Friday, February 24, 2006

Kinky, The Guv (Why the Hell Not?)

Kinky Friedman: I Looove Texas

Here in Texas, I'm hoping for a new governor. A Kinky governor. Watch The (Future) Guv's first Kinkytoon, and you'll agree: "how hard can it be?"

There was a story in the Austin Chronicle about him last week: Here Comes The Guv (see also: Kinky's Mexican Riptide).
He began to look at things differently, and he didn't like what he saw: the state's public education system a mess, with teachers merely "teaching to a test" and not free to truly educate; the state's capital punishment machine churning forward, while serious questions of innocence (as in Soffar's case) seem to go unanswered; the border with Mexico a sieve, and people "dying in the backs of trucks." And no one – least of all the Republicans, led by Rick Perry, who had effectively swallowed state government whole – appeared to be doing anything at all to turn things around. "People are tired of these two parties … [of politicians that] never get off their asses except to attack someone," Friedman says. What the people need, he says, is what he has to offer: "A little bit of honesty; that's what people are dying for." It all made sense, he says: he would run for governor. "All the stars are in a line, boy; it's time."

Also available: lots of awesome campaign t-shirts and such. I'm having a hard time picking, but I think I'll have to go with "Why The Hell Not?".

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"America For Sale" Report

Via The Daily Muck, here's a report released yesterday by Rep. Louise Slaughter's (D-NY) office. Called America for Sale (PDF), it's "181 pages of full-on muck, a valuable resource, a sort of muck encyclopedia, taking four pieces of legislation as test cases."
The most important thing to know about Washington these days is the following statistic: over the past ten years, the number of registered lobbyists in Washington has grown from around 10,000 to more than 34,000, while the fees that lobbyists charge their new clients have increased by as much as 100 percent. Today there are 63 registered lobbyists for each Member of Congress.

...Here are a few examples taken from different sections of this report showing that Republican politicians have taken care of special interests instead of the American people:
  • A Confusing and Expensive Medicare Program
  • An Energy "Strategy" That Saves No Energy
  • Polluters Re-Writing Environmental Laws
  • A Nation Still Vulnerable to Terrorist Attacks
  • A Government Run by Political Hacks
  • Fat Cats Get Their Defense Contracts, but Soldiers Don't Get Their Body Armor
  • Drug Companies Get Off the Hook if Their Products Injure Americans
  • Corporate Profits Up, American Family Income Down
  • Student Loan Debt, Student Loan Industry Profits Both At Record Highs

This is worth a look, even if you don't read the whole thing. I recommend reading the "Executive Summary" (it's only 7 pages), and then at least skimming through one of the detail sections that makes up the body of the document ("Health of Seniors", "Energy Security", "Homeland Security", "Jobs", etc.), and end with at least one of the appendices (one is on the K Street Project & John Boehner, and the other's on Jack Abramoff & friends).

Friday, February 17, 2006

More, I Mean Less, On The "Liberal Media"

  1. Peter Daou: A Challenge to Rightwing Bloggers Who Blame the Media for the Cheney Mess: Prove it.
    One of the great absurdities of our time is the persistent notion that the traditional media skews left. Reporters buy into it, Democratic strategists and leaders buy into it, and rank and file rightwingers live by it. As I've written previously, the right controls all branches of government, talk radio is dominated by rightwing voices, there's a cable channel devoted to the rightwing perspective (and two others racing to do the same), there's a herd of rightwing pundits spewing anti-left venom across editorial pages, radio, television, the internet, etc., Bush's press conferences are cloying jokefests, and "neutral" journalists echo deep-seated pro-GOP myths.

    He presents many specific examples, across many stories, of the pro-Bush, anti-Democratic themes consistently and faithfully baked in by the U.S. media.

  2. Media Matters: If It's Sunday, It's Conservative: An analysis of the Sunday talk show guests on ABC, CBS, and NBC, 1997 - 2005
    The Sunday-morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC are where the prevailing opinions are aired and tested, policymakers state their cases, and the left and right in American politics debate the pressing issues of the day on equal ground. Both sides have their say and face probing questions. Or so you would think.

    In fact, as this study reveals, conservative voices significantly outnumber progressive voices on the Sunday talk shows. Media Matters for America conducted a content analysis of ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and NBC's Meet the Press, classifying each one of the nearly 7,000 guest appearances during President Bill Clinton's second term, President George W. Bush's first term, and the year 2005 as either Democrat, Republican, conservative, progressive, or neutral. The conclusion is clear: Republicans and conservatives have been offered more opportunities to appear on the Sunday shows - in some cases, dramatically so.

Read all of both Peter Daou and Media Matters, I entreat you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The "Liberal Media" Fails To Strike Again

From a couple days ago (before the Deadeye Dick's shooting spree): I saw these excellent examples of how the media can mislead and misinform.

First, in Fox: America's Soviet-style news agency, Bob Harris shows what Fox passes off as "news" on days when the real news isn't too flattering for the ruling party (see the Harris' post for all the supporting links):
Just stumbled across the 6 pm EST top of the hour news break on Fox News. Amazing. Bizarro world stuff.

Not a single word about the Scooter Libby fingering "his superiors" [Cheney].

Not a single word about Brownie making clear that the White House lied their asses off.

Not a single word about the CIA's head Middle East guy saying Bush cherry-picked intel to start a war.


Lead story: Jill Carroll. Message: The world is dangerous. You are powerless and blameless.

Second lead: Bird Flu. Message: The world is dangerous. You are powerless and blameless.

Third story: Big car crash on Mexican border. (Wow. Pretty desperate.) Message: The world is dangerous. And you are powerless and blameless.

And... that was it. The biggest news on this day, according to Fox.

And Joshua Micah Marshall on Talking Points Memo describes how the AP (of all people) seems determined to show Sen. Harry Reid in a bad light relative to Abramoff & Co., despite, you know, the facts:
In other words, whatever Abramoff and his crew might have tried to persuade Reid to do, he didn't do it.

That has to be a key part of the story, if you're discussing contacts between Marianas lobbyists on this issue. Only it's a part of the story the AP just neglected to mention.

...Nowhere in the new article can the AP writers bring themselves to note that Reid never adopted Abramoff's clients' position on the issue. So whatever quids Abramoff's folks were offering up, Reid never gave them a quo. From start to finish he was the co-sponsor of the bill Abramoff's clients wanted to defeat.

That's key information -- arguably, the central piece of information in the whole case. But the AP keeps pressing their misleading narrative while omitting this key point.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rediscovering Barbara Jordan

More Barbara Jordan: her life and legacy are the subjects of "Rediscovering Barbara Jordan", a 52-minute audio documentary produced by KUT, the public radio station here in Austin. It airs via Public Radio International (PRI) on Sunday morning (2/12) at 11:00 AM on that station, is probably airing on your station sometime soon, too, or is available as an MP3 podcast you can download for free (paid for by listeners like me).
On the evening of July 25, 1974, Barbara Jordan awakened America. For over a year, the nation had been mired in Watergate. The protracted conflict had created a weary uncertainty in the national consciousness, confronted by mounting evidence of presidential misdeeds. That evening in the House chamber, it took only 13 minutes for the black freshman congresswoman with the powerful voice to re-focus the country's will and faith in its Constitution. Within two weeks, President Richard Nixon resigned.

"Rediscovering Barbara Jordan" chronicles the life of this remarkable woman, from her early years growing up in the Jim Crow South, through her election to the Texas Senate, to her ultimate national status as a skilled politician with a steadfast moral compass and a statesman's dignity.

Who was this remarkable person, and how did she learn to meld political cunning with Christian ethics? "Rediscovering Barbara Jordan" answers those questions thoroughly and compassionately, looking at the black church in the South, the unique nature of the Houston ward Jordan represented, the arc of the Civil Rights Movement when she was active in it, and the people whose insight and influence she valued.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Molly Ivins: "Impeach the Sombitch!"

Molly Ivins on the destruction of the Constitution, including a comparison of two "racial minority Texas lawyers": pipsqueak stonewaller Alberto Gonzales and Barbara Jordan, unlikely hero of the Nixon impeachment.
Barbara Jordan observed: "(Impeachment) is designed to 'bridle' the executive if he engages in excesses. ... The Framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the president in order to strike a delicate balance between a president swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the executive. ... 'A president is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.'"

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Forgetful Terrorists

A Tiny Revolution gives us Other Things Al Qaeda Forgets:
As Attorney General Gonzales pointed out yesterday, if the media didn't talk about it all the time, Al Qaeda would forget we were monitoring them:
GONZALES: I think, based on my experience, it is true -- you would assume that the enemy is presuming that we are engaged in some kind of surveillance.

But if they're not reminded about it all the time in the newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.

Indeed, one of our greatest strengths in the War on Terror has been the inherent forgetfulness of our enemy. Or at least, it WOULD be a strength—if the god damn media weren't always reminding them of stuff.

Read on for hilarious examples.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006's Nixon -> Bush Ad

George Bush Is Breaking the Law
A good one from New TV Ad: George W. Bush is Breaking the Law. From their factual support:
  • FISA Was Passed in 1978 to Prescribe Procedures for Physical and Electronic Surveillance.
  • According to the New York Times, Bush Authorized a Secret Spying Program Outside the FISA Systems.
  • In January, the Non-Partisan Congressional Research Service Reported that Bush Broke Law
  • Legal Experts Repudiated President Bush’s Claim that He has Inherent Power for Wiretaps as Commander-in-Chief.
  • The Non-Partisan Congressional Research Service Repudiated President Bush’s Claim that the NSA Program was Authorized after September 11th.
  • Contrary to Administration Claims, Congress Was Not Informed of Wiretapping Program – Another Likely Infringement of the Law.
  • Contrary to Administration Claims, NSA Spying Uncovered “No Imminent Plots . . . Inside the United States.”
  • Numerous Legal Scholars and Republican Leaders say President Bush Broke the Law.
  • Americans Disapprove of Bush’s Overreach, According to Polls.

Watch the ad, read the facts, and then donate to MoveOn to keep the ad on the air and the issue on people's minds.

Illegal Spy In Chief

Via Talking Points Memo, a good quote by Sen. Russ Feingold on what we heard from the Attorney General. In addition to busting Gonzales for lying during his confirmation hearings, he sums up the situation well.
This administration reacts to anyone who questions this illegal program by saying that those of us who demand the truth and stand up for our rights and freedoms somehow has a pre-9/11 world view. In fact, the President has a pre-1776 world view. Our government has three branches, not one. And no one, not even the President, is above the law.

There's also good coverage by NPR of the illegal spying story, including audio of Sen. Feingold's questioning, among others.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Matt Ruben: "Impeach the Sombitch!"

A detailed, and long (but skimmable) critique of Bush's State of the Union address on Matt Ruben's "Democrappy" blog, "State of the Union '06: a Drama in Four Acts". Excerpts:
  • It's All Good, Trust Me. "The state of the union is strong," said the President. Utterly unremarkable, except that he said it within the first three minutes of the speech, which in my memory is utterly unprecedented. Typically a President will wait to utter the famous line until he has provided some, you know, evidence to back it up. But I suppose the baseless assertion has worked for this guy in the past, so why not?

  • Stay the Course, Withdraw the Troops. Troop levels in Iraq will decrease - there, he said it. But, talking tough as ever, he noted that "those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C." This statement is what is known in technical terms as a f*cking lie - the decisions, Dub was saying, will be made by politicians in the White House, under whose pressure the generals will continue to pursue a warped policy that prevents either the deployment of sufficient troops or the prompt withdraw of large numbers of troops, instead leaving the military in a limbo of large-scale but still insufficient force strength, with personnel pushed to their limits and forced to extend their tours of duty.

  • Get Shorty al Qaeda, Kill Bill al Qaeda. The old arrogance and brazenness made an appearance when Dub defended clearly illegal warrantless wiretapping by claiming that it's being used solely to track al Qaeda - another f*cking lie. Time for impeachment, plain and simple.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

You Go, Girl - Sheehan Arrested

Cindy Sheehan's t-shirt: '2,242 Dead. How many more?'

Via Wake Up Democracy (and NPR this morning), news that anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan was arrested at the State of the Union speech last night for unzipping her coat and wearing a t-shirt which said "2,245 Dead. How many more?" See for Cindy's own report.
I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

Feb. 1 Onion

A nice fresh Onion, just for you.

  • President Creates Cabinet-Level Position To Coordinate Scandals
    The Scandal Secretary will log all wiretaps and complaints of prisoner abuse, coordinate paid-propaganda efforts, eliminate redundant payoffs and bribes, oversee the appointment of unqualified political donors to head watchdog agencies, control all leaks and other high-level security breaches, and oversee the disappearance of Iraq reconstruction funds. He will also be responsible for issuing all official denials that laws have been broken.

    "Many of the current scandals in Washington are crucial to the success of my priorities for the nation," Bush said. "The Department of Corruption will safeguard these important misdeeds."

  • Black Box Records Last 90 Minutes Of Hot-Air Balloon Crash
    "I hate to imagine their ordeal," Fayetteville Police Chief Dwight Gibson said. "Suspended dozens of feet off the ground, at the mercy of the wind, the good part of an afternoon spent not knowing where or when you'll come to a somewhat bumpy stop."

  • American Voices
    On the Hamas Victory:
    • "I'm confident Hamas will embrace peace once it destroys Israel."
    • "Well, so much for my spring-break plans."
    • "You heard it here first—I predict we are going to see many years of violence and unrest in the Middle East."

    On Google refusing to turn over their records to the Justice Department:
    • "The government has no business knowing that I keep forgetting my utility company's Web address."
    • "Those are some ballsy multi-billionaires."
    • "Man, the government is gonna feel dumb when they see my search for 'the+government+sucks+dick.'"