Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Reagan Lied about his Commie connections

Yes, children, Ronald Reagan, the icon of the right, had CP connections during the 1940s. And in 1966, he lied about it, ccording to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

(Via Rick Perlstein's blog.)

As governor, Reagan would have access to UC's atomic research data. The Atomic Energy Act required the FBI to conduct a comprehensive background investigation of him.

The process started on Dec. 18, 1966, when Reagan filled out a Personnel Security Questionnaire that asked, among other questions:

"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of any organization which has been designated by the United States Attorney General as required under the provisions of Executive Order 10450?

"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of any foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, group, or combination of persons which is totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive . . . ?"

Applicants were required to list any such groups and the dates they were involved with them.

Reagan answered "no" to both questions on the form, which contained a warning that "any false statement herein may be punished as a felony."

Reagan received shining recommendations from everyone the FBI interviewed.

But files of the Los Angeles FBI office showed that in 1946 Reagan had been a sponsor and director of the Committee for a Democratic Far East Policy, which had been designated as subversive by the U.S. Attorney General under Executive Order 10450.

The records also showed that also in 1946 Reagan had been a member of the American Veterans Committee, the California section of which had been cited in a report by the predecessor of the Burns committee as "communist dominated and (as) a vociferous, decadent minority in national AVC affairs."

But Grapp, head of the L.A. office, approved a report that conformed to Reagan's Personnel Security Questionnaire -- omitting Reagan's association with the two groups officially deemed subversive.

When FBI officials in the bureau's headquarters read Grapp's report, they ordered him to amend the document to include Reagan's role in the groups.

The bureau could not risk the omission. Hundreds of people in the late 1940s and early 1950s had faced hearings and sometimes dismissals from federal employment for failing to disclose memberships in groups deemed subversive.

But the final report to the Atomic Energy Commission, prepared by FBI headquarters, did not mention Reagan's false statement that he had never belonged to a subversive organization, which by law could itself be reason to deny a security clearance.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Needed: a reality-based peace movement

Shouldn't a proposal to effectively mobilize the American public be--at a minimum--
reality-based? A popular proposal by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith is being widely circulated on the internet and beyond. Like many statements by very prominent anti-war spokesmen appears to be based on either wishful thinking or propaganda braggadocio or willfulignorance.

"Over 60% of Americans want this war over--yesterday," Brecher and Smith shout.

There is huge difference betwen poll questions which ask whether the war is/was a mistake or do you approve of George Bush's handling of the war and questions which ask whether people favor an immediate withdrawal.

These polls can be found with great ease on the internet. They can be found here

Here are three polls from early June.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll

"More specifically, do you think that we should have an immediate and
orderly withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, or not?"

Should 37% Should Not 59%


"In your opinion, should the United States withdraw troops from Iraq right away, or should the U.S. begin bringing troops home within the next year, or should troops stay in Iraq for as long as it takes to win the war?"

Withdraw right away 25%
Withdraw within a year 43%


Are you more likely to support a Presidential candidate who
"Supports legislation that would cut off funding for the war in Iraq"

More likely 33%
Less Likely 60%

The fact is that only a minority of Americans support the out now position and it is a act of movement-delusion to pretend otherwise. Cute tactics may make small groups of anti-war activists feel warm and fuzzy and make them feel justified in denouncing the sell-outs of the Democratic Party, Move-On, and UFPJ. (To be honest, I suspect that the UFPJ and even DP
activstis are not immune for this wishful thinking syndrome.) But it won't do much to end the war or build a progressive majority.

If the majority are with you then you only have to come up with some magic formula so that the you can shout so loud that the media can't ignore you. But an entirely different approach is needed if only a minority is with you and there is a potential majority which might be organized-- if not to your most preferred position then to something close to it.


Beecher and Smith Proposal

IRAQ MORATORIUM September 21 and every Third Friday thereafterToday the Iraq Moratorium project steps onto the public stage!Over 60% of Americans want this war over--yesterday. The political processis moving glacially, at best, to make that happen. It's got to stop! We'vegot to stop it!The idea is simple. On September 21 and on every subsequent Third Friday,millions of Americans will break with their
daily routine to take someconcrete step to demand an end to the war and the
return home of thetroops.The hallmark will be the wearing of black ribbons
and armbands, inmourning for all of those who have died in this
senselessadventure--Iraqis, American and other coalition troops, and others.
All ofus who want this war ended can decide what steps we will
take,individually or with others, on September 21. Together, acting where
welive, work and study, we will create a mighty shout so loud that the
mediawon't be able to white it out and the politicians won't be able to
ignoreit.The Iraq Moratorium is not an organization. It was initiated by a
smallgroup of anti-war activists from very diverse backgrounds. We see it as
aproject that will strengthen the work of existing anti-war groups. Evenmore
important, the clear and simple message, the local focus and thevariety of
activities it can encompass will bring into motion greatnumbers who have not
yet taken any action against the war.It is a 21st century project: the reach
of the Internet and the Web willhelp reach tens of millions with this
message. Please help by forwardingthis message widely.To learn more, to
pledge to take part in the Iraq Moratorium, and to getinvolved, please go to

Monday, June 18, 2007

Slave Labor in China

National Public Radio had a shocking report today on slave labor in China. Here's their blurb

The son of a local Communist Party leader has been implicated in forced labor in China's Shanxi and Henan Provinces, where impoverished people, many of them children, have been abducted or lured to brick kilns, locked up and forced to work without pay. The central government expressed outrage at the abuse following reports in the Chinese media.

Families of many of the enslaved workers hadn't known why they vanished or where they were, and parents are searching for missing children.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bush unpopular in even Kansas

President George Bush came to Kansas this week among other things to appear a a fundraiser for Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. Notably, this was a fundraiser in a private home, not in any sort of public forum. It raised a fair, but not outstanding, amount.

Survey USA's latest poll on Bush's popularity in Kansas shows

38 % approval
56% disaproval

Compare that to the rating for Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius

65 % approval
31 % disapproval

By the conventional wisdom, Roberts should be a shoe-in, but I've been making the case that he is far more vulnerable. The three biggest things Roberts has going for him is that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is unlikely to enter the race and the lure of an open seat in 2010 when Sam Brownback says he won't run for re-election. And, the perception that Kansas can't elect a Democrat to the Senate.

I don't think there is any real chance that Sebelius will make a run in 2008, but that doesn't mean that someone else can't make a race of it. It might be easier to capture an open seat in 2010, but there's always a chance that Brownback will get a message from God and change his mind. To be a little more serious, there is a good chance that 2008 will be a strongly anti-GOP year, while 2010 the terms of debate framed by the popularity of a new Democratic President who is pushing through an agenda which would mobilize traditional GOP voters.

Now for the third reason. Is there a potential for a Democrat to win a statewide race.

The same SURVEY USA poll has a break down of party identification in Kansas.

Republicans 43
Democrats 33

That's a lot closer than the official registration figures are about 46% Republican, 28 % Democratic and 26 % independent.

National polls which ask independents which way they lean are producing a big margin in overall identification for Democrats. If this Democratic trend holds true for Kansas the party identification might be pretty damn close. In fact, a Gallup poll earlier this year did a state by state breakdown and showed a slight Democratic advantage in Kansas when leaners were included.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wichita Eagle: Tiahrt's had better weeks

The Wichita Eagle's editorial board raised a gentle question on Saturday about Fourth District Congressman Todd Tiahrt.

Because the power in Congress has shifted to the Democrats, two measures closely associated with Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, have targets on them and soon could be history. His constituents in the 4th Congressional District need to follow the legislative drama in the coming days, and realize the role Tiahrt is playing -- fairly or not -- in policy debates far from Kansas.

In 1998, Tiahrt pushed through a measure preventing the District of Columbia from funding a needle-exchange program aimed at fighting HIV-AIDS, because he believed such programs promote drug abuse and threaten children. On Tuesday, Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-N.Y., who now chairs a subcommittee that deals with federal appropriations to the District, stripped that ban from legislation making its way through the House. The Washington Post praised Serrano for taking the "first step toward ending this nuttiness."

Then Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who chairs a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, said Thursday that she would strip what's most often referred to as the "Tiahrt amendment" from a spending bill before her panel. That's the 2003 legislation on gun-tracing data that Tiahrt says protects undercover law enforcement officers and that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and 224 other U.S. mayors say impedes crime-fighting. This week also saw the mayors' group run a full-page ad in USA Today on the issue, pairing text such as "America can't afford a Congress that is soft on crime" with a photo of police officers carrying another officer's coffin. Law enforcement officers from across the country also plan a D.C. press conference Tuesday in opposition to the Tiahrt amendment.

In the 2006 election, Tiahrt's campaign ads were mainly the "he brings home the bacon" sort. They certainly didn't make the case for electing a conservative Tiahrt. If Democrats are going to continue to be the majority party in the Congress, what is the rationale fro electing Tiahrt? Might the voters of the fourth district be better served by elected a moderate, mainstream Democrat?

Bono--humanitarian or t ax dodger

Bono, the lead singer of U2, wants to be thought of as a humanitarian, but the sad truth is that he is a tax dodger. He chastises governments for not following through on commitments to Africa, while taking advantage of tax loopholes. For god sake, the man is a multi-millionaire. NPR interviewed him recently and the only tough questions they asked was why he wears sunglasses and what he talked to President Bush about.

Here's Lucy Komisar on the tax dodger

Bono’s protest at a Berlin news conference Monday might be taken more seriously if he and his U2 band were not contributing to the system that deprives developing countries of far more than western aid – much of which has to be repaid.

Bono is a tax dodger. The Irish Bono ran his music publishing company in Ireland, where he and his partners took advantage of a law that exempted musicians and artists from taxes on royalties. To dodge taxes on non-royalty income, Bono’s interests had the help of offshore nominee directors...

Bono’s Dublin company earned $110 million in 2005. Taking profits through the company rather than individually, Bono would have had to pay only 12.5 percent corporate tax, a rate still below that of the local bus conductor or plumber or school teacher.

But that apparently was too much for the man who has homes on the Irish Coast and in the South of France and New York City. So, last year, Bono “moved” the registration of his business to the Netherlands, where it will pay about 5 percent tax on royalties.

Maybe Ireland and the countries of the G-7 could provide more development aid if Bono and people like him didn’t dodge their fair taxes.

What might the people in the countries he wants to help think about this? The same “move your registration to the lowest tax rate” system that Bono uses is employed by multinational corporations to dodge taxes worldwide.

Developing countries lose an estimated $500 billion every year as a result.

As Africa is the continent Bono expresses most concern about, he ought to listen to what the African Union says: Tax dodging by foreign companies costs it $150 billion a year - three times what it receives in aid.