Kindred Spirits Fair and Balance
A Blog for Political Activists in East North Carolina
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Global Peace and Justice Discussion Group
Passing along an invitation from Robert Scull:
Please join us for the next round of arm chair dialogue with other concerned neighbors in the next meeting of the Global Peace and Justice Discussion Group. We are now meeting every Monday (including Labor Day) at 7PM in the Unitarian Fellowship Hall in New Bern. The Fellowship Hall is located on Glenburnie Road in the small shopping center directly behind the Bern Restaurant. Don't miss this opportunity! Please bring your most interesting magazine articles or books and don't forget to bring your own refreshments.
It's no secret that Wayne & I are Howard Dean fans. Here's a very positive article about where he is positioned now vis a vis the other candidates, from today's L.A. Times:
With a Pile of Money, Dean Ups the Ante
I have an unpleasant confession to make. I am a Southerner. Born in the south of southern parents, with Confederate veterans and slaveowners on both sides of the family tree. For all I know, there may even be a few Klansman hanging in the lower branches as well -- by their necks, I hope.
I'm also, in some deep subterranean sense, a racist -- for one cannot grow up in the world of my childhood and not be marked by its imprint. Believe me, I know: I've spent my entire life trying to get away from it.
...But there's another argument about this administration, and about the Republican Party in general, that needs to be made, because this argument can alter presumptions about the two parties that have existed for at least a generation and can change the way the parties are seen well into the future. And it is this: The Republicans are total incompetents.
Republicans, at least since the 1980 election, have gotten lots of mileage out of billing themselves as the party of competence. They knew how to deal with the Russkies. They understood a budget. They knew how to crack down on the crooks and hoodlums. They understood the bottom line, and they knew what was right for America. The Democrats, meanwhile, were supposedly more interested in their dainty little social-engineering schemes than in success. Lots of people bought all of this, and of course there was a little bit of truth to it -- then. But the labels stuck hard. Democrats still have to take dramatic steps to prove their competence while Republicans are presumed -- by the mainstream media, anyway -- to possess it until they demonstrate otherwise.
Now it looks like a civil war is brewing in Iraq and the Bush administration and the neoconservatives seems unable to offer any credible solutions. Didn’t the so-called Anti-American, Anti-War groups warn Mr. Bush about these things?
"Still, even the government of a superpower can't simultaneously offer tax cuts equal to 15 percent of revenue, provide all its retirees with prescription drugs and single-handedly take on the world's evildoers — single-handedly because we've alienated our allies. In fact, given the size of our budget deficit, it's not clear that we can afford to do even one of these things. Someday, when the grown-ups are back in charge, they'll have quite a mess to clean up. "
On the witness stand yesterday (this paragraph copied from today's Washington Post story):
"The report had unfairly transformed the debate over the war," Blair said. "The whole thing has been not did the government make the wrong decision [to go to war], but did the government dupe us, did the government in effect defraud people over it," he said. "I mean, we're three months on and it's still the issue." "It was an extraordinary allegation to make and an extremely serious one," said Blair, adding, "Had the allegation been true, it would have merited my resignation."
WASHINGTON, Aug 24 (AFP) - The top US general Sunday admitted US forces are stretched thin but could find more troops for Iraq if needed, as the US administration touted the country as a frontline in its war on terrorism.
…We are stretched thin, but we have more troops to send (to Iraq)," General Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told NBC television. "We have other ways to do that."
…Myers insisted the 150,000 US and British troops in Iraq were enough to do the job, and said reservists could be called if US commanders in Iraq requested more forces.
Three Senators now want more “boots” and money to pour into the quagmire called Iraq.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 — Senior senators from both parties urged the Bush administration today to send thousands more American troops to Iraq and said many billions more dollars were needed to stabilize and rebuild that country and Afghanistan
Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican who was in Baghdad the day the United Nations headquarters was bombed, said that "at least another division," about 18,000 American troops, was needed. "Time is not on our side," he added on the NBC News program "Meet the Press."
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, appearing on the same program, put the need at 40,000 to 60,000 more troops, a substantial increase over the current 139,000.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who accompanied Mr. McCain on his trip, said that while he considered the troop level in Iraq to be sufficient, billions of dollars of additional spending is required there and in Afghanistan.
"I am a fiscal conservative, and we're in debt," Mr. Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "But the infrastructure needs in Afghanistan and Iraq are billions. We are underestimating the cost of this conflict, and we in the House and the Senate need to appropriate a lot more money."
How come a conservative like Mr. Graham never say something like “ I am a fiscal conservative, and we are in debt, but the infrastructure needs in rural and urban America are great, and so we in the Senate and the House needs to appropriate a lot more money”. How come?
BLITZER: Ambassador Bremer, thanks very much for joining us in that very hot weather over there in Baghdad.
Let's get to a hot issue right now. Who is responsible for blowing up the U.N. headquarters compound in Baghdad?
PAUL BREMER, CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: Well, you could make one of two guesses: either ex- Saddam-types, you know, the killers from Fedayeen Saddam, or possibly an international terrorist group. I suppose you could also argue it could be a combination of the two.
I think it's a bit early to know, Wolf. We're not even a week into the investigation at this point.
Whats this again about National Security being George W’s strong suit?
Note: The following letter is from Roger Eaton, who plans to challenge Congressman Walter Jones for the 3 Congressional seat in 2004
The 2004 general election is quickly approaching and Democrats in our district will soon have the opportunity to unseat a conservative Republican; who since 1994 has consistently chosen to represent special interests over the interests of the hard-working citizens of Eastern North Carolina. In fact, working together we will not only replace this out-of-touch Republican, but will also fundamentally transform the role of a congressman.
At some point during the past 225 years, our Congress changed from a body primarily made up of true representatives – people who seek to ascertain and support the will of the voters – to a body largely composed of professional politicians. These politicians are beholden to the special interests and the money their lobbyists spend to ensure their perpetual re-election. Consequently average voters and their best interests are left out of the political process. This is fundamentally wrong.
In 2004, we need to send to Washington, D.C., a representative totally committed to fighting for the people of the 3rd District, not for the person, organization, or group contributing the most money to his campaign fund. I intend to be that person, and I want to explain how.
I am proposing that we as Democrats support what I call voters rights; which is comprised of two fundamental principles that I intend to be the very heart of my campaign.
First, is the idea of being a real representative of the people. I will do this by not accepting any campaign money from outside our district and by refusing to accept any money from political action committees (PACs) or from lobbyists. If a person is going to claim to be a representative of the people, all of the money he or she spends on an election campaign should only come from within that district.
Second, the voters of the district should expect to be kept informed of what is being done on their behalf by the person they elect. If elected, I will do this by developing and placing on the Internet a web site that includes concise, easily understood explanations of all bills proposed and discussed on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. This site will also make perfectly clear my stance on each of these bills, and the reasons why I formulated my position. Registered voters will be able to log on to the site and will be able to easily offer any comments or ask any questions about a bill or any issue of importance. The people of the district have a right to know how their representative stands on all issues before Congress; they should not learn of his stance only in a 30-second sound bite aired in a slick campaign ad at election time.
When I am elected, I will further ensure open, two-way communications and easy access to myself and to my staff by scheduling regular town hall meetings, open to anyone, at convenient locations within the district. Regularly scheduled meetings within the district will also give people who are interested the opportunity to simply express concerns, pose questions and get answers and explanations about what is going on in Washington.
Congress is in session only three days each week; that leaves plenty of time for any representative to return to the district, meet with constituents, and be held accountable for his actions.
I believe it is only natural that the Democratic Party takes the lead in fighting for voters’ rights. After all, our party was formed to fight for the Bill of Rights; and we will reaffirm our traditional fight for the ordinary voter in the 2004 election.
If you would like to volunteer for my campaign, please direct e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To help financially, please mail correspondence to:
Eaton For Congress, P.O. Box 674, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.
I pledge to run my campaign according to the concepts outlined above. If we are to succeed, now is the time to begin our effort. Together, we can take back our seat in the House of Representatives and set an example for other districts across our great country.
Newsweek's new poll shows, for the first time, less than half of those surveyed supporting the re-election of GWBush. An interesting article discusses Bush's new political realities, but we should prepare ourselves for more Bush rhetoric. For example, "In a speech to the American Legion in St. Louis, the president will `put Iraq in the larger context of the war between civilization and evil,' says a top White House aide. Those who oppose the war take a `pacifist view' he says, `and we're willing to have that debate.' Translation: bring 'em on."
Click here to read the rest of the article entitled "Tangled up in his flight suit." You can offer your opinions on their poll questions (interestingly, the on-line voting is running about 3 to 1 against Bush & his war.) When I clicked the link, there was a large ad running down the right side of the page, just beside the large, vacant-as-usual picture of the Commander in Chief -- the ad asks in large letters, "What's your IQ?"
A second Newsweek article entitled "Groping in the Dark" paints a negative picture of how the US effort in Iraq is going at this point. Click here to see that article.
Finally, Newsweek has an interview with a woman who acted as a "human shield" in Iraq. Under current US law, she is being fined $10,000 for going to Iraq; she may be fined up to $1million and imprisoned for up to 12 years for going. Her testimony about her experiences is well worth reading. Here's the link.
(These comments refer to the September 1, 2003 issue of Newsweek.)
Feel like you're living inside a George Orwell novel? Today's Washington Post says Bush claims we had to fight the war for peace in the Middle East:
"The matter is politically important to Bush because he has made the peaceful transformation of the Middle East the main justification for war in Iraq. With the failure to find forbidden weapons in Iraq, Bush and his aides have said the invasion of Iraq will allow it to become the linchpin of a stable and democratic Middle East. In one version of this argument, Bush said last week that in deciding to go to war in Iraq, he made "a tough decision to make the world more peaceful." "
Who says liberals have no sense of humor? Doug Phelps sent us this one from today's NY Times:
Paul Newman Is Still HUD By PAUL NEWMAN
The Fox News Network is suing Al Franken, the political satirist, for using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book. In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever.
Unreliable sources report that the Fox suit has inspired Paul Newman, the actor, to file a similar suit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly called HUD. Mr. Newman claims piracy of personality and copycat infringement.
In the 1963 film "HUD," for which Mr. Newman was nominated for an Academy Award, the ad campaign was based on the slogan, "Paul Newman is HUD." Mr. Newman claims that the Department of Housing and Urban Development, called HUD, is a fair and balanced institution and that some of its decency and respectability has unfairly rubbed off on his movie character, diluting the rotten, self-important, free-trade, corrupt conservative image that Mr. Newman worked so hard to project in the film. His suit claims that this "innocence by association" has hurt his feelings plus residuals.
A coalition of the willing — i.e., the Bratwurst Asphalt Company and the Ypsilanti Hot Dog and Bean Shop — has been pushed forward and is prepared to label its products "fair and balanced," knowing that Fox News will sue and that its newscasters will be so tied up with subpoenas they will only be able to broadcast from the courtroom, where they will be seen tearing their hair and whining, looking anything but fair and balanced, which would certainly be jolly good sport all around.
Paul Newman, an actor, is chief executive of Salad King.
Doug Phelps also passed along this news of a new book: Big Lies, by Joe Conason. Heard the author on TV tonight. May be better than Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right [by Al Franken]
Here is one review:
Big Lies is must reading for anyone who wants to understand America today. It’s an amazing tour through the wonderland of right-wing mendacity that blinds Americans to the ugly truth about what’s happening to our country.”
-Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and author of The Accidental Theorist
And since no bookseller in New Bern seems to believe there are any Democrats here, I offer these links from Amazon for the books mentioned:
When was the last time you heard political leaders discussing poor people or the system of poverty in America? And would that silence have anything to do with the fact that poor people don't vote -- let alone contribute money? The last national candidate to link the fate of blue and pink collar working people with the plight of the poor was Robert Kennedy, and he is remembered as both a tough politician and saintly hero for doing so.
The subject comes to mind when "leaders" say: "I'm a fiscal conservative but a social liberal." The only way that shibboleth makes any sense at all is if you define "social" as abortion, gun control, and prayer in schools. But we used to define "social" as the problems of our society -- poverty, hunger, illiteracy, homelessness, joblessness, the lonely aged, and on and on. If you use the word "social" in this sense, the sense in which it traditionally is used, you cannot be "a fiscal conservative and a social liberal" for the very obvious reason that it costs some money to help those in need.
The political spectrum is pretty well defined by the orthodox Right on one end and "centrist" Democrats on the other. "Centrists" are particularly fond of the "fiscal conservative but social liberal" formula because it conveniently permits you to work both sides of the street without defining what you are for beyond "work, family, and responsibility." (I'm still looking for someone against those things.)
So what does it say about early 21st century America when the boom of the 1990s created great wealth, the tax cuts of the 1980s and early 21st century concentrate more wealth at the top, the middle class is stagnant in terms of real wages and incomes, and 20% of America’s children are in or very near poverty? Makes you proud of your country, doesn't it?
Since most of the Democratic Congressional candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, I guess no one will ask the obvious question: How many of our fellow Americans could we have helped with the $200 to $400 billion Iraq will cost us? How much better a country could we have been? Most importantly, What is it about the Iraqi people that makes them so much more deserving of help than poor Americans? Why are conservatives eager to rebuild Iraq and not to rebuild America?
This is not an isolationist point of view. This is not a "liberal" point of view. This is a common sense point of view. I sure would like to hear Robert Kennedy on this issue.
on his blog: http://www.garyhartnews.com/hart/
Fox News, the news network that has to constantly announce that it is fair and balance, has decided to sue comedian and author, Al Franken because his new book is entitled Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
Al Franken who also wrote the bestseller Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Liar caught the imagination of some Democratic activist, when he single-handedly squashed Fox New Bill ORiley in a C-SPAN sponsored Book-TV event that soon turned into a no-holds bared debate. Poor Bill was reduced to shouting Shut up! Shut Up. Shut Up!.
I wonder if Mr. Riley had any thing to do with the law suit. In any event, as they say in the book selling business. Good or bad publicity sell books. Mr. Franken's advance sales had buoyed the book to the top of the amazon.com list.
I have added FAIR & BALANCE to the masthead to show solidarity with Mr. Franken, and just maybe, Fox will sue us, and give the Kindred Spirit group lots of free publicity
According to USA today, the Bush/Cheney Campaign is girding up for battle with a mammoth war chest, and plans to intimidate DEMS
WASHINGTON President Bush is building the earliest, most aggressive campaign organization by an incumbent president since Ronald Reagan won re-election in 1984. Bush is aiming to have such a strong head start that Democrats will have trouble catching up after they choose their nominee.
By the time the first votes are cast in the Democratic primary election season, on Jan. 19 at Iowa's caucuses, the Bush campaign plans to have a well-established national organization of chairmen and other staffers in every county in key states, and a leader in every crucial precinct.
The coming Presidential election not going to be a cakewalk. Bush and Rove are going throw everything at us. The best way to counter the GOP in ’04 is to excite the base and ORGANIZE like hell. Also note that the reason why Rove is leaking this type of information is to try and strike fear in the hearts of the DEMS. Normal Roveian intimidation tactics. It might work on the DLC, but for the progressive DEM base, and allies, we should shout back BRING IT ON
Do We Need A New Bern/Havlock/Morehead Resolution?
The Tonasket Resolution" is a symbolic broadside at the USA Patriot Act, the far-reaching "terror- obstruction" measure approved by Congress six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Washington, D.C., area.
Tonasket's cheeky response was penned by self-described "constitutionalist" Mark Alan and edited by Tonasket's police chief, Don Schneider. It has since been adopted by the city councils of nearby Oroville and Riverside and is being considered by the Okanogan County Commission
Here are a couple of interesting facts about the USA Patriot Act. It passed a Democratic controlled Senate and introduced by Mr. Daschell himself. Only one Senator voted Nay, the courageous Sen. Russ Fiendgold (D-WI). Edwards, Kerry and Joe Lieberman voted “YEA”
Three Senators, Jesse Helms, Pete Domenici and Strom Thurmond did not vote.
Over at the House, Gephard, Nancy Pelosi and our own 3rd District Congressman, Walter Jones, voted “YEA”. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was a “thumbs down”
We aren't alone! Some of the wealthiest people in America have formed a group with the same goals as ours: increasing participation in the coming election by the people who are being hurt by Bush administration policies. Here's more:
Liberals Form Fund To Defeat President
Aim Is to Spend $75 Million for 2004
By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 8, 2003; Page A03
Labor, environmental and women's organizations, with strong backing from international financier George Soros, have joined forces behind a new political group that plans to spend an unprecedented $75 million to mobilize voters to defeat President Bush in 2004.
The organization, Americans Coming Together (ACT), will conduct "a massive get-out-the-vote operation that we think will defeat George W. Bush in 2004," said Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY's List, who will become ACT's president.
ACT already has commitments for more than $30 million, Malcolm and others said, including $10 million from Soros, $12 million from six other philanthropists, and about $8 million from unions, including the Service Employees International Union.
The formation of ACT reflects growing fears in liberal and Democratic circles that with Republicans likely to retain control of Congress, a second Bush term could mean passage of legislation, adoption of regulations and the appointment of judges that together could devastate left-supported policies and institutions.
Other groups joining the fight against Bush include the American Majority Institute, which was put together by John Podesta, a former top aide to President Bill Clinton. The institute will function as a liberal counter to conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation. A network of liberal groups has formed America Votes to coordinate the political activities of civil rights, environmental and abortion rights groups among others, and former Clinton aide Harold Ickes is trying to set up a pro-Democratic group to finance 2004 campaign television ads.
Another factor behind the surge of political activity is the fear that the ban on "soft money" will leave the Democratic National Committee without adequate funds to pay for state and federal "coordinated campaign" activities, which are voter mobilization efforts eight weeks before the election. In the past, the DNC paid for much of the costs with large "soft money" contributions from unions, corporations and rich people.
Republicans sent a warning shot across ACT's bow. "We are going to be watching very closely to make sure they adhere to their claim that they will not be coordinating with the Democratic Party," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson. Such coordination would violate campaign finance laws.
Iverson contended that ACT's financing indicates that "the Democrats are addicted to special-interest soft money and this allows them to feed that addiction by skirting the spirit of the new campaign finance law."
The shifting focus of Soros, who is worth $5 billion and is chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC, from the international sphere to the domestic political arena is considered significant.
In a statement describing his reasons for giving $10 million, Soros said, "I believe deeply in the values of an open society. For the past 15 years I have focused my energies on fighting for these values abroad. Now I am doing it in the United States. The fate of the world depends on the United States and President Bush is leading us in the wrong direction."
Steve Rosenthal, whose mobilization of union members from 1996 through 2002 has been widely praised, will be ACT's chief executive officer. He said that ACT will hire hundreds of organizers, state political directors and others as the 2004 election approaches.
ACT plans to concentrate its activities in 17 states, all of which are likely to be presidential battlegrounds: Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and West Virginia.
[The link I posted here previously stopped working, so I've pasted in the article.]
From the website of American Citizens Abroad (http://www.aca.ch/)
"Starting 1 October 2003, travelers entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program must have a machine-readable passport. Any traveler without a machine-readable passport will be required to obtain a visa before coming to the United States.
This requirement is mandated by the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Immigration inspectors may deny entry to any traveler attempting to enter on a visa-waiver basis without a machine-readable passport after 1 October 2003.
Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries are permitted to enter the United States for general business or tourist purposes for a maximum of 90 days without needing a visa. The 27 countries currently in the Visa Waiver Program are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. "
Does it seem to anybody but me that the doors to America are closing to most of the world's people?
"As the search for illegal weapons in Iraq continues without success, the Bush administration has moved to emphasize a different rationale for the war against Saddam Hussein: using Iraq as the "linchpin" to transform the Middle East and thereby reduce the terrorist threat to the United States. "
Sound like this is from one of the left-of-center webs so often critical of the White House? Nope. This is from the Washington Post. Read the entire article here