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Collective Interest Radio Podcasts:
The "Radio" has returned to Collective Interest Radio. As an audio or video podcast. Check out the links below. You can click and listen, download the file to your computer, or upload it to your iPod , video iPod or other digital music or video device. Either way, enjoy

" Donny Deusch Didn't Drink the Water, Challenges Ann Coulter

" Air America's Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, on Charlie Rose Here's Part 2

" Chris Matthews Says Something Sensible to Pat Buchanan (no word if hell has actually frozen over)

" Bush's Address to the NAACP, from The Onion (please remember, GOP'ers and those with no sense of humour, it's a joke....)

" The "Word" is Superman, from the Colbert Report

" Al Gore talks about his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" with Charlie Rose

" Barack Obama on Charlie Rose

" 15-year old Ava Lowery's video that takes Bush and the Christian Right to task for going to war in the name of God.

" America, 8 Years After Overturning Roe v. Wade. From the Rachel Maddow Show, it's worth a listen.

" Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent's Dinnersee the video that no media organization wants you to see! Too funny, or too accurate?!?

Daily Topics & Commentary:
Monday, July 31
9:46 amSlow-motion Suicide, One Day at a Time

Read this from today's NYT. First, it adds meat to the argument that the jobless rate doesn't represent the true number being trumpeted in statistics. Second, it talks to me about illegal immigration and jobs. If labor costs on the lowest end were forced to increase, I think there would be an upward domino effect. Would it mean as much financial calamity as the economists say? I don't know, as more people would have more money to spend. Given our consumer economy, I believe moderately increased wages across the board keeps us buying the trinkets business and manufacturing need to sell.

Lastly, it's very depressing. People are looking at an oncoming personal financial train wreck, but indifferent to it; almost welcoming it. I've been there, and have avoided it. But I can tell you from my time in the depths, suicide comes to mind. For me, they were fleeting thoughts that I felt guilty for even having. It didn't take long for them to pass. I was young, determined, and pissed off at life as well as myself. I was convinced that all I needed was an opportunity.

But I wasn't in my middle ages, and I don't call myself a representation of everyone in that situation. Unfortunately, someone will indulge in the thoughts I resisted.

A tank of gas, a world of trouble
Monday, July 31 (Chicago Tribune)The Tribune's Paul Salopek retraces gasoline sold at a suburban station back to its origins to reveal how America's oil addiction binds it to the violent corners of the world -- and to a petroleum economy nearing crisis. More

8:09 amBush and Israel: Snatching Defeat from the Mouth of Victory

Sometimes early last week, maybe late the week before, the US and Israel had the opportunity to impose a cease-fire and start the machinery to get an international force into South Lebanaon. The Qana bombing is the final nail in the coffin for a quick end to this war. It's also another example of the miserable failure that is the Bush Administration.

On Sunday's talking head shows, the Israelis showed their usual intransigence towarda common-sense cease fire. And I heard the birth of the new talking point, "what would you do if rockets were raining down on American cities?" I heard the same thing, almost word for word on an NPR report this morning. Guys, rockets aren't raining down on Seattle, so let's stick to reality. As we all can read, the Israelis called a cease-fire for PR purposes only, as they broke it 2 hours later.

What made the most sense at the time was for the US to send troops as part of an international force. Yes, we're squeezed in by the Alamo--no, I mean Iraq. But those 5,000 troops that Bush called up for Baghdad would have made a bigger difference in the big picture were they sent to Lebanon.

Where this is going? Who knows. If Bush can't back off his idiotic concept of not talking to those he considers "terrorists," this will go on for quite awhile. It's no secret that he could push the Israelis into a position if need be. But since the concept of a "sustainable cease-fire" is basically lots of dead Hizbollah insurgents, we'll be seeing scenes of more dead children. The Republican Noise Machine will have more fodder to call people terrorists, or cowards, or whatever they need in order to force fealty to King George.

All in all, more good times from those that promised us peace through democracy in the Middle East.

CHRONOLOGY-Events in Middle East
Monday, July 31(Reuters) Here is a chronology of the violence between Israel and the Hizbollah guerrilla group since Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight on July 12.

July 13 - Israeli aircraft bomb runways at Beirut airport. Israel's navy blockades Lebanese ports.

July 14 - Israeli warplanes blast the main Beirut-Damascus highway, tightening an air, sea and land blockade of Lebanon.

July 15 - Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora demands an immediate U.N.-backed ceasefire, denouncing Israel for turning his country into a "disaster zone". He appeals for foreign aid.

July 16 - Rockets fired by Hizbollah kill eight in the Israeli city of Haifa. Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warns Lebanon of "far-reaching consequences" after the attack. -- Group of Eight leaders at their annual summit blame an upsurge in violence on "extremists" and while accepting Israel's right to self-defence say Israel must exercise restraint.

July 17 - British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan call for the deployment of a security force in Lebanon.

July 19 - Israeli troops cross the border to raid Hizbollah posts. Annan calls for an immediate end to hostilities.

July 21 - Israel warns Lebanese civilians to leave border villages and calls up 3,000 reserves.

July 22 - Israel ousts Hizbollah guerrillas from the hilltop village of Maroun al-Ras, a stronghold just inside Lebanon.

July 23 - Jan Egeland, U.N. emergency relief coordinator, says Israeli bombing of a Beirut neighbourhood where Hizbollah had its headquarters has breached humanitarian law. He says rockets going into Israel have to stop.

July 24 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flies to Lebanon from Cyprus and meets Prime Minister Siniora.

July 25 - Olmert meets Rice to discuss war in Lebanon.

July 26 - Hizbollah kills nine Israeli soldiers advancing on the town of Bint Jbeil near the frontier.

-- An international conference in Rome papers over cracks by pledging to work for an urgent, but not immediate, ceasefire and agreeing on the need for an international peacekeeping force.

July 27 - Israel's inner cabinet chooses to pursue a strategy of air strikes and limited ground incursions, rather than a full-scale invasion to halt Hizbollah rockets.

July 28 - Longer-range rockets land in open ground in Israel near the town of Afula.

-- The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon says it is temporarily moving unarmed military observers into its positions for safety, following an Israeli air strike that killed four on July 25.

July 29 - U.S. Secretary of State Rice holds talks in Israel to seek a deal on an international force to end fighting.

-- Israeli forces pull out of the border town of Bint Jbeil.

-- Hizbollah leader Nasrallah says Rice aims to impose conditions on Lebanon and serve Israeli interests. He vows more attacks on Israeli cities if it does not end the offensive. July 30 - An Israeli air strike kills at least 54 Lebanese civilians, including 37 children in the village of Qana. More

Thursday, July 27
4:49 pmBig Box Stores and the Free Market

Working for a medium sized catalog business, and having many bills that arrive monthly, I'm a big believer in markets and free enterprise. I believe market-driven policies aren't good for healthcare, education, or social welfare issues.

But issues on big-box stores are something that market driven policies do cover well. And I think that Chicago's Big Box/Living Wage ordinance is an excellent example of a market driven measure

Here's what I mean.

Those who perform the labor have the right and the ability to negotiate the wage they want to work for. Over the past few years labor unions have crumbled due to lack of inertia, greed, and corporate competition. So they haven't been able to help the low-wage worker. Congress hasn't passed an increase in the minimum wage in decades. Every time it comes up, Republicans and even some turncoat Dems trot out the same stupid argument about business not being able to compete. If you look at the totality of everything business wanted to stand in the way of on because of that reason, we'd still have 9 year-old kids working in factories for a dollar a day. So government hasn't come to the aid of the low-wage worker.

Now the GOP'ers are reading this and saying "well they should have negotiated a better rate." I say, if you work at a big-box, did you? I say do you really think a single mother has the ability to hold out for $12 an hour? I'm thinking she's at Target because she hasn't been able to find a job for $12 an hour. What if you're a father with 2 babies and a wife at home. Can you afford, monetarily and morally, to hold out? You drive the best bargain you can with what you can bring to the table, GOPers say. That works for white-collar workers in a few cases; but for the most part even those who make $100k+ (not me unfortunately) are all very happy to be overworked and underpaid for whatever they give us. Yas'suh we am.

This is the atmosphere that creates measures like Big Box. It's negotiation. Not the greatest form of negotiation, since it's a zero sum game. But it sends a message to mass employers like Wal-Mart that the days of paying next to nothing for labor are numbered. I don't understand why the big-boxers have their knickers in a knot. They, of all people should be accustomed to negotiation.

Does it mean Wal-Mart won't open in Chicago? Who knows. They've got to beat their quarterly numbers, which usually means opening stores to expand market share. I'm thinking that this will be a speed bump in terms of increased costs. But they're fearful of what would happen if the suburbs and small towns would start taking their cues from Chicago.

I think a bigger question is do we really need Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot or Lowe'ss as the nation's largest employers? When GM was the largest employer, the country surged forward on the high wages paid to build cars and trucks. You could buy a house, raise a family, and send your kids to college on those wages. Wal-Mart? There's no way in hell you could accomplish that on a Wal-Mart wage. Hell, they don't even want to work people 40 hours so they can avoid paying benefits. Good for Wal-Mart, bad for the rest of us when Wal-Mart is the nation's largest employer.

The other peculiarity is that how does business expect the nation to afford all the new trinkets and whistles if they continue to be successful at paying next to nothing for a day's wage?

Someone has to speak up for low wage workers. The city councilmen, aldermen and similar representatives see the adverse affects of unnecessarily low wages. People having to work 2 or 3 jobs to struggle to get paid $20k per year. People with 40-hour a week jobs still stay on the public dole. All kinds of things that we who make a reasonably comfortable living don't worry about. Even we who make a decent living didn't help the low-wage worker.

I think we who make a good living need our own "Big Box Ordinance!"

Israel Opts Not to Expand Ground Offensive in S. Lebanon
Security Cabinet Calls Up Reserve Troops
Thursday, July 27 (Washington Post) A day after Israel suffered its worst losses of the ongoing war with Hezbollah, Israel's security cabinet opted not to expand the military operation in south Lebanon, as some army generals had recommended.

But the cabinet did decide to call up three divisions of reserve troops for a "readiness exercise" rather than for deployment to the front. The call-up, which could involve tens of thousands of reservists, underscored Israel's belief that Hezbollah's July 12 cross-border raid was designed to spark a wider war in the Middle East.

"We don't need these troops to attack, but to train," said an Israeli official familiar with the cabinet decision. "We need to be ready in case something happens in Syria or elsewhere."

The reserves are scheduled to be called up in the coming days, the official said. He estimated that the last reserve call-up of this size was during the 2002 Israeli operation in the West Bank at the height of the most recent Palestinian uprising. More

11:14 amEnd-Timer's Hullabaloo!

If one is a fervent, frothing believer in Biblical end-times theology, these are heady days. The US in Babylon, war raging in Lebanon, Iran threatening nuclear intentions. All you really need to do in order to supposedly "lock" in the second coming of Christ is to find a way to get China into the mix. Then, as they say, you've got a lead-pipe-cinch to the rapture, second coming, War in Heaven (Bush is everywhere!), Satan being thrown into a pit, etc.

Except for one thing that I, as a former devout believer now reduced to occasional church-goer, think they forget. Don't these things move at God's pace? Just because man tries to create the scenario for the return doesn't mean God says "sweet, they've set the table. I might as well make my move." That's giving man a little more credit than he's due, and totally throws off the theory of the creator as mover and shaker of his (or her) creation.

Isn't it better to devote oneself to the rest of the books of the Bible that's not Revelations? There's still nothing really wrong with peace, feeding the poor, loving one another, and the other things that the religious right seems to have forgotten about.

Tuesday, July 25
9:12 amGreat Segment of Big Box Stores on NOW!

Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ.org or 91.5 fm

Monday, July 24
'Civilian Casualty'? It Depends
Those who support terrorists are not entirely innocent.
Monday, July 24 (LA Times)THE NEWS IS filled these days with reports of civilian casualties, comparative civilian body counts and criticism of Israel, along with Hezbollah, for causing the deaths, injuries and "collective punishment" of civilians. But just who is a "civilian" in the age of terrorism, when militants don't wear uniforms, don't belong to regular armies and easily blend into civilian populations?

We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare. A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis of current events in the Middle East: "the continuum of civilianality." Though cumbersome, this concept aptly captures the reality and nuance of warfare today and provides a more fair way to describe those who are killed, wounded and punished.

There is a vast difference both moral and legal between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter. There is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism. More

PM Olmert: Syria cannot be a partner to diplomatic efforts
Monday, July 24 (Haaretz)Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Syria cannot be a partner to diplomatic efforts to secure an end to fighting in Lebanon and northern Israel.

"Syria is not a partner to diplomatic efforts. The Syrians could earn recognition if only they weren't keeping their finger on the trigger on two fronts - in Lebanon and in Gaza," Olmert said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel from Lebanon on Monday night on a visit aimed at creating conditions for a "sustainable cease-fire" in Israel's war with Hezbollah.

Rice is due to meet Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over dinner Monday and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday. She will also meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Rice arrived in Lebanon on Monday at the start of a trip to calm violence in the Middle East, Lebanese political sources said.

Rice met Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora after her heavily guarded motorcade sped through Beirut from the U.S. embassy to the north where her helicopter had landed from Cyprus. More

1:13 pmBackhanded Compliment

It's nice that Sec. State Rice went to visit Lebanon in order to bolster the stature of the fledgling government. Too bad she had to go as part of some cockamamie "secret visit." To me, and if you think different email me, the best way to confer credibility would have been to broadcast that we were going to Beirut in order to off our help and support to the young government. This "secret" visit reminds me of being a child. The adults were whispering something important about me, but were afraid I would hear.


The only way to fix the situation is to legitimize and strengthen the Lebanese government while at the same time weakening and marginalizing Hezbollah. I still support Israel in the attacks against Hebollah, but the clock is ticking. I applaud their efforts to mimimize civilian casualties, but eventually the terrorists will move even closer to the innocent in order to survive. That doesn't mean it's OK to bomb fleeing refugees. It does mean moving troops in place; whether Israeli or a multi-national force.

U.S. Wants Force To Block Arms Shipments
Monday, July 24 (Forward)The United States is pushing for the deployment of a large international force in Lebanon, which would be authorized to confront Hezbollah and effectively prevent the militant group from rearming, senior Bush administration officials told Jewish communal leaders in recent days.

During a briefing with senior officials at several major Jewish organizations, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams reportedly said that a multinational force in Lebanon would have to be combat ready, authorized and appropriately equipped to engage Hezbollah militarily if needed. Such a force, he said, would also have to patrol not only Lebanons border with Israel but also Lebanons border with Syria, to prevent smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah. In addition, such a force would have to observe Lebanons sea and air ports to make sure that Iran is not rearming Hezbollah, Abrams reportedly said.

It is not clear whether Abrams position was shared by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, when she left Sunday on her Middle East shuttle mission in search of a resolution to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. According to several Washington insiders who in recent days spoke with senior State Department officials and other U.S. policy makers, Abrams statements do seem to reflect the administrations approach. More

Friday, July 21
Give "Competence" Another Try: This Time it Might Work
Friday, July 21 (DemocraticStratgist)In the 1988 presidential election, Michael Dukakis was pilloried - rightly - for running a soulless campaign whose message consisted of the phrase, "It's not about ideology, it's about competence." But times change. That was before the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina so overwhelmed us with its incompetence that America was humiliated before the world. The response to Katrina, however, was only the most dramatic in a long series of government failures, from the planning of the war in Iraq, to the failure of the occupation, to the design of the Medicare prescription drug policy. At the Kennedy School of Government, where I teach, we have traditionally begun the required course in government management with a case study on the Chicago heat wave of 1995 where hundreds of people died before the government even knew what was happening. The message we try to convey to our students of government every year was brought home to the entire country in September of 2005: when the private sector fails to manage organizations well, people lose money; when the public sector fails to manage well, people die.

For decades, Democrats have suffered under the political albatross of being the party of big government. But in the past decade we have had several dramatic "teaching moments" in America; moments that just might allow us to change the political conversation going forward and get out from under this millstone. First came the government shutdown in early 1996. Lots of Americans learned that the federal government was everywhere - it was funding pieces of their state and local governments and it was funding charities like Catholic Charities. President Clinton won a fairly dramatic victory over that shutdown - to the surprise of the Republicans who had believed perhaps too much in their own small government rhetoric.

Next came the tragedy of 9/11 where the heroes were government workers - from the New York firefighters who ran into the collapsing buildings, to the cops, to the airmen, seamen and soldiers who took off into Afghanistan. In the aftermath of 9/11 "trust in government" leapt higher than it had been at any time since the late 1950s and early 1960s. Nothing like a tragedy to make people appreciate when and why government matters. While the trust-in-government numbers came down to more normal levels in the months after 9/11, the temporary spike served as a useful reminder that, in the end, the private sector does not keep us safe.

And then came Hurricane Katrina where government at all levels, but especially federal government, failed spectacularly. Once again, everyone understood that we needed a government that works. No one seriously thought that the private sector could have rescued New Orleans. More
Friday, July 21 (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities)In remarks on July 11 touting revised deficit projections in the Mid-Session Review of the Budget, President Bush once again claimed that tax cuts pay for themselves:

Some in Washington say we had to choose between cutting taxes and cutting the deficit&.Todays numbers show that that was a false choice.  The economic growth fueled by tax relief has helped send our tax revenues soaring.  Thats what has happened.

These remarks mirror previous statements by the President, the Vice-President, and key Congressional leaders that the increase in revenues in 2005 and the increase now projected for 2006 prove that tax cuts pay for themselves that the economy expands so much as a result of tax cuts that it produces the same level of revenue as it would have without the tax cuts.

Economists and budget analysts outside of the administration have explained that these claims are not supported by data or economic theory.  Now a Department of Treasury analysis presented in the Mid-Session Review itself provides estimates of the potential economic effects of tax cuts that confirm what outside experts have consistently said tax cuts do not come remotely close to paying for themselves. More

The Forgotten Homeland: A Century Foundation Task Force Report
Friday, July 21 (The Century Foundation)Nearly five years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, has the government adequately protected its citizens against terrorism and catastrophic disaster? The Forgotten Homeland: A Century Foundation Task Force Report gathers leading homeland security experts to analyze the nation's most significant vulnerabilities and propose strategies to reduce them. The report addresses terrorist and other threats, assesses the governments initiatives to date, and offers ideas for strengthening all aspects of our emergency responseincluding our ability to respond to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Whether a policy expert or a concerned citizen, The Forgotten Homeland is required reading for those who wish to understand the security challenges facing the United Statesand how we can solve them. More

Wednesday, July 19
The showdown
Israel has decided to put a final stop to Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah -- and for once the world supports it. But even if it wins this war, another is probably coming.
Wednesday, July 19 (Salon.com)The wisest of all Israeli statesmen, Moshe Dayan, once made a prescient comment about the inexplicable nature of Arab-Israeli wars. "All our wars started when afterwards we needed very thorough research to explain and understand why they had started at all," he said in a closed Cabinet consultation in April 1973. Indeed, several months later, the Yom Kippur War took Dayan and the rest of Israel's political-military elite by total surprise.

Dayan died in 1981, but had he lived today, he would undoubtedly have repeated his age-old analysis. This summer started out as the best one that Israel has had since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada six years ago. Tourists filled Tel Aviv beaches, the stock market hit its all-time high, and the government, flush with unexpected budgetary fat, lowered taxes and discussed cutting defense and beefing up welfare programs that had been cut in previous years.

Alas, by mid-July Israel found itself engaged in a two-front war in Gaza and Lebanon -- two areas that it had left unilaterally in recent years. Enemy rockets hit deep in Israeli territory, killing several civilians and scaring thousands of others. Israel's Defense Force (the IDF) returned in full gear to the ruins of the former Gaza settlements, evacuated last year, and to the skyline of Beirut. Unlike previous rounds of violence, however, this time the world has mostly supported Israel's military response, hoping it would deliver a painful blow to the regional troublemakers, the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.

The road to war began in early June, when the tacit cease-fire between Hamas and Israel began to crack. Smaller Palestinian groups kept firing their Qassam missiles at the Israeli border town of Sderot. The IDF responded with targeted killings of suspected perpetrators, unfortunately killing innocent bystanders as well. Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, put the brakes on military plans to escalate the fighting, and so did the Hamas leaders. But on June 25, a small Hamas unit attacked a military outpost on the Israeli side of the border, abducting a soldier and killing several others. Olmert decided against exchanging prisoners and hit back at Hamas, aiming to crush its military wing, halt the Qassams and weaken the civilian Hamas-led Palestinian government, which, despite enormous external pressure, has refused to recognize Israel and forswear terror.

Olmert's decision to fight back was in part a result of his political weakness: Israel's new Cabinet, sworn in on May 4, is led by a freshman team lacking battlefield experience and hangs on a loose coalition. It is a byword of Israeli politics that weak governments tend to hit harder. A former war hero like Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Rabin or Ehud Barak, "Mr. Security" at the top, could afford politically to be more flexible. But Olmert, who was smeared by his right-wing adversary Benjamin Netanyahu as a leftist weakling, could not. Along with the new defense minister, Amir Peretz, Olmert had to show the weary public and the military leaders that he had balls. More

2:16 pmWhose Morals Do We Need to Respect?

Corporate Greed as exemplified by Enron and WorldComm

Lying to a country in order to goad it into giving up its young men fighting in a war

Terri Schiavo

Tom DeLay

Lying about the Medicare Reform Bill

Jack Abramoff

Abu Ghraib

The President's assurance that he would fire whoever leaked the name of a CIA agent, and his follow through once everyone knew it was either Rove, Cheney, or Libby.

The above are all illustrations of the lack of morals this administration, and this government has held over the past 8 years. I'll lump Dems in there along with the press. Dems didn't do good enough job in making the case for a lack of GOP morals, and the press didn't care and was too lazy to listen to whatever little was being said.

Today Bush vetoed his first bill ever. He didn't veto ill-thought out tax cuts, Medicare reform, or stupidly unrealsitic budgets. He vetoed stem-cell research. Stem-cell research, as he says:

"(It) crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."

So stem cell research is the most immoral line this country came close to crossing these past 6 years?

The gall of these people just shocks me.

How can Americans strengthen our national community?
Wednesday, July 19 (Since Sliced Bread)In the fall of 2005, the Service Employees International Union sponsored Since Sliced Bread, a contest for the best ideas to improve the economy and the day-to-day lives of working men and women. More than 22,000 Americans submitted ideas to improve everything from household toasters to the global environment. Many participants wrote eloquently about how their idea would not only address pressing economic and social issues, but also reestablish a sense of national community.

For example, Mark from North Dakota wrote, Ive always believed that a country that is pulled together through a shared identity and experience is a nation that will perform better, socially and economically. Like many others, Mark called for a national service program that would create jobs and help America rebuild its crumbling infrastructure.

In honor of Independence Day, we present a sample of the many ideas for dealing with Americas urgent problems in ways that will unite, rather than divide, our people. The men and women from around the country who submitted these ideas all saw that these problems are also opportunities and that one of the best opportunities Americans have is serving their country. More

Saving the American Dream
A Plan to Help the U.S. and the Middle Class Get Ahead By Producing One Million More College Graduates by 2015
Wednesday, July 19 (DLC.org)The way to help America get ahead in the global economy is to give Americans the tools to get ahead in the 21st century. College is vital to America's success in a competitive world, and to expanding and strengthening the middle class here at home. A college education and training are key to individual advancement, and a workforce of college graduates and highly trained workers is the key to giving America a competitive edge.

America needs a bold new plan to produce one million more college and community college graduates a year by 2015 -- so that within a decade, America will be a nation in which more than half the young people finish college with a degree, and any student willing to work part-time or perform community service can go to 4 years of college tuition-free. More

Why We Don't Get No Respect
'It's not a real conversion,' remarks one senior European politician. 'It's a product of failure.'
Wednesday, July 19 (Fareed Zakaria.com)The Bush administration must wonder these days if it has a Rodney Dangerfield problem. No matter what it does, it can't seem to get any respect. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has engineered a broad shift in American diplomacy over the last year, moving policy toward greater multilateralism, cooperation and common sense on Iran, North Korea and Iraq, and several other issues. And yet it hasn't produced a change in attitudes toward the United States. The recent Pew global survey documents a further drop in America's poor image abroad. President Bush tried to be conciliatory while visiting Europe last week but confronted an angry public. A poll published in the Financial Times on the eve of his visit showed that across the continent, the United States was considered a greater threat to world peace than Iran or North Korea.

Why aren't people noticing the new, improved Bush foreign policy? First, the changes coming out of Washington have been very recent. Perhaps more important, they remain incremental and incomplete. This is probably because they are still contested within the administration. Almost all of those officials who embody the administration's crude and clumsy policies of the first termled by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheneyremain in office. They merely appear to be lying low, for now. So there's a limit to how much things can change. What appears like a revolution in Bush policythe administration is now finally thinking that maybe, possibly, Guantánamo should be shut downoften is just the belated arrival of common sense.

Rice and her team are clearly in chargeand extremely capablebut they operate within fairly tight constraints. The result is that the new approach retains many elements of the old: hectoring rhetoric, constant conditions and stiff demands. U.S. negotiators can talk to the North Koreans, but only on certain subjects in limited ways. For example, the North Korea talks have gone nowhere for some months in part because the United States has suddenly decided that Pyongyang's counterfeiting of currency is a dealbreaker and must stop before any further progress can be achieved. Memo to Washington: get your priorities right. The urgent problem right now is not that North Korea can make fake dollars but that it can make genuine nukes. More

The GOP's Looming Battle
Wednesday July 19 (Washington Post)As it looks beyond the elections of 2006, a Republican Party known for ideological solidarity is on the cusp of a far more searching philosophical battle than are the Democrats, historically accustomed to bruising fights over the finer points of political theory.

The coming Republican brawl reflects the fact that President Bush will leave office with no obvious heir, and Bushism as a political philosophy has yet to establish itself in the way that Reaganism did.

Moreover, the four top candidates in most polls for the GOP's 2008 presidential nomination -- Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and former House speaker Newt Gingrich -- all promise very different styles of leadership.

The Democrats, in the meantime, are engaged in an argument over a question rooted more in social psychology than policy: Can Hillary win?

True, there is some debate over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's stance on Iraq, and a few on the party's left criticize her as too centrist. But much of the Democratic discussion has to do with whether the New York senator will be helped or hurt by her public image and her close ties to a certain former president. The Hillary talk is more about persona than ideology.

The battle for the future defies each party's self-image. In the 2006 elections, Republicans are painting the Democrats as divided, especially on Iraq and national security, and themselves as united behind a strategy of "victory in the war on terrorism." More More EJ Dionne Jr. here

Beating of boy probed as hate crime
Wednesday, July 19 (Chicago Sun Times)A 14-year-old Beverly boy with a heart defect was critically beaten and robbed because he was "a goofy-looking white boy," his accused attacker allegedly told investigators.

The new details, which emerged Tuesday during a Juvenile Court hearing for the 16-year-old accused assailant, are prompting Chicago Police to investigate the beating of Ryan Rusch -- who was set upon by three youths Sunday -- as a hate crime.

"Our sense right off the bat was they were just looking for a victim," First Deputy Police Supt. Dana Starks said Tuesday. "It is my understanding that these [race remarks] were later statements. . . . We are now investigating it as a hate crime."

The investigation has been assigned to the department's civil rights section.

A second suspect, a 17-year-old boy, was charged Tuesday with robbery and aggravated battery. Michael Eatman lives in the 9900 block of South Malta, police said.

The beating and robbery Sunday in Beverly Park at 103rd and Campbell left Ryan severely injured. The boy was listed in critical but stable condition Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesman for Advocate Christ Hospital Medical Center in Oak Lawn. More

Dance of the dinosaurs
Wednesday, July 19 (Chicago Tribune)"I tell you the drums are rumbling and the people want to be heard. They want your decisions to reflect their views. ... We all have lineage, we all have heritage, we all have ambition and we all have a desire to serve. To serve, in the broadest sense, means some sense of fairness, equality, equal opportunity, equal treatment and equal justice."
--U.S. Rep. Danny Davis at Tuesday's Cook County Democratic Party slating session

Just as in Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs came alive Tuesday, prancing and preening and swinging their tails to show power. Democratic committeemen gathered in a sweltering hotel meeting room--no threatening Ice Age here--to choose their party's nominee in the race for presidency of the Cook County Board.

In speech after self-serving speech, various committeemen touted either of the two Chicago candidates--U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Ald. Todd Stroger (8th). That could have been a noble exercise, with calls to improve the moribund county government. Instead, the clamor largely recounted how either Davis or Stroger had helped the speaker get elected, or stay elected: He came to my event, he walked precincts with me, he voted for ... me.

That was all the more off-putting because Davis, in his own campaign speech for the nomination, had warned the self-satisfied insiders seated before him that their unseemly process for replacing John Stroger had hurt the Cook County Democratic Party. More

Report: Cops tortured suspects
Wednesday, July 19 (Chicago Tribune)Fired Chicago police commander Jon Burge and several officers who served under him tortured criminal suspects in the 1970s and 1980s, but can't be prosecuted because too much time has passed, court-appointed special prosecutors said today.

Concluding a four-year investigation, the prosecutors also said former Chicago Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek was guilty of "dereliction of duty" and acted in bad faith by not acting against Burge and even praising the detectives under his command despite harboring suspicions that the commander had mistreated prisoners.

"There are cases which we believe would justify our seeking indictments for mistreatment of prisoners by Chicago police officers," said the prosecutors, Edward Egan and Robert Boyle. Egan is a former judge and prosecutor while Boyle is a former prosecutor.

They were appointed in 2002 by Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel to investigate longstanding allegations of torture by Burge and his subordinates, as well as allegations of a coverup in the upper ranks of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state's attorney's office when it was run in the 1980s by Richard Daley, now mayor, and his top assistant, Richard Devine, now the state's attorney.

In their report, Egan and Boyle said they could find "no evidence that would support the charge beyond a reasonable doubt of obstruction of justice (or coverup) by any police personnel."

They also concluded that there was "insufficient evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the state's attorneys office except one person."

In addition to Burge, who was fired by the city in 1993 for the torture of a man later convicted of murder, the prosecutors identified four other police officers they alleged had tortured suspects. More. Read the investigator's report here

Aid to Ranchers Was Diverted For Big Profits
Tons of Powdered Milk Ended Up on the Market
Wednesday, July 19 (Washington Post)When a drought left pastures in a handful of Plains states parched in 2003, ranchers turned to the federal government for help. Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture quickly responded with what they considered an innovative plan.

They decided to dip into massive stockpiles of powdered milk that the agency had stored in warehouses nationwide as part of its milk price-support program. Livestock owners could get the protein-rich commodity free and feed it to their cattle and calves. The milk would help ranchers weather the drought while the government reduced its growing stockpile.

But within months, the program spawned a lucrative secondary market in which ranchers, feed dealers and brokers began trading the powdered milk in a daisy chain of transactions, generating millions of dollars in profits. Tens of millions of pounds of powdered milk intended solely for livestock owners in drought-stricken states went to states with no drought or were sold to middlemen in Mexico and other countries, a Washington Post investigation found.

Taxpayers paid at least $400 million for the emergency milk program, one of an array of costly relief plans crafted by Congress and the USDA to insulate farmers and ranchers from risk. In some cases, ownership of the powdered milk changed hands half a dozen times or more in a matter of days, with the price increasing each time. A commodity that started out being sold for almost nothing was soon trading for hundreds of dollars a ton. More Read the entire series here

Monday, July 17
Israel Softens Conditions for Cease-Fire
Monday, July 17 (Chicago Tribune)Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that the fighting in Lebanon would end when two Israeli soldiers were freed, rocket attacks stopped and the Lebanese army deployed along the border. But he appeared to scale back from previous demands for Hezbollah to be dismantled.
Delivering an impassioned speech to Israel's parliament after six days of fierce fighting, Olmert said Israel would have no mercy on militants who attacked its cities with rockets.

"We shall seek out every installation, hit every terrorist helping to attack Israeli citizens, destroy all the terrorist infrastructure, in every place. We shall continue this until Hezbollah does the basic and fair things required of it by every civilized person," he said. "Israel will not agree to live in the shadow of the threat of missiles or rockets against its residents."

Israeli officials have said publicly that Israel would not stop fighting until Hezbollah, a Shiite militia that controls much of south Lebanon, is dismantled. On Monday, Olmert said Hezbollah should be moved away from the border. His comments seemed to be a softening of Israel's earlier position, which could increase chances of a cease-fire. More
4:27 pmTo Paraphrase Bush, This Shit has Got to Stop

However I'm putting a little more thought into than he may be.

Ahh, that's a little unfair to W, and I apologize.

But it doesn't change that Syria now has a way to restart running Lebanaon. My wife exclamed that the Lebanese government should kick Hezbollah out. Somewhat blissfully, she's not glued to news and events like I am. When I pointed out what had happened recently in Lebanon, and that there's no real power to force Hezbollah to do anything, she understood and empathized with the situation.

We talk about "rogue states" and how they can easily be coopted by a terrorist element. We usually talk about Sudan, or some other small impoverished country with a shaky government. Well, we missed Lebanon. Every last one of us. A weak shaky governement hostiing a militarized and politicized terrorist organization. They're more than a militia, but short of a trained army. Either way, they're dangerous and they're holding a country and it's people hostage. The Israeli response, I feel, is more to reassure their people that the new PM is as aggressive as Ariel Sharon was.

Meanwhile, people on both sides are getting killed. Here are some photos. I've seen worse.

Is asking Syria to reign in Hezbollah smart? Does it make sense over the long term? Why aren't we trying to bolster the Lebanese government? Blair had a good point in bringing in an international force. But these can't be peace keepers. These guys have to be free to not just shoot back when shot at. They have to be free to hunt Hezbollah down. Strengthening and legitimizing the Lebanese government I think is the key. It's too bad that given the shit storm Bush has created in Iraq, there's no way for us to legitimately take the lead. But that's the reason why they call it the "United Nations."

Thursday, July 13
11:44 amNot Sure If This is Accurate, but the Source is Pretty Credible....

There's been a lot of hubub lately about John Dean's book "Conservatives Without Consience." For some of us on the left, the title is anti-climactic. But I've seen a couple of interviews with Dean. I've posted on his stuff, and his book "Worse than Watergate" was really good.

His new book says he's uncovered data that's been largely overlooked. That to me is a red flag. But there's a lot of info out there, and John Dean is a pretty credible guy. So here's a link to his interview with Keith Olbermann.

I think I'll pick it up and look for the studies he writes about.

Tuesday, July 11
4:11 pmBig Labor, Can Ya Hear THIS?

From Team Bring It On
For quite a while now, Ive been kicking around the idea that the workers of the Information Technology industry need to band together somehow. Right now, were the proverbial elephant tied to the wooden stake - powerful enough to pull free and do whatever the bejeezus we want, but somehow trained to believe that were unable to do so.

But at the same time, I dont want a union. Not really. At least not the sort of union that existed in the last century. I want something that exists for the dual purpose of protecting its members economic interests and rewarding their effort and ability as opposed to rewarding only seniority and mediocrity.

He has a great idea later in the piece, of which I won't speak about. But it goes directly to points I've made about unions. They have a tremendous opportunity to truly restore balance to the workplace. But saddled by a history of crime, graft, and today's problems of lazy thinking, turf wars and other infighting they are pissing good opportunities away. Whatever the metamorphosis of the union, it will not come back looking like the AFL-CIO or Teamsters. Thank God.

The Medical Malpractice Myth
Forget tort reform. The Democrats have a better diagnosis.
Tuesday, July 11 (Slate) Sens. Bill Frist and Hillary ClintonThe Republican answer to runaway health-care spending is to cap jury awards in medical malpractice suits. For the fifth time in four years, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tried and failed to cap awards at $250,000 during his self-proclaimed "Health Care Week" in May. But this time, the Democrats put a better idea on the table.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also want to save on health care. But rather than capping jury awards, they hope to cut the number of medical malpractice cases by reducing medical errors, as they explain in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. In other words, to the Republicans, suits and payouts are the ill. To the Democrats, the problem is a slew of medical injuries of which the suits are a symptom. The latest evidence shows the Democrats' diagnosis to be right. More

1:10 pmThrowing Pearls Before Swine....

From the American Prospect:
Though, on the surface, my pronouncement may seem disheartening, I must confess to finding a measure of liberation in letting go of the hope for a forceful new religious left. Over the last 20 years, I have witnessed attempts by well-meaning liberal clerics to construct various bodies and alliances in the hopes of creating a parallel movement to that of the religious right. Organizations have come together and drifted apart, leaving a trail of frustration in their wake. The fervent hope for the creation of a vigorous, cohesive religious left has amounted to a vigil for Godot -- the one who never arrives. And now I am grateful he never did.

In seeking to create a counterpart to the religious right, we tried to force our values through a narrow hole. In essence, we bought into the religious authoritarianism of the right, inferring that moral authority proceeds only from religion. In this, we have sold ourselves short.

No shit, Sherlock.

Stop trying to use religion to create an artificial left; twisting the church for political use just like the wingers do. Forming a social movement isn't like dropping Alka-Seltzer in a glass of water. You can't manufacture it. And if you think you can, you need to smack yourself in the head.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways, but it's no mystery that the intolerant and shrill tend to move away from people who'd rather worship than meddle with what goes on in other people's homes and bedrooms. It is no surprise that when a church formally adoped the spirit of the words "love one another as you would love yourself," the haters (as the kids say) started putting limits on God's love. Morons.

I like to say that organized religion is the worst thing to happen to spirituality. I stand by that phrase. Let the right wingers make politics a condition to go to heaven. Back in the day, the church at the time said you had to buy your way in. I thought we were past that. I thought we learned from our history. It's clear that movement conservatives haven't. Liberals, no matter how earnest, shouldn't follow the same path.

Gay, godly and guilty
The thoughtful new book "Straight to Jesus" reveals the torment suffered by gay Christians who entered a residential program to battle their sexual desires.
Tuesday, July 11 (Salon.com)If you were looking for evidence of how hard it is to change our fundamental sexual proclivities -- not minor aspects, like a taste for black lingerie, but the deep stuff, like whom we're attracted to -- you'd find plenty of it in Tanya Erzen's thoughtful new book, "Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement." Erzen spent 18 months hanging out with and interviewing the members and administrators of New Hope Ministry, which runs a residential program for evangelical Christian men who are "struggling with homosexuality" in the San Francisco Bay Area. She even volunteered in the ministry's office, revamping its Web site, all as fieldwork for her dissertation. (She's now assistant professor of comparative studies at Ohio State University.)

Erzen wasn't interested in collecting fodder for political battles, though, and that's what makes "Straight to Jesus" so enlightening. As an ethnographer, she made every effort to listen to and understand everyone at New Hope Ministry, whether or not she agreed with their beliefs (and it's fairly clear that most of the time she didn't). That's practically unheard of in most popular discussions of charged issues like homosexuality -- and rare in scholarly discussions, either. Nowadays, everyone's convinced that they already know everything the other side has to say and that actually having to listen to it would constitute an insupportable demand on their own patience. Everyone thinks their side of the argument never gets any exposure, yet rabid, ranting opinion of all varieties howls at us everywhere we turn.

What emerges from "Straight to Jesus" is a far more nuanced and moving picture of the "ex-gay" movement than most readers will expect. If you're like me, you probably view outfits like Love in Action and the other "reparative therapy" operations collected under the umbrella organization Exodus International as propaganda wings of the Christian right, populated by small coteries of delusional closet cases like the highly visible John Paulk. Paulk is an "ex-gay" man, married to the equally publicity-loving "ex-lesbian" Annie Paulk, but he's perhaps even better known for being photographed in a Washington, D.C., gay bar in 2001, while ostensibly living a life of irreproachable heterosexuality.

In fact, scandals involving the sex lives of ex-gay movement leaders are so common (even one of the straight leaders, Kent Philpott, got busted for fooling around with his adopted daughter), that it's hard for anyone outside the evangelical right to take them seriously. Add that to several prominent cases of parents forcing their gay teenage children into scary camps like Love in Action's Refuge, an "intensive discipleship program" -- and the fact that no reputable professional psychological organization endorses the idea that homosexuality is a mental "disorder" that can be "cured" -- and the image of a pack of dangerous cultists is cemented. More

Tuesday, July 11 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)The Mid-Session Review issued on July 11 by the White House Office of Management and Budget projects that fiscal year 2006 revenues will be significantly above and the 2006 deficit significantly below the levels forecast in the Presidents budget in February.

This years strong growth in revenues follows upon stronger-than-anticipated revenue growth in 2005.  Members of the Administration greeted the higher-than-anticipated 2005 revenue growth as reason for optimism about the economy and the budget outlook and as evidence that the Presidents tax cuts were working.  Some Administration officials, including the President and Vice President, have even stated or implied that the tax cuts are paying for themselves.  (See box below)

Administration officials are already drawing similarly optimistic conclusions from this years Mid-Session Review.  For example, President Bush commented, Some in Washington say we had to choose between cutting taxes and cutting the deficit&Today's numbers show that that was a false choice. The economic growth fueled by tax relief has helped send our tax revenues soaring.  That's what's happened.[1]  But while unexpectedly high revenues are good news for the Treasury, the budget and economic picture remains far less rosy than the Administrations claims suggest, and the tax cuts rather than paying for themselves as the Presidents comments would suggest remain a major contributor to the nations serious fiscal problems.

Revenue growth over the current business cycle has been lower than in comparable past periods; in fact, revenue growth over the current business cycle is near zero after adjusting for inflation and population growth.  Even when the stronger revenue growth now projected for 2006 is taken into account, real per-capita revenues have simply returned to the level they reached more than five years ago when the current business cycle began in March 2001.  (March 2001 was the peak, and thus the end, of the previous business cycle and the start of the current business cycle.)  In contrast, in previous post-World War II business cycles, total real per-capita revenue growth over the five and a half years following the business cycle peak has averaged about 10 percent.  Moreover, even with higher-than-anticipated revenues this year, revenues in 2006 remain about $300 billion below the levels OMB and CBO projected for this year in early 2001, and about $100 billion below those levels adjusted for the cost of the tax cuts enacted since that time. More

Deficit games
Today the Bush administration will once again claim its budget-busting tax cuts are working. And the press will once again buy it.
Tuesday, July 11 (Salon.com/BradDeLong) Suppose you are George W. Bush and you cut taxes. By how much do you have to cut spending in order to keep the budget deficit from growing? Gregory Mankiw -- chosen by Bush to chair his Council of Economic Advisers and be his chief economic advisor in 2003-2004 -- says that initially you have to cut spending by almost the entire amount of the tax cut. If you do, however, according to ex-CEA head Mankiw and most credentialed economists, you find that the economy does grow faster.

What if you cut taxes but don't cut spending? There the consensus of economists is equally clear. A tax cut without accompanying spending cuts lowers economic growth. In the end taxes must be raised, and raised to a higher level than they were before the cutting began. As Ben Bernanke -- whom Bush chose to succeed Mankiw as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and then chose again to run the Federal Reserve -- puts it: "This adverse effect of budget deficits on economic growth is probably the most important cost of deficits, and a major reason why economists advise governments to minimize their deficits."

Hold on tight to both of these views. They are consistent with those of professional economists, and are also Republican -- spotlessly Republican. They are, however, the views of reality-based Republicans, a remnant scarcer on the ground these days than wild quail.

Needless to say, the Bush administration does not heed the advice of reality-based Republicans, even the ones it hires. It's the faith-based, fuzzy-math Republicans who really call the shots, and who've scheduled a press conference in Washington Tuesday to trumpet some good economic news. This afternoon, the Bush administration will claim that because of its supply-side policies, the 2006 budget deficit will be about $300 billion, much lower than the $423 billion the Bush administration forecast last February. It will claim that its 2003 tax cuts have more than paid for themselves. It will claim that the tax cuts have accelerated economic growth enough to produce a net gain in revenue.

Does it think that reporters won't ask the obvious questions -- like, didn't you guys say back in February that your forecasts already included the effects of the 2003 tax cuts on revenue? Do you really think your audience is too stupid to realize that revisions in the forecast since February come from things that have happened since February and not from things that happened three years ago? Didn't Republicans like Dick Cheney claim that the 2001 tax cut wouldn't create a deficit, that the 1993 tax increase wouldn't reduce the deficit and that the 1981 tax cut wouldn't increase the deficit? Shouldn't people who are zero for 3 be less sure of themselves?

In fact, the Bush team has plenty of reasons to think its press conference will be a success.

The administration does think reporters won't ask the obvious questions -- or that even if they do, the stories that will get written about the press event will be "he said, she said" articles about how "experts" disagree. Paul Krugman has the best line about the elite Washington press corps' coverage of the Bush administration: If it were to announce this afternoon that the Earth was flat, tomorrow's headlines would read "Shape of Earth -- Views Differ." More For Brad's take on what ended up getting printed, click here

FBI Search of Jefferson's Office Constitutional, Judge Rules
Tuesday, July 11 (Washington Post)A federal judge in Washington ruled yesterday that the unprecedented FBI raid on Rep. William J. Jefferson's Capitol Hill office was constitutional, saying the government "demonstrated a compelling need to conduct the search" in the ongoing public corruption probe.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, in an anxiously awaited 28-page opinion, said politicians were not above the law, and he rejected arguments from the Louisiana Democrat that the search violated the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause, which protects speech and documents related to legislative activity.

"Congressman Jefferson's interpretation of the Speech or Debate privilege would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime," Hogan wrote, rejecting the request to return the seized materials.

Since March 2005, the FBI has been investigating allegations that Jefferson took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using his congressional influence to promote high-tech business ventures in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

Robert P. Trout, Jefferson's lawyer, vowed to appeal the ruling. He said he also planned to request a stay to keep the seized documents under seal pending appeal. If granted, the stay could further delay FBI investigators, who have been waiting to examine the potential evidence in the 15-month probe.

"The raid on Congressman Jefferson's office was unprecedented, unnecessary and unconstitutional," Trout said in a statement, adding that "we respectfully disagree" with the judge's ruling. More Read the ruling here

Detainees to Get Protections Under Geneva Conventions
Tuesday, July 11 (Washington Post)The Bush administration, in an apparent policy reversal sparked by a recent Supreme Court ruling, said today it will extend the guarantees of humane treatment specified by the Geneva Conventions to detainees in the war-on-terror.

In a memo released by the Pentagon this morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, citing the Supreme Court's decision, ordered all Pentagon personnel to "adhere to these standards" and to "promptly review" all policies and practices "to ensure that they comply with the standards" of the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3.

Since 2001, the administration has argued that the Geneva Conventions would be respected as a matter of policy but that they did not apply by law. The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, rejected that view.

White House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed the new approach, according to wire service reports, saying that while detainees have been treated humanely, "we want to get it right. . . . It's not really a reversal of policy." Snow called the Supreme Court decision "complex."

But in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Steven Bradbury, acting assistant attorney general, stated that the court has indeed "imposed another baseline standard . . . that we must now interpret and implement."

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon provided any immediate details as to what would be done differently or how the decision would effect the controversial policies on interrogation, which have provoked an international outcry as well as considerable domestic controversy. More

Wednesday, July 5
4:54 pmGo Bulls.

See below, from today's Chicago Tribune:

Gritty Wallace the answer to Bulls' manhunt
It took about eight years, but the Bulls finally got what they were looking for.

A man.

Not a kid in adult's clothing. Not someone in need of tutoring. Not someone whose currency is his upside.

A man.

Fear the 'Fro? No, Fear the Pro.

I don't know if the Bulls are instant championship contenders now that Ben Wallace has agreed to a four-year contract.

I just know that they no longer lead the NBA in prom-eligible players. I know they will be defined by Wallace rather than coach Scott Skiles. When your grittiest performer is the guy in the suit and tie barking out instructions from the bench, it's not the best thing.

They tried Charles Oakley. They tried Scottie Pippen. They tried Antonio Davis. All of the players the Bulls brought in for leadership over the last several years were well beyond their prime.

It's one thing to stroke your whiskers and tell young players how you used to do it. It's another to knock the opposing center silly going for a rebound. Wallace will lead by example, by playing well, by sweating. And his teammates had better behave.

You know what Bulls players should say every time Wallace walks into the locker room?

Papa's home.

Damn skippy.

Jewish family flees Delaware school district's aggressive Christianity
Wednesday, July 5 (JewsonFirst)A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they're suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from "state-sponsored religion."

The behavior of the Indian River School District board suggests the families' fears are hardly groundless.

The district spreads over a considerable portion of southern Delaware. The families' complaint, filed in federal court in February 2005, alleges that the district had created an "environment of religious exclusion" and unconstitutional state-sponsored religion.

Among numerous specific examples in the complaint was what happened at plaintiff Samantha Dobrich's graduation in 2004 from the district's high school. She was the only Jewish student in her graduating class. The complaint relates that local pastor, Jerry Fike, in his invocation, followed requests for "our heavenly Father's" guidance for the graduates with:

I also pray for one specific student, that You be with her and guide her in the path that You have for her. And we ask all these things in Jesus' name.

In addition to the ruined graduation experience, the Dobrich-Doe lawsuit alleges that:

* The district's "custom and practice of school-sponsored prayer" was frequently imposed "on impressionable non-Christian students," which violated their constitutional rights.
* The district ignored the Supreme Court's 1992 Lee decision limiting prayer at graduation ceremonies -- even after a district employee complained about the prayer at her child's 2003 graduation..
* District teachers and staff led Bible clubs at several schools. Club members got to go to the head of the lunch line.
* While Bible clubs were widely available, student book clubs were rare and often canceled by the district.
* When Jane Doe complained that her non-Christian son "Jordan Doe" was left alone when his classmates when to Bible club meetings, district staff insisted that Jordan should attend the club, regardless of his religion.
* The district schools attended by Jordan and his sister "Jamie Doe" distributed Bibles to students in 2003, giving them time off from class to pick up the books.
* Prayer --often sectarian -- is a routine part of district sports programs and social events
* One of the district's middle schools gave students the choice of attending a special Bible Club if they did not want to attend a lesson on evolution.
* A middle school teacher told students there was only "one true religion" and gave them pamphlets for his surfing ministry.
* Samantha Dobrich's honors English teacher frequently discussed Christianity, but no other religion.
* Students frequently made mandatory appearances at district board meetings -- where they were a captive audience for board members' prayers to Jesus.

The Dobriches said the prayers to Jesus' ruined the graduation experience for Samantha. Mona Dobrich, Samantha's mother, repeatedly called district officials to complain. A board member told her she would have to get the matter put on a meeting agenda -- then refused to put it on the agenda. The school superintendent slipped the topic onto the agenda and then told Mona Dobrich she would need to raise it during the public comment period. More

Divided We Stand
Once upon a time, we shared certain ideals and aspirations. Today, its every man for himself.
Wednesday, July 5 (The American Prospect)When I was growing up, a long time ago, there was a kids nursery rhyme that went like this:

I went up a higgy-higgy mountain
And I saw some higgy-higgy people
Some were red and some were blue
Which color do you love the best?

It was a simple counting game used to determine who would be "It" in a game of tag or who would seek during a game of hide-and-seek. Who could have imagined that it would be a parable that anticipated the state of American politics at the beginning of the 21st century? This week, as a rain-soaked Washington began to dry off and wildfires blazed out West, I was struck by how simple, and impossible to solve, the Democratic Party's problems are.

Every thing the party stands for -- from raising the minimum wage to its renewed embrace of the lofty idea of "Common Good" -- is based on the idea that we are a single, united people with common ideals and aspirations, and that we're all in this together.

The problem, of course, is that we don't believe that. We are not all in this together. We, the people, would like to form a more perfect union with people our own kind, and everybody else -- those who are the cause of the problems anyway -- can go to hell. More
Sen. Clinton Hedges Lieberman Support
Wednesday, July 5 (Washington Post)Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), a longtime supporter of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, said Tuesday that she will not back the Connecticut Democrat's bid for reelection if he loses their party's primary.

"I've known Joe Lieberman for more than 30 years. I have been pleased to support him in his campaign for reelection, and hope that he is our party's nominee," the former first lady said in a statement issued by aides.
U.S. Congress
"But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary," Clinton added. "I believe in the Democratic Party, and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters."

Facing a stronger-than-expected Democratic primary challenge from millionaire businessman Ned Lamont and sagging poll numbers because of his support of the Iraq war, Lieberman said Monday he will collect signatures to ensure a ballot spot as an independent for the November election if he loses the Aug. 8 primary. More

10:43 amFrom the Department of Karma, God's Eternal Justice Division

I know the wingers think that God will strike gays and Democrats dead because of what they do. But God is wiser than your run of the mill Republican. He saves it for people like this:

Enron Founder Ken Lay Dead of Heart Attack(Washington Post)
The recently convicted former Enron chairman Kenneth L. Lay, 64, died early today in Aspen, Colo., a family spokeswoman and the sheriff's office said. Lay, convicted of fraud and conspiracy for his part in the Houston-based energy company's collapse, faced the possibility of life in prison at his sentencing scheduled for October.

Family spokeswoman Kelly Kimberly said Lay died of a heart attack. A statement from the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office said deputies and an ambulance were sent to Lay's vacation home in Old Snowmass at 1:41 a.m. for "a medical emergency."

"Mr. Lay was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:11 a.m.," the statement said. "A coroner's autopsy is pending," the statement said.

"The Lays have a very large family with whom they need to communicate, and out of respect for the family we will release further details at a later time," a statement from the Lay family said.

On Friday, federal prosecutors asked a judge to order Lay and former fellow Enron executive Jeffrey K. Skilling to turn over $182.2 million in assets, arguing that their homes and other assets were acquired by fraud.

In May, a federal jury convicted Lay of each of the half-dozen counts with which he was charged and found his protege Skilling guilty of 19 more, pinning them with the responsibility for one of the era's biggest and most damaging business frauds. The two men were ordered to return to court for sentencing on October 23, 2006.

I do wish his family well. But there are some things in life that, if you choose to do them, you shouldn't be surprised to get some payback.

Bush Signaling Shift in Stance on Immigration
Wednesday, July 5 (New York Times)On the eve of nationwide hearings that could determine the fate of his immigration bill, President Bush is signaling a new willingness to negotiate with House Republicans in an effort to revise the stalled legislation before Election Day.

Republicans both inside and outside the White House say Mr. Bush, who has long insisted on comprehensive reform, is now open to a so-called enforcement-first approach that would put new border security programs in place before creating a guest worker program or path to citizenship for people living in the United States illegally.

"He thinks that this notion that you can have triggers is something we should take a close look at, and we are," said Candi Wolff, the White House director of legislative affairs, referring to the idea that guest worker and citizenship programs would be triggered when specific border security goals had been met, a process that could take two years.

The shift is significant because Mr. Bush has repeatedly said he favors legislation like the Senate's immigration bill, which establishes border security, guest worker and citizenship programs all at once. The enforcement-first approach puts Mr. Bush one step closer to the House, where Republicans are demanding an enforcement-only measure.

"The willingness to consider a phased-in situation, that's a pretty big concession from where they were at," said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, whose closeness to Mr. Bush dates to his days as a top Republican National Committee official. "It's a suggestion they are willing to negotiate."

In a sign of that willingness, the White House last week invited a leading conservative proponent of an enforcement-first bill, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, to present his ideas to Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the Oval Office.

Ms. Wolff said the president found the Pence plan "pretty intriguing."

In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Pence said the president used precisely those words in their talk. Mr. Pence said that the meeting was scheduled to last 10 or 20 minutes but went on for 40, and that the president "was quite adamant throughout the meeting to make the point that he hoped I would be encouraged." More

Monday, July 3
12:21 pmWell, this Pretty Much Sums Up the New York Times Flap

Looks like the Wingers are speading some of that anti-abortion ire to journalists.

Friday, June 30
When A Net Neutrality Tie Is A Win
Friday, June 30 (TPM Cafe)The news stories following the Senate Commerce Committee vote on Net Neutrality pictured it as a defeat for the forces of good. Don't believe it. Even though the Net Neutrality amendment failed on a tie vote, we got ourselves into a good position for the rest of the game.

The real bad news is that the giveaway to America's biggest companies continues.

There wasn't a lot to cheer about yesterday when the Senate Commerce Committee approved a new monster of a telecom bill. The draft started out at 159 pages, and after all of the amendments are added up, who knows how much more material the forces for smaller government will have added to it.

This much we do know. As one comes to expect from these things, the big corporations got pretty much what they wanted. The movie companies got the right to set the rules for what consumers can do with over-the-air digital TV signals and the authority for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enforce Hollywood's business plans. The shorthand for this issue is the "broadcast flag," the name for the bits in the signal that will tell your electronics what your rights are. The bill, if it ever became law, would overturn a case brought by Public Knowledge, (my day-job employer), which beat back the FCC's broadcast-flag rule in court last year.

The record companies got the right to use the FCC to cripple the satellite and terrestrial digital radio businesses by curtailing consumers' ability to store music. It was unfortunate that neither of these items, the broadcast flag or its radio counterpart, was at all controversial when the Committee discussed the bill over the course of three days.

The telephone companies got the right to get into the video business quickly, without a requirement that they actually serve an entire franchising area and without pesky local oversight. The cable companies got the right to get out from pesky local oversight when their current franchises run out. The cellular companies, largely owned by the phone companies, got themselves exempted from state consumer protections. Such a deal for all -- consumers excepted.

Ah, but then we come to Net Neutrality, which sucked the oxygen out of the rest of the debate. For the record, the amendment by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) failed on an 11-to-11 tie. Somehow this was portrayed in many news stories as a defeat for the tech industry. Don't believe it. More

A Governing Philosophy Rebuffed
Ruling Emphasizes Constitutional Boundaries
Friday, June 30 (Washington Post)For five years, President Bush waged war as he saw fit. If intelligence officers needed to eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls without warrants, he authorized it. If the military wanted to hold terrorism suspects without trial, he let it.

Now the Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country. In rejecting Bush's military tribunals for terrorism suspects, the high court ruled that even a wartime commander in chief must govern within constitutional confines significantly tighter than this president has believed appropriate.

For many in Washington, the decision echoed not simply as a matter of law but as a rebuke of a governing philosophy of a leader who at repeated turns has operated on the principle that it is better to act than to ask permission. This ethos is why many supporters find Bush an inspiring leader, and why many critics in this country and abroad react so viscerally against him.

At a political level, the decision carries immediate ramifications. It provides fodder to critics who turned Guantanamo Bay into a metaphor for an administration run amok. Now lawmakers may have to figure out how much due process is enough for suspected terrorists, hardly the sort of issue many would be eager to engage in during the months before an election.

That sort of back-and-forth process is just what Bush has usually tried to avoid as he set about to prosecute an unconventional war against an elusive enemy after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He asserted that in this new era, a president's inherent constitutional authority was all that was needed. Lawmakers and judges largely deferred to him, with occasional exceptions, such as the Supreme Court two years ago when it limited the administration's ability to detain suspects indefinitely. More

Obama's Eloquent Faith
Friday, June 30 (Washington Post)Many Democrats discovered God in the 2004 exit polls.

Specifically, they looked at the importance of religious voters to President Bush's majority and decided: We need some of those folks. Off Democrats went to their Bibles, finding every verse they could -- there are many -- describing the imperative to help the poor, battle injustice and set the oppressed free.

Now, human beings often find God in unexpected places, so why shouldn't the exit polls be this era's answer to the burning bush? And a lot of Democrats insist, fairly, that they were people of faith long before the results of 2004 were tabulated.

Yet there is often a terrible awkwardness among Democratic politicians when their talk turns to God, partly because they also know how important secular voters are to their coalition. When it comes to God, it's hard to triangulate.

So, when a religious Democrat speaks seriously about the relationship of faith to politics, the understandable temptation is to see him as counting not his blessings but his votes. Thus did the Associated Press headline its early stories about Barack Obama's speech to religious progressives on Wednesday: "Obama: Democrats Must Court Evangelicals." More
Thursday, June 29
5:18 pmThe Obama Speech

Illinois Senator Barack Obama made a speech at the Call to Renewal Conference, sponsored by Sojourner's. I'm a big fan of Obama and Jim Wallis. Lately, there's been a lib dustup because of his words. I've talked about the need for Dems to realize that there are liberals that go to church, pray, and honor God. They are not closet GOP'ers. People in our party sometimes--often pooh-pooh's them because of that. Not good.

But here's the link to Obama's words, in a podcast. Listen to them, and try not to draw conclusions until you've finished. I understand that smart and outspoken people sometimes start talking about conclusions they THINK are there before they actually listen to what is said. At least my wife tells me that at times. Enjoy.

Unwanted Pregnancies Rise for Poor Women
Rate Drops for Those Well Above Poverty Level, Report Indicates
Thursday, June 29 (Washington Post)Poor women in America are increasingly likely to have unwanted pregnancies, whereas relatively affluent women are succeeding more and more in getting pregnant only when they want to, according to a study analyzing federal statistics.

As a result of the growing disparity, women living in poverty are now almost four times more likely to become pregnant unintentionally than women of greater means, the study found.

Based on nationwide data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and other sources, the researchers found that from 1994 through 2001, the rate of unplanned pregnancies increased by almost 30 percent for women below the federal poverty line -- now defined as $16,000 annually for a family of three. For women in families comfortably above poverty, the rate of unplanned pregnancies fell by 20 percent during the same period.

The abortion rate also rose among poor women while declining among the more affluent.

"Clearly, something is changing, and it doesn't bode well in terms of unplanned pregnancies and abortions for poor women, in particular," said Heather Boonstra, one of the authors of the report.

Asked what was driving the trends, the authors noted that some state and federal reproductive health programs have been cut or made more restrictive in recent years. State and federal programs have increasingly focused on abstinence
rather than contraception, and some analysts have argued that the shift is leading to less use of contraceptives and more unintended pregnancies. More

Ed note:
this is a sad and heartbreaking story. Real people having to live through the the real results of pointless bloviating by the religious right.

Perhaps the only way to truly excise ourselves of this brand of republicanism is to fight where we can, but to just live through it. They'll do damage, yes. But I really think that they are moving themselves to a tipping point much faster than any political movement in the nation's history. They are so thirsty for power, so greedy for money, and so outwardsly willing to twist people's lives in the name of God that the speed in which they move will be their downfall. Today's problems won't end with Bush, as there's no original thinking in the party. Whoever comes after him, if GOP, will be more of the same. Even McCain.

We can and should fight where we could. But we should be ready to ride this one out, as they have the controls. If the ultra-rightist governments of South America fell, so will America's ultra-right. Nobody rules forever.

Thursday, June 29 (Washington Monthly)Here's another take on whether the New York Times damaged national security by exposing the Treasury Department's terror finance tracking program. In The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind spends a lot of time describing the way U.S. intelligence tracked global money flows after 9/11, including accounts of the cooperation they got from Western Union (wire transfers), First Data Corporation (credit card records), and the takeover of a "money store" in Pakistan. He doesn't mention the SWIFT program specifically, but he makes it clear that U.S. teams had their fingers in a lot of financial pies and had a considerable amount of success with it.

But only for a while: More

Freedom's not just another word
George Lakoff, bestselling author of "Don't Think of an Elephant," says that liberals have foolishly allowed conservatives to claim ownership of "freedom" -- even though the progressive version is the one Americans actually believe in.
Thursday, June 29 (Salon.com)A recurring gag on "The Daily Show" involves a series of short clips of appearances by various advocates of the Bush administration on assorted news programs; the joke is that they all use the same buzzwords -- "cut-and-run" is the latest example -- with a robotic uniformity. The laughter this routine gets comes partly from the way it makes the conservatives seem like automatons, and partly from the sheer obviousness of the ploy. What makes them think we're so dumb? George Lakoff, a University of California at Berkeley linguistics professor who has lately taken to advising the left on how to better convey its political message, would probably reply, "What makes you think you're so smart?"

Lakoff's latest book, "Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea," doesn't offer a material advance on his earlier works on political culture, "Moral Politics" (1996) and the how-to manual "Don't Think of an Elephant," which became a bestseller in 2004. "Whose Freedom?" focuses on the one key concept in its title and elaborates on all the ways that progressives can reclaim the idea of freedom from the right and present their political approach as more true to traditional American ideals of liberty. Conservatives, Lakoff argues, have used the media to imprint their version of "freedom" in the public's mind -- literally in the circuits of our brains -- using a canny understanding of how political language shapes political beliefs and the very same numbing repetition that "The Daily Show" mocks.

People on the left tend to regard Lakoff either as a prophet preaching the way out of the wilderness or as a psychobabble-spouting ivory towerist who caters to the self-help mind-set of cloistered liberals instead of advocating roll-up-your-sleeves organizing. The truth is probably in the middle, because Lakoff is right when he observes that American political behavior seldom follows the directives of rational self-interest and that a lot of our thinking transpires unconsciously. The dopey repetition that we chuckle over watching "The Daily Show" uses the same technique employed by the show's advertisers, a litany that sneaks into our heads despite our knowing skepticism. (And what skeptics could be more knowing than Jon Stewart fans?) It works. Otherwise, the corporate advertisers -- no fools -- wouldn't be paying so much for it. More

Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo War Crimes Trials
In 5-3 Decision, Justices Rebuke Bush's Anti-Terror Policy
Thursday, June 29 (Washington Post)The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions are unconstitutional.

In a 5-3 decision, the court said the trials were not authorized under U.S. law or the Geneva Conventions. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion in the case, called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recused himself from the case.

The ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court decision in which Roberts had participated, represented a defeat for President Bush, who had ordered military trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. About 450 detainees captured in the war on terrorism are currently held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a 36-year-old Yemeni with links to al-Qaeda, was considered a key test of the judiciary's power during wartime and carried the potential to make a lasting impact on American law. It challenged the very legality of the military commissions established by President Bush to try terrorism suspects.

The case raised core constitutional principles of separation of powers as well as fundamental issues of individual rights. Specifically, the questions concerned: More

Read the opinion here

Wednesday, June 28
1:33 pmSpeaking of the Environment

Something else that kills me about GOP'ers. The environment and the current talk of global warming. Naturally they don't believe in it. But you'd think they'd take stock and see that they didn't think that air pollution, or water pollution was a threat. They didn't think that lead paint was a big enough threat to outlaw. They thought that asbestos was an attempt by trial lawyers to make money off business. They thought that the ozone layer was the film you put on bowls to keep things fresh. Republicans have been on the wrong side of environmental issues more often than not. And, unlike most political issues, it's easy to see, breathe and drink the results of sound environmental policy.

But it fits in with the big thinking in today's GOP. They don't think hard about solving problems with government. They don't even think hard about using the market to solve problems. If they did, I'm sure we'd be a better climate because some GOP thinker came up with a way to make money off fixing the environment. But in today's GOP, it's better to spend time and money thinking of ways to do nothing. Better yet, to do even less.

If only I could get paid to think of these things. I'd be the greatest "conservative" ever!

Here's something I've noticed. When we've been living under adminstrations that tout the the strengths of the free market and how it can "set us free," why are the problems it solves, if any seem not to matter to everyday folk? During the Reagan era, the market was supposed to help clean up the environment. Don't think that happened, as the Clintons came in and left 8 years later with the cleanest air and water in a generation. Bush is in, and immediately sets the stage for a return to smog with the Orwellian Clean Skies Act.

I just don't get them. Doing nothing is not a conservative principle. It's lazy.

Shocking and Discouraging: Bush, Corporate Power and the Environment An Insiders View
Wednesday, June 28 (Multinational Monitor)Eric Schaeffer is the founder and director of the Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C. Schaeffer directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Regulatory Enforcement until 2002, when he resigned after publicly expressing his frustration with efforts of the Bush administration to weaken enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other laws. The Office of Regulatory Enforcement has primary responsibility for enforcing clean air, clean water and hazardous waste laws.

Multinational Monitor: Why did you leave your job at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?
Eric Schaeffer: I left because the political interference with enforcement that came in with Bush Jr. was, I thought, pretty shocking and discouraging. It got to where I felt like I couldn't really do my job effectively, and I thought for me personally it made more sense to join the loyal opposition and go public with my concerns.

I've got friends who are still at the agency who are fighting the good fight, from the inside, trying to do their jobs. I have a lot of respect for them -- I don't suggest that everybody there should resign. It was a personal choice for me.

MM: Did the interference you feel come on general policy grounds or on specific cases?
Schaeffer: Mostly on general policy grounds.

The most notorious examples come from the Clean Air Act, and from the lawsuits that we had filed against big power companies. We had filed a series of lawsuits against big power companies for violating the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. That's a law that says you can't modify an old coal-fired power plant or refinery in a way that substantially increases emissions without first getting a permit and putting on pollution controls.

It's a very important law because a lot of power plants and refineries and manufacturers are grandfathered under the Clean Air Act. That means they don't have the emission controls that we've required of new plants for the last 30 years.

These plants are grandfathered until they undergo a physical modification, at which point the law says your grandfathering exemption is up and you have to come in for a permit and upgrade your pollution controls. We saw too many examples of power companies in particular, but also some other industries, ignoring that law and pushing emissions up. So we brought these lawsuits and we started negotiations.

The Cheney task force was established in the spring of 2001, and started with a focus on energy policy, but included a look at the Clean Air Act and sort of a directive to the agency to re-visit the New Source Review, the law that we were trying to enforce. Over the course of the summer, it became pretty clear that they were really going to cut that particular provision -- this was at a time when we had cases in court against power companies for violating the very same laws they were proposing to eliminate. I found that disturbing.

A second example involves the agriculture industry. We had started to issue orders to test their air emissions to the large industrialized farms. We're talking about huge, huge operations, on an industrial scale, where you have a million or more chickens housed in a series of barns or 50,000 to 60,000 hogs raised in one operation. We had started to issue the orders to test their air emissions because we had people living around those sites complaining, and apparently being made sick by the odors and the emissions that you get when you pack so many animals together in a small space.

We thought we were making some headway. We were starting to see a little bit of response in the industry.

But we were ordered to stop doing that in August of 2001. That was pretty discouraging.

MM: Did the pressure you felt come exclusively from the Cheney energy task force? More

Nuke the Messenger
Wednesday, June 28 (Washington Post)In accusing the press -- and specifically, the New York Times -- of putting American lives at risk, President Bush and his allies have escalated their ongoing battle with the media to nuclear proportions.

Here's what Bush had to say yesterday: "We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America."

Here's Vice President Cheney: "The New York Times has now made it more difficult for us to prevent attacks in the future."

Here's press secretary Tony Snow: "The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know, in some cases, might overwrite somebody's right to live, and whether, in fact, the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans."

It's a monstrous charge for the White House to suggest that the press is essentially aiding and abetting the enemy. But where's the evidence?

The White House first began leveling this kind of accusation immediately after a New York Times story revealed a massive, secret domestic spying program conducted without congressional or judicial oversight. See, for instance, Bush's December 17, 2005 radio address , in which he said the disclosure put "our citizens at risk."

But not once has the White House definitively answered this question: How are any of these disclosures actually impairing the pursuit of terrorists?

Terrorists already knew the government was trying to track them down through their finances, their phone calls and their e-mails. Within days of the Sept. 11 attacks, for instance, Bush publicly declared open season on terrorist financing.

As far as I can tell, all these disclosures do is alert the American public to the fact that all this stuff is going on without the requisite oversight, checks and balances.

How does it possibly matter to a terrorist whether the government got a court order or not? Or whether Congress was able to exercise any oversight? The White House won't say. In fact, it can't say.

By contrast, it does matter to us. More

House says no to permanent bases in Iraq
Wednesday, June 28 (UPI)The House of Representatives has passed a bill barring the U.S. military from establishing permanent bases in Iraq.

The 2007 Defense Authorization Act, approved by the House Wednesday, includes language sponsored by Democratic war critic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, banning the United States from negotiating for permanent bases with the government of Iraq. Language to that effect was included in both versions of the Senate and House emergency war supplemental but was stripped out during conference earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, introduced an amendment deleting the permanent basing language. It was defeated by a vote of 50-376. More

Wednesday, June 28 (The New Republic)In the long march of the conservative ascendancy, Folk Songs to Bug the Liberals, the 1964 LP by the satirical conservative quartet the Goldwaters, was only a blip. Four Tennessee college students put on "AuH2O" shirts and recorded an album of songs like "Down in Havana," "Barry's Moving In," and "Row Our Own Boat." They dropped out of school to warm up crowds before Goldwater campaign appearances. The record reportedly sold some 200,000 copies. The Goldwaters were never heard from again. I suggest a critical reconsideration. 

Ask a conservative activist to explain what anchors and unites their fractious movement, and he will point to ideas: to weighty tomes by Eric Voegelin, Russell Kirk, Wilhelm Roepke, Edmund Burke; to the development of the philosophy of "fusionism," by which the furrow-browed theorists at National Review cogitated their way past the conflicts between the traditionalist, libertarian, and anti-communist strains of the American right. They will make it sound almost as if the 87 percent of Mississippians who voted for Barry Goldwater did so after a stretch of all-nighters in the library. 

They will not mention an illustration popular among college conservatives in the 1960s: a peace symbol-shaped B-52 bomber with the words drop it on the wings. Nor will they discuss the annual "McCarthy-Evjue" lecture that student conservatives in Wisconsin (among them, present-day right-wing luminaries David Keene of the American Conservative Union and Alfred Regnery, formerly of Regnery Publishing) put on to honor their favorite Wisconsin senator and to mock William Evjue, the editor of the Madison newspaper William F. Buckley labeled "Prairie Pravda." (They advertised the lecture on pink paper.) They will not mention the Southern Californians who flocked to church basements, high school auditoriums, and VFW halls to hear hellfire-and-brimstone lecturers like World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, author of The Socialistic Sixteenth--A National Cancer, or the Reverend Billy James Hargis ("Is the Schoolhouse the Proper Place To Teach Raw Sex?"). More