? For starters, look no further than the other modifier often attached to the effort: "Howard Dean's fifty-state strategy." From the moment the former Vermont governor launched his campaign for DNC chair in the wake of the Democrats' 2004 debacle, the party establishment-that shadowy claque of high-paid consultants, big-money donors, lobbyists, pundits, Clintonites and Congressional leaders-has been at pains to paint Dean's vision as another manifestation of the out-of-control tendencies they fretted about, and whispered so gainfully to the media about, when he ran for President.

Dean's campaign for party chair was an outsider's run at the ultimate insider's job, spurred by a meeting he had at the 2004 national convention with disgruntled party leaders from eighteen long-neglected "red" states. In his own 2004 run, Dean had "found himself in the odd position of a candidate in charge of a movement that grew up almost accidentally around him," says Elaine Kamarck, a Harvard public-policy lecturer and highly unlikely "Deaniac" best known for encouraging the party's break with New Deal liberalism as a Democratic Leadership Council strategist. "That gave him the insights that led to the fifty-state strategy."

Dean had also studied the national rise of Republicanism, when the GOP built from the ground up in Southern and Western states that had long been tough terrain for them. "The Republicans sat down thirty years ago and figured out how to do this," Dean says. "Through disciplined organization they were able to take over the country." He spotted another kink in the Democratic works, says strategist Donna Brazile, Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager. "Republicans start the campaign the day after an election, win or lose. They don't wait to have a nominee before they start putting together a battle plan," she says. "Same on down the line, state and local. Democrats have started the day the nominee is selected, which is just bass-ackwards. We haven't had a party; we've had candidates and campaigns." That's one reason, Dean believes, Democrats haven't projected a strong national image, while GOP themes of low taxes and high morals have resonated loud and clear. "It's been a problem that presidential campaigns are where our themes are developed," he says. "Presidential campaigns are risk-averse by their nature, and it's not the best place to be developing your message and thinking big picture about where your party stands."

Dean's analysis ran contrary to the entrenched interests of those who had long run the DNC, Matt Bai wrote last year in The New York Times Magazine, as "essentially a service organization for a few hundred wealthy donors, who treated it like their private political club." Also being served at this "club" were Congressional leaders who had risen with help from the old DNC. And then there were the big-ticket consultants, the James Carvilles and Paul Begalas, who had shot to fortune and fame with their image-driven, big-media Bill Clinton campaigns, their pricey polling data and "strategic targeting."

"If you make your living buying and making TV ads, then you're not really very wild about a change in technology that says, Let's hire organizers," says Kamarck. "The whole political-consultant industry has been built on ads. But with cable TV and the diffusion of media, what the hell good is an ad? The fifty-state strategy takes a generation of consultants and kind of says, Let's put you out to pasture."

Despite insiders' desperate efforts to stop him, Dean cruised to victory, with overwhelming support from the "red" South and interior West. The club was integrated. And sure enough, the strangest things started happening.

Dean set out to make good on his promises, dispatching assessment teams to meet with leaders of every state party. First was North Carolina, where 34-year-old progressive Jerry Meek, the newly elected chair, was pleasantly flabbergasted by the DNC team's attitude. "They came down here and said, basically, What do you need? What is it that we can do to help build the state party in North Carolina?"

These were jaw-dropping questions. As Dean says, "Washington's idea of accountability is that you ask people in the states to jump and they'll ask, How high?" Meek recovered quickly enough to ask the DNC to pay the salaries of three regional organizers he was already planning to bring on board. The DNC complied. And they weren't sent down from Washington; state parties make their own hires, on Dean's wild theory that "the closer you can get to neighbors talking to neighbors, the better you can reach people with the Democratic message in a way they'll understand."

North Carolina's first hire, Mark Hufford, knew the turf. He also knew that Democrats in a few of these mountain counties had already begun to dig themselves out of the doldrums-particularly in Watauga County, where a band of progressives had taken over the party apparatus in the 1990s and, despite a sizable Republican majority among registered voters, slowly built toward dominance in local elections. The Watauga organizers were soon being deployed to help Hufford train and inspire other county leaders on recruiting good candidates, motivating volunteers and getting out votes. Last fall, as Watauga County chair Diane Tilson happily recalls, "We were the first county in the nation to do a countywide canvass. Yes we were! It was freezing cold, but we did it."

Often, even when hard-core Republicans answer their doors, they turn out to have issues on their mind that run right up the Democratic alley. "There's so many people that really don't realize the relationship between elections and whether or not they're going to be able to get their drugs," Tilson says, "or how expensive gas is." While new canvassers often brace themselves for a barrage of questions about abortion and gay marriage, that's not foremost on most folks' minds. "They're thinking about whether they'll have heat this winter," she says. "How they're going to get themselves to the grocery store and work."

In November, Democrats swept every race in Watauga. They won big down the road in Ashe County, another Republican stronghold with a newly energized grassroots. Eight-term GOP Congressman Charles Taylor was dethroned by Heath Shuler, a social conservative, but one with a feisty pro-labor and environmental bent. And the Democrats came within one win of a clean sweep in "red" Polk County. In a blog on the statewide progressive website, BlueNC, Polk chair Margaret Johnson chalks it up not only to better organizing but to "walking the talk about what it means to be a Democrat." Where grassroots Republicans often rally around religious issues, the Polk and Watauga Democrats have turned themselves into quasi-civic groups year-round, organizing roadside cleanups, planting gardens, helping the needy, putting on fundraising walks to benefit the environment. "Even Republicans come up to me," says Johnson, "and say, I may not agree with your politics, but I sure like what you're doing."

While the fifty-state strategy was fueling the brush fire across western North Carolina and other unlikely parts of red-state America in 2006, the Washington club was fit to be tied. With George W. Bush plunging toward record-low approval ratings, the polls were showing that Democrats had a real shot at winning back Congress-and what was their party chair doing? Stubbornly refusing to scale back his fifty-state priorities and open the DNC's ATM to the Democratic campaign committees! So what if the Senate and Congressional campaign outfits were raking in unprecedented money, some of it from the big donors who used to open their wallets for the DNC? There were ads to buy, targets to target, consultants to consult!

Clearly, this state of affairs cried out for some well-placed media smears and strong-arm tactics. In March 2006 House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader-to-be Harry Reid met with the miscreant from Vermont and, according to the Washington Post, "complained about Dean's priorities." To little avail. In May DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel and DSCC honcho Chuck Schumer had a similar contretemps with Dean, ending with Emanuel reportedly storming out with "a trail of expletives." And on CNN, Clinton consultant and longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala tartly mouthed the insiders' consensus. "He says it's a long-term strategy. But what he has spent it on, apparently, is just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose."

While Dean and Schumer came to a truce, others continued to fume-even after the Democrats won back Congress, not to mention several red-state legislatures, in November. Before the victory celebrations had wound down, Carville renewed fire on the DNC, telling a group of reporters that Dean had cost the party an additional twenty House seats with "leadership...Rumsfeldian in its competence." But former DNC chair Don Fowler of South Carolina, whose son Donnie had run against Dean for party chair, was among a chorus of power hitters who eventually shouted down what he called Carville's "nonsense."

Not a harsh word has been heard, at least publicly, from Dean's detractors since the Carville brouhaha. That's thanks not only to the intervention of saner voices but also to a study of the fifty-state strategy's impact on the 2006 midterm results by Elaine Kamarck. While the project had not been designed to win elections in the short run, Kamarck found that it had done just that, "increasing the Democratic vote share beyond the bounce of a national tide favoring Democrats." Comparing Democratic results in '06 with those of the '02 midterms, she found that the average Democratic vote went up by nearly 5 percent in 2006. But in the thirty-five Congressional districts where fifty-state staffers had worked on the campaigns, Democratic votes had soared by an average of nearly 10 percent.

"Nothing like a little straight analysis to cut through the bullshit, huh?" Kamarck says. "This came out in January and quickly got distributed. I kept running into the big-money guys and they had all read it. It was funny to see how quickly this went through the political fundraising community. They're desperate for something that is hard data as opposed to the nonstop sales pitches they get. And you never heard a peep after that from Carville."

But these are Washington Democrats we're talking about; the story couldn't possibly end as tidily as this. It's far from certain what fate the fifty-state effort will meet when Dean's tenure ends in early 2009. He has insisted he doesn't want another four years-and even if he did, he'd likely be out of luck no matter how the presidential election pans out. If the Democrats lose, Dean will surely catch much of the blame. And if there's a Democrat in the White House, tradition dictates that the President nominates-and effectively selects-the chair. But Jay Parmley, a former Oklahoma state chair and roving DNC organizer in the South, is guardedly optimistic. "A lot of people are fretting, Oh, my gosh, when Howard leaves what's gonna happen?" he says. "I'm not worried about it going away after what we saw in 2006. Whoever wins the White House is going to have to say, Well, this fifty-state strategy helped get me there, and so we're not going to monkey with it too much.

"Doesn't mean they won't, of course."

The real fear is that a second Clinton presidency would mean a return to the Washington-centric ways of the first-to party control by "the very people who ground down the activist base in the 1990s and have continued to hold the party's grassroots in utter contempt," as Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos wrote in the Washington Post. The harshest public critics of Dean's strategy are also among Hillary Clinton's most trusted advisers: Emanuel, Carville, Begala. As Thomas Edsall reported in The New Republic last year, many top Clintonites so loathe and mistrust Dean that their campaign is "laying the groundwork to circumvent the DNC." There is talk of Clinton's team keeping its own field staff with the campaign after winning the primaries, rather than shifting them under the auspices of the DNC for the general election, as has been standard practice. "The DNC is going to be peripheral" if Hillary wins the nomination, one Clinton aide said. Clinton acolyte Harold Ickes Jr. has raised millions for a private voter database, to avoid relying on the DNC's.

But Kamarck believes the Clinton campaign, if Hillary is nominated, would make peace with Dean's DNC for one reason: He's transformed it from the Democrats' perennial problem into one of their biggest assets. "What you typically see is that as soon as a Democratic nominee is chosen, they send some senior eminence down to the DNC," Kamarck says. "The first thing this senior eminence does is complain about what a mess the party is. Because it always was. This time, the presidential candidate is going to come in and be wowed by what they see." And that, in turn, may give Dean leverage to keep organizers in the field throughout 2008, rather than devoting the entire apparatus to the presidential campaign-also the old norm.

"He's earned a seat at the table," says Donna Brazile. "Can't nobody pull his tablecloth and take his knife and fork at this point."

Besides, says Brazile, Democrats have a historic opportunity to start building a lasting national majority by winning back more of the voters-in places like Wilkes County, for one-they started to lose four decades ago. "White swing voters in the South and West are now much more open to independent-minded and liberal Democrats," she says. "They're disgusted with the Republicans. This is the moment to bring them back. Why pull the rug out from them? Why leave that terrain to the Republicans all over again?"

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

GWB Is a spoiled, Ill-tempered, little prick

Imperial to the bone and the freakin' W.H. press corps let's him get away with it, even when he treats one of their won like crap.

....and they call the Democrats spineless.

Bush Treats Bob Woodruff Like Crap

By Guest Blogger
Posted on July 26, 2007, Printed on July 28, 2007

This post, written by Richard Blair, originally appeared on The All Spin Zone

George Bush is a contemptuous, spoiled little prick. Even when he's receiving the recommendations of a committee he set up to investigate poor veteran's health care at Walter Reed hospital, he just has to show how much of a smarmy little man he really is by upstaging a guy who had half his head blown off.

You know how it is when you hear something on the radio that perks up your ears, but you just can't be sure exactly what was said? This one is kind of hard to believe, but completely in keeping with the character of George W. Bush.

Yesterday, Bush held a quick news conference after accepting the Walter Reed Commission report, and ABC newsie Bob Woodruff was in the press gallery. In prepared remarks, Bush recognized Woodruff's personal journey back from near-fatal injuries that he suffered in Iraq:

I also want to recognize Bob Woodruff here. He is a -- he himself was wounded, severely wounded, and went through the system, to a certain extent. And we welcome you back, and we're glad you're with us. And we would hope that any wounded soldier, any person in uniform would receive the kind of care and the ability to return to work, just like you have done. And so we're glad you're with us, Bob. Congratulations on the will to recover...

Nice, huh? Compassionate, huh? But wait a moment. There's more to the story. Here's what the prepared remarks didn't capture. After the brief remarks, Woodruff asked Bush a question. CNN paraphrased the question thusly (an exact transcript of the exchange isn't yet available):

When Woodruff asked Bush whether the government was moving fast enough to help families, the president declined to answer.

Back to the story that I heard on the radio. David Greene, the NPR reporter who was at the ceremony, described the project and Bush's tepid acceptance of the report this morning. And according to Greene, this was Bush's response in declining Woodruff's question (this is what you didn't read or hear in the CNN report):

"Just because I recognized you, Bob, doesn't mean I'm going to answer your questions here."

In other words: "Thanks for being here as a prop for me, Bob, now shut the fuck up."

Richard Blair is the founder and blogmaster of the All Spin Zone.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

al-Maliki wants Petraeus Out

So, is Iraq a sovereign or not, Junior?

Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out

By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:44am BST 28/07/2007

 Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out
Stormy relationship: Nouri al-Maliki and Gen David Petraeus

Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general's moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa'eda.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general's signature strategy to be scrapped. "He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias," said the official. "Bush told Maliki to calm down."

At another meeting with Gen Petraeus, Mr Maliki said: "I can't deal with you any more. I will ask for someone else to replace you."

Gen Petraeus admitted that the relationship was stormy, saying: "We have not pulled punches with each other."

President Bush's support for Mr Maliki is deeply controversial within the US government because of the Iraqi's ties to Shia militias responsible for some of the worst sectarian violence.

The New York Times claimed yesterday that Saudi Arabia was refusing to work with Mr Maliki and has presented "evidence" that he was an Iranian intelligence agent to US officials. "Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia's counterproductive role in the war," it reported.

Alongside the firm support of Mr Bush, Mr Maliki also enjoys the backing of Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador and his predecessor, Zalmay Khalilzad, now America's representative at the United Nations.

Mr Khalilzad took a swipe at Saudi Arabia in an editorial published earlier this month that was widely seen as an appeal for a larger UN role in stabilising Iraq.

Mr Crocker, who attends Mr Maliki's stormy weekly meetings with Gen Petraeus, said the Iraqi leader was a strong partner of America.

"There is no leader in the world that is under more pressure than Nouri al-Maliki, without question," he said. "Sometimes he reflects that frustration. I don't blame him. I probably would too."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Get It Together, Dems!

You are all we have!

So let's see what you're really made of; get tough, stick it to the bastards who have wrecked this country and made unwitting war criminals of us all.

Democrats must go for gut against GOP

01:00 AM EDT on Monday, July 30, 2007
Dick Polman

CONSIDER THIS hypothetical:

A Democratic president is forced to take action after terrorists attack New York and Washington. It’s clear that the terrorists’ sponsors are based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But within 18 months, this Democrat decides to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attack. In the next four years, he spends half a trillion dollars, sucking America deeper into a quagmire, stretching the military to the breaking point — while in Pakistan, the culprits remain free. Indeed, U.S. intelligence officials warn that evildoers in Pakistan have “regenerated key elements of their Homeland attack capability.”

Imagine it’s the eve of a national election. Any question how the GOP would respond?

They’d run TV ads mocking the Democrats as the party that has made America weaker. Their talking heads on Fox News would lament how the Democrats are wrecking our proud military, can’t be trusted to run a war, can’t even choose the right war to fight. They’d crank out podcasts about how the party of George McGovern is wasting our precious blood and treasure while our true enemies plot to kill our kids in their suburban beds.

In short, the Republicans would craft a visceral message that aims for the gut and engages the emotions. Over the last 40 years, that has been the GOP’s m├ętier.

These days, however, the Republicans are stuck in neutral, because it’s their own guy who has fought the wrong war and emboldened our enemies. Which gives the Democrats a rare opportunity to lash out at GOP national security failures, to aim for the gut and engage the emotions.

But that is not what Democrats do.

They are cerebral by nature. They dislike emotional appeals. They fear that if they get too pugnacious, some voters might get mad. But as clinical psychologist and political consultant Drew Westen argues in his new book The Political Brain, this fear of gut-level combat is a big reason the Democratic Party keeps losing national elections.

The ’08 election will hinge on whether the Democrats, long saddled with a wimp image, can persuade swing voters that Democratic candidates are better qualified to fight our lethal enemies. This is a gut-level issue. Yet, quite predictably, Democrats have failed during the last two weeks to take full rhetorical advantage of the warnings, attributed to the intelligence community, about a “regenerated” al-Qaida.

The latest National Intelligence Estimate (the consensus document of 16 spy agencies) concludes that al-Qaeda has re-established its headquarters in Pakistan, reconstituted its top leadership, and has endeavored “to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks” by taking advantage of Muslim anger at the U.S. occupation in Iraq, and by linking itself to the Iraqi offshoot of al-Qaida — which didn’t even exist before the occupation.

One of the NIE summaries was entitled “Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West.” And 11 days ago, a counter-terrorism official familiar with the NIE document told the Associated Press that al-Qaida is “considerably operationally stronger than a year ago” and has “regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001.”

Yet, in response, Democrats have barely registered a pulse. None of the ’08 candidates, or national party leaders, or the congressional leaders, have gone for the gut GOP-style, with something like this:

Grainy slow-motion footage of Osama bin Laden and activity at his training camps. Cue ominous music.

“Six years after Sept. 11, this man still roams free — thanks to George W. Bush and his Republican allies. They promised they would be tough. They promised to protect us here at home. But instead they took their eye off the ball, spending $2 billion a week in a futile war half a world away from our real enemy, imperiling our brave servicemen and women, and emboldening those who would come here to kill us. America can no longer afford the party of weakness. Vote Democratic, as if your life depended on it.”

Hyperbolic, yes — but right in sync with what Bush said last Nov. 6, on the eve of the congressional elections: “As you go to the polls, remember, we’re at war. And if you want this country to do everything in its power to protect you and, at the same time, lay the foundation of peace for generations to come, vote Republican.”

Westen, whose book is subtitled The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, would surely approve my hypothetical message. Westen is reportedly the flavor of the month in Democratic circles, at least among activists who don’t mind being doused with cold water. This guy actually studies the brain as a scientist; he says that its emotional properties are “millions of years older” than its reasoning properties. Therefore, he argues, the Democrats should stop thinking they can win simply by appealing to the intellect. It’s not only bad politics, it’s bad neurology.

He writes: “The political brain is an emotional brain. It is not a dispassionate calculating machine. . . . Republicans have a keen eye for markets, and they have a near-monopoly in the marketplace of emotions. They have kept the government off our backs, torn down the wall, saved the flag, left no children behind, protected life, kept our marriages sacred, restored integrity to the Oval Office, spread democracy to the Middle East, and fought an unrelenting war on terror. The Democrats, by contrast, have continued to place their stock in the marketplace of ideas. And in so doing, they have been trading the wrong futures.”

Victory goes to those who fight, even if they sometimes fight dirty. As Westen points out, Republicans make hyperbolic arguments, with few worries about offending voters, because, on balance, “voters prefer candidates who are clear on what they believe, even if it is not what the voters believe.” (Witness Newt Gingrich, a notorious bomb-thrower while serving in the House minority; he wound up building a movement.)

Westen says the Democrats need not fear alienating voters; with the political wind at their backs in 2008, he says, they are well positioned to craft a visceral tough-on-terror message “by using Republicans’ words and idioms against them.”

Can the Democrats aim for the gut? We’ll see. They might bear in mind what Adlai Stevenson said in 1956. The Democratic candidate was leaving a rally when a woman told him, “Every thinking person will be voting for you.” He replied: “Madam, that is not enough. I need a majority.”

Dick Polman is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Shorts; In Case You missed anything...

Jeebus, is there any hope for our country?

Senators Call for Gonzales Perjury Probe

The White House-Congressional dispute over testimony on the firing of U.S. attorneys and the warrantless domestic spy program has intensified. Four Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee want a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales committed perjury in testimony this week. Gonzales told the Senate panel Tuesday there was no internal White House dissention over the spy program’s legality. He also denied trying to pressure then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on the program as he lay recovering from major surgery in his hospital bed. Gonzales their meeting dealt with other intelligence activities.

FBI Director Contradicts Gonzales Account of Meeting

But his comments were directly contradicted by FBI Director Robert Mueller. Testifying before Congress Thursday, Mueller said the spy program was indeed discussed in Ashcroft’s hospital room and that Mueller himself had expressed serious reservations about the warrantless spying. Rove, Bush Aide Subpoenaed on Attorney Testimony Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed senior White House advisor Karl Rove and presidential aide, J. Scott Jennings, for testimony about the dismissal of federal prosecutors.

60 Killed in Iraq Violence

In Iraq, at least sixty people were killed in violence around the country Thursday. Twenty-five people were killed and seventy-five wounded in a massive car bombing in central Baghdad. Eight U.S. soldiers were killed, including four in Diyala where tens of thousands of troops are launching attacks.

Ex-Contractor: Foreign Workers Abused at US Embassy

More allegations have emerged of physical abuse and poor conditions of workers building the massive U.S. embassy in Baghdad. On Thursday, two American civilian contractors told the House Oversight committee foreign workers were tricked into coming to Iraq and then barred from leaving after contractors took their passports. The Kuwaiti firm First Kuwaiti is overseeing the six-hundred million dollar project. It’s slated to the be the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world. American contractor John Owens said he found the working and living conditions for the workers “deplorable.” Owens says the workers lived in tightly-packed trailers and were denied basics including shoes and gloves. They worked twelve-hour days, seven days a week, for as little as two-hundred forty dollars a month. Owens says workers were verbally and physically abused and docked pay for minor infractions.

Parents of Dead Soldier Sue U.S. for Negligence

The parents of a U.S. soldier who killed himself after returning home from military duty in Iraq have sued the U.S. government for negligence. Joyce and Kevin Lucey say their son Jeffrey hanged himself after the U.S. military ignored his depression. In late May 2004, Jeffrey was involuntarily committed to a military veteran’s hospital after he ignored his family’s pleas to seek help. The hospital discharged him after a few days. He killed himself three weeks later. His father came home to find his son had hung himself with a hose in the cellar of their house. The dog tags of two Iraqi prisoners he said he was forced to shoot unarmed, lay on his bed. The Lucey suit follows another case in which two veterans’ rights groups say the Department of Veterans Affairs delayed and denied veterans help for disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Afghan Talks Continue Over South Korean Hostages

In Afghanistan, negotiations are continuing between tribal elders and Taliban kidnappers holding twenty-two South Korean church workers hostage. One of the hostages was killed Wednesday after a deadline passed. The Taliban wants to exchange the workers for the release of rebel prisoners. Meanwhile in South Korea, activists gathered in Seoul to call for the hostages’ safe return and the withdrawal of South Korean troops from Afghanistan.

    Activist Park Jeo-Eun: “The U.S. occupied Afghanistan and continued waging a war, then South Korean troops joined them in the name of an anti-terrorism war. That's the main reason why the hostage situation happened. And the Taliban should immediately free the 22 South Korean hostages promptly and safely.”

Palestinian Security Chief Resigns

In the Occupied Territories, a long-time Fatah insider has resigned his post as the chief Palestinian security official. Mohammad Dahlan says he is resigning on medical grounds. But critics say his departure is linked to his failure to prevent the Hamas takeover of Gaza last month. Dahlan has also faced accusations of corruption and human rights abuses during his time in the Palestinian government.

Australia Frees Doctor Accused in Failed UK Bombings

In Australia, an Indian doctor detained over the failed car bombings in Britain has been freed after prosecutors admitted his arrest was a mistake. Prosecutors have withdrawn all charges against Mohamed Haneef after finding he had no connection to the case.

Raul Castro: Cuba Would Talk to U.S. When Bush Term Ends

In Cuba, more than 100,000 people gathered in the central city of Camaguey to mark the fifty-fourth anniversary of the attacks that ignited the Cuban Revolution. Acting Cuban leader Raul Castro said Cuba had suffered major setbacks since his brother Fidel Castro handed off power last year. Raul Castro also said Cuba would negotiate with the U.S. -- once the Bush administration leaves office.

    Raul Castro: “For that date, a year from now, we will be better prepared to resist and overcome on all fronts, including the defensive. Also, by then, there will have been elections in the United States, and the term of the current president of that country will have ended, as well as his dangerous administration, characterized by backward and fundamentalist thoughts, which do not allow for rational analysis of the world.”
This year’s event also marked one year since Fidel Castro’s last public appearance.

Pakistan Criticizes U.S. for Attack Talk

Pakistan has rebuked the Bush administration for recent comments asserting the U.S. would attack areas inside Pakistan if deemed necessary to fight al-Qaeda militants.

    Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri: “Such statements are irresponsible and they should not be made. In fact they are counterproductive to the sort of effort and cooperation that Pakistan and the United States are making jointly. And this may be election season in the United States but it should not be at our expense.”

Burmese Human Rights Activist Sentenced to 8-Year Term

In Burma, human rights activist Ko Myint Naing has been sentenced to eight years in prison. The military-led Myanmar regime accused him of inciting unrest in an incident that saw him and other activists attacked by a pro-government mob. Myint Naing was on his way to a human rights training session. The Mynamar government has been accused of scores of human rights abuses and arbitrary detentions since taking power.

Report: U.S. Backs Off Saudi Bank Linked to Militant Funding

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. has opted to take a hands-off approach to a Saudi bank U.S. intelligence has linked to the financing of militant Islamic extremists. The Al Rajhi bank is among vast holdings belonging to the Saudi billionaire Sulaiman Al Rajhi. The banks activities’ reportedly set off an intense debate within the Bush administration on how to take action. But confidential reports show the administration has ultimately chosen to quietly lobby Saudi monarchs rather than take punitive steps. U.S. intelligence says Al Rahji Bank has held accounts and accepted donations for charities formally designated as fronts for al Qaeda or other militant groups. The CIA concluded the Al Rahji family was knowingly involved. Al Rajhi Bank and the Al Rajhi family have denied any link to financing militants.

Terror Trial Begins for Largest Muslim-U.S. Charity

The disclosure comes as the Bush administration is facing criticism for prosecuting the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. In a trial that began this week, prosecutors accuse the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development of providing millions of dollars in funding to militant activities by Hamas. The charity says the money has gone to Palestinian victims of Israeli attacks and closures in the Occupied Territories. The case is the largest of its kind in U.S. history. Prosecutors have faced scrutiny for heavily relying on secret evidence supplied by the Israeli government. Khalil Meek of the Muslim Legal Fund of America said: “The Bush administration is arguing that providing medical and nutritional assistance to sick and starving Palestinian children amounts to supporting terrorism.”

Justice Dept. Probes Mortgage Lending Discrimination

In economic news, the Justice Department has launched an investigation into several alleged cases of discriminatory practices in mortgage lending. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition recently found that African Americans were twice as likely as white applicants to receive loans with expensive, above-market rates. The investigation follows a class action lawsuit from the NAACP accusing subprime mortgage lenders of institutionalized, systematic racism. Lenders named in the suit include Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Washington Mutual.

Judge Overturns Hazleton Anti-Immigrant Laws

And in immigration news, a federal judge has struck down a series of controversial anti-immigrant laws in the Pennsylvania town of Hazleton. Over the last year the town has adopted ordinances aimed at barring undocumented immigrants from working or renting homes there. Judge James Munley ruled the measures subverted federal immigration laws and violated due process rights of employers, landlords and undocumented immigrants. Observers say the ruling could have a strong effect in barring other towns from passing similar anti-immigrant measures.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Throw Election Thieves In Prison, no statute of limitations

Screw Impeachment!

Prove illegitimacy of the entire Bushite Regime and then throw their butts in prison where they belong

Editor's Note: A full examination of this issue will be the topic for this week's program, "Voter Caging" on "NOW" airing Friday, July 27 on PBS (Check local listings at TO/vh

Also see:
Truthout's interview with former US attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias

View exhibit three here.
View exhibit sixteen here.
View RNC emails here.

Exclusive | Emails Detail RNC Voter Suppression in Five States
By Jason Leopold and Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 26 July 2007

Truthout has obtained previously undisclosed GOP campaign emails from the 2004 presidential race that reveal and detail strategies to disenfranchise voters in crucial swing states.
(Photo: Truthout)

Previously undisclosed documents detail how Republican operatives, with the knowledge of several White House officials, engaged in an illegal, racially-motivated effort to suppress tens of thousands of votes during the 2004 presidential campaign in a state where George W. Bush was trailing his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry.

The documents also contain details describing how Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign officials, and at least one individual who worked for White House political adviser Karl Rove, planned to stop minorities residing in Cuyahoga County from voting on election day.

The efforts to purge voters from registration rolls was spearheaded by Tim Griffin, a former Republican National Committee opposition researcher. Griffin recently resigned from his post as interim US attorney for Little Rock Arkansas. His predecessor, Bud Cummins, was forced out to make way for Griffin.

Another set of documents, 43 pages of emails, provided to Truthout by the PBS news program "NOW," contains blueprints for a massive effort undertaken by RNC operatives in 2004, to challenge the eligibility of voters expected to support Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Pennsylvania.

One email, dated September 30, 2004, and sent to a dozen or so staffers on the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC, under the subject line "voter reg fraud strategy conference call," describes how campaign staffers planned to challenge the veracity of votes in a handful of battleground states in the event of a Democratic victory.

Furthermore, the emails show the Bush-Cheney campaign and RNC staffers compiled voter-challenge lists that targeted probable Democratic voters in at least five states: New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Voting rights lawyers have made allegations of so called "vote caging," against Republicans previously. These emails provide more evidence. One Republican operative involved in the planning wrote "we can do this in NV, FL, PA and NM because we have a list to run against the Absentee Ballot requests, and should."

Vote caging is an illegal tactic to suppress minorities from voting by having their names purged from voter rolls when they fail to respond to registered mail sent to their homes. The Republican National Committee signed a consent decree in 1986 stating they would not engage in the practice after they were caught suppressing votes in 1981 and 1986.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) said "[c]aging is a reprehensible voter suppression tactic, and it may also violate federal law and the terms of applicable judicially enforceable consent decrees." Senators Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Whitehouse have called for a Justice Department probe into the practice.

One of the individuals connected to the White House who was the recipient of dozens of emails discussing the strategy to suppress votes was Coddy Johnson, the national field director of Bush's 2004 campaign and former associate director of political affairs, working under Karl Rove. Johnson's father was Bush's college roommate at Yale. Another person who was asked to participate in the so-called "voter reg fraud strategy" conference call was Jennifer Millerwise, a former deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign and a former spokesperson for Vice President Cheney. Millerwise was interviewed by Patrick Fitzgerald during the federal investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

Other participants for the conference call included Mark "Thor" Hearne. Hearne is closely aligned with Karl Rove and the RNC and has been accused of pushing for the firings of some US attorneys by at least one of the fired attorneys. Some of the attorneys believe they were fired based on their refusal to prosecute alleged cases of voter fraud.

Emails among Ohio Republican Party official Michael Magan, Coddy Johnson, then national field director of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, and Timothy Griffin, reveal the men were given documents that could be used as evidence to justify widespread voter challenges if the Bush campaign needed to contest the election results. Johnson referred to the documents as a "goldmine".

The valuable documents were lists of registered voters who did not return address confirmation forms to the Ohio Board of Elections. The Republican operatives compared this list with lists of voters who requested absentee ballots. In the opinion of one of the strategists, the fact that many names appeared on both lists was evidence of voter fraud. "A bad registration card can be an accident or fraud. A bad card AND an Absentee Ballot request is a clear case of fraud," according to former Bush-Cheney campaign staffer Robert Paduchik.

Another Republican operative saw the value of the Ohio list from a media strategy perspective. According to the emails, Christopher McInerney, a RNC researcher said "... I have already tasked our IT [information technology] person with creating a match list between the Board of Elections return mail list and the Absentee Ballot request list. Jack [Christopher] thought this would be a good idea to have - to reference as part of the larger DenHerder press strategy." It is not known what the "DenHerder press strategy" refers to, but Dave DenHerder served as regional political director for the 2004 Bush campaign.

McInerney's email continues, "I can't speak to other states, but if they don't have flagged voter rolls, we run the risk of having GOP fingerprints."

Strategist Christopher Guith responded by saying "I would think we are less worried about "fingerprints" if we have decent evidence that fraudulent ballots are being cast. I think the intent is to take the Board of Elections' list and challenge absentee ballots? At that point, isn't it more important to stop absentee ballots that we have a high certainty of fraud than avoid the hit?"

McInerney's and Guith's emails have been previously disclosed.

Griffin responded, "I guess we have to make sure we have bodies. It seems like it always comes down to bodies. Why don't you ask your peeps in each state at issue if they have the resources to do this. Then, I might/can put some resources in the states that are lacking."

The emails seem to show the Republican operatives were preparing for a confrontation reminiscent of the Florida recount affair that followed the 2000 Presidential election. This exchange took place less than one month prior to the November 2004 election.

The list of questionable voters that was compiled by the Ohio Board of Elections was quite similar to the vote caging lists used by the Republican campaigners. The Board of Elections sent out voter confirmation letters to targeted registered voters. The letters required the voter to return a confirmation request or have their name removed from the voter rolls. Because the confirmation letter gave the voter 60 days to respond, a voter who failed to respond to the confirmation request would still be on the voter rolls for the primary election, but would be purged prior to the general election.

The list was apparently checked by two people identified only as "Ted" and "Evan who" made handwritten notes in one of the columns. According to their notes, they described certain parts of Cleveland where low-income and minority voters were targeted as containing "mixed use buildings" and "single family apartments." Another section said, "looks like a parking lot ... doesn't look residential."

In an interview with Truthout in May, David Iglesias, the former US attorney for New Mexico, said Pat Rogers, one of Hearne's colleagues, alleged there was widespread voter fraud in New Mexico and pressured Iglesias to bring criminal charges against some individuals. Iglesias said he had investigated those allegations tirelessly and found zero evidence to back it up. He added that, based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and "Karl Rove's obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country," he now believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to Republicans.

Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the California energy crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron's downfall and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron's bankruptcy filing in December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Hey, Snowjob, you're not speaking English

Helen Thomas showed her latest frustrations with Bush Administration Spokesman Tony Snow's double-speak at Friday's White House Press conference. Thomas exclaimed, "You're not speaking English, really" after Snow tried to explain contradictory statements made by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during Senate testimony this week.

Video at CNN

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Drunk While Being Launched (What can possibly be next?)

A Drunk president?

NASA Knew About Preflight Drinking Among Astronauts

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 28, 2007; A01

NASA officials at least twice disregarded warnings from flight surgeons and astronauts that crew members who were getting ready to go into space appeared to be drunk, the chairman of a panel appointed to examine the agency's handling of astronauts' physical and mental health said yesterday.

In one case, an apparently impaired astronaut was launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, while the other involved a scrubbed space shuttle flight and a subsequent flight the same day on a NASA training aircraft.

"These two incidents of alcohol use were chosen to illustrate a larger problem," said Col. Richard E. Bachmann Jr., head of the review panel created early this year.

Bachmann said flight surgeons and astronauts had reported the incidents to superiors and that "their professional input seemed to be disregarded at the local level, leaving them feeling demoralized about reporting in the future."

The panel's findings carried echoes of the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia space shuttle disasters. In both of those cases, investigators concluded that NASA managers had failed to heed warning flags that should have alerted them to potentially catastrophic dangers as they pressed to keep up with demanding flight schedules.

NASA prohibits drinking by astronauts in the 12 hours before any flight, but the review panel reported that "interviews with both flight surgeons and astronauts identified some episodes of heavy use of alcohol by astronauts in the immediate preflight period. . . . Alcohol is freely used in crew quarters," where astronauts are quarantined to prepare for launches.

Bachmann and NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale emphasized that the reports of pre-launch drinking were unconfirmed and had come from personnel who did not necessarily have firsthand knowledge. Bachmann, an aerospace medical specialist with the Air Force, said the panel decided not to press for details on when, or precisely where, the heavy drinking occurred because its main concern was that warnings from flight surgeons and astronauts had apparently been ignored.

Dale said in a news conference that the agency takes the reports seriously and will begin a broad inquiry. She also said efforts have begun to ensure that the concerns of flight surgeons and astronauts about the well-being of crew members are quickly and seriously considered.

Bryan D. O'Connor, chief of the office of safety and mission assurance, will conduct the inquiry, Dale said, and if "any incidents occurred, he will determine the causes and recommend corrective actions." She said the agency will make sure that any risky astronaut behavior is "dealt with by appropriate medical authorities and flight crew management, and, if necessary, elevated through a transparent system of senior management review."

The panel said NASA's policies and procedures are not well-suited for dealing with potentially troublesome drinking by astronauts.

"The medical certification of astronauts for flight duty is not structured to detect such episodes, nor is any medical surveillance program by itself likely to detect them or change the pattern of alcohol use," the panel wrote.

Another recommendation by the panel -- which was formed after the arrest of former astronaut Lisa M. Nowak on charges that she tried to kidnap a rival for the affections of another astronaut -- was to develop a formal code of conduct for the elite corps. Dale said a group of astronauts has begun putting together elements of a code.

The report was quickly flagged by some members of Congress as a sign of more trouble at NASA. The House Space and Aeronautics subcommittee announced that it will hold hearings on the reports the first week of September.

"Drinking and driving is never a good idea -- least of all when the vehicle involved is a multi-billion-dollar space shuttle or a high performance jet aircraft," Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, said in a statement.

"But it's not just alcohol abuse," Gordon added. "You only have to read the report to know that something clearly seems to be broken in NASA's system of astronaut oversight. I hope the agency will take the review team seriously, and not just fall back on the tired bromide that the review team's findings are 'unproven allegations.' "

The panel recommended that NASA strengthen the formal bonds between supervising mentors and young astronauts and that it work toward a basic change in the agency's culture. It acknowledged that some of that culture is entrenched, going back to the earliest days of the space program when, historians say, test pilots and astronauts were often fast-living, hard-drinking men.

The allegations of widespread drinking are at sharp variance with the squeaky-clean, "best and brightest" image that the agency has since sought to cultivate. Ellen Ochoa, an astronaut and director of flight crew operations, said the reports of astronaut drinking are inconsistent with her long association with the program and represent "events that baffle us."

The panel wrote: "Some recommendations entail changing deep seated, long standing aspects of astronaut, flight surgeon, and safety cultures regarding alcohol use, code of conduct, acknowledgement of human performance issues, selection, training, evaluation and professional development, communication, and privacy. None of these issues lend themselves to easy analysis or correction of a single factor."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Can Our Politics GET More Insane?

Cleavage & the Clinton Campaign Chest

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 28, 2007; C01

A journalistic assessment of Hillary Clinton's cleavage became the most improbable presidential campaign controversy yet as her team yesterday rolled out a fundraising letter calling a Washington Post column on the subject "grossly inappropriate" and "insulting."

One week after the piece, by fashion writer Robin Givhan, took note of the Democratic candidate's relatively low neckline during a speech on the Senate floor, senior Clinton adviser Ann Lewis urged donors to "take a stand against this kind of coarseness and pettiness in American culture."

Givhan, who won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism last year, said she disagreed "that there was anything in the column that was coarse, insulting or belittling. It was a piece about a public person's appearance on the Senate floor that was surprising because of the location and because of the person. It's disingenuous to think that revealing cleavage, any amount of it, in that kind of situation is a nonissue.

"It's obviously not the most important thing in the campaign. It's obviously not the most important thing Hillary Clinton has ever done, by any means."

Stories about the physical appearance of candidates, from Al Gore's earth-tones wardrobe to John Edwards's $400 haircut to a bathing-suit shot of Barack Obama in a People spread on "Beach Babes," have long been an entertaining sideshow. But since no journalist has plunged into this particular territory, given the predominantly male nature of past White House contests, Givhan's Style column has sparked plenty of reaction, much of it negative. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman wrote yesterday that Givhan "managed to make a media mountain out of a half-inch valley."

Lewis said in an interview she was "appalled" by the column but initially dismissed it as "an inside-the-Beltway story."

"I didn't realize the attention and the anger it was setting off nationally," Lewis added. "Women either read it or heard about it. They were indignant on Hillary's behalf and also on their own." Lewis says she has not discussed the matter with the New York senator.

Lewis's fundraising letter begins: "Can you believe that The Washington Post wrote a 746-word article on Hillary's cleavage? . . . I've seen some off-topic press coverage -- but talking about body parts? That is grossly inappropriate.

"Frankly, focusing on women's bodies instead of their ideas is insulting. It's insulting to every woman who has ever tried to be taken seriously in a business meeting. It's insulting to our daughters -- and our sons -- who are constantly pressured by the media to grow up too fast."

For candidates, using criticism -- real or perceived -- to raise money is catching on as a political maneuver. In last year's Virginia Senate race, after Republican incumbent George Allen got into trouble for using the word "macaca," his campaign sent a letter to supporters blaming the media, and particularly The Post, for creating a "feeding frenzy . . . over something that did not warrant coverage in the first place." After conservative author Ann Coulter mocked Edwards in March, describing him with a slur used against gays, the former North Carolina senator featured the attacks in a fundraising pitch.

Givhan regularly patrols the intersection of fashion and politics. About two years ago, she chastised Vice President Cheney for wearing a fur-trimmed parka rather than more formal attire to a somber ceremony in Poland marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In April, Givhan scrutinized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her "generous collection of scarves" during a tour of the Middle East. The column on cleavage described Clinton's clothing choice, as spotted on CSPAN2, as a "small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity" that departed from her usual "desexualized uniform" of black pantsuits.

"With Clinton," Givhan wrote, "there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding -- being a voyeur. Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. . . . It does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease."

"Robin has consistently raised similar questions over the years about both men and women who are in the public eye," said Steve Reiss, The Post's deputy assistant managing editor for Style. "We know these people take a great deal of care in how they present themselves on TV and in public, and that is fair game for analysis." Noting that the newspaper has run dozens of articles on Clinton's policy positions and background, Reiss said, "I don't feel we have anything to apologize for."

Politicians often rip the media over what they see as unfavorable coverage, hoping to score points against an unpopular institution. But the cleavage letter is undoubtedly a first in the annals of campaign counterpunching.

"I would never say the column was about a body part," Givhan said. "It was about a style of dress. People have gone down the road of saying, 'I can't believe you're writing about her breasts.' I wasn't writing about her breasts. I was writing about her neckline."

Staff writer Anne E. Kornblut contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Something's Happening Here.....

The most growth of any religion in America is Pagan/Wiccan.

More atheists, with each day that passes.

Young college graduates and undergraduates either leaving the country or planning to after they graduate.

It's not so difficult to understand where these trends are coming from; the religious insaanity of the past 30 years would be enough to drive anyone away from traditional religion in the U.S.A

there's something happinin here

Young people care about global warming, and they care about the war in Iraq, but mostly ... they care about themselves and their economic and social situation.

How this will parlay into votes for the Democrats will depend entirely on how well they can engage this demographic and addresses this "most important issue."

everybody look what's goin down

It is also important to note that the large Democratic margin is driven, in part, by the diversity of this generation.

The dynamic is slowly changing in the political landscape. The "diversity" generation has arrived and will bring with it the winds of change ... whether we are ready for it or not.

**Lyrics Buffalo Springfield

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.