Sunday, February 27, 2005

What Time is It? It's Guckert Time!

A true great Man will neither trample on a worm nor sneak to an Emperor.
--Poor Richard

Check out Jay Rosen's latest Press Think post, In the Press Room of the White House that is Post Press. He takes on the task of thinking through what it means that Bush and his minions like Scott McClellan relish the idea that Jim Guckert IS a perfect fit for the White House press room. They are actively seeking to de-certify the press--to claim that they have no public interest function, they are themselves a special interest.

From the comments section:

I completely disagree with this article. Btw, I am not a journalist. I think Bush and his administration can answer questions of whoever they like. The media are the ones that have put themselves in this position, by their constant refusal to present straight information.

Why should Bush et al cater to people who are going to attack him and misrepresent him right off the bat? They want to get information out the way they want it and they have a right to do that, indeed an obligation to do so with voters like me. You can still talk about the Patriot Act all you want, indeed you are here. You can watch it on local TV and read and report your opinions, and take it apart then.

After watching Helen Thomas scream left wing propaganda in the WH press room for thirty years, and seeing Bush attacked so severely since before he came in office, it is hard to have much sympathy for this conversation. The reason you guys are being cut out is right here in this thread, all these assumptions and biases. The best evidence, for example, shows that McClellan didn't have anything to do with allowing Gannon into the WH press room. Indeed, he was there under Arie Fleischer. The head of the WH press association said as much, that these passes happen at a much lower level and are regularly given out to a lot of "coconuts". Writers here assume that the WH is doing something crooked. Most normal people fail to see what that is.

This combined with no one in the press complaining about the fact that Hillary Clinton has done the same, refusing to talk to reporters for years now, where is the outrage about that?

And did you know Gannon was gay? Shock gasp gasp!!! Gay gay gay gay, and he was in the WH? Oh my God how can that happen.

Reporters are turning into used car salesman, and all you need to know about why is to read this thread.

Posted by: napablogger at February 26, 2005 03:42 AM | Permalink

Guckert is a gay-bashing gay Republican political and sexual prostitute, to be accurate.

It's Bush's support for prostitution of the US government and the media that is revealed here. And the close ties of the band of gay-hating gay Republican brothers to that project. And clearly many Republicans love them for it, as long as they hate anyone like their gay selves. What's not to like in a fellow gay-basher? Don't ask, don't tell. Hey, didn't you guys have a problem with that during the Clinton administration?

The prostitution part is just truth in political advertising. And just to refresh your memory, prostitution is not a sexual orientation or a private preference, it is a profession which involved advertising. Bloggers exposed Guckert's own ad campaign! What privacy does ad copy call for exactly?

"More political prostitutes in the White House Press Room, pronto!" That is your message and your proud of it?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 26, 2005 03:14 PM | Permalink

Mark Anderson, Barney Frank had a gay prostitution ring out of his own house. No big deal I guess. Byrd used to be KKK.

All the people screaming about Gannon being a gay prostitute are liberals. It really has nothing to do with whether he is a good reporter or not, although I admit it is sleazy. But so is Barney Frank and Robert Byrd as far as I am concerned.

None of that is fair in evaluating whether or not Gannon is a good reporter, and for liberals to leap on this so strongly as they have does not seem like anything other than opportunistic Republican bashing.

It is totally unrelated to what this site is calling "decertification" of the press by Bush. To call it that is another term of propaganda, to slightly exaggerate what Bush is doing in order to push a point of view. Isn't that an attempt by Rosen to "decertify" Bush's view toward the press?

One could go round and round with this, I suppose, but my point is that the question is, is it ok for Bush administration officials to answer questions of whomever they like? To me it seems like if Bush didn't do that he would drown and never get anything done. If Hillary did that she could just write off ever being President because all she would get are questions about all the scandals she has been involved in.

I think what a press site like this ought to be focused on is not how martyred everyone feels by Bush, but on how the press could be more responsible about themselves.

Posted by: napablogger at February 26, 2005 06:34 PM | Permalink

You can't seem to process the GAY-BASHING gay prostitute part of the story. Was Barney Frank campaigning for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage when a gay prostitution ring was traced to his housekeeper? No.

Was Robert Byrd campaigning for the civil rights act when his membership in the KKK was uncovered? Again, no.

Were BushCo. campaigning (for four years) on "family" values, restoring "dignity" to the White House, and gay-bashing when their Texas Republican delivery boy laid one out over the plate with just a little too much contempt for non-salesmen in the room? They sure as hell were.

This is called suffering the consequences of your actions. Republicans are supposed to be for personal responsibility. But actions speak louder than words. In this administration actions typically contradict the words.

Jim Guckert is the gay-bashing gay prostitute in the press corps who personifies this entire administration's hypocrisy. The administration that can't get a fair shake from the spokespeople they've hired to impersonate reporters.

Also, POLITICAL prostitution as well as sexual. That seems to drop out of your thought process. Practice saying it a few times and it will come to you more easily. POLITICAL prostitute Jeff Guckert. Part of the party organization targeting Plame/Wilson, Daschle and Rather. POLITICAL prostitute.

Apparently your answer is that the press brought political prostitution on themselves? They couldn't repeat Republican talking points effectively enough, so the Republicans had to hire "reporters" to get the PR spin right?

Unfiltered news means "all PR, all the time." Your accusation is enough to make reporters proud. Sadly, they don't do nearly so well in fact, hence the repeated references to stenography in this thread. If wanting a press corps that isn't exclusively comprised of Republican salesmen is a liberal viewpoint, sign me up!

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 26, 2005 07:49 PM | Permalink

Saturday, February 26, 2005

How Many Bush Administration Officials Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Mad Kings and mad Bulls are not to be held by treaties and packthread.
--Poor Richard

Courtesy of 100 Monkeys Typing:

How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed.
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed.
3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb.
4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs.
5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb.
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner: Light Bulb Change Accomplished.
7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark.
8. One to viciously smear #7.
9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along.
10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

b): None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Bush-Rove Promote Social Security Privatization with Gay-Bashing

Gays are totally cool as long--as long as they hate gays.
--The New Poor Richard

The Real Bush Agenda

Courtesy of Americablog:

The REAL Bush Agenda
by John in DC - 2/21/2005 07:01:00 PM

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Michael Barone and the Semantics of Republican Hate

When death puts out our flame, the snuff will tell, if we are wax, or tallow, by the smell.--Poor Richard

Michael Barone of US News writes: "The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004."

Barone is disingenuous. And he contradicts himself.

While the right wing blogosphere openly hates the so-called mainstream media (who have been jumping to the defense of payola journalist Jeff "Gannon" Guckert), Barone claims there is no personal animosity for Kerry or Democrats.

But wait a minute-- the imaginary media support for Kerry is why regressive Republicans hate the media. By Barone's own logic, then, this feeling about the media is fueled by hatred for Democrats. Indeed, journalists are hated AS democrats.

That is the standard charge, 80% of them are Democrats, so journalists' claims to objectivity are a sham.

Well, Barone's claim that he and the storm troopers don't hate Democrats, just the media, is a sham. They are telling us loud and clear, they don't hate the media as opposed to Democrats, they hate the media AS Democrats. This means that hating the media for the reasons Barone gives is itself an act of hating Democrats. While denying it.

The new regressive right: It is unembarassed in its hatred. It is unapologetic. It is periodically hypocritical, but it is nothing if not full-throated.

In Chris Powers' dKos diary today, Yea, You Heard Me Right, he performs the thought experiment of putting the routine libel, slander, and viciousness coming from Limbaugh, O'Reilly and company into the mouths of Democrats with Republican targets. It is stunning, the routine disrespect and contempt (for human dignity and the truth) that is produced by this crew.

"I've got something to say.
What we need are Democratic strongmen who will walk up to those conservatives in favor of the war and punch them in the face.
We need Janet Reno to find these hawks, have ATF agents with automatic weapons arrest them, and place them in an offshore prison where we can hold them without charges and declare them enemy combatants.
Maybe this is all too elaborate. Perhaps we should just drop bombs on their homes.
We do this because they are enraged at the prospect of being tolerant."

This ventriloquism of the regressive right echo chamber makes Eason Jordan sound like Step n' Fetch It. Compared to this crew, he should be considered as a mediator.

Fortunately we have Michael Barone to put our mind at ease: They don't hate Democrats, they just hate the media for not always hating Democrats. Or for being Democrats. There, that feels much better.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Red States are Dependent Children Sucking on the Blue State Tax Revenue Teat: Stop Federal Income Redistribution Now

If you'd have a servant that you like, serve yourself.--Poor Richard

Eric Scigliano:
In 2003, the top subsidy-sucking state, in percentage terms, was red-lite New Mexico, which received $1.99 in federal money for every dollar it sent to Washington, D.C. All the next eight net recipients of federal spending were redder yet: Kentucky, Virginia, Montana, Alabama, North Dakota, West Virginia, Mississippi and Alaska, which received $1.60 to $1.89 back for each tax dollar.

The list of net losers in the state-federal exchange, by contrast, reads like a Who's Who of Blue. Two of the top 14 were traditionally red Western states that are starting to turn purple, Colorado and Nevada. The other 12 are all blue: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Wisconsin and the biggest chump of all, New Jersey, where the federal government spends just $.57 for every dollar it collects. Clearly Tony Soprano did not negotiate this deal.

Only five blue states were net recipients of federal subsidies. Only two red states were net payers of federal taxes. Washington, despite its large military presence and big defense contractor The Boeing Co., received just 90 cents on its federal tax dollar. Oregon and swinging Florida are perfect washes: They received one federal dollar for every dollar they paid in taxes.

P-I Focus: Red and Blue and the Color of Money

I'm Not a Journalist, But I Play One on TV: Will Jeff Gannon Ever Meet the Press?

Knaves and nettles are akin; stroak'em kindly, yet they'll sting.--Poor Richard

Jay Rosen, Press Think: Eason Jordan Resigns

Reply to Press Think Commenter, RM:

Well RM, after addressing the issue of why the Press secretary of the President of the United States would approve credentials for a man who was denied credentials in Congress for precisely the point you raise, that Talon was not an actual news organization, and address him at White House press conferences by a name the press secretary himself knew to be false because it did not match the name of the ID he had to present to get into the White House and get the credentials (and which married female reporters are forced to receive with married name even if they don't use it) we could move on to the role that Guckert played in the charade that we call Bush administration press conferences. The part stooges like Guckert play in Bush and McClellan's studied and deliberate avoidance of the people's business in the people's house in favor of idiotic GOP nonsense from poseurs like Guckert.

This administration periodically tries to freeze out reporters who don't act like Guckert. They are trying to enforce the "Talon" code of behavior on the entire press corps.

Guckert was a plant, put there by the GOP, to help Bush and Scott McClellan avoid explaining Bush administration policy to the American people. He is a fake reporter helping Scott McClellan conduct a fake press conference for the purposes of producing the only kind of news that is compatible with support for Bush administration policies: fake news. Why does your president allow things like this to happen in the White House?

Have you seen the board members and the resumes of the "non-partisan" GOP Leadership Institute where Guckert received his TWO DAYS of journalistic training?

The Leadership Institute's board of directors is made up of a variety of Republican donors and activists, including:

" * Fred Sacher, who contributed nearly $200,000 to GOPAC, former Representative Newt Gingrich's (R-GA) political committee, according to a November 16, 1995 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Sacher was also one of the nation's biggest contributors to the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s, donating $400,000, which prompted a personal letter of thanks from Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, according to a July 19, 1987, Los Angeles Times article. In the 1990s, Sacher financed a large-scale publicity effort that promoted Congressional Republicans' "Contract with America" by sending out faxes on a regular basis to between 600 and 700 journalists in the beginning of the 104th Congress, according to an October 17, 1996, Roll Call article.
* John P. Maxwell, former executive director of Campaign for Prosperity, the political action committee of then-Representative and presidential hopeful Jack Kemp (R-NY), as noted in a February 3, 1986, Associated Press report.
* Craig L. Murphy, who served as spokesman for Representative Joe L. Barton (R-TX), GOPAC's Texas chairman responsible for fund-raising in that area. Murphy issued a statement on Barton's behalf, according to the December 17, 1995, Los Angeles Times, in which he denied helping cement-producing company Southdown with a trade dispute in exchange for $25,000 in political contributions.
* Baker Armstrong Smith, former director of labor relations at the Housing and Urban Development Department under Reagan. Smith "resigned in 1983 after allegations that he sharply curbed HUD's enforcement program, improperly dismissed employees because of their union backgrounds, and had his former secretary type his master's thesis and mail his Christmas gifts," according to an April 27, 1986 article in The Washington Post.
* Ken Thornhill, former head of the Bush-Cheney 2000 Committee in Franklin Parish, Louisiana, which paid for newspaper ads that tried to paint former Vice President Al Gore "as a president who would confiscate guns," according to the November 2, 2000, edition of the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Advocate.
* Eugene H. Methvin, appointed by Reagan in 1983 to the President's Commission on Organized Crime. He is an author and journalist whose writings have appeared in National Review, The Weekly Standard, and The American Spectator."

Gannon wrote attack articles on Daschle daily for a year. They were syndicated at GOPUSA as "news" items.
The articles have been purged from GOPUSA since the scam was exposed. The URL above is from a Google cache. Pretend newslines from TALON provide ready-made GOP fodder for distribution IN THE GUISE OF NEWS COVERAGE.

Gannon articles were linked to by the GOP payola blogger working for Thune to defeat Daschle, Jon Lauck.
That should be enough of an answer for now.

That's the point, RM, Guckert was part of a scam, in part run by the White House. You should be concerned that your elected president's press secretary was reading from the "Gannon is Guckert is a reporter" script and became part of the scam himself. The White House was involved in the process of enabling GOP political operatives to play journalists on TV. Is that cool with you?

Iraqis Have Won the Freedom to be Occupied!

To be intimate with a foolish Friend, is like going to Bed to a Razor.
--Poor Richard

Naomi Klein:
"The Iraqi people gave America the biggest 'thank you' in the best way we could have hoped for." Reading this election analysis from Betsy Hart, a columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service, I found myself thinking about my late grandmother. Half blind and a menace behind the wheel of her Chevrolet, she adamantly refused to surrender her car keys. She was convinced that everywhere she drove (flattening the house pets of Philadelphia along the way) people were waving and smiling at her. "They are so friendly!" We had to break the bad news. "They aren't waving with their whole hand, Grandma - just with their middle finger."

So it is with Betsy Hart and the other near-sighted election observers: They think the Iraqi people have finally sent America those long-awaited flowers and candies, when Iraq's voters just gave them the (purple) finger.

The election results are in: Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to throw out the U.S.-installed government of Iyad Allawi, who refused to ask the United States to leave. A decisive majority voted for the United Iraqi Alliance; the second plank in the UIA platform calls for "a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq."

There are more single-digit messages embedded in the winning coalition's platform. Some highlights: "Adopting a social security system under which the state guarantees a job for every fit Iraqi ... and offers facilities to citizens to build homes." The UIA also pledges "to write off Iraq's debts, cancel reparations and use the oil wealth for economic development projects." In short, Iraqis voted to repudiate the radical free-market policies imposed by former chief U.S. envoy Paul Bremer and locked in by a recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

So will the people who got all choked up watching Iraqis flock to the polls support these democratically chosen demands? Please. "You don't set timetables," George W. Bush said four days after Iraqis voted for exactly that. Likewise, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the elections "magnificent" but dismissed a firm timetable out of hand. The UIA's pledges to expand the public sector, keep the oil and drop the debt will likely suffer similar fates. At least if Adel Abd al-Mahdi gets his way - he's Iraq's finance minister and the man suddenly being touted as leader of Iraq's next government.

Al-Mahdi is the Bush administration's Trojan horse in the UIA. (You didn't think they were going to put all their money on Allawi, did you?) In October he told a gathering of the American Enterprise Institute that he planned to "restructure and privatize [Iraq's] state-owned enterprises," and in December he made another trip to Washington to unveil plans for a new oil law "very promising to the American investors." It was al-Mahdi himself who oversaw the signing of a flurry of deals with Shell, BP and ChevronTexaco in the weeks before the elections, and it is he who negotiated the recent austerity deal with the IMF. On troop withdrawal, al-Mahdi sounds nothing like his party's platform and instead appears to be channeling Dick Cheney on Fox News: "When the Americans go will depend on when our own forces are ready and on how the resistance responds after the elections." But on Sharia law, we are told, he is very close to the clerics.

Iraq's elections were delayed time and time again, while the occupation and resistance grew ever more deadly. Now it seems that two years of bloodshed, bribery and backroom arm-twisting were leading up to this: a deal in which the ayatollahs get control over the family, Texaco gets the oil, and Washington gets its enduring military bases (call it the "oil for women program"). Everyone wins except the voters, who risked their lives to cast their ballots for a very different set of policies.

But never mind that. Jan. 30, we are told, was not about what Iraqis were voting for - it was about the fact of their voting and, more important, how their plucky courage made Americans feel about their war. Apparently, the elections' true purpose was to prove to Americans that, as George Bush put it, "the Iraqi people value their own liberty." Stunningly, this appears to come as news. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown said the vote was "the first clear sign that freedom really may mean something to the Iraqi people." On The Daily Show, CNN's Anderson Cooper described it as "the first time we've sort of had a gauge of whether or not they're willing to sort of step forward and do stuff."

This is some tough crowd. The Shiite uprising against Saddam in 1991 was clearly not enough to convince them that Iraqis were willing to "do stuff" to be free. Nor was the demonstration of 100,000 people held one year ago demanding immediate elections, or the spontaneous local elections organized by Iraqis in the early months of the occupation - both summarily shot down by Bremer. It turns out that on American TV, the entire occupation has been one long episode of Fear Factor, in which Iraqis overcome ever-more-challenging obstacles to demonstrate the depths of their desire to win their country back. Having their cities leveled, being tortured in Abu Ghraib, getting shot at checkpoints, having their journalists censored and their water and electricity cut off - all of it was just a prelude to the ultimate endurance test: dodging bombs and bullets to get to the polling station. At last, Americans were persuaded that Iraqis really, really want to be free.

So what's the prize? An end to occupation, as the voters demanded? Don't be silly - the U.S. government won't submit to any "artificial timetable." Jobs for everyone, as the UIA promised? You can't vote for socialist nonsense like that. No, they get Geraldo Rivera's tears ("I felt like such a sap"), Laura Bush's motherly pride ("It was so moving for the president and me to watch people come out with purple fingers") and Betsy Hart's sincere apology for ever doubting them ("Wow - do I stand corrected").

And that should be enough. Because if it weren't for the invasion, Iraqis would not even have the freedom to vote for their liberation, and then to have that vote completely ignored. And that's the real prize: the freedom to be occupied. Wow - do I stand corrected.

Getting the Purple Finger

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Christian Values and the Democratic Party

You may sometimes be much in the wrong, in owning your being in the right.--Poor Richard

Jim Wallis:
Jim Wallis, convener of Call to Renewal, has been calling on Christians to see political involvement beyond the perennial issues of abortion and gay rights. Wallis, a registered Democrat, is an evangelical leader in the faith-based Left and a frequent critic of George W. Bush. His profile has been raised as national Democrats have started to talk to him about how they can better reach out to values voters in the wake of Republican victories on November 2. The Democratic National Committee is meeting today in Washington to plot strategy. Wallis's new book
, God's Politics, is on the New York Times bestseller list. Wallis spoke with Stan Guthrie, CT's senior associate news editor.

It appears that [former governor of Vermont and failed presidential candidate] Howard Dean will be the new head of the DNC. Is he someone you can support, given his evident lack of familiarity with evangelical issues?

Well, I don't get involved in supporting candidates for the DNC, one way or the other. I work with whoever's there. I've got meetings [today] on the Hill with Democrats and Republicans, at their instigation. I'll go and talk to them. So, if Dean's there I'll work with him.

Regarding Dean, I've said time and time again, the worst thing anyone can be is inauthentic when they talk about religion or faith. So if Democrats are people of faith they should speak as such. If they're not, they shouldn't. Same with Republicans. Some are and some aren't. So, Howard Dean shouldn't make the mistake again of saying his favorite book in the New Testament is Job. And if he's not religious, he should say, "I'm not very religious, but I respect those in the Democratic Party who are." And their concerns should be taken seriously.

Do you feel that there is some real respect coming from leading Democrats to people of faith, people of values? A lot of people see the Democrats as the party of the secular Left.

I think this idea that all the Christians, all the religious people are jammed in the red states and the blue states are full of agnostics is a bit overblown in the media. It's more complicated than that.

It's overblown, yes, but there is some basic truth to it.

Sure, there's a lot of basis to it. The Democrats, remember, a few decades ago were vitally connected to the civil rights movement led by black churches. And ever since, they have become more and more secular, so much so that they're being portrayed by Republicans as hostile to religion and uncaring about moral values. And I think that's a mistake on their part, and I've said that to them.

A mistake on whose part?

On the Democrats' part. I think they have ceded the territory of religion and moral values to the Republican side and been defined in very partisan ways, and so religion and values get used as wedges to divide people and not bridges to pull us together. So what I say to the Democrats is three things:

First, you've got to reframe policy issues in the values context. Start with values and talk about how policies flow from values. Start with principles and talk about programs that flow from principles, not the other way around.

Second, you've got to reconnect with the constituencies that you're disconnected from, which means listening to people who aren't listening to you.

And, third, you've got to rethink some of the big issues: economy, security, abortion, family, at least those four.

Where Democrats are motivated by moral values, they need to let those values shine through. And many Democrats are, and some aren't. Like the Republicans, some are and some aren't.

Some statistics suggest that about 40 percent of Democrats are pro-life. Is that your understanding?

Well, there are a lot of pro-life Catholics and evangelicals who would either vote Democrat or would like to vote Democrat but kind of stumble over the abortion issue. I know Catholic social action directors who run huge antipoverty programs who would vote Democratic on social issues or against the war in Iraq but really stumble on the issue of abortion, or they hold their nose and vote for the Democrat. It's important for the Democrats to change the way they talk about a moral issue like abortion, to respect pro-life Democrats, to welcome them in the party and to talk first about how they are going to be committed to really dramatically reducing unwanted pregnancies—not just retaining the legal option of abortion, which Democrats are going to do, because that's part of their plank.

They could do a great deal to not just talk, but to act on how, as Senator Clinton began to say this week, that abortion is always a tragic choice, never a happy choice. I thought her comments were good. We ought to work to make that choice less and less necessary for people. So how do you change, not just the language but the content of what you're doing and saying?

You've got [former Congressman] David Bonior from Michigan who's pro-life. [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid is, too. [Former Indiana Congressman] Tim Roemer, who ran for the DNC [leadership], also.

Of course, several prominent Democrats used to be pro-life, and then, as they worked their way up in the party, abandoned that position.

Jesse Jackson is a good example of that. And I think that's a mistake.

I had a young man in my class at Harvard, John Cranley. John has a Harvard law degree, a Harvard Divinity School degree, and is a pro-life Catholic. The Democrats ran him for Congress in Ohio [in 2000]. He was kind of a sacrificial lamb up against an entrenched Republican.

Well, he called me and said, "Hey, Jim, I'm John Cranley. I was in the fourth row." I said, "John, I remember who you were." He said, "I'm running for Congress. The Democrats in Ohio are telling me not to run on poverty but to run on middle class issues. I told them, 'No, I worked out the agenda in class last fall, and I'm going to run on it.'"

This kid almost won. He came within a hair's breadth of winning. And now he's on the city council in Cincinnati. He'll be in Congress before he's 30.

I know another guy, Roy Herron from Tennessee, a young state legislator, a Christian guy, a pro-life Democrat. He may take a shot at a Senate seat out there before long. He's really bright. There's a whole generation of pro-life Democrats coming up.

So you don't think the old pressures in the party are going to keep people from being vocal and active about their pro-life positions?

No. Look at what's going to happen in Pennsylvania. It looks like Bob Casey Jr., is going to run against [Republican Senator] Rick Santorum. That's going to be interesting. And as far as I can see, if he runs, he's running with the blessing of the party. Now his late father, I think was mistreated by the party. He wasn't allowed to speak [at the Democratic National Convention] in '92. But if the son runs with the blessing of the party, I think that suggests an openness and change.

You're advising Democrats to be more open about their values. A skeptic might say that you're just asking them to package their positions into more religious language.

I understand that, but I think this is wrong. Yes, there are Democrats who realize in failure and in defeat that they better change the way they talk about this because of demographics. Is that there? Yeah, I'm sure there are people who feel that. But I see some genuine soul-searching going on among Democrats. I have said for a long time that religious fundamentalists have too much influence in the Republican Party. And secular fundamentalists have too much influence in the Democratic Party. And I'd like to see both parties break the hold of those groups on their parties. I don't think the secular fundamentalists are going to finally prevail and prevent a new conversation among Democrats about moral values and about faith. I think it's going to happen now.

I am having enough conversations with people in the Senate and the House who are serious about this. As I say, there are people out in the country at the state level who are Christians, some of them are pro-life, and they certainly care about moral values. I'm hoping that there will be Republicans who don't want to narrow the whole conversation about faith and moral values to just one or two issues.

My hope is that Republicans can broaden their conversation about moral values beyond just abortion and gay marriage to poverty and the environment and the ethics of war. At the same time, [I hope] the Democrats can really find a new moral vocabulary and change not just language but the content of some of their positions to speak, to frame, and to envision their agenda in a way that is shaped by faith and values.

Do you think that a politician actually should be motivated by Christian faith? Or are you more concerned about a person's values and policies?

When you get to the public arena, you take a moral turn and basically engage in a moral discourse about politics. Some of us come there because of our Christian faith. Some are evangelicals, some Catholics, some Methodists, some Presbyterians, some Jewish. Then we have a moral conversation. Religion has to be disciplined by democracy, meaning, you don't win because you're religious. You don't win by saying, "I'm religious, so my position should prevail." Or, "God spoke to me and gave me the fix for Social Security."

No, you say, "I'm motivated by my faith; here's why." You don't have to be apologetic about that. Then you have to persuade your fellow citizens that this is the best thing for the common good, for all of us—not just for religious people, but for all of us. Then you have a debate about the ethics of a war in Iraq or the best way to reform Social security, or what the values of a budget ought to be. That kind of moral discourse about politics is open to Christians, to people from other faith traditions, and to people of no faith at all who come to it also with a concern about moral values. It's a democratic discourse about moral values, because all of us have an interest in the moral compass that our elected officials have, because that compass will shape their policies, direction, and leadership.

How would you respond to an evangelical Republican who is suspicious of the motives of people who have spent years ignoring or mocking religion but now seem to suddenly be finding religion?

How about suspecting the Republicans who view religion as a wedge [issue] and only talk about two issues and ignore everything Jesus said about poverty? The suspicion goes both ways. [The religious] right is a political seduction of religion. To reduce religion to two issues is not authentic religion. So, sure, there's suspicion on all sides, but … how can you distrust the faith of Bill Nelson? Bill Nelson is a senator from Florida, and he's an active member of the prayer breakfast group. Tony Hall was a Democrat in Ohio and was an active prayer breakfast leader with [The Fellowship's] Doug Coe. Now Republicans have no call to distrust the faith of such people or Catholic members of the House or Senate.

So let's talk about faith. There are Christians on both sides of the aisle.

How do you advise, if at all, people like that to vote when it comes to abortion? Where does abortion stand on your list of issues? How can you, as a Christian, support a party structure that is so stridently pro-abortion?

"Stridently pro-abortion" is a pretty strong statement. I don't think that describes all Democrats on the issue of abortion. No, none of us should be pro-abortion. The Democrats want to retain the legal option for abortion. Yet there are pro-life Catholic theologians who don't think a pro-life stance means that abortion should be completely outlawed in every circumstance, or that pushing poor women back into dangerous corners is necessarily the best way to create a culture of life. They would talk about changing the culture and changing the mindset and not just supporting constitutional amendments.

So [we need to have] a good discussion about what it means to be pro-life. But the Catholic bishops are against single-issue voting. Despite the behavior of a handful of bishops [against John Kerry's pro-choice stance], the Catholic bishops' political responsibility tract they put out every year is opposed to single-issue voting. The full range, the consistent ethic of life—as Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago calls it, the "seamless garment"—should be operative here, [to include] poverty as an issue, capital punishment, war.

The pope opposed John Kerry on abortion and opposed George Bush on the war in Iraq. The truth is, President George Bush defied the Holy Father on the war in Iraq. I'd like the media to report that, too. I like the Catholic bishops' stance, a consistent ethic of life, a seamless garment, so there isn't only one issue. Some of the most brutal dictators in the world have been against abortion. Some of the most horrific, rightwing political leaders have been against abortion. You can't run the economy into the ground, ignore the poor, carry out unilateral pre-emptive wars and be okay as long as you're just against abortion.

To be a single-issue voter is not the most responsible kind of Christian citizenship. I was at Notre Dame this spring with a room full of students and faculty. Most of them were very committed to the poor. They were against the war in Iraq, very pro-environment and pro-life. And they struggled with the Democrats on abortion. One young woman stood up and said, "Four thousand unborn lives were lost today. How can I vote on any other issue than abortion?" I let the question linger a bit, and then another student stood up and said, 9,000 lives were lost today to HIV/AIDS; that's a pro-life issue, too." Another student stood up and said, "Thirty thousand children died today because of hunger and disease related to hunger." It's what I call the "silent tsunami." How do we deal with that as a pro-life issue?

At the end of the conversation, these Catholics agreed that there was no consistent ethic-of-life candidate running in this election, neither George Bush nor John Kerry. George Bush is an ardent supporter of capital punishment, he fought a war in Iraq that the Catholic Church opposed, his stance on poverty is under a lot of criticism by Christians who care about poverty, and the budget [he has proposed] is going to make it much worse—and yet he opposes abortion. John Kerry could say nothing more about abortion than to again reiterate his commitment to a woman's right to choose.

Of course, you're not suggesting that the President must always obey the pope.

No, I'm saying that George Bush does not uphold a consistent ethic of life just because he's against abortion. That's not the only issue. Catholic social teaching makes that clear and the pope was opposed to the war in Iraq while George Bush prosecuted it despite Catholic bishops saying the war was not a just war. Christians can't say, "All we care about is someone's stance on abortion. I don't care what they do to the economy, to the poor, I don't care what wars they fight, I don't care what they do on human rights." It's almost like we care about children until they're born and then after that, they're on their own. We're cutting child health care, cutting child-care for moms moving out of welfare. No, you can't just care about a child until they're born.

The President's supporters might call that an unfair characterization of the administration's approach. They would argue that Bush cares a lot about the poor, but he doesn't necessarily agree with your methods.

Well, my methods are also the methods of Catholic bishops who support effective, concrete, public programs that are addressed toward the common good, that support not just huge welfare states and bureaucracies—that's a conservative sort of stereotype. You can't say that budgets don't matter, government priorities don't matter, and the faith-based initiatives are the only thing that counts for poverty.

So, yeah, let's have a debate and a conversation about that. I'm just saying that doing something for low-income families is as important as one's stances on abortion. I'm pro-life on abortion but I can't vote for a President who on every other life issue, in my judgment, is not … standing up for a consistent ethic of human life.

What are some areas of compromise, especially on abortion, that could be worked out if pro-life Democrats really do have an opportunity here? How can they work with Republicans and maybe see some common-sense restrictions?

First of all, we ought to work on really doing something about teenage pregnancy. That ought to be a real point of common ground. An awful lot of teenage pregnancies could be avoided. Second, adoption reform is crucial. And I've been supportive of Wade Horn and his efforts in HHS [the Department of Health and Human Services] to work on adoption reform and foster care. In fact, I've been at those meetings and Wade and I have talked a lot about it. Third, I think supporting low-income women economically always reduces the abortion rate. You saw the piece by [Fuller Theological Seminary professor] Glen Stassen before the election. That's a real issue, too.

Plus, I think you've got to talk about some reasonable restriction on abortion that I think people on both sides could agree to. There are a lot more restrictions on abortion in secular Europe than there are in the United States. Parental notification for 16-year-old girls is a good idea. There are issues about abusive fathers and so on, but those can be handled in court. There are ways to handle some of that.

I think waiting periods and late-term abortion restrictions are also some things that a lot of people can agree to. In England recently there was a change in the scientific notions of viability. I think they moved it back several weeks when they thought a fetus was viable. And right away the abortion law changed in England in response to the science. Here people would just stand in front of bulldozers to change that law.

It's so polarized, so your question is the right question. Where can we find some common ground that pro-life and pro-choice people could together agree upon? Now there are people on the left side and on the right side who probably won't join that common ground. But most Americans and most religious people in America are probably eager to find that common ground, which could actually save a lot of unborn lives.

Jim Wallis, Christianity Today

Stan Guthrie is author of Missions in the Third Millennium. His website is

Copyright © 2005 Christianity Today

George W. Bush Declares Class War--Again

Good wives and good plantations are made by good husbands.--Poor Richard

Paul Krugman:
It may sound shrill to describe President Bush as someone who takes food from the mouths of babes and gives the proceeds to his millionaire friends. Yet his latest budget proposal is top-down class warfare in action. And it offers the Democrats an opportunity, if they're willing to take it.

First, the facts: the budget proposal really does take food from the mouths of babes. One of the proposed spending cuts would make it harder for working families with children to receive food stamps, terminating aid for about 300,000 people. Another would deny child care assistance to about 300,000 children, again in low-income working families.

And the budget really does shower largesse on millionaires even as it punishes the needy. For example, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities informs us that even as the administration demands spending cuts, it will proceed with the phaseout of two little-known tax provisions - originally put in place under the first President George Bush - that limit deductions and exemptions for high-income households.

More than half of the benefits from this backdoor tax cut would go to people with incomes of more than a million dollars; 97 percent would go to people with incomes exceeding $200,000.

It so happens that the number of taxpayers with more than $1 million in annual income is about the same as the number of people who would have their food stamps cut off under the Bush proposal. But it costs a lot more to give a millionaire a break than to put food on a low-income family's table: eliminating limits on deductions and exemptions would give taxpayers with incomes over $1 million an average tax cut of more than $19,000.

It's like that all the way through. On one side, the budget calls for program cuts that are small change compared with the budget deficit, yet will harm hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable Americans. On the other side, it calls for making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, and for new tax breaks for the affluent in the form of tax-sheltered accounts and more liberal rules for deductions.

The question is whether the relentless mean-spiritedness of this budget finally awakens the public to the true cost of Mr. Bush's tax policy.

Until now, the administration has been able to get away with the pretense that it can offset the revenue loss from tax cuts with benign spending restraint. That's because until now, "restraint" was an abstract concept, not tied to specific actions, making it seem as if spending cuts would hurt only a few special interest groups.

But here we are with the first demonstration of restraint in action, and look what's on the chopping block, selected for big cuts: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health insurance for children and aid to law enforcement. (Yes, Mr. Bush proposes to cut farm subsidies, which are truly wasteful. Let's see how much political capital he spends on that proposal.)

Until now, the administration has also been able to pretend that the budget deficit isn't an important issue so the role of tax cuts in causing that deficit can be ignored. But Mr. Bush has at last conceded that the deficit is indeed a major problem.

Why shouldn't the affluent, who have done so well from Mr. Bush's policies, pay part of the price of dealing with that problem?

Here's a comparison: the Bush budget proposal would cut domestic discretionary spending, adjusted for inflation, by 16 percent over the next five years. That would mean savage cuts in education, health care, veterans' benefits and environmental protection. Yet these cuts would save only about $66 billion per year, about one-sixth of the budget deficit.

On the other side, a rollback of Mr. Bush's cuts in tax rates for high-income brackets, on capital gains and on dividend income would yield more than $120 billion per year in extra revenue - eliminating almost a third of the budget deficit - yet have hardly any effect on middle-income families. (Estimates from the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution show that such a rollback would cost families with incomes between $25,000 and $80,000 an average of $156.)

Why, then, shouldn't a rollback of high-end tax cuts be on the table?

Democrats have surprised the Bush administration, and themselves, by effectively pushing back against Mr. Bush's attempt to dismantle Social Security. It's time for them to broaden their opposition, and push back against Mr. Bush's tax policy.

Bush's Class War Budget

US War Crimes: US Army Deliberately and Repeatedly Targets Hospitals and Unarmed Civilians

He that scatters thorns, let him not go barefoot.--Poor Richard

The US army and the US Air Force have repeatedly and openly targeted Hospitals during conventional military offensives in Iraq. These are absolute, unqualified violation of the Geneva Convention. No qualifiers, ifs, ands, or buts.

Does this make you proud to be an American?

Dahr Jamail:
These are the stories that will continue to emerge from the rubble of Fallujah for years. No, for generations…

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the doctor sits with me in a hotel room in Amman, where he is now a refugee. He’d spoken about what he saw in Fallujah in the UK, and now is under threat by the US military if he returns to Iraq.

“I started speaking about what happened in Fallujah during both sieges in order to raise awareness, and the Americans raided my house three times,” he says, talking so fast I can barely keep up. He is driven to tell what he’s witnessed, and as a doctor working inside Fallujah, he has video and photographic proof of all that he tells me.

“I entered Fallujah with a British medical and humanitarian convoy at the end of December, and stayed until the end of January,” he explains, “But I was in Fallujah before that to work with people and see what their needs were, so I was in there since the beginning of December.”

When I ask him to explain what he saw when he first entered Fallujah in December he says it was like a tsunami struck the city.

“Fallujah is surrounded by refugee camps where people are living in tents and old cars,” he explains, “It reminded me of Palestinian refugees. I saw children coughing because of the cold, and there are no medicines. Most everyone left their houses with nothing, and no money, so how can they live depending only on humanitarian aid?”

The doctors says that in one refugee camp in the northern area of Fallujah there were 1,200 students living in seven tents.

“The disaster caused by this siege is so much worse than the first one, which I witnessed first hand,” he says, and then tells me he’ll use one story as an example.

“One story is of a young girl who is 16 years old,” he says of one of the testimonies he video taped recently, “She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything.”

The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes first-hand.

“They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head,” he said. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead.

“She continued hiding after the soldiers left and stayed with her sisters because they were bleeding, but still alive. She was too afraid to call for help because she feared the soldiers would come back and kill her as well. She stayed for three days, with no water and no food. Eventually one of the American snipers saw her and took her to the hospital,” he added before reminding me again that he had all of her testimony documented on film.

He briefly told me of another story he documented of a mother who was in her home during the siege. “On the fifth day of the siege her home was bombed, and the roof fell on her son, cutting his legs off,” he says while using his hands to make cutting motions on his legs, “For hours she couldn’t go outside because they announced that anyone going in the street would be shot. So all she could do was wrap his legs and watch him die before her eyes.”

He pauses for a few deep breaths, then continues, “All I can say is that Fallujah is like it was struck by a tsunami. There weren’t many families in there after the siege, but they had absolutely nothing. The suffering was beyond what you can imagine. When the Americans finally let us in people were fighting just for a blanket.”

“One of my colleagues, Dr. Saleh Alsawi, he was speaking so angrily about them. He was in the main hospital when they raided it at the beginning of the seige. They entered the theater room when they were working on a patient…he was there because he’s an anesthesiologist. They entered with their boots on, beat the doctors and took them out, leaving the patient on the table to die.”

This story has already been reported in the Arab media.

The doctor tells me of the bombing of the Hay Nazal clinic during the first week of the siege.

“This contained all the foreign aid and medical instruments we had. All the US military commanders knew this, because we told them about it so they wouldn’t bomb it. But this was one of the clinics bombed, and in the first week of the siege they bombed it two times.”

He then adds, “Of course they targeted all our ambulances and doctors. Everyone knows this.”

The doctor tells me he and some other doctors are trying to sue the US military for the following incident, for which he has the testimonial evidence on tape.

It is a story I was told by several refugees in Baghdad as well…at the end of last November while the siege was still in progress.

“During the second week of the siege they entered and announced that all the families have to leave their homes and meet at an intersection in the street while carrying a white flag. They gave them 72 hours to leave and after that they would be considered an enemy,” he says.

“We documented this story with video-a family of 12, including a relative and his oldest child who was 7 years old. They heard this instruction, so they left with all their food and money they could carry, and white flags. When they reached the intersection where the families were accumulating, they heard someone shouting ‘Now!’ in English, and shooting started everywhere.”

The family was all carrying white flags, as instructed, according to the young man who gave his testimony. Yet he watched his mother and father shot by snipers-his mother in the head and his father shot in the heart. His two aunts were shot, then his brother was shot in the neck. The man stated that when he raised himself from the ground to shout for help, he was shot in the side.

“After some hours he raised his arm for help and they shot his arm,” continues the doctor, “So after awhile he raised his hand and they shot his hand.”

A six year-old boy of the family was standing over the bodies of his parents, crying, and he too was then shot.

“Anyone who raised up was shot,” adds the doctor, then added again that he had photographs of the dead as well as photos of the gunshot wounds of the survivors.

“Once it grew dark some of them along with this man who spoke with me, with his child and sister-in-law and sister managed to crawl away after it got dark. They crawled to a building and stayed for 8 days. They had one cup of water and gave it to the child. They used cooking oil to put on their wounds which were of course infected, and found some roots and dates to eat.”

He stops here. His eyes look around the room as cars pass by outside on wet streets…water hissing under their tires.

He left Fallujah at the end of January, so I ask him what it was like when he left recently.

“Now maybe 25% of the people have returned, but there are still no doctors. The hatred now of Fallujans against every American is incredible, and you cannot blame them. The humiliation at the checkpoints is only making people even angrier,” he tells me.

“I’ve been there, and I saw that anyone who even turns their head is threatened and hit by both American and Iraqi soldiers alike…one man did this, and when the Iraqi soldier tried to humiliate him, the man took a gun of a nearby soldier and killed two ING, so then of course he was shot.”

The doctor tells me they are keeping people in the line for several hours at a time, in addition to the US military making propaganda films of the situation.

“And I’ve seen them use the media-and on January 2nd at the north checkpoint in the north part of Fallujah, they were giving people $200 per family to return to Fallujah so they can film them in the line…when actually, at that time, nobody was returning to Fallujah,” he says. It reminds me of the story my colleague told me of what he saw in January. At that time a CNN crew was escorted in by the military to film street cleaners that were brought in as props, and soldiers handing out candy to children.

“You must understand the hatred that has been caused…it has gotten more difficult for Iraqis, including myself, to make the distinction between the American government and the American people,” he tells me.

His story is like countless others.

“My cousin was a poor man in Fallujah,” he explains, “He walked from his house to work and back, while living with his wife and five daughters. In July of 2003, American soldiers entered his house and woke them all up. They drug them into the main room of the house, and executed my cousin in front of his family. Then they simply left.”

He pauses then holds up his hands and asks, “Now, how are these people going to feel about Americans?”

Stories from Fallujah

Sunday, February 06, 2005

With Iraqi Election, US Media Once Again Exchanges Journalism for Fake News

'Tis Easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.--Poor Richard

The Return of the WMD Coverage Model of "Journalism"?

Take dictation from government sources and above all, do not do any independent reporting or rudimentary fact-checking.

Greg Mitchell:
Media Mangles Iraq Vote

Are the turnout numbers routinely cited by the press – 8 million and 57% – supported by reality? And was the outpouring of voters in Sunni areas really "surprisingly strong"?

Everyone, of course, is thrilled that so many Iraqis turned out to vote, in the face of threats and intimidation, on Sunday. But in hailing, and at times gushing, over the turnout, has the American media (as it did two years ago in the hyping of Saddam's WMDs) forgotten core journalistic principles in regard to fact-checking and weighing partisan assertions?

It appears so.

Media Mangles Iraq Vote

Libertarian Voices Gather: Are the Days of American Democracy Numbered?

Calamity and Prosperity are the Touchstones of Integrity.--Poor Richard

Scott McConnell:
War to export democracy may wreck our own
I don't think the proto-fascist mood is strongest among the so-called Christian Right...the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed than proud of its most authoritarian aspects...And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms. That would be the titanic irony of course, the mother of them all--that a war initiated under the pretense of spreading democracy would lead to its destruction in one of its very birthplaces. But as historians know, history is full of ironies.

Continued below:
Hunger for Dictatorship

Today's Conservatives are Fascists

The Reality of Red State Fascism

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Jonah Goldberg Damns Himself to Irrelevance

Bad Gains are True Losses.--Poor Richard

Juan Cole:

Jonah Goldberg Embarrasses Himself Once Again

Jonah Goldberg attacked yours truly in a column recently.

I think it is time to be frank about some things. Jonah Goldberg knows absolutely nothing about Iraq. I wonder if he has even ever read a single book on Iraq, much less written one. He knows no Arabic. He has never lived in an Arab country. He can't read Iraqi newspapers or those of Iraq's neighbors. He knows nothing whatsoever about Shiite Islam, the branch of the religion to which a majority of Iraqis adheres. Why should we pretend that Jonah Goldberg's opinion on the significance and nature of the elections in Iraq last Sunday matters? It does not...

If Jonah Goldberg had asserted that he could fly to Mars in his pyjamas and come back in a single day, it would not have been a more fantastic allegation than the one he made about Iraq being a danger to the United States because of the nuclear issue. He made that allegation over and over again to millions of viewers on national television programs, to viewers who trusted his judgment because CNN and others purveyed him to them.

Jonah Goldberg is a fearmonger, a warmonger, and a demagogue. And besides, he was just plain wrong about one of the more important foreign policy issues to face the United States in the past half-century. It is shameful that he dares show his face in public, much less continuing to pontificate about his profound knowledge of just what Iraq is like and what needs to be done about Iraq and the significance of events in Iraq...

In every way, from the transparency of candidates and platforms, to safe conditions for voters, to unexpected results, to the percentage of eligible voters who voted and the percentage of the electorate that directly chose Mr. Khatami, his election was more democratic than the elections just held in Iraq.

The reason Mr. Goldberg is alarmed that I pointed this obvious fact out is that he wants to kill thousands of Iranians and thousands of US troops in a war of aggression on Iran. If the American public knows that there is a lively struggle between hardliners and conservatives in Iran, and that an American intervention there would be a huge disaster and would forestall the natural evolution of Iran away from Khomeinism, then they might not support Mr. Goldberg's monstrous warmongering.

That is why he attacked me.

So let me propose to him that we debate Middle East issues, anywhere, any time, he and I.

Otherwise he should please shut up and go back to selling Linda Tripp tapes on Ebay.

Jonah Goldberg Embarrasses Himself Once Again