July 2008 Archives

McCain and the Safety of Offshore Drilling

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Dear John,

I see you're telling people "at every campaign stop that offshore oil drilling is safe, playing down the risk of environmental accidents, even when faced with the power of a hurricane." Here's one more tidbit to remember about offshore drilling that you're shilling for and have apparently overlooked as you have these other facts which you are failing to share with the American people.

In fact, Katrina and Hurricane Rita caused damage to oil rigs and storage facilities in the Gulf, according to press reports and government studies.

The hurricanes totally destroyed 113 oil rigs, according to the government's Minerals Management Service, and damaged 457 pipelines. The resulting oil spills were large enough to be seen from space, according to several reports.

A review by the Houston Chronicle reported that the two storms in the summer of 2005 caused 595 oil spills that released an estimated 9 million gallons of oil into the gulf, much of that from oil storage facilities on the shores. The government said there were a total of 146 small oil spills in federal waters caused by the storms.

Doesn't it bother you that you're lying to the American people? Evidently not or you wouldn't be doing it. Lying and misrepresenting the facts by omission are definite disqualifiers for the presidency in my book.

Well, here's one American telling you to stop lying.



Just Wait Till Obama Gets Home

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Cross-posted from KerryVIsion

He's a little busy right now.

From the moment Barack Obama stepped on the plane to visit Europe and the Middle East, McCain has taken every opportunity to trash the Democratic nominee. Yesterday was the last straw, as the McCain camp attacked Obama's visit to a holy site and used the solemn occasion in Israel in a desperate effort to promote McCain's failed strategy.

We wrote yesterday about the disgusting comment Sen. McCain made questioning Barack Obama's patriotism. At that point, I didn't think he could say anything more vile.

But he did.

080723_vashem.jpgSenator Obama visited Yad Vashem yesterday, and wrote an eloquent and touching comment in the guestbook at Israel's Holocaust memorial.

I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable insititution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man's potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Let our children come here, and know this history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim "never again". And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.

Barack Obama
23 July, 2008

In response to this statement of hope and remembrance, the McCain camp attacked Senator Obama's heartfelt message with a stunningly disrespectful rebuttal.

Congressman Wexler called McCain's attack "shameful" and "unconscionable", and added:

"using Senator Obama's somber visit to Israel's Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem as a backdrop to score cheap political points instead of focusing on the security needs of the nation."

Congressman Wexler wasn't the only one to find McCain's comment beyond the boundaries of decency.


Video Credit: MSNBC

Now, I understand McCain doesn't know how to use a computer and is just catching on to the whole sound and moving pictures thing, but someone needs to tell him that the people in other countries can hear what he's saying. The leaders of Israel know that McCain used the Yad Vashem visit to try to score cheap political points. Just like the people of al-Anbar know that he diminished their successes against al-Qaeda in Iraq and just like folks in Belarus know he belittled their country when he suggested banishing Phil Gramm there. Now, I don't think McCain intended to insult the memorial or the memory of the leader of the Anbar Awakening, or even the folks in Belarus. That's the point, though. He just doesn't realize that with his attempts at Obama, there is collateral damage to our international relations. After eight years of a president who couldn't leave the country without insulting someone, the last thing we need is another who we'd be afraid to put in front of a camera for fear he'll cause an international incident.

Senator Kerry spoke with Imus the other day about Barack Obama's leadership and about McCain's confusion on foreign relations and the economy.

On a side note, McCain surrogate Senator Joe Lieberman embraced anti-Catholic Rev. Hagee this week after McCain was for/against him.

If McCain's goal was to alienate Jews, Catholics and Muslims this week, I'd say he did a world-class job.

Netroots Nation Updates - NN08 #4

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Here's another roundup of Netroot Nation 2008 coverage in the media and on the blogs. There will be a special Daily Kos edition soon along with a final roundup edition when I can get them pulled together.

Previous NN08 roundups:   #1     #2     #3

» Spencer Ackerman did a liveblog of the session on media coverage of the Iraq War with Samantha Power, Greg Mitchell, Mark Danner, and McJoan (Joan Carter).

» The Washington Post has a NN08 wrap-up article on what they think the significance of the netroots will be going forward. I don't think they quite get the blogosphere yet hence their conclusions aren't really worth the paper they're printed on (or the electrons) but someone will quote them so go read up.

» WaPo's The Trail blog has several more NN08 posts.
    -- I found this post about the straw poll of bloggers most interesting.
    -- an extended post about Al Gore's appearance including embedded youtube clips of Al's talk in case you haven't seen it yet. I watched on ustream.tv and it was good.
    -- from Garance Franke-Ruta, a post on NN08's second surprise visitor, Bob Barr

» News8 Austin has a video clip (youtube) of Rick Noriega, H/T scarce

» The Austin Statesman outdid itself in rudeness in this article which is only available by Google cache now. Evidently they got a little feedback, which prompted this apology from the Editor. Yeah, that article really didn't work.

» The Austin Chronicle ensured that not all the Austin news coverage was bad with a number of articles.
    -- Wells Dunbar wrote a great intro to the left blogosphere for non-blog people in this article, Building the Netroots Nation
    -- a writeup on what Lawrence Lessig and Karl Frisch had to say.
    -- an interview with filmmaker Alex Gibney who appeared at NN08
    -- a thumbnail description of how NN08 came to be
    -- a pre-conference review of progressive blogs -- interesting selection by the author. Probably not the ones someone from the dkos / TPM / mydd circle would have chosen. Though this post of The Blogosphere Branches Out lists some of the more usual suspects in its "harvest of the best liberal and progressive reads online".
    -- And finally, a major H/T to anotherdemocrat for the links on the Austin Chronicle

» HuffPost's coverage of Al Gore's surprise appearance during Nancy Pelosi's session includes a selection of the Tweets aka Twitter posts that happened while they were on.

» MyDD's Jonathan Singer did a BlogTalkRadio segment at NN08.

» Dave Nalle of BlogCritic and The Republic of Dave had two more posts on NN08 which he posted in both locations. The first one dealt with his "outing" in NN08 Roundup #2 and the second was a lengthy report of his experiences at NN08 versus the right-wing bloggers gathering. Seems the Rude Pundit visited them and caused a ruckus. Also some other lefty bloggers got in and did some video but he hasn't seen it yet on the net.

» NPR Morning Edition story courtesy of st minutia

» Ari Melber at Democracy Arsenal did a very short straight up summary of Gore's appearance at NN08.

» The NPI (Northwest Progressive Institute) Advocate blog has a series of posts from different NPI bloggers up about NN08. Great coverage if you didn't make it to these sessions or missed NN altogether.
    -- a take on Friday night's party scene in Austin
    -- a great liveblog post on the Ask the Speaker session with Nancy Pelosi
    -- a detailed post on Al Gore's surprise appearance along with details about the audience interaction
    -- a short report on the Working Outside the Box panel
    -- a writeup from a couple different people on Lawrence Lessig's powerful keynote address
    -- a post on Gina Cooper's appearance noting that she is stepping down as director of NN08 plus the announcement of next year's NN in Pittsburgh and finally, a snippet indicating that the graduated increase of registrations will no longer be tied to a date. They've set aside so many at each level starting at $175, and when they're gone, it will go to the next level. Good things to know for those of us who weren't there.
    -- a summary of what Donna Edwards had to say to all of the NN08 attendees
    -- a quick note on Gavin Newsome's intro to Van Jones which is covered in a lengthier post.
    -- thoughts from the bloggers brunch on the final day of NN08

» KVUE TV has a short writeup on Pelosi and Gore's appearance at NN08

» Time Magazine pushes a distorted view of Pelosi's reception at NN08 in this article about Pelosi and Gore's appearance.

» WSJ's Washington Wire blog had several more posts about NN08
    -- they noted Bob Barr's surprise appearance
    -- did some snarking at Lawrence Lessig's appearance in this one
    -- reported on Gore's appearance an NN08 though they managed to avoid including a lot of detail about what he actually discussed.
    -- somehow they were able to measure the lack of Dem party unity at NN08 through the dynamics of Markos's session with Harold Ford.

» National Journal's Hotline people posted the required posts on Markos vs. Harold Ford, Al Gore's surprise visit, and a collection of quotes from various speakers at NN08.

» The Seminal has a post by Jason Rosenbaum, one of the speakers at the "Marketing and Monetizing Your Progressive Blog" and "Using Social Networks to Grow Your Blog's Community" that includes links and embeds of the slides used by various panelists at those two sessions. Probably not quite as good as being there but all the material will give you a good idea of what they talked about.

Jason and the Seminal also posted video of an interview they did with dkos regular Melody Townsel and the story of her battle with her insurance company who sought to deny her then 2-year-old daughter coverage on the grounds that she'd attempted suicide. Melody, I always knew that dkos was graced by your presence. This just confirms it.

» AfterDowningStreet provides the far-left view of Nancy Pelosi's session in this post. It's what you would expect and includes this question: "How long will the centrist bureaucrats of Netroots Nation and groups like MoveOn roll-over for lowest common denominator Democrats and Barack Obama?" Centrist bureaucrats of Netroots Nation? Yeah, well, moving on.

» The San Francisco Chronicle Politics blog's Joe Garofoli had a number of posts on NN08 including
    -- the mandatory post on Al Gore's surprise appearance.
    -- a bit on Wes Clark's speech including his reference to the right wing freak machine.
    -- a lengthy post on why Gavin Newsom was at NN08. This one's worth reading if for nothing else than the pat on the back you can all give yourselves after you read what he says about interacting with the netroots. And, BiPM aka Bill in Portland Maine, Gavin Newsom knows who you are.

» The SF Chronicle also ran a straight news article by Joe Garofali on NN08 and how it's evolved with a nice timeline at the end marking key milestones.

» The NY Times reported on Al Gore's appearance with Nancy Pelosi at NN08. What was more interesting was their link to an annotated version of Al Gore's 7-17 Energy speech updated with notes on both candidates' reactions to the speech and a hat-tip to what Gore said at NN08.

» The Houston Chronicle had a couple reporters at NN08 who filed a report that somehow gave parity to NN08 and that other blogger gathering under a title that referenced Al Gore's appearance. You'll "love" the quotes from WSJ staffer Steve Moore and Grover Norquist. As Wes put it, the Right Wing Freak Show was freaking out.

» GoldnI at Silence isn't Golden blog has put up video of Markos and Harold Ford's session minus the Q&A part. It seems GoldnI is a former Ford intern and had an important question for him that she didn't get to ask during the Q&A but did get to ask later. You'll have to read the blog to find out what it is and how he answered. Other posts about NN08: a view of the Jewish Caucus and pics with Markos.

» TPMtv caught up with Gavin Newsom after his intro of Van Jones and did this interview.

» The People's Weekly World has a post about NN08 that is remarkable only in how it brings together disparate elements and ties them together in a narrative that doesn't really resemble what happened at NN08.

» HuffPost's Justin Hamilton makes a valid point that reflects how I felt about YK07: "The sheer number of topics and panels each day was breathtaking: around 40-50 different subjects were discussed for somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour a piece. Just enough time to give people a brush stroke look at a topic, not enough time to get substantive."

» Pensacola Beach blog monitoredthe NN08 proceedings from the comfort of home. Link courtesy of panicbean

Just the facts on offshore coastal drilling

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I had an email from someone I know and among the other things this person said, there was this statement to which I devised the following reply.

"We need to drill along the coasts and including ANWAR."

We actually do drill along the coast; in fact, most of it is available. The US Interior Dept's Minerals Management Service tells us that about 80% of fossil fuels available in offshore are currently available for development.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently did a detailed study of the likely outcome of offshore drilling for their Annual Energy Outlook 2007, "Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)." The report was issued in May 2008.

I should first note that the term, "ban on off-shore drilling", is misleading and erroneous. There is authorized off-shore drilling in most of coastal mainland US. There is a moratorium on off-shore drilling in certain specified areas including the Florida coast, certain areas off the Atlantic coast and certain areas off the Pacific coast. These areas include vital fisheries and marine resource areas as well as coastal tourism areas.

Per the report mentioned above, in the area open to off-shore drilling, permits and leases have already been issued and only 17% of the area ALREADY leased is in production. In other terms, 33 million acres of offshore coastal areas are already leased, available for immediate drilling and are not being drilled.

Combine that with the onshore acreage which is already leased but not being drilled and per Sen. Feingold in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Oil companies collectively are not producing on 68 million acres, or about three-quarters of the federal lands and waters they have under lease.

Also per the EIA report, between 1999 and 2007, the number of drilling permits issued for development of public lands increased by more than 361%. Over 10,000 permits are currently 'stockpiled' by industry. What does that mean? Stockpiled as in permits were taken out but no drilling activity is underway.

It has been estimated that if all of those currently inactive leases were drilled, the USA would produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas EVERY DAY, accounting for a doubling of US oil production and a 75% increase in US natural gas production.

Now why are all those permitted leases just sitting there inactive? Because the oil companies that hold them can list them as untapped assets, adding significantly to their financial statements, particularly as the limitations on the amount of oil and gas actually available on the market drives up the price per barrel. There is no requirement from the federal government forcing the companies to actually do anything with the land that they've leased. And then the leases can be renewed without any commitment to actually drill.

Let's set that aside for the moment and talk about what would be available from drilling in ANWR.

This chart about the impact of drilling in ANWR can be summarized in a different way. Based on an EIA analysis done for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the price of a barrel of oil would drop between $0.50 and $2 over a 30-year time horizon. Since all oil is sold on a global market, impact on price at the pump is estimated to be 1-5 cents lower in 2025-2035. Not very timely and not much payback for all the investment and the desolation of a pristine wilderness area.

Okay, now combine the information about the inactive already-leased acreage and the minimal impact of ANWR with this piece of news that came out on July 3rd of this year.

While the U.S. oil industry wants access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department. [...]

The 1.6 million barrels a day in record petroleum exports represented 9 percent of total U.S. refining capacity of 17.6 million barrels a day. However, with refiners operating at 85 percent of capacity during the January-April period, the shipments represented a much a larger share of total U.S. oil products produced.

The exports were also equal to half the 3.2 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products the United States imported each day over the 4-month period.

The US oil industry is not being operated for the benefit of US citizens but for the benefit of the shareholders of those companies. Those companies currently hold active, viable permits to drill that would produce 4.8 million barrels of oil PER DAY and they choose not to exercise them at this time.

Anyone who calls for drilling in the areas affected by the moratorium without first addressing all of the currently leased but unused acreage is not playing it straight with the American public. In fact, if you wanted to be cynical about it, you could say that the oil companies are simply using the energy crisis to force open the protected areas without regard to impact on other industries, knowing full well that the access will make no difference to the overall energy costs.

In any case, it should be made clear that action now will NOT have a significantly measurable effect on energy prices, either now or in the future as anything that we do gain, will be bought and sold on the global market and the additional amount will be a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount in the global market.

Those aren't Democratic facts or Republican facts. They're just facts.

The rhetorical blockbuster event of the summer

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In New York magazine, Sam Anderson waxes effusive over his anticipation of Obama's speech formally accepting the nomination of the Democratic party. For those who appreciate Obama's oratory, he points out the obvious. But what really caught my eye about the impact that Obama's rhetoric has had thus far was this parenthetical comment:

(In the central plaza of Marrakech, surrounded by cobras and dancing monkeys, a Moroccan waiter recently recited to me, word for word, long portions of Obama's New Hampshire speech: "It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.")

A waiter in the central plaza of Marrakesh has memorized Obama's speech?

Talk about impact.

Der Spiegel's West Wing: The Incredible Shrinking Bush

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I just ran across West Wing, a feature, written for Der Spiegel by Gabor Steingart, that covers US politics from a German's perspective. His post about Bush's appearance at the G8 summit is a harsh review.

There is little consensus on whether the G-8 summit can be seen as a success for the climate. What is certain is that US President George W. Bush had little part in the efforts to save the world. He didn't lead, he only followed -- and the American superpower never before looked as small as it did this week.

The American president's decision to finally join the global fight against climate change should certainly be welcomed. Still, George W. Bush probably could have spared himself the long trip to the G-8 summit in Japan, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the other leaders had to pile on the pressure to get him to change his mind.

His time might have been better spent going for a walk around the White House -- that is, without the company of his spin doctors or any other members of the army of strategists who spend their time trying to relieve the world's most powerful man of his need to do any real thinking.

A short stroll up Pennsylvania Avenue would have been sufficient to provide ample reasons to take the helm of the global movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and America's dependency on oil.

At the small gas station on 28th street he could have observed an attendant trying to calm angry drivers. The price of gas has doubled since last summer, causing fury among the drivers of SUVs and other gas-guzzlers -- in other words, two-thirds of all car-driving Americans.

These people have no one to pass on their extra energy costs to. Businesses, on the other hand, can escape having to shoulder the burden of rising fuel prices. Pizza delivery services, for example, have slapped on extra fuel charges, Washington taxi drivers have implemented a $1 surcharge to help cover staggering gasoline costs and grocery stores have increased prices across the board. Inflation now stands at 4 percent.

Bush would also have learned from the gas station attendant just who people are blaming for this dangerous dependency on oil. Their president, of course. The Texan has had a life-long connection, both politically and privately, with the oil business.

"...who spend their time trying to relieve the world's most powerful man of his need to do any real thinking. " Ouch. "...the American superpower never before looked as small..." More ouch.

And yet this morning my brother sent me an email that said in part,

I believe that President Bush has been a very good president. What we are doing in Iraq is the right thing to do. Pulling out before the job is done would be a very big mistake and would also make the USA look weak. The rest of the world would lose faith in the USA and have a lack of respect.

Yes, much to my chagrin, he's part of that 21% of koolaid drinkers. I don't think he makes a habit of reading Der Spiegel.

McCain Said What?

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Hilzoy wrote the blog post that I meant to write last Thursday or Friday. My husband called me up absolutely apoplectic over the Reuters article about McCain dishing on when Obama would be in Iraq.

"Is this how he plans to win the election? Get his opponent killed beforehand."

McCain did break a huge rule about not discussing travel into combat areas and I haven't heard that he's apologized for doing so yet. Hilzoy pointed out just how major this slip is.

This is not just another screwup from McCain. It is very, very serious. There are things you are just Not Supposed To Talk About. This is one of them. If McCain doesn't have the common sense, the decency, and the discipline not to talk about them, that's a very serious problem. Since I'm not willing to assume he did this out of malice, I have to conclude that he just let this slip. But if he were President, we would need to count on him not to let things like this slip. Apparently, we can't. And that's a very big deal.

So when do you think we'll see this discussed by the traditional media? Not ever would be my guess, though they did avoid making the same mistake themselves.

NYT confirms Der Spiegel story

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By now, if you read the blogosphere or merely listen to the talking heads on TV, you know that al Maliki said that he agreed with Obama's plans for Iraq including a withdrawal in a Der Spiegel interview. There has been some discussion that the interview didn't really say that but now the NY Times has put that story to rest. They acquired the original interview from Der Spiegel and have translated it.

But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki's office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki's interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama's position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.

The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki's comments by The Times: "Obama's remarks that -- if he takes office -- in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq."

He continued: "Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq."

Mr. Maliki's top political adviser, Sadiq al-Rikabi, declined to comment on the remarks, but spoke in general about the Iraqi position on Sunday. Part of that position, he said, comes from domestic political pressure to withdraw.

"Foreign soldiers in the middle of the most populated areas are not without their side effects," he said. "Shouldn't we look to an end for this unhealthy situation?"

Look for Bush McCain to play catch-up this week.

Netroots Nation Updates - NN08 #3

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» Former MO Sen. Jean Carnahan is at NN08 and loved the Al Gore surprise appearance. She also likes us: "This gathering of progressive bloggers at Netroots Nation is a breath of fresh air as they deal creatively with the "democracy crisis.""

» National Journal's Hotline blog has a number of entries on what they've observed at NN08 including the OpenLeft Caucus, chats with Todd Beeton of mydd and Matt Yglesias, and summaries of Howard Dean's and Wes Clark's speeches.

» Liberal Oasis blogger Bill Scher
has been a one busy person at NN08. He's done a number of interviews and uploaded all the video. Check them out. Nice job, Bill.
    -- He did an interview (video) onsite at NN08 with Jim Hightower.
    -- He also interviewed (3 videos) Energize America's Mark Sumner and A Siegel, and Natasha Chart of MyDD, Open Left and Pacific Views talked about how bloggers make environmental issues more accessible both inside and outside the blogosphere.
    -- He interviewed Mark Begich running for Alaska's Senate seat dethroning Ted Stevens.
    -- He interviewed some attendees after the Labor Caucus on Thursday (2 videos) including Jason Lefkowitz, online organizer for Change To Win, and Elana Levin from UNITE HERE and Stephanie Taylor from SEIU.

» RCP's Kyle Trygvstad did an interview with Darcy Burner. He also posts about Gov. Siegelman's appearance at NN08, Markos's and Harold Ford's noon-time matchup and Al Gore's surprise appearance with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

» MyDD has lots of good posts about what's happening at NN08 including:
    -- Todd Beeton with a piece about the Road to 60 Senate challengers at NN08
    -- entrepeneur with an appeal to help write the Netroots Nation political platform online.
    -- Jonathan Singer with notes on his interview with Gov. Siegelman and Siegelman's appearance at NN08
    -- Todd Beeton on Thursday night's opener with Howard Dean and Gen. Clark
    -- Todd made some brief notes about the lunchtime chat between Markos and Harold Ford.

» The Austin Statesman has a blog called Postcards from the Lege with a number of entries about NN08.
    -- Markos did a radio show interview with KOOP FM
    -- Notes on Howard Dean's rallies in Crawford and Austin
    -- a picture of the sign noting that the Mom's Caucus has been moved from the assigned location to Phil's Ice House
    -- a post with pictures about the Second Life panel and in which the Second Life participants outnumbered the real life participants
    -- a post with video about hanging out in the Media Room waiting for Obama Girl
    -- notes on Gen. Clark's keynote opener and Howard Dean's keynote address
    -- Coverage of Rick Noriega's liveblog conversation in his Daily Kos diary about John Cornyn's fear of the netroots

» Sam Stein at HuffPost blogged about Markos and Harold Ford including the heckling Ford received. Included some video for you to watch if you missed it.

» WaPo's The Trail blog has a couple entries about NN08
    -- Garance Franke-Ruta has a post whose title implies that the Obama campaign is not obviously present at NN08 and then proceeds to detail all the different people from the campaign who are there and what they're contributing. Sidenote: I attended a session that she moderated last year and I still can't pronounce her name properly. Good session though.
    -- a post with video of Al Gore's surprise appearance with Nancy Pelosi.

» KVUE News of Austin has a background article and video about Netroots Nation along with an interview with Nate Wilcox aka Texas Nate on myDD, which talks about Nate's new book, Netroots Rising, which he co-authored with Lowell Feld of Raising Kane, aka lowkell at Daily Kos.

» The NY Times had this intro article about NN08 by Katherine Seelye who's attending the conference and also posts on NYT's The Caucus blog

» The NYT's The Caucus blog has several diverse entries on NN08.
    -- a thorough post about Speaker Pelosi's Q&A session and Al Gore's surprise appearance.
    -- a post on a panel about the use of profanity in blogging -- Digby's doing less. Sounds like it was interesting.
    -- their post about the "debate" between Markos and Harold Ford
    -- Katherine Seelye posted one about a panel that gathered to discuss "making the national popular vote the method by which Americans choose their presidents". Hendrik Hertzberg was present. Sounded like it was more of a group looking for an audience and to recruit some new blogosphere-based blood than a panel convened by bloggers from her description.

» The Dallas Morning News blogger Karen Brooks keeps up with her mostly entertaining posts about NN08 here, here, here, and here. IMO, Karen, you should have gone to the panel on media's failures and domination by the RWNM. You might have learned something. Gasp!

» The ACLU Blog of Rights contingent reports in about their experiences here and here. They have some good links including one to video of the profanity on the blogs panel

» Pandagon has the video of the profanity on the blogs panel. Looks like it's one of the more popular, er, infamous sessions thus far. Jesse Taylor also has a post up about Al Gore's surprise appearance. Amanda Marcotte has a thoughtful post about the future of lefty blogging and how it may change with a Democratic president in office based on the panel with Digby, Atrios, Rick Perlstein and Paul Krug yesterday. I watched it via ustream.tv and it was great.

» Scienceblog's Virginia Hughes talks about Thursday's highlights at NN08. Lots of good science action from her perspective.

» ReGeneration blog has a day 2 post up which includes a couple of video interviews.

» Grist blogger David Roberts does a sort-of stream-of-consciousness post on Al Gore's surprise appearance at NN08. An entertaining and informative read. There's also a post about this interview with David Roberts.

» Jason Linkins at HuffPo has a detailed post about the panel titled From Dean To Obama: Four Years In the Internet Revolution. Sounds like they had an interesting discussion.

» The AFL-CIO blog reports on NN08 activities including some of what happened at the Labor caucus on Thursday and on a Friday panel on Middle Class economics.

» thru a blue filter blog has a post up about Markos's appearance on David Gregory's show on MSNBC in case you missed it.

» The Denver Post's PoliticsWest blog has a post up with some liveblogging entries from Saturday morning's events at NN08. It's interesting to see what Stephen Keating picked out as key points to pass along.

Netroots Nation Updates - NN08 #2

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» WSJ's Washington Wire blog posts about Netroots Nation.

» Dallas Morning News Trailblazer blog is written by Karen Brooks and she has several fun entries up starting with pics of Howard Dean's rally in Austin. Netroot Nations Meta-Swag includes a youtube clip of the goodies being handed out at the convention. They got some fun stuff.

» KEYETV, CBS station in Austin, has a piece on NN08 and blogging in general. Definitely written by a non-blogger. Two of the Texas blogs get nice nods and links in the article.

» McJoan of Daily Kos interviewed Howard Dean along with Chris Bowers and Jonathan Singer yesterday after his NN08 rally and writes about their discussion. Interesting read on upcoming strategies and past successes.

» RealClearPolitics blog notes the opening of NN08 and incorrectly quotes Howard Dean. He really said "affinity group", not "infinity group". Clean the wax out of your ears, guys.

» Blogcritic's Dave Nalle files his first spy report. As he acknowledges right off the bat, he is there undercover to see what the other side is doing. He demonstrates his complete ignorance of the left blogosphere in his description of the attendees and the dkos blogging community. Beware who you're talking to at the conference.

» Hunter at Daily Kos has posted one of his usual very thoughtful essays about NN08 and what it means. For those interested in the evolution of the political blogosphere, it's definitely grist for the thinking mill.

» ReGeneration, a green group that's working with the people from Grist on environmental issues post about their activities at NN08 and what they have planned to present to the NN08 attendees.

» Molly at NARAL's Blog for Choice has a short, sweet youtube clip summing up her first day at NN08.

» Alternet highlights part of Gen. Wesley Clark's speech at NN08 -- the part where he talked about the "right wing freak show".

» The Austin Statesman reports on Howard Dean's appearance in Crawford, Texas and some of what he said at the NN08 rally yesterday afternoon.

» The Wall Street Journal has an article pointing out just how far behind the right wing blogosphere is compared to NN08 and the left wing blogosphere. Go read if you want to gloat a little.

» NYTimes The Caucus blog has a few words about NN08 including noting that "the fist-bump has become the symbol of solidarity on the Democratic side". They also posted about NN08's "opinion media" label for Fox News.

» IamTRex has a nice photo gallery blog post up.

» Kossack fbihop has a podcast and two entries with observations on his first day at NN08.

Netroots Nation Updates - NN08 #1

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YearlyKos 2007 in Chicago was a terrific time. Couldn't make Netroots Nation 2008 in Austin so I thought I'd try to collect some of the coverage of NN08 in the media and blogs.

» KXAN TV in Austin reports on the arrival of the convention with a nice feature about the Burnt Orange blog.

» Dallas Morning News with a nice kickoff article from Karen Brooks on NN08 and how bloggers are operating offline.

» The Austin Statesman
has 4 stories up about NN08. The first is a complete intro to NN08 and the bloggers who will be attending and what they'll be doing. The second is a story on how Netroots Nation was enticed to coming to Austin. The third is a background on how NN08 evolved from Markos' blog and the dailykos community. The fourth is an editorial that acknowledges the evolution of Netroots Nation into an influential leftwing player.

» The Hill has an informative piece on NN08 and the plans for a blog site focused on Congress and the legislative sausage-making process. "To that end, Daily Kos, the pre-eminent liberal blog, plans to start a website focused on Congress this September."

» Washington Times
article and followup blog post on the start of NN08 and the faceoff between Harold Ford and Markos.

Time's statistician weighs in on the NYT poll article

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I noted earlier today in Reality Bites that NYT's sloppy journalism had struck again.

TPM Election Central has the story on NYT's latest goof-up. Seems that Adam Nagourney had a tale to tell and didn't let the facts in the poll (pdf) deter him. The Obama campaign looked at the reported data and identified a more than a few problems with Adam's narrative.

Now, via Karen Tumulty, Time's statistician Jackson Dykman has weighed in with some observations on the NYT article versus the poll.

I too was really struck by the NYT's characterization of its own poll. I read the full poll first and then the story when they posted it last night. I've rarely seen a story so wildly off from the actual data on which it is based.

Aside from point C in the Obama response (which is true and basically negates the story), the premise of the story is, well, utter nonsense. [...]

I can't decide whether it's the headline or the story that really creates the schism. The hed in the paper is: "Poll finds Obama candidacy isn't closing country's divisions on race."

Are you kidding me? The guy just wrapped up the nomination. Racial divisions in the U.S. have a wee bit of a 400-year head start on him. If Obama goes on to win the election, I really hope the Times does this poll again in four years. Whatever the result, THAT would be a story. [...]

Two other points. In the poll data, 79% of white voters think an Obama administration would treat both whites and blacks the same. And 82% of white voters think a McCain administration would treat both races the same. Okay, fine. The real story in this question is this--90% of black voters think Obama would treat whites and blacks the same, but only 50% of black voters think McCain would treat both races the same.

Yet Obama is the one who's failing to close "the country's divisions on race"?

Finally, I looked it up again because I couldn't believe it, but Point E in the Obama response is correct. Why on earth would the story say "there's even racial dissension over Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle: She was viewed favorably by 58% of black voters, compared with 24% of white voters."

The numbers for Cindy McCain: 20% favorable among white voters, 9% favorable among black voters (!!!)

I've long made the argument that journalists care wildly more about candidates' spouses than readers do, but someone needs to tell me why the racial dissension is "over Michelle Obama."

Thanks to Ms. Tumulty and Mr. Dykman for also weighing in.

Adam Nagourney does have a track record of deciding what the CW is and then writing his article to fit. He provided no end of frustration in his coverage of the Lieberman vs. Lamont race. This is just more of the same.

Obama's foreign policy speech on Iraq

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Obama delivered a major foreign policy speech in DC yesterday centering on Iraq. TPMtv has prepared a video clip of highlights from the speech.

Here's the complete speech in video. There's complete text of the prepared remarks after the jump.

AP Self-Destructing? Uber-bloggers?

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Between TalkingPointsMemo's followup on Ron Fournier's friendly words of encouragement to Karl Rove and JedReport's highlighting of Liz Sidoti's gift of sprinkled donuts and coffee (just like on the double talk express bus), Nedra Pickler's dubious contributions, Beth Fouhy's gooey "I miss Hillary" gusher, you have to shake your head and wonder what's happened to the AP.

Steve Benen identified some more head-scratchers:

I suppose the first time I noticed this "new" AP came in March, when Fournier wrote an item -- whether it was a news article or an opinion piece was unclear -- that said Barack Obama is "bordering on arrogance," "a bit too cocky," and that the senator and his wife "ooze a sense of entitlement." To substantiate the criticism, Fournier pointed to ... not a whole lot. It was basically the Republicans' "uppity" talking point in the form of an AP article.

But the AP's coverage has deteriorated since -- and it goes beyond just the AP giving John McCain donuts and McCain giving the AP barbecue. There was the slam-job on Obama that read like an RNC oppo dump, followed by a scathing, 900-word reprimand of Obama's decision to bypass the public financing system in the general election, filled with errors of fact and judgment.

When Obama unveiled his faith-based plan, the AP got the story backwards. When Obama talked about his Iraq policy on July 3, the AP said he'd "opened the door" to reversing course, even though he hadn't.

The AP's David Espo wrote a hagiographic, 1,200-word piece, praising McCain's "singular brand of combative bipartisanship," which was utterly ridiculous.

The AP pushed the objectivity envelope a little further with a mind-numbing, 1,100-word piece on Obama "being shadowed by giant flip-flops."

The AP flubbed the story on McCain joking about killing Iranians, and then flubbed the story about McCain's promise to eliminate the deficit. It's part of a very discouraging trend for the AP that's been ongoing for a while now.

Per Steve and Michael Calderone at Politico, the responsible party is the relatively new bureau chief, Ron Fournier who took over in May 2008. His predecessor, Sandy Johnson who was ousted in an unfriendly turnover regards him "as a threat to one of the most influential institutions in American journalism."

"I loved the Washington bureau," said Johnson, who left the AP after losing the prestigious position. "I just hope he doesn't destroy it."

It seems that all of this insertion of opinion and attitude into the AP's daily reporting is deliberate as part of Fournier's "accountability journalism". Politico noted:

Fournier himself, shortly before taking the job as bureau chief, wrote several models for what he's called "accountability journalism." A January lead declared that "Obama is bordering on arrogance." A month later, he began a column with "The Democratic nomination is now Barack Obama's to lose."

Fournier and other critics of the conventional press model, especially those on the left, have said that being released from the tired conventions of news writing is exactly what journalism needs.

By these lights, the mentality that presumes both sides of an argument are entitled to equal weight is what prevented the media from challenging the Bush administration more aggressively on the Iraq war and other issues.

Others warn that what Fournier and other proponents see as truth-telling can easily bleed into opinionizing -- exactly the opposite of the AP's mission of "delivering fast, unbiased news."

The real question comes down to what do you pick as facts. There's this at the end of Calderone's article:

"But boy, when we can cut through the clutter, and we can say 'Barack Obama put politics over his word,' which he did -- that's a fact," Fournier said. "He did. He may not like the way Liz wrote it, but it is a statement of fact."

No, Ron, it isn't a statement of fact. At no time did Barack Obama ever promise to take public financing. You may not like that point because it destroys your great lead but it's true.

So, the lesson here is to start regarding the AP as uber-bloggers -- a group of writers doing news-based items wrapped in their opinions which they may or may not identify as facts whether or not they are truly facts.

You can take away the question mark on the title of this piece. It's definitely:

AP Self-Destructing

What NYT didn't say about Joe Lieberman but should have

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From TPMElectionCentral:

There are two facts about Joe Lieberman that the big news orgs simply can't bring themselves to tell their readers and viewers.

The first is that during the 2006 campaign against Ned Lamont, Lieberman and his aides vowed multiple times that he would continue caucusing with the Democrats. The second is that Lieberman also vowed to help elect a Democrat to the White House in 2008.

Thanks Greg. The NYT also forgot to mention that Lieberman couldn't get re-elected in Connecticut now. Per Markos in his 7-8-08 column at TheHill.com:

Today, according to the latest of the Research 2000 polls, taken June 30 to July 2, Lieberman would take only 19 percent of the Democratic vote and 36 percent of the independent vote. Republicans love him -- he'd get 74 percent of their vote -- but that would still add up to a resounding 36-51 loss to Ned Lamont.

And good riddance.

Flipping Out

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Exactly. The last word on flip-flopping from the editors at TNR:

That flip-flopping has become the most damning accusation against a politician speaks to the poverty of the political process. Here's how the system currently works: As candidates prepare to enter the race, they devise a foreign policy platform. Then, for the next two years, they must resolutely defend that platform. Any deviation from their original position papers will be treated by their opponents--and, in turn, by the press--as a deep character flaw, evidence that a candidate will do whatever it takes to win the presidency.

This is the fate that befell John Kerry, and it's a particularly mindless dynamic. Foreign affairs, especially ongoing wars, are filled with twists and turns, many of which couldn't possibly be predicted years out. Consider all the potential shifts that might take place within Iraq in the next six months: The Iraqi government could demand that the United States head for the exits; Iran could exact revenge for an Israeli strike by launching a wave of suicide attacks; the Iraqi sects could construct a new framework that moves the country substantially closer to political reconciliation. Nobody has a perfect record predicting the course of events in Iraq--and it's absurd that candidates should be rewarded for sticking to stances conceived so long ago.

Ryan Lizza on Obama making it in Chicago

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Ryan Lizza's article in the New Yorker sheds some light on an incident that's been briefly mentioned in passing in other articles but never explained to my satisfaction. Generally, all there's been is a reference to his winning his position as a state senator by challenging the signatures of his primary opponents.

But it seems there's a whole lot they aren't saying when it's summarized that way. His primary opponent, Alice Palmer, decided to run for a Congressional seat and was his first big endorser when he decided to run for her state senate seat.

Alice Palmer introduced Obama, and an account in the Hyde Park Herald quoted more from her speech than from his; it was, after all, chiefly her endorsement that certified him as a plausible candidate. "In this room, Harold Washington announced for mayor," Palmer said. "Barack Obama carries on the tradition of independence in this district. . . . His candidacy is a passing of the torch." [...]

First Person: the complete story of what happened after the Postville raid

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Nightprowlkitty alerted us to this post by Duke at The Sanctuary:

Today's New York Times features an article based upon an exclusive interview with Erik Camayd-Freixas, Ph.D. of  Florida International University. Dr Camayd-Freixas was one of  26 federally certified interpreters called into service during the Postville Iowa meat packing raid this past May.  As a court appointed interpreter, Dr Camayd-Freixas witnessed first hand the abuses and systematic disregard for civil and human-rights that marked that raid.

In 23 years as a certified Spanish interpreter for federal courts, Erik Camayd-Freixas has spoken up in criminal trials many times, but the words he uttered were rarely his own.

Then he was summoned here by court officials to translate in the hearings for nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers arrested in a raid on May 12 at a meatpacking plant. Since then, Mr. Camayd-Freixas, a professor of Spanish at Florida International University, has taken the unusual step of breaking the code of confidentiality among legal interpreters about their work.

In a 14-page essay he circulated among two dozen other interpreters who worked here, Professor Camayd-Freixas wrote that the immigrant defendants whose words he translated, most of them villagers from Guatemala, did not fully understand the criminal charges they were facing or the rights most of them had waived.

In the essay and an interview, Professor Camayd-Freixas said he was taken aback by the rapid pace of the proceedings and the pressure prosecutors brought to bear on the defendants and their lawyers by pressing criminal charges instead of deporting the workers immediately for immigration violations.

He said defense lawyers had little time or privacy to meet with their court-assigned clients in the first hectic days after the raid. Most of the Guatemalans could not read or write, he said. Most did not understand that they were in criminal court.

"The questions they asked showed they did not understand what was going on," Professor Camayd-Freixas said in the interview. "The great majority were under the impression they were there because of being illegal in the country, not because of Social Security fraud."

(Article also contains a video interview with Dr Camayd-Freixas ..it's a must view)  

Last month I received a copy of the essay Dr Camayd-Freixas wrote detailing the raid.

It is published here in its entirety to document what went on behind closed doors at the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo Iowa where 390 migrants were subjected to kangaroo court proceedings that resulted in guilty pleas and mandatory jail sentences.  

Dr Camayd-Freixas will be testifying before Congress later this month at the Immigration Sub-Committee of the House of Representatives in regards to the raid.

He has asked that anyone moved by his account help the relief effort in any way possible;

"Finally, my new friends from Postville involved in the relief effort inform me that they are still dealing with a very tough humanitarian crisis. So, please, if you have any opportunity for fundraising, this is the address where donations can be sent:

St. Bridget's Hispanic Ministry Fund
c/o Sister Mary McCauley
PO Box 369
Postville, Iowa 52162"

What follows is the complete story of what happened after the Postville raid:

Go read Dr Camayd-Freixas's complete essay.

Exposing KBR's crimes against our troops and our taxpayers

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Ben Carter is a former KBR employee hired for his expertise in water treatment systems. He was interviewed via email by Progressive Future's Kate Drazner. Here's his story and here's a clip from his appearance in BraveNewFilm's Iraq For Sale movie.

The blog post gives the background on how he got involved, where he was stationed and what happened when he tried to correct and report the contaminated water problem. If you haven't seen Iraq for Sale or heard about this problem before, do take the time to check it out.

The 'Wonderland' World of the Bush DOJ

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Jon Eisenberg, one of the Al Haramain foundation's legal team, has an update on the status of the case in Salon. It's hard to believe that this is what we pay taxes for our government to do.

On July 3, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court in California made a ruling particularly worthy of the nation's attention. In Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush, a key case in the epic battle over warrantless spying inside the United States, Judge Walker ruled, effectively, that President George W. Bush is a felon.

Judge Walker held that the president lacks the authority to disregard the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA -- which means Bush's warrantless electronic surveillance program was illegal. Whether Bush will ultimately be held accountable for violating federal law with the program remains unclear. Bush administration lawyers have fought vigorously -- at times using brazen, logic-defying tactics -- to prevent that from happening. The court battle will continue to play out as Congress continues to battle over recasting FISA and possibly granting immunity to telecom companies involved in the illegal surveillance.

The story of how Al-Haramain's lawyers negotiated the journey thus far to Judge Walker's ruling -- a team of seven lawyers that includes me -- sheds light on how much is at stake for the Bush administration and the country. It is a surreal saga, involving a top-secret document accidentally released by the government, a showdown between Bush lawyers and a federal judge, the violent destruction of a laptop computer by government agents, and possibly even the top-secret shredding of a banana peel.

Call me Alice -- because this is a tale directly from Government Secrecy Wonderland, the bizarre and unnerving adventures of suing President Bush for apparently violating a federal law. I'll swear under penalty of perjury that what follows is true and correct. Otherwise, you might not even believe it.

Do take the time to read this one.

Carpetbagger Report: The Official List of McCain Flip-Flops

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UPDATE: Steve's list has become so popular, he's made it a feature on his blog which will be maintained and updated so use this link for the up-to-date version.
- - - -
Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report and his readers have provided us with a definitive list of McCain's flip-flops and it's a pretty thorough job with 62 items divided by policy category for easy reference.

As the self-designated keeper of the Official List of McCain Flip-Flops, I'm pleased to report, thanks to reader contributions, we now have a whopping 62 policy reversals from the Republican nominee. If McCain wants to argue that flip-flops are an example of a political leader who can't be trusted to keep his work or honor his commitments, McCain might as well drop out of the race now.

Here's the first 15 on The Carpetbagger's McCain Flip-Flops list:

Kerry: McCain & the GOP "are hiding behind the surge"

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On Face the Nation yesterday, Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham made an appearance, as surrogates for the Obama and McCain campaigns, respectively. And I have to say, the debate wasn't even close. Read the transcript and see what I mean. Graham was reduced to sputtering out tired talking points (yeah, for the umpteenth time we know Obama hasn't attended a dog and pony show in Iraq for two years) while Kerry gave a lesson on the long and complex histories of the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, and ... John McCain. Although the media is working over time carrying water for their favorite "maverick", Kerry's clear spoken language on what is going on with the Republicans is exactly the right message not only for Barack Obama, but for our Congressional candidates as well.

July Fourth, a Celebration of Dissent

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Cross-posted with permission from KerryVIsion

Happy Fourth!

What a great holiday -- when Americans celebrate the immutable bond between patriotism and dissent -- when the founders declared that the United States would no longer tolerate the tyranny of King George, and spoke out about the injustice. They listed out the reasons in detail and and declared our sovereignty in a document that affirms that the States would no longer tolerate living under the oppressive rule of the King.

With this document, the United States declared our Independence, and it is that dissent we celebrate today.

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the
thirteen united States of America

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.


That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.


He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.


He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.


He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.


In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by ORDER and



Found: The "lost chapter" of the Iran-Contra report

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Robert Parry of Consortiumnews highlights a story that should concern us all. It seems that the final report of the Iran-Contra investigation was missing some significant parts. And the failure to expose what happened has allowed the parties involved to continue to influence our country and our politics with no penalty for their ill conduct.

As historians ponder George W. Bush's disastrous presidency, they may wonder how Republicans perfected a propaganda system that could fool tens of millions of Americans, intimidate Democrats, and transform the vaunted Washington press corps from watchdogs to lapdogs.

To understand this extraordinary development, historians might want to look back at the 1980s and examine the Iran-Contra scandal's "lost chapter," a narrative describing how Ronald Reagan's administration brought CIA tactics to bear domestically to reshape the way Americans perceived the world.

How Ignorant are We?

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MsJoanne posted an item at TPMCafe which pointed to a longer post that she'd done at the zoo about a new book written by Rick Shenkman: How Ignorant Are We? The Voters Choose... but on the Basis of What? Mr. Shenkman is an associate professor of history at George Mason University and the founder and editor of GMU's History News Network website

MsJoanne excerpted a few stats I think we all should know about.

These statistics come from varying studies done over the last 20 years.

  • 25% of Americans cannot name more than one of the five freedoms granted by the First Amendment.
  • 20% know that there are 100 senators. 25% knew a US senator's term is six years.
  • 40% can correctly identify and name the three branches of government. (Ed note: the author found this encouraging!)
  • Most Americans cannot name their own member of Congress or their senators.
  • 34% know that it is the Congress that declares war.
  • 35% know that Congress can override a presidential veto.
  • 49% think the president can suspend the Constitution.
  • 60% believe that he can appoint judges to the federal courts without the approval of the Senate.
  • 45% believe that revolutionary speech is punishable under the Constitution.

Ok, that's politics. What about more general knowledge? Funny you should ask.

The State of Media: Faux, er, Fox News

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It's items like this one which underscore just how outrageous Fox News's assault on standards of journalism really is. Media Matters spotted it. Huffington Post highlighted it with this headline.


Click on the image for the larger, original size headline from HuffPost.

Just add it to the list of assaults documented by BraveNewFilms at foxattacks.com and foxnewsporn.com.

More of David Brooks' alternate reality fallacies

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Here's just one more example.

Political analysts now notice a gap between professionals and managers. Professionals, like lawyers and media types, tend to vote and give Democratic. Corporate managers tend to vote and give Republican. The former get their values from competitive universities and the media world; the latter get theirs from churches, management seminars and the country club.

Where is the research on which David Brooks bases such statements?

What? There isn't any?

Then why would anyone bother reading what he has to say?

NYT -- you're wasting good money on him. Please get rid of him and give the money to the news division for some real reporters -- you know -- those people who use real facts.

NY Times: China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo

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For all those who like to wallow in the "America is superior, love it or leave it" mode of thinking, the New York Times has some news which may jar your viewpoint. It seems that our Gitmo techniques are based on those that the Chinese Communists used on US prisoners during the Korean War.

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of "coercive management techniques" for possible use on prisoners, including "sleep deprivation," "prolonged constraint," and "exposure."

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency. [...]

The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance."

And this part should highlight just how ridiculous the claims of Cheney and others supporting the use of torture really are.

The 1957 article (pdf) from which the chart was copied was entitled "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War" and written by Alfred D. Biderman, a sociologist then working for the Air Force, who died in 2003. Mr. Biderman had interviewed American prisoners returning from North Korea, some of whom had been filmed by their Chinese interrogators confessing to germ warfare and other atrocities.

Amazing what you'll confess to when experiencing manipulation and pain that drives you out of your mind. That another country would base military and foreign policy on the words that result from such methods is mind-boggling. That the United States would do it is heart-breaking. We know better than that or we should.