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Monday, February 27, 2006


Today over at The Huffington Post, Arianna’s Russert Watch is a must read. Timmy had an all GOP show today without one iota of opposition. I really loved the rose colored glasses everyone was sporting regarding Iraq as if though the last five days have been a bed of roses for our Arab wards. And oh yeah, the fact the last few days have been troublesome for our occupied friends the Dick Cheney excuse was given – it’s their fault. They just can’t seem to get their acts together and they need to get on the ball according to the elephant parade Timmy was hosting.

Arianna’s last paragraph on Gov. Ahnuld’s appearance is absolutely priceless:

“Last time Arnold was on Meet the Press, he was quite effusive, reminding Tim how long he's known him, telling him he loves him, and praising his physique: "I mean, look at your deltoids and your six-pack. It's amazing, so congratulations on that."
This is apparently some kind of theme between the two of them. This is from today's show:
SCHWARZENEGGER: By the way, you look nice and trim. Your abs look good. Keep up the good work.
In the words of a character from a certain Oscar-nominated film, Tim and Arnold don't know how to quit each other.
If there's one thing that can distract from the travesty of journalism Meet the Press was today, it's being forced to think about Tim's abs. I wish I knew how to quit that image.”

Meet The Press lost it's journalistic credentials sometime ago, but this past Sunday was enough to make Edward R. Murrow glad he was gone. Jesus.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

So long, Barney Fife...

Don Knotts
1924 - 2006

Today when I heard Don Knotts had passed away I could only think about how much laughter and joy he gave me over the years. I don't think he was appreciated enough for his talent. Sometimes it comes posthumously. Here's hoping it now comes here in waves.

Don Knotts, star of "The Andy Griffith Show," dead at 81
Knotts, who lived in West Los Angeles, died Friday night of lung cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Los Angeles Times
By Scott Collins, Times Staff Writer

Don Knotts, the saucer-eyed, scarecrow-thin comic actor best known for his roles as the high-strung small-town deputy Barney Fife on the 1960s CBS series "The Andy Griffith Show" and the leisure-suit-clad landlord Ralph Furley on ABC's '70s sitcom "Three's Company," has died. He was 81. (7-21-24)

"Fair & Balanced" Reporting

I picked up this little gem via First-Draft where Athenae found a Ft. Lauderdale publication fingering the Orlando Sun Sentinel’s true corporate colors. Tsk-tsk-tak:

The Lauderdale Beach Republican Club had a problem: There was a Democrat in the house.

Or in the resort, to be specific. The Clarion Beach Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Club founder Bob Wolfe invited Sun-Sentinel political reporter Buddy Nevins to address the flock at its monthly meeting on February 6 at Damon's Grill, a restaurant in the resort. But other club leaders balked. Nevins was a Democrat, they claimed, and GOP bylaws forbid anybody but Republicans from speaking at their meetings.
To make things kosher, Wolfe decided not to officially start the meeting until Nevins had finished speaking. After 30 minutes of idle chat, hors d'oeuvres, and cocktails, Nevins walked up to the little podium at Damon's Grill. Then he made several remarks that should end his career as a political reporter.
First, he held up a piece of paper to the 40-or-so attendees in the room and told them it was from the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office. He had changed political parties.
"I'm a Republican," Nevins announced to the partisan crowd. "It's official."
An uncomfortable, slightly stunned silence filled the room before Margaret Hostetter, a former congressional candidate and current vice president of the Davie's GOP club, stood up and began applauding. Others followed Hostetter's lead until Nevins was awash in cheers and a standing ovation.
Nevins' announcement by itself was a highly questionable act by a supposedly unbiased reporter. Unprofessional and reckless are two words to describe it. But Nevins, a longtime player in the political scene who began his reporting career in South Florida 31 years ago at the old Fort Lauderdale News, was just getting warmed up. Several witnesses tell me that when a club member asked him why he left the Democratic Party, he responded, "To vote for Charlie Crist in the Republican primary."
OK, hold up. Nevins covers the governor's race. Now he has endorsed a candidate and proven he's no buddy to Republican challenger Tom Gallagher or the Democratic hopefuls.
And he still wasn't finished. As he stood up there basking in the glow of his new political brethren, he began trashing the Democratic Party, says Hostetter, who took notes during Nevins' talk.
"He said that the Democratic Party isn't his grandfather's party," says Hostetter, a massively active Republican activist. "He said it was the party of 'no.' No ideas. No leadership. Just more taxes. And he said that Broward County is bought and controlled by the Democratic Party and its corruption."

I went over to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel’s web site and did a little snooping around and found a couple of interesting data points in their archive search engine. First, Mr. Nevins has contributed 25 articles to the Sun-Sentinel since January 1st of this year. All the articles he’s contributed specifically about party news in general, with the exception of one, was about the GOP. Two of the articles concerned Mr. Nevins covering the dust up in Broward County’s GOP ranks where a Crist endorsement seems to have rankled a few feathers:

“The Broward party is alleged to have violated guidelines that call for 10 days' notice to party committee members before an endorsement is voted on and that require inviting candidates to speak at the meeting.
The move to give the party's endorsement to Crist was introduced without prior announcement at a January meeting. After the vote, supporters of gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher accused a handful of Crist backers in key party positions of steamrolling the endorsement. One of them, general counsel Levi Williams, had advised the vote was legal."It was done very quickly. We didn't know it was coming, and we were not prepared," said Barbara Collier, chairwoman of the Gallagher campaign in Broward, who filed one grievance."The unannounced voice vote clearly violated the rules," said state Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican representing southwest Broward who filed another grievance."

My, my how that medicine the GOP is always trying to ram Democrats’ throat taste just as bad when their own is forced to ingest it. Nothing like watching political castor oil go down without any sugar at all. Gotta love those GOP values.

Iraq: Still Not "Getting It"

Now that the pyramid of powder kegs Bush’s Iraqi adventure has built (symbolizing nicely the Sunni Triange) is sitting with their fuses fully exposed ready to be lit, the American electorate is left to wonder what the final act will be to ignite them precipitating the civil war most students of Iraqi history knew would be likely as the outcome of our subsequent invasion/occupation. As Daily Kos’ SusanG points out this morning, the Pentagon has downgraded all Iraqi battalions to non-ready status leaving the entire mess in the lap of the American military.

While Bush still sings harmonies to his Dulcinea of Iraqi Jeffersonian Democracy, John Murtha’s role of Cassandra channeling the Pentagon’s Iraqi theatre brass goes unheeded. What is even more troubling is the conservative intelligencia, who ably played the part of Pancho Sanchez, and their most recent sudden realization of the folly of Bush’s Quixotian mission. Now that William F. Buckley, Jr. finds himself in the latest exodus heading off the WH reservation we find Senor Fellow and former advisor to the Coalition government Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institute and author of “Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq” giving a formidable demonstration of how the American conservative movement still does not “get it.”

Atrios over at Eschaton recently had a post that excerpted an article by Mr. Diamond in the San Jose Mercury News:

One young political appointee (a 24-year-old Ivy League graduate) argued that Iraq should not enshrine judicial review in its constitution because it might lead to the legalization of abortion. A much more senior Iraqi interlocutor (a widely experienced Iraqi-American lawyer) became so exasperated with the young man's audacity that he finally challenged him:``You must have thoroughly studied the history of the British occupation of Iraq.''

``Yes, I did,'' the young American replied proudly.

``I thought so,'' said the Iraqi, ``because you seem determined to repeat every one of their mistakes.

Unfortunately Mr. Diamond’s article, though astutely pointing out in telling detail with this little exchange the arrogance and hubris of the American occupation, demonstrates his inability to understand the crux of the Iraqi population’s hatred for it’s occupiers when one examines his article a little closer. First, he points out his understanding of the main problem,

“Even though the Bush administration now is trying to dig out, most notably by supporting the incorporation of Sunnis into the political process, it will take years to terminate the violence and build a viable democracy. Moreover, if America is to regain the trust of Iraqis and cultivate a true partnership, we must demonstrate that it really is democracy we care about in Iraq -- not permanent American military bases."

Then, after reminding us of some of the “gains,” such as a new interim constitution, elections, a jailed Saddam and new currency he gives a quick outline of the consequences of this mistrust of American policy,

"From the moment that Baghdad fell in April 2003 and much of the public infrastructure was systematically destroyed, the United States failed to fulfill the first overriding obligation of an occupying power: to establish and maintain order. Coalition (mainly American) forces failed to secure Iraq's cities, roads, electricity grids, oil pipelines and borders. The tenacious insurgency, fed and emboldened by an escalating influx of foreign jihadist terrorists, sabotaged roads and crucial facilities as rapidly as they were repaired.”

Then he fools us into thinking maybe he DOES get it:

“We never had nearly enough translators and interpreters, nor enough civilians who knew Iraq's culture, history and language.
But America occupied anyway, in a way that was often filled with an ill-informed hubris, leading it for many months to misread the importance of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani; to underestimate the depth of Iraqi resentment of American military and political dominance; to marginalize the United Nations' mission in postwar Iraq, despite its considerable knowledge and expertise; and to impose 100 colonial-like decrees.” [emphasis mine].

He was almost there. Almost. Then he quickly reverts back to the paternal benevolence of the conservative movements view of the Mid East and how they simply misunderstand the guiding hand of those with superior wisdom and the benefit of governing experience:

Clearly, if Iraq is going to become a democracy, or even a reasonably stable and effective state, it must get control of the insurgency, which is based largely among Iraq's Sunnis. Defeating it will require a sophisticated, patient and incremental effort for many years, combining military, intelligence, policing and political efforts.

There is no magic solution, because the insurgency consists of multiple social strands, and some of these -- especially the foreign fighters (such as Al-Qaida) and the surviving Saddam loyalists -- can only be defeated and killed in combat, arrested, or expelled.

What an insult to the average Iraqi on the street. Even the most unsophisticated and uneducated Iraqi citizen understands this and they don’t need people like Larry Diamond telling them. Then Mr. Diamond insults the American electorate’s intelligence playing the interlocutor of the profound:

“To achieve lasting peace in Iraq, America will have to make concessions, including an explicit commitment not to seek permanent military bases in Iraq. Perhaps no issue in the coming years will more clearly expose the real purpose of the Bush administration's postwar mission in Iraq: to build democracy or to obtain a new, regional military platform in the heart of the Arab world.

Make no mistake about it: While Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam, they also want their country back. Only if we make it clear that we will withdraw our military forces when Iraq is stable will we create the political context in which Iraq can once again become secure. The alternative would leave us mired indefinitely in a violent quagmire in Iraq.”

Gee thanks, Larry. I’m glad you are here to inform the busy soccer mom who doesn’t have the time to think these things through during her busy day and the short attention span hampered NASCAR dad worrying about what corporate sponsor will pick up his favorite driver what the relevant issues are and what we need to do.

Well, for Mr. Diamond and the rest of his conservative movement friends I have a bit of profundity for him. The crux of Iraqi hated of their occupiers comes down to one simple raw emotion regarding the Iraqi citizen and their view of American ‘values’ as presented to them by their occupiers: equality as human beings with those of westerners. It’s that simple. As David Fromkin points out in his “A Peace To End All Peace” in 1914 the Ottoman Empire, which included today’s Iraq despised what they called “the Capitulations.” This was a common colonial law said local and Ottoman authority was not recognized to have any authority over westerners, especially American and British citizens. The only authority that was recognized to deal with them was through their respective consulates. This only served to fuel unbounded enmity and hatred among the local citizens for western governments and their citizens. Bremer and the coalition government initiating the very same decrees only reinforced those memories and prejudices and sealed the doom of any foreign intervention no matter how benevolent. This is even more heavily reinforced through the WH’s treatment of American casualties vs. those of Iraqi casualties. Our mainstream media and the American government hardly ever brings up the issue of Iraqi casualties while the main concern always seems to be centered on “coalition force” casualties. Somehow the Iraqi dead and wounded just aren’t worthy as human beings on the same level to be considered.

All the other issues Mr. Diamond wrung hands over are minor compared to this basic, raw emotional feeling. Until the conservative movement understands this, Iraq will continue to remain an elusive, uncomprehending, and bewildering issue for them. For the liberal and progressives among us, it couldn’t be simpler.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Find The Liberal

I love bloviating right wingers when they try to pull the race card. Via Seeing the Forest, your favorite hillbilly heroin addict of the airwaves Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday morning:

“This is the first time in four years that I can recall a Democrat seriously being concerned about this group of people, and this is racism. This is racism. We are concluding that all Arabs are terrorists. We are concluding that every damn one of them -- be they a sheik, an emir -- they are all terrorists. They all have ties to terrorists and they all seek our utter, total destruction, and we can't risk an exception to that. They're all that way -- and welcome to racism Democrats, because the Democrats are leading the show on this just as well as a lot of conservatives are. So when Democrats are illustrating their racism, their xenophobia, they're also demonstrating that they fully acknowledge we have an enemy. Well, this is a tenuous position for them to take because their kook base doesn't believe any of this.”

Hmmmm. Ok, Rush and the like minded. Let's play find the liberal. Look at this picture and point them out:

Any questions? I didn't think so. Now if you want to play find the conservative......

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Gov. Mark Warner's Holistic Politics

I just had my first look at former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia via C-Span’s “Road To The White House” where they covered a recent visit to New Hampshire. I found his speech to the New Hampshire Democratic Party's 100 Club Dinner in Manchester last week to be more interesting for what was not mentioned as opposed to the actual content. He basically gave the same speech he delivered to the 2005 DLC National Conversation this past July. First, let’s take a look at, for me, the main point of his speech. After first setting himself up as a Democratic Governor of a red state, he then set the tone at the beginning of his speech reflecting his basic electoral philosophy:

“In today's Washington, you know, for the most part it's all about the issues that divide us and about settling the scores of the past. And while many of you have visited my state, Virginia, and you know that we're only a couple of hundred yards across the Potomac River away from D.C., in so many ways we couldn't be further apart because in Virginia -- and for that matter, all around America, in the heartland -- folks are looking for something else, what I call the sensible center. The sensible center is wide open in this country for any Democrat who can credibly make the case.”

You know Al From is sitting somewhere grinning like a Cheshire cat whenever he hears those words uttered. As one listens to his speech there is no doubt his reference to the ‘sensible center,’ as he called it, are his code words for America’s heartland. Then he ties it in with what most assuredly will be the main instrument to reach that “heartland:”

"In Virginia, we have worked to put down 700 miles of broadband in our rural communities so folks don't have to leave home to find a good quality job. In Virginia, where our economy is booming, we still have 700,000 of our working-age adults -- nearly 20 percent of our workforce -- that don't have a high school diploma because they worked in jobs like textile and furniture and tobacco. Well, we've gone out and actually -- Virginia is a pretty big NASCAR state. We partnered with NASCAR and got Elliott Sadler to be our spokesperson, and we got a "Race to the GED" program, encouraging people to go back and at least get that certificate so they can qualify for 21st century jobs."

Ah yes, NASCAR, the magic bullet for the centrist DLC Democrat. Once his point was made about the “sensible center” the rest of the speech almost had a tone of “we can just govern better:”

"What did we do? Well, we had to make some cuts. But we also used it as a chance to totally reform Virginia state government. We changed everything from the way we buy light bulbs to the total consolidation of our information technology services to completely reexamining all of the state's real estate portfolio in a way that can save the taxpayer money. Ultimately, as Ethan indicated, we had to close a $6 billion shortfall.
We then went about reforming our tax code with a Republican legislature. We were successful in that, in what's been called the most extensive tax reform in the nation in more than a decade. That allowed us to make historic new investments in education, the key to our future. But at the same time, we kept the focus on making our academics more rigorous, and we actually followed and made sure that those new dollars were held accountable in how they were spent in our schools. Because ultimately -- ultimately it's only the results that matter."

Ok. you can manage the government better. The question left in my mind after hearing this is, “Where is the vision?” Where is his central theme about where he wants to take us? At this stage of the game where its to early to lay out any concrete plans I wouldn’t expect details or rhetorical flourishes tied to some grand plan. What I WOULD like though is some idea of how he sees us as a nation. John Edwards, “Two Americas” is a perfect example. I didn’t need any specifics the first time I heard him make that reference in the summer of 2002. But it gave me an idea of where he wanted to take us.

Then there is what he didn’t say that troubled me. It would have been nice to hear about Iraq and some idea of where we fit into the world from a foreign policy perspective. But Iraq seemed almost verboten and I dare say he didn’t even utter the name once. How one can give a speech and not utter a word dealing with the issue of Iraq and it’s drain on our economy, not to mention our armed forces which is directly related to national security is beyond me. It’s almost a tacit nod to the current policy with a wink indicating we’d be better managers. Well, the way things are currently going, the team leaders in a paint ball tournament would be an improvement over the leadership currently in place. Current poll numbers indicate the electorate already understands this, all too well.

All in all the entire speech had a ‘holistic’ quality about it. Before I get to my point about that, first let’s take a look at Merriam-Webster’s definition of ‘holistic:’ “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.” That seems to be Mark Warner’s entire approach based on this speech: “We can run the government better than they can as a whole.” Somewhere we’ve got to come up with more than that. We’ve not only got to come up with ideas that oppose their entire program, they have to be ideas that the voting electorate can grasp onto and visualize. There has to be a model backed up with policy ideas that seems sensible and cost effective. I’m not talking about wonkish, white paper blather, I’m talking about casual remarks that form an idea the average voter can hang their hat on. As a voter looking for someone to do just that my advice to the former Gov. would be to start crafting an outlook and vision that shows us the possibilities of where we can go. Not just “we can be better drivers.”

Having covered the substance of his speech I would like to say he looks quite photogenic and he had a Kennedyesque delivery to his speech. He can be very self-effacing in a way to allow his listeners to feel he understands their world, their circumstance. That is the one refreshing thing I sensed in this speech and he easily conveyed it. The GOP’s brand of populism always has, as it’s main central theme, the “I’m one of you” rhetoric. The electorate is smart enough and aware enough to know that politicians on that level are anything but “one of us.” Though the former Gov. did give me the sense in his speech he understands the score, “out there.” I need more than that. A lot more.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bob Shrum: Political Grim Reaper

I'm not sure why Jon Corizne latched on to the infamous Bob Shrum of Shrum, Devine & Donilon but somehow he managed to win anyway. Chris Bowers over at Mydd tells us about the lastest candidate Bob Shrum's firm is backing: Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island in his race to be the Democratic challenger to Sen. Lincoln Chaffee. I'll leave it to the redoubtable Mr. Bowers to sum up the latest effort of Shrum's firm::

"In case you need any more convincing that 2006 is a change election, outsider Senate candidate Matt Brown in Rhode Island gained 24 points on establishment candidate and Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse. And he did it with a $100K ad buy introducing himself and his stances to the voters. His issues are reform and a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
And Whitehouse? Well his consultants are
Joe Hansen, direct mail racketeer, and Mike Donilon, of famous Shrum, Devine & Donilon heritage. Man do those guys know how to blow a lead.
A 24 point swing is just amazing, and shows that outsider progressive candidates are quite viable in this environment. In case you are wondering, yes, this
does have strong implications for Connecticut."

Blow a lead? That's not blowing a lead, that's torpedoing an entire campaign. Shrum has been involved with every Presidential campaign, with the exception of Bill Clinton, since Walter Mondale's 1984 debacle. What really put Shrum's name in the hall of political infamy was his stewardship over Michael Dukakis' blown 17 point lead. Mr. Whitehouse's blown 24 point lead isn't what's fascinting about that story. What's compelling is Mr. Whitehouse hiring on Shurm's firm to run his campaign considering their national record. By now, every Democratic party candidate should have this guy on the do not call list. Actually, a restraining order should be put out not allowing him within 500 miles of your campaign. Either Mr. Whitehouse lives in an isolation tank or his judgement is seriously impaired. I guess one way to look at it is from a Darwinian perspective: Mr. Shrum helps thin out the herd.

Since Corizine and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida are exemptions to the Shrum rule of instant campaign death one can only hope he finds one more candidate to assist: Joementum. Oh please, if there is a God let Shrum and Joe Lieberman find one another.

Update: I have since discovered that Whitehouse is the true liberal in this race. I should have known that Shrum would only back a DLC'er in state races. Matt Brown is DLC certified. Great. Let's hope against hope that Whitehouse can buck the "Shrum curse" and come out of this. If not this will only add to the Gumpian "Stupid is, is stupid does." Whitehouse really should have his head examined.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

From Stolen Elections to Cruella De Ville

One of the goals of this blog is to examine the Florida political landscape from a different perspective using different news sources other than the conservative based, bought and paid for corporate media. Yes, corporate media news sources will be employed in a triangulation approach, if you will, to contrast different angles of the story. Hence, “Politics: Florida News Hat Trick” will be a regular feature of ‘Truman’s Conscience.’ Three news stories will be chosen for the reader to consider in light of the corporate media’s attempt to either ignore or discredit the source of the piece. Please let me know what you think.

First, Anthony Lappe of Guerrilla News Network writes an excellent piece revisiting the meltdown here in Florida and Ohio. The money quote of the piece gives it the right flavor for those of us who know in our hearts the Florida electoral process was subjugated in an extralegal coup: “But for a small contingent of left-wing activists and progressive Democrats, Ohio was Florida Redux – a ruthless Republican coup orchestrated under the absent gaze of the lapdog media.” The most satisfying aspect about the article is the sources:

Fooled Again?
Wed, 15 Feb 2006 18:22:00 -0800

By Anthony Lappé
In his new book, Mark Crispin Miller argues Bush stole the White House, twice
Editor’s note: If you asked everyone in the U.S. whom they thought won Florida in 2000, half the country (or more) would most likely tell you Al Gore, including Al Gore. But pose the question, who won Ohio in November 2004? and it’s an entirely different story. For most Americans, George Bush earned a commanding mandate on November 2, 2004. The race in Ohio, officially decided by 118,000 votes, was close, but was no Florida. There were no hanging chads or Jews for Buchanan. Democracy worked and the guy with the most votes won. But for a small contingent of left-wing activists and progressive Democrats, Ohio was Florida Redux – a ruthless Republican coup orchestrated under the absent gaze of the lapdog media. In GNN’s new documentary
American Blackout, we detail some of the more egregious examples of voter suppression. As the Conyers Report documents, there is substantial evidence that heavily Democratic (and African-American) precincts in Ohio didn’t have enough voting machines, voters were intimidated and valid votes were discarded. Yet for most on the left, it’s still an open question whether Republican shenanigans actually prevented a Kerry win. What does Kerry think? In his new book, American Vertigo, Bernard-Henri Lévy writes he met up with a “haggard, ghostly” Kerry a few weeks after his loss. According to Lévy, the defeated candidate faintly whispered in his ear, “If you hear anything about those 50,000 votes in Ohio, let me know.”
In his new book,
Fooled Again, NYU media critic and outspoken Bush-basher Mark Crispin Miller (The Bush Dyslexicon) says he knows where to look. In Fooled Again, he lays out what he says is a definitive case that Kerry won Ohio, and thus the election. Recently, GNN’s Anthony Lappé conducted this interview with Miller about his controversial allegations: (Read more)

There is a nice piece from that includes the 2000 Florida election debacle. In an excerpt from “How to Steal An Election,” author Andrew Gumbel does a nice job outlining the forgotten dots that still need connecting with this money quote from the piece:

“In Florida, well-known voting rights activist Bev Harris claimed to have found the backup data to Volusia County's computer tabulation machines sitting in garbage bags ready for disposal, the suspicion being that county officials might have falsified the official count and then set about destroying the evidence. But she never actually produced the allegedly discarded data, or even the videotapes she said she had made of her find.”

There is no doubt this book is a future resident of my home library. The article starts off by outlining his overall point:

“A few days before the November 2004 election, Jimmy Carter was asked what would happen if, instead of flying to Zambia or Venezuela or East Timor, his widely respected international election monitoring team was invited to turn its attention to the United States. His answer was stunningly blunt. Not only would the voting system be regarded as a failure, he said, but the shortcomings were so egregious the Carter Center would never agree to monitor an election there in the first place. "We wouldn't think of it," the former president told a radio interviewer. "The American political system wouldn't measure up to any sort of international standards, for several reasons." (Read more)

I hadn’t known about former President Jimmy Carter’s feeling before. Another consequence of the lapdog media, I’m sure.

I see the Florida GOP community finds itself in a no win situation with Katherine Harris. I loved Mel Martinez’s backhanded endorsement recently as he grudgingly admitted he would endorse her candidacy and make public appearances with her. It’ll be interesting to see if she opts to appear with her boy, the faux President of the United States with a below 40% approval rating seeing how she was the key component of the electoral coup of 2000. The Palm Beach Post made a nice point about the trepidations the GOP still holds for her candidacy:

“It's an uphill battle — as it invariably is for a challenger facing an incumbent. Until recently, the GOP political hierarchy has been noticeably cool to a Harris candidacy. Their concern, it is frequently said, is that although Harris could easily win a primary election, she cannot attract enough independent voters to defeat Nelson.” (Read more)

Though polls show a tightening of support for her bringing her numbers into the low 40’s, Bill Nelson for the moment seems to be sitting quite comfortably. But hey, this is Florida and as we are well aware of by now strange things can happen at the ballot box. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie."
~Tony Montana, "Scarface" (Dick Cheney, Choose any interview)

Go to Firedoglake right now for her latest post on Cheney's troubles. Huge, hat tip to her and yes, I pilfered the "Scarface" image of Cheney because it was just too damn good to pass up. It's so perfect and the quote above from the movie "Scarface" epitomizes the entire persona of Cheney and the entire WH contingent.

Just for effect here is the entire quote the post header was lifted from:

"What you lookin' at? You're all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So...what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. This is the last time you're gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!" - Tony Montana

Florida Governor's Race Opening Up

The news isn't good in the lastest poll showings for the Democrats in the Florida Governor's race. Rassmussen has the latest via Political Wire and the numbers aren't pretty:

February 15, 2006--Republican candidates Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher have opened leads over potential Democratic challengers in the race to succeed Jeb Bush as Governor of Florida.
Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) leads Congressman Jim Davis (D) by five percentage points, 42% to 37%.
Davis trails the other potential GOP candidate, Tom Gallagher, by an even wider margin, 44% to 34%.
With Rod Smith as the Democrats' nominee, Crist leads 45% to 33% and Gallagher holds a 45% to 32% advantage.
Still, with none of the candidates earning more than 45% of the vote at this early point in the campaign season, this race is destined to be competitive.

Related data shows that Senator Bill Nelson (D) still leads Congresswoman Katherine Harris in his bid for re-election. Harris, however, has solidified her support among Republican and Crosstabs are available for Premium members..

Of the four candidates, Crist has the highest name recognition and is the only one to reach the 50% level of favorability. For Crist, the numbers are 50% favorable and 31% unfavorable.

Visit our Election Polls page to see a summary of our latest state-by state polling. Rasmussen Reports is polling every Senate and Governors' race at least once a month this year. Crosstabs are available for Premium members. Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports
ElectionEdgeTM Premium Service for Election 2006 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a mid-term election. We will poll every Senate and Governor's race at least once a month.
Rasmussen Reports was the nation's most accurate polling firm during the Presidential election and the only one to project both Bush and Kerry's vote total within half a percentage point of the actual outcome.

During Election 2004, was also the top-ranked public opinion research site on the web. We had twice as many visitors as our nearest competitor and nearly as many as all competitors combined.
Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.

I haven't made my choice yet in this race but my gut tells me that of the two Davis is more organized. Right now it's a toss up between the two in the primary. But heaven help us if Christ get's in there. If you thought Jebby was bad.......

Shooting Fish In A Barrel

Beyond accidently shooting a hunting companion there is something more disturbing as this tragic tale unfolds. Now I'm picking up stories about Cheney's practice of shooting pen raised birds that are released in the general area of the hunting party. I've read they are usually disoriented upon release and not as sharp as wild fowl.

So let's contrast this with the bubble this WH resides in with regards to their public appearances, shall we? It's a general practice of this WH to have canned audiences that applaud and launch praise and laudatory bouquets on cue. Now I read about Cheney's hunting party riding up to the covey, emerging from the car and then having the birds flushed from the brush to enable easy pickings. Canned audiences vs. pen raised prey for easy shooting. Yes, there is definitely a symmetry there. Is it me or is one not reminded of the practices employed in ancient Roman gladitorial combat where some "combatents" would be issued wooden swords to make for a more livlier and bloody show for the mob. I had no idea these types of hunts existed. What kind of sick individuals would enjoy shooting pen raised, disoriented fowl and then chest beat that you just "dropped" x amount of birds? Oh yeah, the same kind of individual in the WH that would give a canned speech in front of a hand picked crowd then leaves to roaring applause, looking back and saying with genuine surprise, "Wow, good crowd. I really wowed them didn't I?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Jomentum Gets GOP Backing

I remember as a kid seeing an old movie about a small village in occupied France during WWII that had these three French women with their heads shaved. Being to young to understand the actual significance of these women with early Sinead O’Conner do’s I just remember my mom telling me they were ‘collaborationists’ and this was the village’s way of labeling them to warn members of the French underground.
What a great shame we can’t shave ol’ Joementum’s head to warn others’s in the Democratic Party what his real, honest, and true color is. Via Daily Kos I picked up this little tidbit about our man in Connecticut through Bob “Hey, I outed Valerie Plame” Novak, of all people:

“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.

Fuller was President Ronald Reagan's Cabinet secretary and later Vice President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff. Goldfield, a Reagan White House aide and later assistant secretary of Commerce, was a fund-raiser in the two Bush-Quayle campaigns.
While Lieberman is a major voice for lobbyist reform, three of his dinner's five hosts were registered lobbyists. Fuller represents the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Goldfield lobbies for Airbus and for energy companies (ConcocoPhillips, Dynegy International and Gulfsands Petroleum). Co-host C. Michael Gilliland, a partner in the Hogan & Hartson law firm, represents a variety of clients.”Well, isn’t that special. Adding to that I was listening to Air America’s “Majority Report” Monday night in their 3rd hour when they played an audio excerpt from FOXNews’ Hannity & Colmes. Hannity was offering Lieberman all the support he could get and even offering to do a fund raiser for Joementum.

Ol' Lieberman doesn't have the gravitas to pull of the Zell "I'm an angry post 9-11Democrat." He's been doing this since the 2001 inaugural and he needs to just cut the pretense and end the misery and switch parties already.

Dueling V.P.'s

At this point there is no doubt the public found out about Aaron Burr's transgression against Alexander Hamilton faster than we found out about Cheney's. The problem is the old adage of opposition voices that cry out, "just connect the dots!" Except in this case there are so many dots to connect it blackens the image. Where does one begin? Private citizens breaking news about the V.P. involved in a shooting, accidental or otherwise? Do we go to this person now for breaking news on Iraq? Iran?

Here is a huge hat tip to Firedoglake for all the data you need to know about this story. Just go and read. Be warned though, if you have high blood pressure you may want to avoid it at all cost. She is a member in good standing with the NRA AND a liberal. Imagine that. Her take is the best one on the net hands down. She also has the hottest blog on the net (except mine of course!) and is a must read daily.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Welcome To The Bush Banana Republic of Florida

Now days when I think of my home state it’s not hard to think “Banana Republic.” While the rest of the country suffers the infirmities of one Bush, we here in the Sunshine State get an added burden of two. So be it. Befalling cruel fates seems to have taken on an art form here in the Union’s 27th state. Hence, the Bush brothers and their version of the Brothers Grimm as they orchestrate the subjugation of the political process with a surreal, dark, fairy-tale like quality that only Jacob and Wilhelm could appreciate.

Yesterday, in a New York Times editorial, (with a hat tip to Daily Kos’ Armando) we find the mainstream media suddenly beginning to suffer the aftereffects of a long, deep hibernation like sleep and waking up to the realization they’ve been had:

“We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.”

Well, nice to see the New York Times finally taking part in the reality based community they are supposed to be serving and listing the lies, one after another, this administration has perpetrated on the electorate that is supposed to have elected him. Here in Florida, we still can’t find the votes that made him President and yet he has served his term to date without so much as one mainstream press outlet (with the possible exception of Knight-Ridder) questioning his raison d’etre as he continues to act out his part in a very bad Faustian play. At this point, even the devil feels cheated.

Then there is the brother and his part in this lurid Grimm exercise. The intricate dance they step to has one underlying common theme: anathema to a socially responsible government, whether it is on the state or federal level. While the faux Crawford native demonstrated this abhorrence through his inaction pre and post Katrina, the Governor had the state’s Medicaid and DCF programs with which to stage his:

“TAMPA - Florida Medicaid mistakenly dropped about 15,000 low-income cancer and transplant patients from a drug-subsidy program six weeks ago, the Agency for Health Care Administration said Friday.
AHCA sent notices to pharmacies statewide Friday afternoon saying Medicaid will immediately resume paying the 20 percent "co-insurance" for anticancer and transplant drugs that has been denied since Jan. 1, when the Medicare prescription drug plan was launched. The state said it will reimburse patients and pharmacies.”

What a nice touch. If this is their version of “compassionate conservatism” then I shudder at the thought of their definition of cold indifference. They are now going to each get 8 years to make the ineffectiveness of socially responsible government axiomatic. Except there is one slight problem: the track record of government in the hands of socially responsible custodians. From Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, socially responsible government has a track record that is undeniable. A mainstream media that is complicit in this attempt at ideological white-out in order to prove government ineffectiveness has the added irony of demonstrating the ineffectiveness of their social responsibility when it comes to the public they are supposed to be serving.
When you send people to Washington and/or their state capitols that detest and publicly demean public service one should not be surprised when the system becomes corrupted and fraught with incompetence. My question and fear is once both of their 8 years are up will it be too late to save us? One can only hope not.

Dickey Get Yer Gun...!

AP is reporting the VP has accidently shot someone while hunting in Texas.

CNN has the full story:

Vice President Dick Cheney shot and wounded a companion during a hunting trip in south Texas on Saturday, the vice president's office said. The wounded man, 78-year-old Harry Whittington, was reported to be alert and in stable condition at a Corpus Christi hospital after being hit by birdshot Saturday afternoon. Whittington, an Austin attorney and Bush-Cheney campaign contribuor, was among a handful of people accompanying the vice president. Cheney is an avid hunter and has taken several previous hunting trips to the south Texas area. Read on ....

Hey Al, Enough Already....

When it comes to politics and the Democratic Party it's almost like it is with my family. Only I can criticize them. But let somone else do it and watch out. Now, having said that and as much as I love Al Franken I wish someone would drop him a note and tell him I'm tired of hearing what a wonderful guy Lindsey Graham is of South Carolina. On February 9th's broadcast in the third hour with Tom Oliphant Al sent out another loving tribute to the Senate manager that brought Clinton's impeachement articles to the Senate from the House. This "great guy" sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Next time Al wants to blow kisses his way how about asking this question of Strom Thurmond's successor, "Where's the god damn armor for our guys in Iraq?" Sitting on the Armed Services Committee one might think that would come up in the conversation somewhere. Sheesh...

And just to show that I'm not entirely dissatisfied, I'm a recent Premium member. So far it has been worth it and I like the fact I'm able to listen to the show on my own time with the commercials cut out. Now that is listening pleasure.

Florida Fightin' Dems On The Move!

I first met Dave Bruderly at the Florida State Democratic Party Convention in 2003. When I walked over to introduce myself I was half expecting to find him holding either a copy of Al Gore’s “Earth In The Balance” or Miquel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote de la Mancha.” At the time he was in the middle of his second campaign against then 16-year veteran U.S. House of Representative Cliff Stearns, R-FL6. He would go on to lose again in the 2004 race by the same margin he lost in 2002: nearly 2 to 1.

Now Dave finds himself in his third campaign against Mr. Stearns as part of the Fighting Dems. As of last count there are now 55 forming a Band of Brothers in a concerted effort to retake the House this year. Unfortunately, the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) doesn’t seem to be interested in most of these candidates of which many are Iraqi veterans who have returned from the front disenchanted and angry. They feel their only recourse is to join the political process and take back the ideals we were founded on and give the veterans something back after they have given their all.

As an engaged Democrat I’m growing more and more frustrated each election cycle as the DCCC employs the same losing tactic every campaign cycle by not concentrating on fielding as many candidates as possible but only spending money and resources in races they deem “competitive.” The DCCC isn’t serving us well as voting Democrats and activist when they continue to fight the GOP on their grounds and on their terms.

Well here’s a thought for 2006. Let’s run as many Band of Brother candidates as possible and have them take over the DCCC for 2008. Perhaps then we’ll have enough veterans in office that understands what it means to take the fight to the enemy. Head on over to Dave Bruderly’s campaign site or blog and pitch in what you can. This is no longer just a fight, this is a struggle for survival for every thing we have fought for. Perhaps these veterans can show us a thing or two about winning campaigns.

Show me the money!

If there was any doubt about the radioactive half-life of Florida’s political isotopes since the fallout from 2000 one only need to take notice of the pending visits in the coming weeks by two of the Democratic Party’s largest luminaries in the containment field of Presidential politics. Al Gore will be in Palm Beach on March 12th to lend a hand to the FDP in a couple of fund-raisers. The radioactive fallout can still be felt here as U.S. House of Representative Henry Wexler, D-Delrey Beach, continues in his fight to get the paperless electronic voting machines declared unconstitutional.

As Palm Beach Post columnist George Bennett pointed out in his January 30th column Wexler is still looking for an alternative system to replace them. As a Democrat still smarting from the radioactive burns from the electoral process in 2000, I’m somewhat exasperated to find that more than six years have passed since that meltdown and our elected Democratic Party officials are still pondering an alternative system. Common sense tells us that for the time being an improved paper ballot system would do just fine until we can wrest control of the statehouse away from the cabal still in power that engineered that fiasco.

The other luminary on the way here for a little high profile exposure is the former First Lady and current New York Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She’ll be in Tampa the week of February 25th for an FDP fund-raiser that’s part of a multi-event tour across Florida. As Interstate4jamming is reporting, the event is part of the FDP’s “Victory ‘06” campaign kicking off that week.

As the 2008 Presidential campaign starts to make it’s presence felt in the post 2006 mid-term election phase something tells me Florida will still be ground zero when the time comes.

Truman's Conscience

As of this inaugural post, it has been fifty-three years, three weeks, two days and four hours since Harry S. Truman’s official term of office expired. As each decade passes since that moment it only serves to underline the flourishing legacy he left behind that is still with us today. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, it is doubtful a better representative of the common man with an evolving progressive mind could be found. At first, our 33rd President came out of Missouri with a parochial outlook couched in the southern prejudices of the time. With a progressive mind and a conscience that always strived for fairness one can only marvel at the evolving ideals and a sense of justice he would harness as the arc of his ascension in public life spiraled upward growing beyond his humble origins.

His biographer, David McCullough, called him, “….a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character.” As the embodiment of one being faced with a world that had evolved beyond his capacity to view it with the sensibilities of a time long past he became much more than that. Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln once profoundly observed, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present….we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” Only a progressive mind such as that of Harry Truman could understand the meaning of Lincoln’s profound sense of what is needed to face a world that seemed at the time to be so fraught with unmeetable challenges and peril. His strength of character and profound sense of self-awareness eventually enabled him to reach beyond himself and those around him in order to harness the ideas and energy that would allow him to, “….think anew, and act anew,” as Lincoln prescribed.

Now we find ourselves being led by the conservative mind in a post cold-war world conflicted with ambiguity and contradictions about our place and where we fit in to it. As we lurch and reach backward for tired old prescriptions that did not serve us well in the past our burden is added to as they serve to only soothe the closed mind of raw emotions driven by those that are easily angered and quick to judge. Progressive ideas are marginalized and ridiculed by a conservative mindset that prefers the simple solutions of yesterday and quick fix answers serving a consumer driven public massaged by the commercial blandness of mass consumption and the low expectations of a status quo society.

Now more than ever we need new voices that call for us to, “…..think anew, and act anew.” We need new voices that ring with the clarion call for change to wash away the “dogmas of the quiet past that are inadequate to the stormy present.” This blog is an attempt, in a very small way, to join that chorus and harmonize with those that feel that sense of urgency before it is too late to save the progressive ideals we fought so hard for and achieved. We need new voices that are driven by the conscience of Harry Truman and the sense of justice and fairness it embodied. As his legacy has driven me toward this small effort to continue that fight this blog will focus on two main objectives: first, to make all of our elected officials accountable to their constituencies, their country and to the American people, and second, to promote the causes and principles of the liberal/progressive view. From 1941 to 1944, then Senator Harry S. Truman, before he was chosen to be F.D.R.'s running mate, was legendary for his chairmenship of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. It even came to be called "The Truman Committee" for short as it became legendary for its tenacity and crusade against war profiteering. That legacy included going after those that violated the rules and spirit of defense and government contract spending. If Demcratic party members were found to be included in those violations he made sure even they were equally held accountable and suffered the same consequences.

Alas, it is in that same spirit that my first objective will be to hold all elected officals accountable on both sides of the aisle no matter the party or ideological standing. It is especially critical that our Democratic party elected officials are held to an even higher standard making them even more accountable to ensure the principles and causes of liberal and progressive values are unheld.

So welcome to Truman’s conscience. My name is Michael and I’m the custodian of this small effort to harmonize with the voices of change and the call for justice in a political climate driven by fear and moral certainty. Come and join in on occasion and let us sing together.

Truman's conscience will be here.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Recommended Podcast of the Week

KCRW's Left, Right & Center.

Matthew Miller (moderator, center) hosts Robert Scheer (left), Arianna Huffington (progressive independent) and Tony Blakely (right) do a nice job discussing the issues of the day. This week they talk about the SOTU, Bush's once upon a time story about mean ol' t'rrists from 2002, the new WH budget and the cartoon controversy over Islam's prophet. You can catch the broadcast feed here.