Sunday, September 26, 2004

Surge in Voter Registration

The numbers to watch are not the national polls. What is going to make the difference is voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. This article from today's New York Times should be very encouraging.
A Big Increase of New Voters in Swing States
By Ford Fessenden New York Times September 26, 2004

OLUMBUS, Ohio - A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration data shows.

The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods -new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas.

While comparable data could not be obtained for other swing states, similar registration drives have been mounted in them as well, and party officials on both sides say record numbers of new voters are being registered nationwide. This largely hidden but deadly earnest battle is widely believed by campaign professionals and political scientists to be potentiallydecisive in the presidential election.

"We know it's going on, and it's a very encouraging sign," said Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager for Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee. The new voters, Mr. Elmendorf said, "could very much be the difference."


Friday, September 24, 2004

Banned and allowed

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Murdered for Working While Female

"Political Islam’s Crimes against Women in the Iraqi city of Mousul"
From the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq:

In one of the public health sectors in the city of Mousul, the Islamists committed some of their several misogynist crimes that aim relentlessly to possibly extinguish their thirst for blood and hatred for women.

The Islamist terrorist savages could not tolerate women to work and feed themselves and their families. They want them blindfolded, covered by Hijab and heavy rags thrown in the kitchens of their houses serving as slaves. They want them humiliated, with no opinion or character or a normal life like any sane human being of our time.

Political Islam groups exploited the chaos, lack of security and absence of law since the USA ominous war and subsequent occupation to disseminate horror and terrorism across Iraq. Everyday, they add more transgressions to their criminal record against civility and women’s right.

Recently these women were murdered by these Islamists:

1. Lina al-Aswad a medical doctor who has been practicing for the last 10 years. She was shot dead in Al Qayara - Mousul.
2. Hefi Abdul Satar a pharmacist in al-Khansaa Hospital. She was gunned down before her house in al-Noor suburb. Her family is also threatened to be killed by these terrorists.
3. Sanabul Nwel Tabakh a veterinarian killed in Wahda suburb in Mousul while in her way to work.
4. Layla Abdulla al-Haj Said a professor of Law and Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Mousl. She was gunned down with her husband. She was also beheaded to further terrorize people in that suburb.
5. Iman Abdul Monem Younis, a lecturer at the Faculty of Languages and head of Translation Department at the University of Mousul, was gunned down.
6. Tagrid Abdul Masih a public servant in the town of Bartila.
7. Hala Abdul Masih (Tagrid’s sister) a public servant in Bartila.
8. Tara Majeed Butros a public servant in Bartilla.

Mass killing is practiced against women working as interpreters or as workers with foreign companies. Many were murdered in the last several months in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

Political Islam’s violence against women must be stopped. The terrorist Islamic forces must be expelled from the Iraqi society. This task relies on the will power of women and men who are seeking a world where freedom and security prevail. This goal will only take place if the secular and freedom-loving forces stand up to the Islamic terrorism, which claims the lives of more women every moment merely for being women.

Let us make ending Islamic terrorism against women in Iraq our priority and urgent task.

Join the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq to struggle together to put an end to the Islamic violence against women.

We call on all women and men in Iraq and worldwide to collaborate and struggle to end the Islamic violence against women.

Birthday of a musical giant

September 23, the birthdate of John Coltrane. Listen to A Love Supreme, Giant Steps, and ten other Coltrane classics.

Zeskind on Kobach and FAIR

Must read piece by Leonard Zeskind in KC's Pitch "All's FAIR" . GOP candidate Kris Kobach in Kansas's Third District is relying on racist, anti-immigrant allies.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

September 22

Via Norm Geras's Normblog

On this day in 1862 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in the Confederate States free as of January 1, 1863:

Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom..."

Bush's $940 Billion Gift to Wall Street

Washington Post

President Bush's push to create individual investment accounts in the Social Security system would hand financial services firms a windfall totaling $940 billion over 75 years, according to a University of Chicago study to be released today.

Bush has expressed strong support for allowing workers to divert some of their Social Security taxes to accounts that could be invested in stocks and bonds. But he has never embraced a specific proposal to revamp Social Security, even after his own Social Security Commission presented him with three reform options. Goolsbee, an informal Kerry economic adviser, examined the option that is often cited as the most realistic.

[Goolsbee] estimated that annual management fees would be 0.8 percent, a conservative figure, he said, considering that management fees across the spectrum of mutual funds average 1.09 percent.

The result: Over 75 years, fees would total $940 billion, more than a quarter of the $3.7 trillion deficit the Social Security system will run over that time period. That would be the largest windfall in U.S. financial history, Goolsbee said, more than eight times the revenue loss that Wall Street suffered during the 2000-02 stock market collapse.

Bush's 23, er 27 reasons for war

John Kerry cited the number in his Iraq speech, John Aravosis list them on this Americablog
Here's a press release on the the senior honors thesis of Devon Largio, “Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq: The Words of the Bush Administration, Congress and the Media from September 12, 2001, to October 11, 2002.” And, the study itself, can be found here.

Rock Ethics Institute

When I saw a site entitled Rock Ethics Institute, I was hoping for a site that examined ethics in the world of rock and roll. "A Kantian take on groupies" "Plagarism and royalties"

Or even better a site that applied rock ethics to real life problems.

Turns out it is part of theUniversity of Pennsylvania Penn State [see comment].

A $5 million gift from Douglas and Julie Rock to the Department of Philosophy and the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State established the Rock Ethics Institute in 2001. Douglas L. Rock, a 1968 Penn State psychology graduate, is president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Houston-based Smith International, a worldwide supplier of products and services used to drill oil and gas wells. Rock also is a director and former chairman of the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association and a director of Viad Corp.

The Truth of Kerry's Vietnam Testimony

Village Voice

John Kerry is being pilloried for his shocking Senate testimony 34 years ago that many U.S. soldiers—not just a few "rogues"—were committing atrocities against the Vietnamese. U.S. military records that were classified for decades but are now available in the National Archives back Kerry up and put the lie to his critics. Contrary to what those critics, including the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, have implied, Kerry was speaking on behalf of many soldiers when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971, and said this:

They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam, in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

The archives have hundreds of files of official U.S. military investigations of such atrocities committed by American soldiers. I've pored over those records—which were classified for decades—for my Columbia University dissertation and, now, this Voice article. The exact number of investigated allegations of atrocities is unknown, as is the number of such barbaric incidents that occurred but weren't investigated. Some war crimes, like the Tiger Force atrocities exposed last year by The Toledo Blade, have only come to light decades later. Others never will. But there are plentiful records to back up Kerry's 1971 testimony point by point.

Watch on Kobach

Good blog from elsewhere in the state on Ashcroft's favorite house candidate, Kris Kolbach


And a companion blog:

MooreWatch Watch

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

When the Klan made marriage a issue

The popularity and mainstream appeal of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s is usually glossed over. The Klan elected mayors, Senators, and Presidents. It many parts of the US it was as much anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic as anti-black and anti-Jewish. One of their causes was the defense of family values and marriage.

True to his promise, [KKKImperial Wizard 1923-39 Dr. Hiram] Evans launched his campaign against Roman­ism and Catholic-marriage practices. In the spring of 1927, Klan publications heralded the effort, while friendly lawmakers introduced Klan-drafted bills into their state legislatures. The proposed laws sought to punish any criticism of civil marriage, prohibited prenuptial pledges concerning the religion of children bom of interfaith mar­riages, and barred interracial unions

--David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. 290

Monday, September 20, 2004

Lockdown rankles unit bound for Iraq

Lockdown rankles unit bound for Iraq

The 635 soldiers of a battalion of the South Carolina National Guard scheduled to depart today for a year or more in Iraq have spent their off-duty hours under a disciplinary lockdown in their barracks for the last two weeks.

The trouble began Labor Day weekend, when 13 members of the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment went AWOL, mainly to see their families again before shipping out....

This particular Guard unit was put on an accelerated training schedule — giving the soldiers about 36 hours of leave over the past two months — because the Army needs to get fresh troops to Iraq and there are not enough active-duty or “regular” troops to go around.

Preparation has been especially intense because the Army is short-handed on military police units, so these artillerymen are being quickly re-trained to provide desperately needed security for convoys. And in order to fully man the unit, scores of soldiers were pulled in from different Guard outfits, some voluntarily, some on orders.

As members of the unit — drawn mainly from South Carolina’s coastal Lowcountry — looked toward their tour, some said they were angry, or reluctant to go, or both. Many more are bone-tired. Overall, some of them fear, the unit lacks strong cohesion — the glue that holds units together in combat.

Kerry on Iraq

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry delivered a major speech on Iraq today at New York University.

we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.

This month, we passed a cruel milestone: more than 1,000 Americans lost in Iraq. Their sacrifice reminds us that Iraq remains, overwhelmingly, an American burden. Nearly 90 percent of the troops – and nearly 90 percent of the casualties – are American. Despite the President’s claims, this is not a grand coalition.

Our troops have served with extraordinary bravery, skill and resolve. Their service humbles all of us. When I speak to them… when I look into the eyes of their families, I know this: we owe them the truth about what we have asked them to do… and what is still to be done.

In June, the President declared, “The Iraqi people have their country back.” Just last week, he told us: “This country is headed toward democracy… Freedom is on the march.”

But the administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July, tells a very different story.

According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.

All across this country people ask me what we should do now. Every step of the way, from the time I first spoke about this in the Senate, I have set out specific recommendations about how we should and should not proceed. But over and over, when this administration has been presented with a reasonable alternative, they have rejected it and gone their own way. This is stubborn incompetence.

Five months ago, in Fulton, Missouri, I said that the President was close to his last chance to get it right. Every day, this President makes it more difficult to deal with Iraq – harder than it was five months ago, harder than it was a year ago. It is time to recognize what is – and what is not – happening in Iraq today. And we must act with urgency.

Just this weekend, a leading Republican, Chuck Hagel, said we’re “in deep trouble in Iraq … it doesn’t add up … to a pretty picture [and] … we’re going to have to look at a recalibration of our policy.” Republican leaders like Dick Lugar and John McCain have offered similar assessments.

We need to turn the page and make a fresh start in Iraq.

Berube Moves Right

The old Michael Berube.

The new Michael Berube

Maybe, a code to let the insiders know when his latest post is real and when it is parody.

Seriously, Michael Berube has one of the more interesting blogs around. He's proof the cultural studies is not a bar to good politics.

He's promising to post a critique of parts of Tom Frank's message in What's the Matter With Kansas.

In the second pre-critique Berube praises Frank's book as

a chilling tale, full of post-Wichita anti-abortion extremism and some rather passionate intensity over the conviction that the universe is six thousand years old. For his rendering of that narrative, Frank’s book is more than worth the price of admission. Clueless Democrats and quasi-liberal journalists (you know, the kind who think they’re still dealing with reasonable, old-school prairie Republicans like Everett Dirksen out there) need to read this part of the book-- and it’s the major part of the book-- right now. At least by dinnertime today.
On the other hand
Kansas has such a weak Democratic party that there are no brakes on how far the GOP can run to the right. And whatever the national party’s failings-- and they are legion-- it’s hard to imagine that the Kansas Dems can revitalize themselves simply by running on an economic-populist platform. Ah, but this point takes us into those dreaded cultural issues, about which more tomorrow..

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 17, 2004

More Music

Stefon Harris, who may be the next major vibraphonist, is performing at Wichita State University on September 25. He has a very cool, flash-based, website which features his music.

If you are a fan of Blue Note jazz, signup for the very cool Blue Note Radio.

Barry Gaston, jazz host on KMUW (89.1 FM), has compiled a list of 89 essential jazz CDs.

It's a very good list, but not quite definitive. He leans a little too much on compilation, best ofs.
I don't think I would have included Stan Kenton or Buddy Rich. Instead, Count Basie, Essential on Columbia and Jay McShann. Hard to understand how MJQ, Django Reinhardt, and Art Pepper didn't make the cut, but Charles Earland, Ray Bryant, Les McCann, and Eddie Harris did. I would have included the Third Stream classic Jazz Abstractions. Johnny Smith instead of George Shearing. Now, I'll probably be stuck with making my own list of 89 essential albums. It was trying enough to take responsibility for the 15 greatest albums in a Norm Geras poll.

Preview John Fogerty's new CD Deja Vu All Over Again. In stores on September 21.

Third Whitest Place in America.

What is a bluegrass festival?

My version of Carson's Karnak routine.

Regardless, I'll be at the Walnut Valley Festival on Saturday which is held in my hometown of Winfield Kansas, about 45 miles south of Wichita where I know live. The WFV has been going on for 33 years. Insiders like my brother Roger count a few more unofficial festivals which were held at Southwestern College.

The festival draws 10,000 or more , just about doubling the size of Winfield. Many camp at the fairgrounds, beginning with a landrush for prime spots a week before the festival.

If you are bluegrass fan, this is the place to be.

Some bluegrass is pretty eclectic and there are some acts that should be classified as acoustic or roots rather than bluegrass. One act I plan to catch both times they play on Saturday is the Hot Club of Cowtown, a trio that is sort of cross between the Western Swing of Bob Wills and the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt.

Worse Than Vietnam?

Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian

according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."

General Odom said: "This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."

Terrill believes that any sustained US military offensive against the no-go areas "could become so controversial that members of the Iraqi government would feel compelled to resign". Thus, an attempted military solution would destroy the slightest remaining political legitimacy. "If we leave and there's no civil war, that's a victory."

General Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it - after the election. The signs are all there."

He compares any such planned attack to the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Asad's razing of the rebel city of Hama.

If Hoare is correct, there could be no more egrigious instance of winning the battle and losing the war.

In a related story, the New York Times features a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July says that Iraq could descend into civil war by the end of next year--a far more pessimistic outlook than the Bush administration has been pushing publicly.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Question of God Questioned

Jeff Sharlet on The Revealer website

PBS’s latest God offering -- "The Question of God,"... will no doubt be a well-researched program centered around the ideas and interpretations of its two stars -- Freud and C.S. Lewis -- and the man who has pitted them against one another, Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. of Harvard. But both PBS and Beliefnet, which has interviewed Dr. Nicholi, are letting the good doctor avoid hard questions about the faith assumptions underlying his work. What does Dr. Nicholi, as the referee and rule setter of this imaginary debate, actually believe?

As it happens, I came across Dr. Nicholi a few years ago while researching some other topics. The documents ... suggest a history of deeply conservative Christianity combined with a polished presentation style designed to make such beliefs suitable for public consumption.


This was not the first time Dr. Nicholi had proposed that Christianity could combat student dissent. At a Feb. 18, 1968, the speakers at a meeting for conservative student leaders held at the Washington headquarters of International Christian Leadership (ICL) based their directions on a talk Dr. Nicholi had given for ICL at the Swiss embassy not long before. ICL was a network of powerful men in Congress, the military, and business who had committed themselves to "militant liberty" in pursuit of a "world-wide spiritual offensive," also referred to by the group’s leader as "World War III." The goal was a "new world order" -- a phrase coined by ICL in 1945 -- based on a government of "Jesus plus nothing" with Washington, D.C. as its "world capital."

According to Sharlet, Congressman Todd Tiahrt and Senator Sam Brownback are part of this cult. See his article in Harpers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Boyda Hits Ryun on Insurance Scam

Nancy Boyda, a moderate Demoratic, is running against far-right Congressman Jim Ryun in Kansas' 2nd Congression District. It's a race that should be winnable. It has been held by Democrats for long streches in the recent past and by Democratic Governor Kathleeen Sebelius and Attorney General candidate Chris Beggs in 2002. She has done a good job of fundraising.

Now, she may have a issue that drive home that Ryun for all his talk about family values has done a better job of taking care of big business--even shady insurance companies--than representing the interests of working families.

Lawrence Journal World

Democrat Nancy Boyda on Friday accused incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun of running interference for companies that have used devious, hard-pressure tactics to sell American soldiers expensive and unneeded insurance policies and other financial services. Ryun denied the accusation.

"I just feel that our soldiers deserve better," said Boyda, who is challenging Ryun, a Republican from Jefferson County, for the 2nd Congressional District, which includes western Lawrence.

Boyda noted a July investigative report by The New York Times that said Ryun was one of three members of the House Armed Services Committee who urged the Pentagon to allow insurance companies and agents to continue to sell policies to soldiers despite numerous complaints that agents misled military personnel. The report about predatory sales tactics on service members has sparked political outrage and prompted a congressional hearing.

Nick Cohen on Tom Frank

British columnist Nick Cohen reviews Tom Frank in the London Observer

Frank is in a different league from Michael Moore. He is a smarter and better writer, and a proper hack who has been to ask the supporters of the backlash why they vote against their fundamental interests.

The answers, says Frank, lie first in the disastrous consequences of the liberal reliance on the judiciary and bills of rights to bring social change rather than votes in legislatures. Unelected judges legalised abortion in America and conservatives are able to claim that the common people have had their views disregarded by the elite. Indeed, they have convinced millions that this 'elite' is not made up of the actual holders of power, nearly all of them Republicans, but rich Hollywood stars who lecture the poor on how to behave, and TV executives and academics who pump out propaganda for homosexuality, pornography, divorce and promiscuity, and denigrate patriotism, sexual fidelity and godliness. Dismissing working-class concerns as the idiocies of stupid white men explains the failure of the US left.

Frank ends by warning his American readers that 'things which begin in Kansas - the Civil War, prohibition, populism, Pizza Hut - have a historic tendency to go national'. The question for British readers is whether they could go international.

This can't be ruled out. In the US, the Republicans adopted the language of class struggle the moment the left abandoned it. There are striking similarities with Britain. Like the US Democrats, New Labour has taken classic questions about the distribution of wealth and regulation of the mighty out of political debate. The existing economic order is beyond question: it's just there as if it were the will of God.

The government has, in fact, done a great deal to help the disadvantaged, far more than the Clinton administration did. But ministers don't give tax credits and Sure Start to the working class loudly and proudly as a reward for their honest toil. Benefits are slipped out of the back pocket in the embarrassed manner of a man throwing coins to a beggar.

The lesson is that class politics don't die just because the political class decides that economics is no longer a fit subject for the electorate. Deny ordinary people the chance to fight wars about resources and they will fight culture wars instead, and when the left fights on its enemy's terrain, the right is laughing all the way to the bank.

Tom Frank autographing books for Kansas Democrats at Demofest 2004 in Wichita

More photos from the event here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Iraqi's Racist "Resistance"

Jason Burke interviews a fighter in the Iraqi resistance--his term not mine-- in the British Observer. Buried in the story is this very interesting paragraph.

Black soldiers are a particular target. 'To have Negroes occupying us is a particular humiliation,' Abu Mujahed said, echoing the profound racism prevalent in much of the Middle East. 'Sometimes we aborted a mission because there were no Negroes.' [available to kill]
Crisis, the NAACP's magazine, in its March/April issue ran an article by Theola Labbé entitled "Iraq in Black." This is what the blurb says "Many populating the streets of Basra and other areas of the occupied territory are dark-skinned, betraying the country's history of slavery."

It's not available online on the Crisis website. But it can be found here
and possibly on the Washington Post website where it was originally published. A few highlights below.

The number of dark-skinned people like Youssef in Iraq today is unknown. Their origins, however, are better understood, if little-discussed: They are the legacy of slavery throughout the Middle East.

Historians say the slave trade began in the 9th century and lasted a millennium.Arab traders brought Africans across the Indian Ocean from present-day Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia and elsewhere in East Africa to Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Turkey and other parts of the Middle East.

Even though Islam teaches that all people are equal before God, Abdullah said that medieval Arab slave owners made distinctions based on skin color. White slaves, known as mamluks, which means "owned," were more expensive than black slaves, or abds.

the term "abd" may be used by light-skinned Iraqis in a matter-of-fact way to describe someone's dark complexion. Dark-skinned Iraqis say the word may or may not be considered an insult, depending on how it is used and the intent of the speaker.

"We use the word abd in the black community," said Salah Jaleel, 50, one of Youssef's cousins. "Sometimes I call my friend 'abd.' Of course he knows that I don't insult him, because I'm black also, so it's a joke. We accept it between us, but it is a real insult if it is said by a white man."

"These came from Africa and they are very important to us, the abds," he said. Just as he used the Arabic word for slave to refer to himself, Jimaa sometimes referred to light-skinned Iraqis using the term for a free person. (my emphasis)

Key Nader 2000 Backers Urge Kerry Vote

A group of 70 members of Nader's 2000 Citizen's Committee released a statement Monday night declaring that "removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority in the 2004 presidential election."

Signers of the statement include Noam Chomsky, Iris Dement, Wes Jackson(The Land Institute), Michael Lerner, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Cornel West and Howard Zinn. The entire list can be viewed at

They represent a majority of those people Nader selected for his 113-person national "Nader 2000 Citizens Committee."

Monday, September 13, 2004

Open Letter

This Open Letter from American Jews calls for the next President to commit our nation to vigorous and persistent engagement in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This letter is an initiative of a Host Committee of prominent American Jews and is supported by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, MeretzUSA and a number of other American Jewish organizations. The Open Letter will be presented, with tens of thousands of signatures, to the President after the election.

We believe that Israeli and Palestinian leaders can be brought back to the negotiating table through your committed and persistent leadership in support of a negotiated two-state solution. Meeting this challenge would be an unparalleled achievement for your presidency. We strongly urge you to take all steps necessary to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and thus advance America's historic contribution to regional stability, global security, and international peace.
Friends who don't identify as American Jews, can help in a number of ways
, including signing as a friend.


What Would George W Bush Do If Runing Against Jesus Christ.

Cool Music Site

If you like roots music--authentic country, blues, R& B, you'll want to check out the cool site from the Lost Highways record label. Their are some tunes that play automatically. Look for the artiest and song title scrolling above the "Lost Highway" logo. But if you want the really cool, vintage suff, click on the the jukebox in the lower right corner.

Featured on the jukebox are tunes from Night Train to Nashville, a two-CD set which preserves the rich but fogotten history of Nashville as a blues and r&b city from 1945-1970. The CD--and a two-alubum LP--were issue in conjunction with March of 2004 launching of the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum exhibition Night Train to Nashville. The exhibit runs for 21 months.
Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970

Here's what the review of the CD on ALL-Music says:

"a treasure-trove of hits, misses, rarities, and smoking grooves"

"connoisseurs will be delighted to find these sides, many of them on CD for the first time. However, the appeal of this collection should not be limited to aficionados, as virtually every track is crackling with energy, verve, and raw immediate soul. Sound is better than decent, the selection is impeccable, and the track notes by Michael Gray are top-notch."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Child murderers against war and globalization

Gene at Harry's Place writes:

Speaking of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine-- the unapologetic murderers of 21 Israeli schoolchildren in 1974-- they are among the organizations preparing for an international conference on the antiwar and antiglobalization movements next week in Beirut.

Also involved in preparations for the meeting, according the information sheet (pdf), are two leading Western antiwar groups-- the Stop the War Coalition in the UK and United for Peace and Justice in the US. (I can find no mention of the Beirut conference on either of their web sites. Are they ashamed of something?)

According to a conference web page:

Hosting the meeting is a broad range of political forces in Lebanon and Palestine, including progressives, seculars, and Islamists.

Nice to see everyone getting along so well these days.

Anyway I hope that during a break in the denunciations of Zionist imperialism, some folks from the antiwar Left will have a chance to ask their comrades from the DFLP if they are sorry about massacring those kids back in 1974.

Buchanan Play the Anti-Semitic Card--Again

Timothy Noah calls Buchanan "America's most respectable anti-Semite," though Ralph Nader is giving him a run for his money. Regardless, Noah nails it.

Pat Buchanan has achieved what I never would have thought possible. He has created sympathy for Richard Perle, the belligerent Iraq hawk, aspiring litigant, expense-account jockey, and best pal a guy ever had on Hollinger International's Executive Committee. Buchanan managed this feat by tossing an anti-Semitic slur Perle's way in his new book, Where the Right Went Wrong. It hasn't gotten much pickup yet; Jacob Heilbrunn, a Los Angeles Times editorial writer, flagged it on Aug. 29, and Michael Kazin mentions it in the Sept. 12 New York Times Book Review. But I suspect it will create yet another hue and cry about Buchanan's animosity toward Jews, which is getting harder and harder to explain away.

Let's turn to page 42 of Where the Right Went Wrong. In a passage introducing the group of Iraq hawks who called themselves "the Vulcans," Buchanan observes that the best known members

were Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Perle's depiction of his delight at first meeting the future president reads like Fagin relating his initial encounter with the young Oliver Twist.

Buchanan is trying to evoke, humorously, the con artist's delight at finding an innocent to corrupt. But Fagin is second only to Shylock as the most famously anti-Semitic portrayal of a Jew to be found in English literature. Scholars often argue that, as characters in The Merchant of Venice and Oliver Twist, respectively, Shylock and Fagin possess human qualities that transcend the ugly stereotype of the grasping Jew. But nobody would dispute that any comparison between Fagin and an actual, living Jew—particularly one made by a writer (Buchanan) who has more than once been called anti-Semitic—is, well, anti-Semitic.

Department of Ignorance

Over at Defense, competent intelligence professionals were purged in order to ease the way to war. Douglas Feith, brought in under Rumsfeld to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy, applied an ideological test to his staff: He didn’t want competence; he wanted fervor. Col. Pat Lang, a Middle East expert who served under five presidents, Republican and Democratic, in key posts in military intelligence, recalls being considered for a job at the Pentagon. During the job interview, Feith scanned Lang’s impressive resume. “I see you speak Arabic,” Feith said. When Lang nodded, Feith said, “Too bad,” and dismissed him.

From Rolling Stone via No More Apples via Bad Attitudes

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bush Fell Short In National Guard Duties

Call it the other shoe dropping or the boomerang. My guess is that the mendacious swift boat ads slandering John Kerry are going to back fire in a major league way. The ads have made questions about Bush's Vietnam era non-service a very live issue.

The Boston Globe has this story.

In February, when the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty.

He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show. The 1973 document has been overlooked in news media accounts. The 1968 document has received scant notice.

Read the whole story.

And af Texans for Truth has a 30 second ad featuring an Alabaman National Guard member who remember that Bush's wasn't there.

Kerry Widens Lead in Battleground States

Ruy Teixeira, a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress , posted this on his must read weblog The Emerging Democrtic Majority.

Now that's a headline you're not likely to see in the mainstream media, consumed as they are with the storyline du jour about Bush's Big Mo' from the convention.

But that's what the internals of the latest Gallup poll tell us. Prior to the Republican convention, Kerry had a one point lead among RVs (47-46) in the battleground states. After the Republican convention, now that battleground voters have had a chance to take a closer look at what Bush and his party really stand for, Kerry leads by 5 in these same states (50-45)! Note that Kerry gained three points among battleground voters, while Bush actually got a negative one point bounce.

And wait--there's more! The Gallup poll's internals also show that Kerry continues to lead among independents (49-46) and that both parties' partisans are equally polarized for their respetive candidates (90-7). Note that these findings directly contradict the results of the recent Newsweek poll, which showed Bush doing much better among Republican partisans than Kerry was doing among Democratic partisans. Note also that, given the equal polarization of partisans and Kerry's lead among independents, the only possible reason Bush has any lead at all among Gallup's RVs must be because their sample has a GOP advantage on party ID (my guess is 5 points) that is inconsistent with almost all other polling data from this campaign season (see my recent post on the Newsweek poll for more discussion of this issue).

Indeed, if equal polarization of partisans continues and Kerry carries a 3 point lead on independents into the election, he'll win fairly easily, since the Democratic proportion of voters in presidential elections is always higher, not lower, than the Republican proportion. In 2000, after all, Bush carried independents by 2 points and received stronger support from his partisans than Gore did from his--but still lost the popular vote by half a point.

Now that's another storyline you're unlikely to see in the mainstream media.

Gay Republicans Withhold Bush Endorsement

New York Times:

The board of Log Cabin Republicans, the largest group for gay men and lesbians in the party, voted overwhelming last night against endorsing President Bush for re-election because of his support for a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The decision ends six months of soul-searching as the group, which endorsed Mr. Bush in 2000 and Bob Dole in 1996, wrestled with its divided loyalties.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

New Labor Blog Launched

I'm adding the just-launched group Labor Blog to my essentials list. Two of the contributors are Nathan Newman and Jordan Barab, who blogs on work safety issues at Confined Spces. Check it out.

Here's their statement of purpose.

Why? Well, for those of us in and around the labor movement, it's because we think what people do 8+ hours per day, 5+ days a week is where the fate of the nation and the world rests. When workers have power in the workplace, they end up with power in the political world, just as employers use power in the private economy to leverage privileges from the public sector.

That's the simplest message for many of the political folks who frequent progressive blogs, but the importance of unions goes beyond this year's election to whether there will democracy not just every four years but every day when people go to work. A union is about having a chance to vote on what your benefits will be, whether you have child care or have time to stay home with the kids when you want to, and, at the most basic level, whether you have the dignity of a voice at work.

But there is a more immediate need for a broad discussion on labor issues. Major changes are coming in the labor movement...

Graham: Inquiry into 9/11 Saudi Ties Blocked

Frank Davis of the Miami Heradl has an advance look at the explosive charges in a new book by retiring Florida Senator Bob Graham

Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday.

The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers ''would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration,'' the Florida Democrat wrote.

And in Graham's book, Intelligence Matters, obtained by The Herald Saturday, he makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Graham also revealed that Gen. Tommy Franks told him on Feb. 19, 2002, just four months after the invasion of Afghanistan, that many important resources -- including the Predator drone aircraft crucial to the search for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda leaders -- were being shifted to prepare for a war against Iraq.

Graham recalled this conversation at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa with Franks, then head of Central Command, who was ``looking troubled'':

``Senator, we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan.''

''Excuse me?'' I asked.

''Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq,'' he continued.

Graham concluded: 'Gen. Franks' mission -- which, as a good soldier, he was loyally carrying out -- was being downgraded from a war to a manhunt.''

Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from June 2001 through the buildup to the Iraq war, voted against the war resolution in October 2002 because he saw Iraq as a diversion that would hinder the fight against al Qaeda terrorism.

He oversaw the Sept. 11 investigation on Capitol Hill with Rep. Porter Goss, nominated last month to be the next CIA director. According to Graham, the FBI and the White House blocked efforts to investigate the extent of official Saudi connections to two hijackers.

Graham wrote that the staff of the congressional inquiry concluded that two Saudis in the San Diego area, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassan, who gave significant financial support to two hijackers, were working for the Saudi government.

Al-Bayoumi received a monthly allowance from a contractor for Saudi Civil Aviation that jumped from $465 to $3,700 in March 2000, after he helped Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhdar -- two of the Sept. 11 hijackers -- find apartments and make contacts in San Diego, just before they began pilot training.

When the staff tried to conduct interviews in that investigation, and with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who also helped the eventual hijackers, they were blocked by the FBI and the administration, Graham wrote.

The administration and CIA also insisted that the details about the Saudi support network that benefited two hijackers be left out of the final congressional report, Graham complained.

Bush had concluded that ''a nation-state that had aided the terrorists should not be held publicly to account,'' Graham wrote. ``It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety.''

Gallup: Bush Bounce Smallest of Any Incumbent Prez


Bush's two-point convention bounce is one of the smallest registered in Gallup polling history, along with Hubert Humphrey's two-point bounce following the 1968 Democratic convention, George McGovern's zero-point bounce following the 1972 Democratic convention, and Kerry's "negative bounce" of one point among registered voters earlier this year. Bush bounce is the smallest an incumbent president has received.

The difference between Bush's lead among likely voters and the statistical dead heat among registered voters underscores the importance of voter turnout. Kerry does better among the larger pool of registered voters, suggesting that a very high (but probably unrealistic) voter turnout would benefit Kerry if the political conditions remain as they are today. Since 1980, turnout among U.S. adults has averaged 52% in presidential elections. However, the high level of attention being paid to the 2004 election -- 78% of adults in the latest poll say they have given "quite a lot of thought" to it -- suggests a high probability that turnout will be above average this year. Gallup's "likely voter" model at this point assumes 55% of the voting-age population will vote this year...

The last sentence, is very important. Gallup arbitrarily assumes what the turnout will be.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Don't Panic Over the Bush "Bounce"

Okay, by now you've read that both Newsweek and Time show a big Bush bounce and a 51-42 lead over Kerry. Don't panic, though.

It looks likes this is a biased poll. Both magazine choose to do the GOP convention poll right after the GOP convention. In contrast, they waited until about a week after the Democratic convention to do a poll.

Then to make matters worse, both Time and Newsweek pushed the undecideds to make a choice when polling after the GOP, but not after the Democratic convention.

Incredibly hard to believe

According to the Kansas State University agricultural extension service:

Kansas and Missouri produced approximately 85 percent of the country’s wine before prohibition began in the 1920s.

We now devotea mere 150 acres to cultivating grapes for wine.

Reportedly, state laws restirct wine production in a number of ways. Maybe we should look at make some changes to recapture some of our pre-1920 glory before expanding gambling or creating huge subsidies for companies.

Kolbach Advances Racist Agenda

Chris Kolbach, the hard right challenger to Democratic Congressman Dennis Moore, got precious podium time at the GOP national convention and used it for his anti-immigrant pitch, which along with anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage seems to be the totality of his pitch.

Make no mistake about it, the more you look into anti-immigrant politics, the clearer is the racism at its center .

Take a look at this web-exclusive article by Max Blumenthal on the American Prospect website.

It's hard to fathom that a small journal like the Occidental Quarterly, which publishes articles defending the science of eugenics, claiming that "neoconservatism is indeed a Jewish intellectual and political movement," contending that Abraham Lincoln was a white supremacist pressured into "an unnecessary war," and saying that the United States made a grave error in declaring war on Nazi Germany, could have had much of an impact on American politics.

Yet as the premier voice of the white-nationalist movement, the Occidental Quarterly acts as a roundtable for some of the far right's most influential figures. And with election day only eight weeks away, many of the activists and intellectuals on the Quarterly's board are campaigning -- from Western swing states to backrooms at the Republican national convention -- to reshape the Republican Party in their ideological mold.

Sitting on the Occidental's advisory board is a who's who of the national anti-immigration movement, including Virginia Abernathy, a Vanderbilt University professor and self-avowed "separationist" who is directing a contentious anti-immigrant Arizona ballot measure, Protect Arizona Now. Also on the board is Brent Nelson of the American Immigration Control Foundation. He’s working with a coalition of anti-immigrant groups to support the congressional campaigns of Republican candidates who have opposed more lenient immigration policies. The Occidental’s publisher is William Regnery II, a white nationalist and heir to the fortune of Regnery Publishing Inc., which recently published Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.

America's leading organization pushing a eugenics-cum-biological-determinist agenda, The Pioneer Fund, has apparently arrived at a similar conclusion. Its founders openly sympathized with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, and in the 1980s, it shifted its focus toward supporting the anti-immigrant movement. Between 1988 and 1994, The Pioneer Fund granted $1.3 million to America's premier anti-immigrant pressure group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and from 2000 to 2002, it granted a total of $25,000 to Project USA, an anti-immigrant group that works closely with FAIR.

FAIR is now focusing the bulk of its efforts in Arizona, a flash point of the immigration conflict. According to the Center for New Community, FAIR spent nearly $500,000 this year on its successful effort to get Protect Arizona Now, a draconian anti-immigrant initiative that would restrict public services to undocumented immigrants, on Arizona's November ballot. A citizens' volunteer group that initiated Protect Arizona Now has appointed Occidental board member Abernathy to direct the campaign. Abernathy did not mince words when she explained the motive behind Protect Arizona Now to The Arizona Republic on August 7. "We're not saying anything about supremacy,” she said. “Not at all. We're saying that each ethnic group is often happier with its own kind."

If Protect Arizona Now passes -- and if polls are to believed, that looks likely -- the anti-immigrant movement is likely to translate its momentum into more initiatives nationwide.

"Protect Arizona Now is being used by the anti-immigrant groups as a bellwether," explained Burghart. "If it succeeds in Arizona, that will send a message to the national Republican Party that they need to push more anti-immigrant politics at the federal level. There's so much riding on this for the anti-immigrant groups because, if they're successful, it will put more pressure on the GOP to follow its base."

Meanwhile, FAIR, Project USA, and an assortment of allied groups are backing the campaigns of nine neophyte anti-immigrant candidates running against incumbents with liberal immigration policies. Most prominent among these anti-immigrant candidates is Kris Kobach, a former general counsel in John Ashcroft's Justice Department who’s running to unseat Democrat Dennis Moore in Kansas' 3rd District. Through its political action committee, FAIR has helped fill Kobach's campaign coffers; Project USA and Occidental Quarterly board member Brent Nelson's Americans for Immigration Control, meanwhile, has pitched in with a direct-mail campaign on the candidate’s behalf.

Why Don't We Celebrate Charlie Parker's birthday?

Here I am in Wichita, Kansas, where Charlie Parker, one of a handful of genius of American music, made his first recordings as a member of Jay McShann's big band and I missed the August 29 anniversary of his birth on August 29, 1920.

Anyone think that Germany doesn't make a big deal of Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms.

So I'm going to be playing the Savoy and Dial studio recordings and the Verve box set in heavy rotation as my own tribute overthe next week or so.

John Fogerty: Deja Vu All Over Again

John Fogerty is not only part of the Music for Change tour, but he has a new album out on September 21 with a great new anti-war song, the title song. Maybe I've missed something but the Iraq war seems to have produced a lot less anti-war music of note. Merle Haggard's That's the News is the exception.


Did you hear 'em talkin' 'bout it on the radio
Did you try to read the writing on the wall
Did that voice inside you say I've heard it all before
It's like Deja Vu all over again

Day by day I hear the voices rising
Started with a whisper like it did before
Day by day we count the dead and dying
Ship the bodies home while the networks all keep score

Did you hear 'em talkin' 'bout it on the radio
Could your eyes believe the writing on the wall
Did that voice inside you say I've heard it all before
It's like Deja Vu all over again

One by one I see the old ghosts rising
Stumblin' 'cross Big Muddy
Where the light gets dim
Day after day another Momma's crying
She's lost her precious child
To a war that has no end

Did you hear 'em talkin' 'bout it on the radio
Did you stop to read the writing at The Wall
Did that voice inside you say
I've seen this all before
It's like Deja Vu all over again
It's like Deja Vu all over again

John Fogerty
©2004 Cody River Music / ASCAP

Here's my suggestion for every Music for Change tour. Have one of the bands do a cover of Fortune Son.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Bush Speech: Word Count

From Talk Left

Bush's speech was 5,000 words. Here's the breakdown, according to an e-mail we just received (no link, so fact check if you must.)

0 mentions of Iran
0 mentions of North Korea
0 mentions of Osama
3 mentions of Al Qaeda
5 words on the current situation in Iraq

Or how about these numbers for the speeches over the last four days?

No 'debt' or 'deficit'
Unemployment - 0 mentions
Uninsured – 1
Outsourcing - 0
Premiums - 0
Middle-income families – 1