August 31, 2006

Keith Olbermann rocks the house

I TiVo MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann every day. Keith is never content to go with what the chattering classes have to say. He invites guests you don't hear from often enough, if at all. He asks questions that other "reporters" too busy following the herd shy away from. But what I really love is when Keith reaches down into the depths of his moral indignation and rips someone a new one. Last night Keith did not disappoint as he took on Donald Rumsfeld (and by inference, anyone else singing Rumsfeld's tune). Crooks and Liars has the video and the complete transcript.

Snippets:

We end the countdown where we began, our #1 story with a special comment on Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday. It demands the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty - of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land;

Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants - our employees - with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad,suggests they deserve.

[...]

But back to today’s Omniscient Ones.

That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count - not just his. Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago - about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego. But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?

Much, much more at the link. It will give you goosebumps.

August 16, 2006

What's wrong with this headline?

Does the Nevada Appeal know that there was a partisan primary in the County Commissioners race? Here's the headline:

Incumbent Hillyard defeated in Lyon commission race

Uh. No. He was defeated in the Republican primary. Charles Lawson won the Democratic primary.

The one sentence story did nothing to illuminate:
Veil and Duke will face off in sheriff's contest


"We" foiled the bomb plot???

Yes, according to our Dear Leader, that's just exactly what "we" did, with a little help from our friends. I was watching my TiVo'd Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night after the polls closed (and before I started checking election returns, because, after all, priorities people!!). Anyway, KO was covering Bush's visit to the National Counterterrism Center and honestly, I had to replay Bush's remarks because I couldn't believe what came out of his mouth:

Because of the good work in Great Britain and because of the help of the people there at NCTC, we disrupted a terror plot, a plot where people were willing to kill innocent life to achieve political objectives.
Okay...I know the "we" may be referring to Great Britain AND the US, but, geez, this felt like another "it's all about ME" moments that Dear Leader is so famous for. Because usually when a President says we, he means the US government. From what I understand, the role of the NCTC was minimal in this plot and that it had been the Brits who had been following this for months.

August 15, 2006

Are we just getting used to it?

Thomas Frank is a guest columnist this month over at the New York Times. I am really enjoying reading his stuff. He is the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Today he reminds us of the parallels between Mickinley's Gilded Age and our current corporatism. Today's column from behind the firewall.

A Distant Mirror

By now, even the most dedicated “values voter” is aware that an orgy of plunder and predation grinds merrily on in the capital, yet if polls are to be believed, the Democrats can persuade almost nobody to switch their vote on that basis. That’s because, while they have many nice slogans on the subject, Democrats offer no larger theory of corruption, no way to help voters understand what is essentially Republican about the pillage currently being visited on our national government.

I suggest the Democrats turn their eyes to the conservatives’ beloved 19th century, an era that is relevant again in all sorts of startling ways. The reigning economic faith of our time, they will find, is merely a souped-up version of the Victorians’ understanding of the market-as-nature. Again Americans thrill to the exploits of the great tycoons, and gradually we are becoming reacquainted with pervasive inequality, the wrenching “social issue” of our great-grandparents’ time.

This is why I nominate Matthew Josephson’s 1938 masterpiece, “The Politicos: 1865-1896,” as the volume of history with the most to teach us about the present. The book is valuable for its surface qualities alone — its painstaking reconstruction of forgotten scandals, its glimpses of antique slang and high-flown oratory, its remarkable cast of politicians, like the “Easy Boss” Tom Platt and the “Plumed Knight” James G. Blaine, all of them household names once but today as obscure as Ozymandias.

Still, contemporary readers will feel the sharp poke of recognition with nearly every chapter. Then, as now, empty accusations of treason were standard rhetoric. Reformers were routinely taunted as effeminate — in the manner that conservatives today bandy about terms like “effete,” “French-looking,” and “girly man.” Roscoe Conkling, the sarcastic voice of New York finance, famously laughed off a crusading editor as a “man milliner.”

And, of course, there was corruption, the unending outrage of money- in-politics. Both parties bid for the favor of big business, and both did a considerable amount of business themselves, as the roll call of forgotten scandals attests: the Whiskey Ring, the Post Office Ring, the Credit Mobilier scheme, and the Grant administration’s ceaseless “saturnalia of plunder.” But “The Politicos” is not merely a catalog of money-in-politics, it is a study of the logic and development of money-in-politics, from the crude grasping of the “spoilsmen” in the 1860’s to the final union of politics with business in the 1890’s, when industries and even individual corporations effectively sent their own representatives to the United States Senate.

Matthew Josephson was a man of the left, but “The Politicos” is not a reassuring tale of liberal triumph. The figure who towers over this dialectic of graft as it roars to its consummation is the greatest of 19th-century political commanders, the industrialist Mark Hanna, who managed the 1896 presidential campaign of William McKinley. Hanna was famously quoted as saying openly what his contemporaries would say only privately: that we were ruled by “a business state,” and that “all questions of government in a democracy were questions of money.”

When confronted by a groundswell for the earnest reformer William Jennings Bryan, Hanna used every weapon available to make an example of the upstart. While his lieutenants portrayed Bryan as an anarchist, Hanna enlisted the financial support of industry for McKinley, going so far as to levy an assessment on the capital of large corporations. He may not have rewarded his supporters with honorifics like “Pioneer” and “Ranger,” as did his modern disciple Karl Rove, but by the end of the contest Hanna had outspent Bryan by 10 to 1, much of it on “floaters” compensated for their votes.
Hanna’s methods were corrupt, yes. “But his corruption was rational,” Josephson tells us. “It flowed from the very nature of our society and its laws.”

And as we scratch our heads over all the shocking stories of the last six years we would do well to keep Josephson’s dictum in mind. These are not tales of individual venality, separate one from the other. They are expressions of the age. The issue is not merely corruption; it is what old Will Bryan would have called plutocracy.
Bye all, I'm off to work the polls. See you on the other side.

August 14, 2006

I'm just not going to be afraid

I have been thinking about this for some time and have been wanting to get this off my chest, and these posts from DailyKos got me off my keester.

First, SusanG takes it to the nth degree:

People, don't you see? Don't you see how much safer we'll be if we simply stay at home, quit traveling, quit meeting in public, quit living together in large numbers, cut off all communications with the outside world? Living with a terminal case of the shivers, in the dark of our basements, and very, very afraid - that's the only way we can beat Al Qaeda. Get with the program, patriots. Push your soul in a deep dark hole and then follow it in.

And DarkSyde weighs in:
I know there are millions of brave, decent conservatives. My apologies to those folks for the following. But good grief, when did the Republican Party become infested with what sound like so many loud, whining cowardly pundits? One second Reagan is up there standing toe-to-toe with the Rooskis, negotiating cool as a cucumber with 20,000 nukes pointed at him, and the next thing I know, the likes of Limbaugh or the crew at Powerwhine and Freeperland, are all shrieking like a class full of tweaked-out, neurotic fifth-graders having a panic attack every time OBL pops up in a grainy video with a rusty AK in the background. What the hell happened to the GOP I once knew?

Death and injury are every bit as tragic as they are inevitable for human beings. Understandably, we worry about both, we all cry and mourn when either strike, especially with ourselves or those we love playing the starring role. And I have no desire to down play the loss that anyone feels when someone they love is struck down, be it by terrorism or leukemia. But ...some perspective maybe?

Heart disease and cancer will claim about 1.5 million American lives each and every year. As far as accidental deaths (~100,000/year), motor vehicle accidents far and away lead the pack (+40,000/year), with accidental poisoning and falls in place and show1. You can play with those stats all kinds of ways. But the bottom line is that over the course of a civilian lifetime, the odds of falling victim to Al Qaeda rank somewhere between falling off a ladder to your death and being struck by lightning inside your home.

. . .

Here's a message for both our homegrown Neoconservative, bloggy, gutless wonders and the Jihadi nutcases overseas: I grew up in the cold-war, my parents went through WW2 for crying out loud. We are not paralyzed with fear over Osama. Despite your best efforts, I'm not obsessed with terrorism. Sheesh, I barely even think about it. I face bigger statistical risks, in every way, every day, and on every scale, just driving across a set of railroad tracks and down the interstate smoking a cigarette in the rain, and I don't worry much about that either.


Preach it, brother. I am a thousand times more worried that my husband, or daughter, or mother, or father, will be taken out by a drunk driver than a suicide bomber. I am even more convinced that the cigarette hanging from my husband's mouth will take his life before Osama will.

Maybe it's because I am a woman. There is something I have lived in awareness of my whole life. Something that can happen to women (and men) from every social strata, at any time of day, in any location. But I don't live in fear though, or I might as well slit my wrists, because there is not a place on earth where I am "safe." There will always be people "plotting" to harm others.

And I don't expect the government to lock up every male in the off chance that HE might be a potential offender. And I don't want them to restrict MY liberties in order to possibly avoid harm. I am careful, but I know it's no guarantee. Ask my friend who was raped at age thirteen by the father of the kids she was babysitting. Or my other friend who was raped by her fiance's brother. I could go on, there are others in my life, but I think I've made my point.

August 11, 2006

Here we go again

As expected, the GOP is pulling out the "terror" card again for the election, calling Democrats "Defeat-ocrats" (what is this, third grade?), and attempting to calling those who support Ned Lamont un-American, the Khmer Rouge, the Taliban wing of the Democratic Party...you name it.

Do they honestly think it's going to work this time? I mean really...latest polls show that 60% of Americans are opposed to the war in Iraq and nearly that many want some sort of timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Arianna Huffington addresses it here.

Here's the bottom line: Ned Lamont ran against the war in Iraq, a war that Joe Lieberman vehemently supported -- and still supports. A war that 60 percent of Americans are against. A war that is the defining foreign policy initiative of the Bush administration -- an initiative that has been an abject failure on every level. A war that has put the GOP's back against the electoral wall. So it's firing back with it's favorite weapon -- fear -- trying to make the case that being against the war somehow makes Lamont soft on national security or, as RNC chair Ken Mehlman put it, "a leading proponent of the isolationist, defeatist, blame-America-first philosophy."

Talk about desperate. So do Cheney/Rove/Mehlman really believe that 60 percent of the public are blame-America-firsters? Or that because 60 percent of us agree that Iraq is a disaster, we somehow don't have "the will" to, in Cheney's words, "stay in the fight and complete the task" of taking on the terrorists -- and thus are encouraging al Qaeda types?

Of course not. They know being against the war in Iraq doesn't mean you are against fighting the war on terror. It means you are against a failed policy that has created more terrorists than it has killed, that has cost America 2,591 lives and $305 billion dollars, that has thrown Iraq into a bloody sectarian civil war, and that has so lessened our standing abroad that we are unable to be a real power broker in an exploding Middle East.

You want to know what really emboldens our enemies? It's not Ned Lamont beating Joe Lieberman; it's the idea of an impotent United States so over-extended and bogged down in Iraq that it has been pushed to the diplomatic sidelines.

What Lamont's victory should really do is embolden Democrats to aggressively counterattack the Republicans' scare tactics nonsense. (It would help if the MSM reacted to the GOP drivel by treating it with the contempt it deserves instead of dutifully reporting it as if it contained even an ounce of logic or sanity.)


More later...I gotta get on the road.

August 9, 2006

It wasn't just about Iraq

Yes, I know, that's what you are going to hear all over the networks and talking head shows. That's not it. With polls showing a definite anti-incumbent sentiment all across the country and across party lines, the Lamont win (with record primary turnout) says "We've had it." No more "go along to get along" Democrats. We want you to stand up for America, not the powers that be. This morning's editorial in the NYT reflects well my thinking on the subject.

Revenge of the Irate Moderates

The defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman at the hands of a little-known Connecticut businessman is bound to send a message to politicians of both parties that voters are angry and frustrated over the war in Iraq. The primary upset was not, however, a rebellion against the bipartisanship and centrism that Mr. Lieberman said he represented in the Senate. Instead, Connecticut Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House.

Ned Lamont, a relative political novice, said he ran against Mr. Lieberman because he was offended by the senator’s sunny descriptions of what was happening in Iraq and his denunciation of Democrats who criticized the administration’s handling of the war. Many other people in Connecticut may have felt that sense of frustration, but no one else had the money and moxie to do what Mr. Lamont did. Mr. Lieberman was stunned to find himself on the defensive, and it was only in the last few weeks that the 18-year veteran mounted a desperate campaign to reclaim his party’s support.

Senator Lieberman says he will run as an independent in November, taking on Mr. Lamont and the Republican, Alan Schlesinger. Mr. Schlesinger is a very weak candidate, but Mr. Lieberman should consider the risk of splitting his party if the Republicans are able to convince Mr. Schlesinger to drop out of the race in favor of a stronger nominee.

Mr. Lieberman’s supporters have tried to depict Mr. Lamont and his backers as wild-eyed radicals who want to punish the senator for working with Republicans and to force the Democratic Party into a disastrous turn toward extremism. It’s hard to imagine Connecticut, which likes to be called the Land of Steady Habits, as an encampment of left-wing isolationists, and it’s hard to imagine Mr. Lamont, who worked happily with the Republicans in Greenwich politics, leading that kind of revolution.

The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.

Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person’s right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.

When Mr. Lieberman told The Washington Post, “I haven’t changed. Events around me have changed,” he actually put his finger on his political problem. His constituents felt that when the White House led the country into a disastrous international crisis and started subverting the nation’s basic traditions, Joe Lieberman should have changed enough to take a lead in fighting back.

And by the way, Joe Lieberman has filed to run as an Independent. So much for the will of the people and respecting the party structure. Since Joe has declared himself no longer a Democrat, I should hope that Senator Reid will ask Joe to step down from his committee memberships.

Primaries are for the parties to choose their nominees. Losers don't get 'do-overs.' In Nevada we've had a vigorous primary ourselves and it doesn't matter whether the Democrats that got my primary vote (I early voted) win or not, I will be supporting our Democratic slate from August 16th on. Because I am ready for a change. I hope the rest of Nevada is too.

August 7, 2006

Economists coming around to minimum wage increase

Thanks to Atrios for pointing me in the direction of this article.

Higher Minimum Wage No Longer Regarded in U.S. as Sure-Fire Job Killer

Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Prominent economists of all ideological persuasions long believed that raising the U.S. minimum wage would retard job growth, creating unintended hardship for those at the bottom of the ladder.

Today, that consensus is eroding, and a vigorous debate has developed as some argue that boosting the wage would pull millions out of poverty.

A moderate increase in the minimum wage won't raise unemployment among low-skilled workers, according to recent studies, many economists say. They are joined by some business executives who say they can live with that, especially if it's coupled with tax relief.
(By the way, they aren't talking about The Paris Hilton Welfare Act the Estate Tax )
``Workers' wages need to at least keep pace with inflation,'' says Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of Carpinteria, California-based CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast-food restaurant chains. Puzder says he supports a reasonable increase in the minimum wage along with some form of tax relief for small businesses.

Hmmmm...
In 1995, Princeton economists David Card and Alan Krueger published research on unemployment trends among fast-food restaurants in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania. They found that the number of jobs rose in New Jersey compared with Pennsylvania, even though New Jersey had a higher minimum wage.

The study, while not perfect, ``provided evidence that went against the common view,'' Solow says. ``It changed the way many economists look at minimum wage.''

`How Small the Effect'

``The debate now has become over how small the effect is as opposed to how large,'' says Arindrajit Dube, a labor economist at the University of California at Berkeley.

Binder acknowledges that it's an ``intellectual puzzle'' why a boost in the minimum wage wouldn't lead to wider unemployment, because the economic laws of supply and demand dictate that it should.

Explanations include cost savings from reduced job turnover, increased productivity as a result of better worker morale and the attraction of higher-quality employees through higher wages, Blinder says.
Or maybe, those minimum wage workers earning more money have more to spend, thereby contributing to the economy, thereby increasing demand, thereby allowing employers to hire more people?

August 4, 2006

More candidate comparisons

If you haven't checked out the Reno Gazette-Journal's 2006 Voter Guide, give it a whirl. It's a nifty bit of html that allows you to compare candidates side by side (as noted below for the Assembly District 38 race comparing Cathylee James to Tom Grady). Here's another one for Fernley folks to take a look at: the race between John Emerson and Maurice Washington for State Senate District Two.

You can compare any race you want, see what races are in your area, etc. Take a look-see!

August 3, 2006

August 2, 2006

Cathylee James shines in RGJ side-by-side comparison

Go check out this side by side comparison in the Reno Gazette-Journal of Assembly District 38 candidates, Cathylee James (D) and Tom Grady (Incumbent-R). Cathylee rocks!!

Voter Registration Cards and Sample Ballots

LCDCC has been getting calls and emails from people who have (A) registered to vote but have not gotten their Voter Registration Cards and/or (B) have not yet received their sample ballots.

Answer to A from Nikki Bryan, Clerk Treasurer of Lyon County after I sent her an email asking her why people weren't receiving their cards even though their web site clearly states that they will receive them within 2-3 weeks after registering. My note to her:

Dear Nikki,

According to your web site:

A new voter registrant is mailed a Voter Registration Card within 2-3 weeks after their application has been processed.

When I was in your office the other day getting voter reg forms and maps, a friend of mine was there with his twin granddaughters who had registered to vote at our central committee meeting in Yerington in April but had still not received their registration cards. He thought that I had blown it and not turned in their forms. I knew that I had.

The clerk at the window (sorry, I did not catch her name) told them that the girls may still be registered even though they didn’t get their cards explaining that they would need to go to the polls and show ID and THEN, when the next batch of cards was printed up, they would be sent one. As it was, the girls were properly registered and I was saved from being strung up by my friend, but my question is: Has your policy changed? We have been telling people when we register them to vote that they can expect their cards in about three weeks and if they don’t get them, to call you. We have also been telling new registrations that they will probably be asked to show ID at the polls the first time, but not that they wouldn’t receive their registration cards. Your web site also says:

Your Voter Registration Card contains important information such as your name, residential address, mailing address, party affiliation and precinct number. Sign the back when you receive it in the mail and remember to take it with you to the polls at election time.

Finally, your web site says

A new Voter Registration Card will be sent if your polling place or precinct is changed.

Since you have added ten new precincts and several new polling places, will all the voters be sent new registration cards?
Her answer:
First of all, our website needs lots of changes. The new site should be up by September.

We quit sending cards when the ID required (sic) went into affect because a voter card was a form of valid ID and it didn’t seem right to allow a voter to show nothing but a voter card to proved identification to be a valid voter. What a circle! We will probably send new voter cards after the primary when most of the ID issues are resolved. Also, a voter card is not required at the polls. It merely facilitates figuring out what precinct a voter is in. The cards really served a better purpose before we had computers.

This didn't and still doesn't feel right/legal to me, so I passed this info on to our legal counsel at the state Dem Party and I am waiting to hear from them. In the meantime, if you registered to vote since the end of the last legislative session in 2005, and you have not received either your registration card or a sample ballot for the Primary, give the Clerk/Treasurer's office a call to confirm that you are on the voter registration list. (775) 463-6501 or (775) 577-5033 (toll free)

Then you might want to give a call to the Secretary of State to ask if not issuing voter registration cards is legal. That number is: (775) 684-5705

Regarding Sample Ballots - I called the Clerk/Treasurer's office last week and was told that the sample ballots were scheduled to be mailed out Friday, July 28th - the day before Early Vote began. Sweetie and I received ours yesterday, but I am hearing from folks out there that they have not yet received theirs. Again, if you have a concern, please contact the Clerk/Treasurer's office.