Tuesday, February 28, 2006

So Cal Radio Ratings

Hoffmania.com summarizes the radio trends nicely:

The Arbitrends for Los Angeles came out today, and Richard Mellon Scaife will probably want his money back - his messengers have lost listeners by the boatload. These are month-to-month extrapolated ratings (not rolling three-month average) for listeners 12+.

  • Limbaugh drew a 4.1 last month. This month he dropped to a 3.3.*
  • Sean Hannity was at a 2.7 last month. He's now at a 1.8.*
  • Laura Ingraham: 1.1 to 0.8.
  • Dennis Prager/Michael Medved: 1.2 to a 0.7.*
  • Hugh Hewitt: 1.3 to 0.7.

*These are 10am-3pm ratings. Limbaugh is on 9am-noon. O'Reilly's on 9 to 11am on the same station. Hannity's on noon to 3pm.

How did KTLK, the Air America station do? Overall, 0.5 to 0.9, making it the only talk station in L.A. to score an increase.

  • Stephanie Miller (mornings): 0.7 to 1.0.
  • Al Franken (9 to noon)
  • Ed Schultz (noon to 3): 0.7 to 1.0.
  • Randi Rhodes (3 to 7pm): 0.7 to 1.0.

KTLK's 7pm to midnight surged from a 0.2 to a 1.0. Not to diminish Seder, Garofalo and Malloy, but KTLK still runs Clippers basketball thanks to an old contract, and they've been on a tear. The fact that this station pulls these kinds of numbers with a HORRENDOUS signal is a small miracle.

By the way, don't write this off as being liberal ol' Hollywood. The GOP stronghold of Orange County is included in this, too.

UPDATE: Here are the L.A. numbers from "the money demographic" - 25-54 year olds:

Limbaugh: 3.3 to 2.9.
Hannity: 1.8 to 0.5. (Ouch)
Ingraham: 0.9 to 0.6.
Prager/Medved: 1.4 to 0.3.
Hewitt: 1.4 to 0.9.

KTLK (Air America):
Miller: 1.1 to 1.1
Franken/Schultz: 0.7 to 0.7
Rhodes: 0.9 to 1.3. (That's my girl!)
Garofalo/Seder/Malloy/Clippers: 0.3 to 1.0.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Deconstructing Failure

At the TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) last weekend in Monterey, CA.....

Presenter Tony Robbins -- he of motivational speaking fame -- asks for reasons people give when they fail. The audience yells out “bad management”, “not enough resources”..... the usual suspects.

Al Gore, in the audience at the time (and who had previously spoken to the conference) chimed in, “The Supreme Court”. (Confirmed by multiple attendees.)

Arnold on Meet the Press

RUSSERT: You said when you ran at first, "I don't need to take money from anybody." But you're going to be raising thousands and thousands of thousand dollars from people who do business and have contracts with the state government.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I want to correct you. I said I would never take money from unions, that I would never take money from Indian gaming tribes. I take money because you need to take money.

Election season 2006.... so the lies have started again.

Arianna has a more detailed analysis of the interview at Huffington Post. (Search for the word "campaign" to find the start of the Arnold section.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Orleans - a Historic Viewpoint

As we look to the new hurricaine saeson rapidly approaching and we see the incompetence of the admisistration
to either mitigate or improve the situation a number of unresolved questions come to the fore. Do we rebuild, no
question, but let's look at the problem beneath the surface.

New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in North America, the oldest being a spanish site now Saint Augustine
in Florida. New Orleans, a River and Sea Port city of the French here before Thomas Jefferson purchased the
Louisiana Territories from Napoleon. It has to be rebuilt as both a cultural city and as Senator Gary Hart said
on the Bill Maher Show on HBO last Friday'; it is the major port for the mid west up the Mississippi Valley.
Has anyone found a more responsible way to deal with the sea and reclamation? Yes, the Netherlands for
one; they have reclaimed massive amounts of land from the Zidder Zee. Remember the dikes of Holland and
the use of elevated land to hold back the sea.

So what is my plan, so to speak; as someone whose family is from New Orleans I would say this on that.
Use reclaiming technology to raise sections of the crescent city so that instead of levees you would have
heights of large areas protecting the basin of the French Quarter. You would guarantee that the former land
owners and renters be given homestead rights that protected their home sites for at least 18 months. Place
prohibitions in place to prevent a modern form of Scaliwag from again stealing southern land for development.

We are left with the problem that the government has not been able to truly rebuild Iraq; has not been able to
rebuild the gulf coast or New Orleans; nor do anything concrete besides wasting or diverting millions to billions
to some company named Halliburton. Dick Cheney is definitely being underpaid with that 1 million he gets as
the former CEO; if he was a salesman on commission his cut would be much larger. Wecan only hope that
the newly headed FEMA can extricate itself from the Homeland Security monilith that to date has enlarged
the size of government with little to show for it. If it was capable of doing it's job; why are we selling off parts
of our ports to the United Arab Emirates. That is a question for another days blog.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The United States is holding a fire sale - no democracies need apply

  Just the other night a political coworker and ally sent out an e-mail
for a meeting and asked if there were any burning issues. In response
I wrote back that there should be firesale and the more I thought about it
the more I realized it was true. What is this burning issue you might ask?
It's is tragically simple. That issue is that this country under it's
neoconservative leadership is holding a literal firesale of all the
fundamentals of our so called democracy. What do we have for sale;
why we have an old
Constitution that is no longer used except for
denying citizens their fundamental rights under a strict constructionist
view that only finds value in the Federalist Papers. Then there is the
Bill of Rights with a few rights left intact. A relatively free press if you
allow that you are free as a corporation to own as much as you want
and that the public airways are becoming more private all of the time.
We have a concept of "liberty and justice" now enforced by an Attorney
General whose legal writing heretofore included legal reasons for not
following the Geneva Convention. His other works of legal acumen
include supporting off shore prisons that need not guarantee any rights
to it's prisoners. Now when it comes to Homeland Security, we are
selling our Ports to international concerns while postering about a
campaign against terrorism. I won't dignify it by mislabeling it a war!
In the former parlance of international law there was a concept of
"Terrorist States", that promoted such acts of violence by national policies.
When you look at this country through the eyes of the world; we sadly
qualify as such a state. Our international relations forment violence,
promote intolerance, and have created a new "Crusades". Do you
remember when this president used such a phrase to explain our actions
in Iraq. We have sadly become both those things we were accused of
back in the cold war, albeit at the time incorrectly. As Pogo, the cartoon
from the war years once said during the "red baiting" McCarthy era;
"We have met the enemy, and they are us"! We are now in many
quarters the Ugly American, and this president has become a
warmonger. Don't forget - the United States is having a Fire Sale,
and no democracies need apply.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Action Item

If you are a woman, or someone you know or love is a woman, or you think you might know what it's like to be a woman, and you are sickened by the bill passed by the South Dakota state legislature which proposes banning ALL abortions, please do the following:
Step 1: Get hangers from drycleaner
Step 2: Put them in a box
Step 3: Send it to one of the legislators who voted in favor of the ban http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2006/SJR2.htm
Step 4: Encourage everyone you know to do same.

I'm sending mine to Julie Bartling, the DEMOCRAT who is the bill's primary sponsor.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wrap Him Around Their Necks

From AP: Republicans Rally To Support DeLay

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay was likened to Stonewall Jackson, Lyndon Baines Johnson and a courageous World War I officer Thursday as members of the Texas Republican congressional delegation joined the former House majority leader to endorse his re-election.

The unusual display of GOP solidarity was remarkable for DeLay, who is aggressively campaigning for re-election to the seat he has held comfortably for 22 years. This year he faces a contested primary March 7, and if he wins, a credible candidate in Democrat Nick Lampson in November.
The Republicans took turns singing DeLay's praises as a selfless leader who not only helped get them elected, but also won Republican majorities in Congress and the Legislature, and brought home the bacon for NASA, the port of Houston and other local needs.

U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla of San Antonio likened him to LBJ, the former Democratic president from Texas, for "altering the political axis in our state."

U.S. Rep. John Carter, who represents the Central Texas Hill Country, likened DeLay to a World War I lieutenant who led his men out of a trench into battle and is "willing to have a target on front and back saying, 'shoot me first.'"

And U.S. Rep. John Culberson of Houston said DeLay was like Stonewall Jackson, willing to take the shots on behalf of the GOP troops.

Bonilla noted that such an event was unprecedented in a primary season and was a signal of the loyalty DeLay has engendered in Washington.

A Lampson spokesman saw it differently, recalling that Vice President Dick Cheney also headlined a fund-raiser for DeLay last year.

"He's had the vice president bail him out, and now he's got to have the delegation prop him up. That's got to be humiliating," Mike Malaise said.
DeLay hugged his wife, Christine, as he thanked the group."The Democrats are picking a fight with the wrong delegation," he told a small crowd.

Read on....

There's a Joke Here, But I'll Let You Write It

Headline From AP:

Neanderthals in Europe Killed Off Earlier

LONDON - Neanderthals in Europe were killed off by the advance of modern humans thousands of years earlier than previously believed, losing a competition for food and shelter, according to a scientific study published Wednesday.

Read the rest...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tonight: Conference Call With Senator Debra Bowen on Voting Machines

In light of CA Secy of State McPherson's stealth and dishonest announcement certifying Diebold voting machines in California for upcoming elections, Senator Debra Bowen is holding a conference call tonight (Wednesday). Details below on participating.

The Brad Blog has a good write-up on McPherson's actions and what we as citizens can do about it. Senator Bowen (who's running to replace McPherson in 2006) will undoubtedly bring us up-to-the-minute news and action items.

Read the Senator's latest statement "Stop the Diebold Rush Job" at her blog.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From the California For Democracy (CFD) and Democracy For America (DFA) invitation:

Chair of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, and Constitutional Amendments Committee

WHEN: Weds. February 22, 7:30pm (We'll start the actual event at around 7:35pm)

Senator Bowen is a leading voice on election reform in California, and she plans to discuss the latest developments around the certification of Diebold electronic voting machines, as well as her work on restoring confidence in our elections system, reforming our initiative process, and her priorities as California's next Secretary of State.

Information will be sent to you upon receipt of your RSVP

Email facilitator@californiafordemocracy.com

The conference service will be available at 7:30pm, but we'll wait 5 minutes before starting the actual call. Please try and sign in between 7:25pm and 7:35pm. The line will be open to all b/w 7:25pm and 7:35pm so feel free to announce yourself and what group you are from. At 7:35pm, we'll change the call to presentation mode to eliminate the sounds of barking dogs, crying babies, fire engines, and other miscellaneous distractions ;-) and introduce Senator Bowen. Senator Bowen will start the discussion with brief opening remarks and then open it up for Q.

Since being elected to the Assembly in 1992, Senator Bowen has earned a reputation throughout California as an effective and independent voice for reform, open government and consumer advocacy. As Chair of the Senate Elections Committee, she has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our voting process. She has taken strong reform-oriented stands in the areas of electoral systems, the initiative process, voter privacy, respecting voter intent, and in many other areas as well. Senator Bowen was one the first lawmakers to introduce a permanent absentee voting process. Senator Bowen's record on issues outside of the elections arena is as impressive as her record on election related topics, including her efforts to fight identity theft, and protect the environment. Finally, she has worked hard to make government more transparent and make important government information available to the public.

For more information about Senator Bowen and her campaign for Secretary of State, see: www.debrabowen.com

We hope that you will join us for a great discussion with Senator Bowen on Wednesday night.

Yours for a better democracy,

California for Democracy Steering Committee
Tom Brown, Mal Burnstein, Vicki Cosgrove, Carolyn Curtis, Rob Dickinson, Michael Faulkner, Agi Kessler, Jo Olson

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Single Pellet Theory

In the 1940 Marx Brothers movie "Go West", Groucho plays a character named S. Quentin Quale. In a moment of comic gun-toting bravado, he rechristens himself as "Two Gun Quale".

Saturday, February 18, 2006

McPherson Certifies Diebold in CA
Bowen Issues Condemnation

From John Gideon at The Brad Blog:

State Senator Outraged, Says Machines, Certification Violates State, Federal Standards and Law...
SoS' Own Report Agrees! McPherson Waits Until 5pm Friday of Holiday Weekend to Announce!
[Guest Blogged by John Gideon (with some
additional updates/info from Brad)]

Secretary of State McPherson seems to have a thing for making major announcements late on Fridays just before holidays. Following in what seems to be a pattern of his, he announced late this afternoon that he was certifying Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote TSx (touch-screens) for use in elections in the state.

The re-certification (they had been originally decertified in California in 2004 when it was revealed Diebold had installed illegal software updates on the machines) is conditional on some items but not on the one thing point he had announced last December when he sent the system back to federal authorities for further testing. At that time he said he was sending the machine's memory cards to the federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Lab for reinspection in light of the news out of Leon County, Florida that the cards used "intepreted code" which is specifically banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). A "hack test" in that county revealed that an entirely election could have its results flipped by a hacker exploiting that "interpreted code" -- without a trace being left behind.

McPherson made his announcement today without waiting to hear back from the ITA lab.

Last summer, after a massive mock election test with Diebold touch-screen machines revealed that 10% of them failed entirely with screens freezing and printers jamming -- later reports would reveal that as many as 30% of the machines actually failed! -- McPherson said, "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters."

Apparently the Secretary of State of America's largest "voting market," as Diebold refers to it, was just kidding about that.

State Senator Debra Bowen, (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee issued the following Press Release after learning of McPherson's remarkable decision.


February 17, 2006


SACRAMENTO – “How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don’t comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn’t have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me.”

That’s how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today’s decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold’s electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Deadeye Dick Peppers the Target

The Little Orange Vest Project

From Monk at Inflatable Dartboard!
Who can forget the image of GOP supporters who hoisted their blue stained finger tips in the air to show support for past Iraqi elections? Never mind the fact that the symbolism was laughable in the sense that the only democracy that will emerge will be one that the current US administration approves of.

So I introduce "The Little Orange Vest Project". We will be manufacturing tiny orange hunting vests that people can carry around, slide on their finger and hold up proudly in the air.

These can be worn at protests, GOP speaking engagements or better yet... just hold one up when debating neocon lunkheads face to face.

The tiny orange vests symbolize everything that is wrong with this administration:

Firing without having a clear idea of what the outcome will be and then scrambling deceitfully to control the disastrous outcome.

Lift them high America. They're tiny hunting vests. They smell of freedom.
Link to original post....

stupid design

It's hard to believe that we're the ones who support evolution.

In case you were raised in Kansas, the message of evolution, in a nutshell, is this: Nature favors those who are better equipped to withstand their environment with a higher chance of survival, which means a better shot at passing on their better-adapted genetic legacy to their heirs. In principle, at least, this means that new generations, thanks in part to the contributions of their elders, are better equipped, not only to survive, but to prevail. Evolution is geared toward survival, not just of the individual, but of the individual's progeny as well.

However, when it comes to the Democratic party, evolution is only a theory. How else to explain the exile of Paul Hackett? A young, smart, upstanding outsider with the guts and experience to speak out against the war in Iraq and the charisma to sell it to the public...a Democrat for the 21st century, right? The new hope for a moribund party, right? I mean, an up-and-comer who did remarkably well last year in one of the reddest districts is surely someone that it would be in the Party's best interests to nurture and cultivate, right?

Yeah...and if the dinosaurs had just thought to put on a sweater when things got a little chilly, they'd still be around.

The lumbering, tiny-brained Democratic throwbacks who run the show don't have the capacity to recognize the worth of anyone who's too different, too direct, too much of a threat to the status quo. Lacking the killer instinct to take on their mortally wounded enemies even as they sink deeper and deeper into a morass of scandal and ineptitude, the Democratic hackosauruses prefer to destroy one of their own.

And thus the party devolves.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pushing Back Against Diebold...

Diebold has been pushing its faulty and hackable machines on the American public for far too long, and now, in a class action securities fraud lawsuit, Diebold is being pushed back against.

In GrainofSand's DailyKos Diary, readers are urged to contact the MSM on Monday. While you do so, also ask why they haven't even begun to cover a story which actually began in December, when the suit was first filed.

MSM, you got some 'splainin' to do...

Not that there's anything new about that.

Calling Sherlock Holmes...

Here's a mystery that would tax even the Great Detective - why doesn't Joe Lieberman just 'fess up and call himself a Republican?
Two prominent Republican lobbyists, Craig Fuller and H.P. Goldfield, hosted a fund-raising dinner Thursday evening at Goldfield's Washington home for Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, seeking re-election in Connecticut this year.
Okay, there's probably no real mystery there. It's probably tons of fun being the neo-con/Fox News Token Democrat - being feted by people with no sense of logic/reality, enormous checkbooks and/or big pretty TV cameras can turn a senator's grandfatherly little head. Were he just to shed his Dem clothing and admit that a Republican wolf had been hiding there all along, he'd be just another pseudo-conservative politician. Those guys are a dime a dozen in DC. Mind you, they cost millions more, but they're only worth a dime a dozen. If that.

C'mon, Joe. Be honest. I know you can...


Sorry, I couldn't type that with a straight face.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Let the Games Begin

No, no, no. Not those games.

From AP:

Long before Enron Corp. drowned in scandal, its former chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling trumpeted the company's savvy in creating trading markets beyond energy. Now it turns out they are the subjects of futures contracts that allow investors to wager on whether they will be convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges.

Intrade, a futures market based in Dublin, Ireland, creates trading vehicles based on everything from which film will win best picture at the Academy Awards to whether bird flu will be discovered in the United States before March 31. It recently added contracts on whether jurors will convict Lay of at least four charges and whether they will find Skilling guilty on at least 16 counts.
On Friday, when court was not in session, the trading at Intrade showed a more than 60 percent chance that Lay would be convicted of at least four of the seven counts of fraud and conspiracy against him. For Skilling, trading showed about a 75 percent chance he would be convicted on more than half the 31 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors pending against him.

Read on....

First Round of Bush-Abramoff Photos?

Larger (but not much) pics at Marc Parent's Livejournal site here.

Long Live Liberty Tower

Gosh, darn it! When do you think someone -- anyone -- in this administration will take an action, make a statement or address America in a way that isn't calculated to either misdirect or mislead for political gain?

Apparently never.

Glenn Greenwald has posted something well worth reading at Crooks & Liars regarding W's out-of-the-blue disclosure yesterday of how he saved our beloved Los Angeles four years ago.
Al Qaeda has a good friend in the White House

The great big mystery of the day is what caused the White House to decide yesterday to disclose the classified details of George Bush's heroic salvation
of the City of Los Angeles four years ago? People everywhere are scratching their heads in bewilderment -- why yesterday? What could possibly have caused the President to pick yesterday as the time to suddenly reveal the specifics of the diabolic plot by the terrorists to hijack an airplane into the Liberty Tower by putting bombs into their shoes? Whatever his reasons were for disclosing this information, there is no need for us to know what it is. It goes without saying that the Commander-in-Chief decided to disclose this at this time because doing so was necessary for our protection, and by questioning his motives, all we do is embolden the enemy and make terrorists attacks more likely, something to which I, for one, have no desire to contribute. So I'll just celebrate the Great Rescue along with my fellow grateful citizens. Amidst the celebrations, though, one can't help but marvel at just how ridiculous and inane these scary terrorist plots appear to be even when they are deliberately depicted so as to achieve the maximum possible scare value.

Read on....
Glenn also maintains his own amazing blog. Check it out....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nothing to Hide

This is only 2 frames... the whole cartoon here....

Good News About Bad News

Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative (NY Times)
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."

"For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority," the statement said. "Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough."

"We have not paid as much attention to climate change as we should, and that's why I'm willing to step up," said Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College, an influential evangelical institution in Illinois. "The evangelical community is quite capable of having some blind spots, and my take is this has fallen into that category."

Read on....

That's a start. Perhaps this will also help convince evangelicals that this administration lies and covers up on all policy issues that might ultimately conflict with their core ideology: expansion of power and domination by big business interests. (Oh my, did I leave out religion, ethics, morality and true conservatism???)

Of course, many other evangelical leaders continue to show their blind contempt for science and mankind and exhibit their naked political ambitions, and thus deserve our conscience contempt.

Some of the nation's most high-profile evangelical leaders, however, have tried to derail such action. Twenty-two of them signed a letter in January declaring, "Global warming is not a consensus issue." Among the signers were Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Their letter was addressed to the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of churches and ministries, which last year had started to move in the direction of taking a stand on global warming. The letter from the 22 leaders asked the National Association of Evangelicals not to issue any statement on global warming or to allow its officers or staff members to take a position.

Read on....

Related news from the last month....

Ex-EPA Chiefs Blame Bush in Global Warming

Last Year Was Warmest in a Century, Study Concludes

Twentieth Century 'Warmest in 500 Years'

Gore to Publish Book on Global Warming

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bowen Hearings About Voting Systems Continue

California State Senator Debra Bowen continues her series of state hearings into the efficacy of our current voting systems and possible solutions:

Wednesday, February 8, 2006 - 9:00AM - Sacramento: Informational Hearing: Open Source Software - Does It Have A Place In California's Electoral System?

Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 1:00PM - Menlo Park: Informational Hearing: Are California's Voting Systems Accurate, Reliable & Secure? A Critical Look at the Federal Testing & Certification Process

If you can attend, please do.

It's so nice to have Senator Bowen do the job that California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson should be doing. At least someone in the state government is looking out for the best interests of its citizens.

Worse Than We Thought

We've all heard and read stories about how military recruitment is down and how recruitment officers are lying to our young men and women so that the government has more rifle and bomb fodder for Iraq (and probably Iran). Well, my friends, it's worse (or better) than we thought:

What's that? Can't quite read the flier? Here, try this:

Yep, that is a printed flier. On the window of a donut shop in Santa Monica, not far from a satellite campus of Santa Monica College. I happened to walk by the shop last night and stared for a few minutes, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I also noticed the flier on a few other store windows in the strip mall. Next thing you know, the military will be stapling fliers with little tear-off phone numbers on telephone poles, something usally reserved for suspect calls for movie extras.


A-Paneling We Will Go...

Last Saturday night I, along with numerous SoCal Grassrooters (including fellow contributors T. O'Shaugnessy and Diva4Dem), attended an panel discussion organized by the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus entitled "Leaving Iraq: Strategies for Immediate Withdrawal." Moderated by Steve Young [heard on KTLK Sundays 1-4pm], the panel members were Harlan Hobgood [former senior US Foreign Service Officer and current Foreign Relations Chair of the CDP Progressive Caucus], Dr. Michael Schwartz [founding director for the Institute of Social Analysis and extensive author of articles about the war in Iraq], Dr. Stephen Zunes [expert and scholar in Middle Eastern poilitics, international terrorism and US foreign policy, amongst other subjects], David Swanson [journalist, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org and former press secretary for Dennis Kucinich], Ann Wright [29 year Army/Army Reserve veteran, resigned from the US Foreign Service due to her disagreement with the Bush Administration's decision to go war in Iraq] and Scott Ritter [former Marine, author, resigned chief weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq].

Alternately engaging and slightly depressing (facts about the Iraq War always depress me and anger me, even when it's stuff I've heard before), the real revelation to your humble contributor was Scott Ritter. Because I haven't been living under a rock (if I were I probably would be siding with today's bastardization of the Republican party), I knew who he was and is. However, I had never heard him speak before.

Ah, what refreshing frankness. The man didn't sugar coat anything or talk around his points because he knew we were big boys and girls who could take the truth and maybe do something constructive with it. Not that the other panel members were dancing around the sorry, sordid facts about the war or caught up in their own mental gymnastics. All that was said Saturday night was forthright and honest.

Still, something about the way Scott laid it out on the table - in a way that there was no conufusion about his points - is something that Democrats and progressives could use more of. We have a sorry habit of getting caught up in our own heads and hearts (your humble contributor included, admittedly), so having someone basically hit us over the head is sorely needed on occasion.

What was most amazing, though, were the number of people in the audience that seemed to be surprised by his statements, especially his assertion that, if we Democrats don't take the Congress back, war with Iran is a certainty. Something I figured out somewhere around 2004.

(Psst - when this administration says it has no plans to do something, you can assume, with all accuracy, that it will be done, That is, if it hasn't been done already. Illegal wiretapping, anyone?)

I guess there are times when we folks to the left of center need a Republican in the room. Thanks for being that Republican, Scott.

Also brought forward at the event was the CDP Progressive Caucus' Plan for Withdrawing US Forces from Iraq - lauded by David Swanson and Scott Ritter as the best plan for withdrawal that they had read. And that includes plans drafted by Dennis Kucinich, Tom Hayden and Lynn Woolsey. Excellent work, my fellow progressives. (Details of the plan can be found at David's account of the evening.)

BTW, if you haven't joined your state's progressive caucus, I recommend you do so. If it's anything like the CDP Progressive Caucus, there are extraordinary people to be found there and it's a way to help reform the Democratic Party. Go to your state's Democratic Party web site to find out more about your progressive caucus. If it doesn't have one, help start one. That's how California got its Progressive Caucus - concerned and passionate activists deciding it was high time that something about the CDP be progressive.

Zunes, Swanson, Wright Steve Young Ritter, Schwartz, Hobgood

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Diversion For a Thursday Night

And so the Ken Lay/Enron trial begins....

"Kenny Boy" Lay compared to....

Perov's "Portrait of the Merchant Ivan Kamynin" (1872)
(The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

The Ballad of Kenneth Lay*

Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Ken;
A proud CEO, quite a leader among men!
Then one day, with a cadre of his crooks,
He went off to work and started cookin' up the books.

Accounting, that is,
Kickback gold,
Texas greed.

* Think "Beverly Hillbillies" for the tune