Saturday, November 19, 2005

Welcome, Paul "the soaring" Siegel

Welcome, Paul "the soaring" Siegel

The latest addition to my blogroll is Paul "the soaring" Siegel and his blog, which is called "We Don't Agree, But.."

Mr. Siegel has had a longtime internet presence as founder and administrator of the Learning Fountain. He gives inspirational speeches about vision; has given practical seminars on Internet marketing; and has taught computer subjects at universities, corporations and associations. He is currently speaking on "How to Live in a World of Terrorism." He is also an author and publisher. His latest book is titled "WE DON'T AGREE, BUT-How to Live in an Age of Terrorism" (See review here) Mr. Siegel expresses that, by being more cooperative, you, as an individual, can help reduce terrorism and at the same time achieve self-actualization. Whe are Americans afraid of terrorism? Mr. Speigel gives his thoughts.

Welcome, Paul!

Obama: Teaching Our Kids in a 21st Century Economy

Obama: Teaching Our Kids in a 21st Century Economy

Senator Barak Obama gave a speech on Education on October 25, 2005 at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. It's been printed in its entirety at Mother Jones.

Video here.

Fact sheet here (pdf).

An excerpt:
Thirty or forty years ago, they [high school dropouts/non-college graduates] may have gone on to find a factory job that could pay the bills and support a family. But we no longer live in that world. Today, the average salary of a high school graduate is only $33,000 a year. For high school dropouts, it’s even closer to the poverty line – just $25,000.

If we do nothing about this, if we accept this kind of economy; this kind of society, we face a future where the ideal of American meritocracy could turn into an American myth. A future that’s not only morally unacceptable for our children; but economically untenable for a nation that finds itself in a globalized world, as countries who are out-educating us today out-compete our workers tomorrow.

Now, the American people understand that government alone can’t meet this challenge. They understand that we need to transform our educational culture, from one of complacency to one that constantly strives for excellence. And they understand that government cannot replace parents as the primary motivator for the hard work and commitment that excellence requires.

But they also know that government, through the public schools, plays a critical role. And what they’ve seen from government for close to two decades is not innovation or bold calls to action. Instead, what they’ve seen is inaction and tinkering around the edges of our education system – a paralysis that is fueled by ideological battles that are as outdated as they are predictable.

Kerry Admits He Thought Election Was Stolen

John Kerry Admits He Thought Election Was Stolen

If John Kerry is telling people that the election was stolen [see Democracy Now], why did he give up so easily and concede so quickly last year? Mark Crispin Miller says:
That was a real body blow to the democratic system, and it demoralized a lot of people when Kerry pulled out. It’s hard to forgive him for that. Why did he do it? Well, according to my evidence and I’ve got this in Fooled Again, Kerry was swayed by the brain trust around him. These are people like, you know, Bob Shrum, Mary Beth Cahill – they’re, you know, Democratic Party war horses. I don't think they have a stellar record of winning campaigns, and I don't really understand how it is that they were hired to do this, but they persuaded him up in Martha's Vineyard that he should pull out, otherwise, he told John Edwards in his call, Kerry said, “They say that if I don't pull out, they are going to call us sore losers.”
Times couldn't have been harder for Senator John Edwards in November of 2004. He was faced with a running mate who wanted to concede the presidential election without so much as a question about the legitimacy of what happened in Ohio; he was faced with his wife being seriously ill with breast cancer that required immediate treatment.

Did Senator Edwards want Kerry to concede as quickly as he did?


Mark Crispin Miller on Senator John Edwards:
"I spoke to someone, a relative of his who was with him when the phone call came from Kerry. This is this in the book, "Fooled Again." Kerry called him on the cell phone, and don't forget that Edwards himself, four hours before, had just been on national TV promising righteously to count every vote, got a big hand. Now he felt he was being made to look like a fool, and he argued with Kerry vehemently. He said, “It’s too soon, you know. Wait.” Kerry, you know, said this thing about how they will call us sore losers, as if that’s worse than the country, you know, going fascist, whatever. And Edwards said quite understandably, “So what?” You know, “So what if they call us sore losers?” I mean, they are going to call them names in any case. But it’s true, Mark is right, Kerry's caving in like that gave an enormous gift to the right wing. They could now claim, "Well, even their candidate doesn't think it was stolen."
Some people think that this is big news - and I agree. Why has John Kerry taken so long to say this? Why did he leave it to us bloggers and outsiders to hang with the heavy questions that need to be asked - making us look like conspiracy theorists for so long?
If Kerry thinks that the election was stolen, that is big, big news. And I think that it is very unfortunate that it took him 12 months to come around to that conclusion, because, you know, I want to stress this....John Conyers..was stonewalled by Ken Blackwell, the Secretary of State of Ohio and other officials, including the Triad Computer Company, who basically refused to answer his questions. Had he or another agency with subpoena power should go back and get that.. Look, this is the essence of our democracy. We deserve to have a persuasive answer to what happened in 2004. We probably would have gotten it if Kerry had shown the courage to say, on Election Day – on the day after Election Day a year ago what he apparently told Mark Crispin Miller the other night. If he had said then that “I suspect this election was stolen,” believe me, even the corporate media would have investigated this. It’s too juicy a story, but because Kerry dropped the ball there, you know, it’s now a year later, and it’s only the outsiders who are talking about it."

- Mark Hertsgaard, who has done an article in the current Mother Jones magazine, “Recounting Ohio: Was Ohio Stolen? You Might Not Like the Answer

GOP: Losers For False-Choice Vote on Iraq

GOP: Losers For False-Choice Vote on Iraq

An immediate withdrawl from Iraq has been soundly rejected by the House in a 403-3 vote, and with good reason. Who in their right mind thinks we can pull out immediately, still being a responsible people who realize that Bush leadership has the Iraq war so FUBAR? I don't think GOP leaders have even tried to responsibly reach a consensus on what we should do to change the course in Iraq.
"Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on our present course," [John] Murtha said. He said the GOP resolution was not the thoughtful approach he had suggested to bring the troops safely home in six months.
From the "no-shit Dick Tracy" department:
"Congress in strong, bipartisan fashion rejected the call to cut and run," White House spokesman Scott McClellan, traveling with Bush in Asia, said a statement. Earlier Friday, the president called an immediate troop withdrawal "a recipe for disaster"
Duh. Scott McClellan must think Americans are really stupid. We need to have a real vote on a responsible plan with a timetable and an end game. The longer the majority Congress avoids getting down to the real work of accountable people working as true bipartisans, the lower their poll ratings will sink. Soon, they'll get a 100% no-confidence vote from the American public. Will they still be snarling and pointing fingers at Democrats then?

Representative Jean Schmidt from Ohio was protested, booed and belittled for her reprehensible and meaningless political hyperbole on the House floor yesterday. She looked like a total horse's ass to most Americans when she pulled out the tired "only cowards cut and run" line. What made her look even more disgusting was the thought that Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, who lost a special election to her this year, could have been the one up there speaking the informed truth in her place. Why do we keep electing these divisive idiots? What's worse is this - according to reports, GOPers now want — you guessed it — an ethics investigation of John Murtha.
...that, coupled with the GOP's manuever today in trying to pass off its own amendment as Murtha's (then backtracking), the campaign against Murtha, him being called a coward brings to mind the famous quote Special Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch made to Senator Joseph McCarthy:
"Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
See: Moderate Voice

Let's look at the reality that the GOP leadership refuses to look at:
To defeat the insurgency we will need at least 400,000 troops on the ground. At the present time, the United States does not have sufficient troop strength to ramp up to that level. Our choice is simple - either we come up with the additional forces and commit ourselves to an effort that will stretch on for at least five years with 400,000 plus soldiers and marines in theatre or we withdraw.

How do we get 400,000 troops on the ground? That will require a draft or a commitment by NATO forces and other countries to provide forces. Even if we start a draft tomorrow, we will not be able to field combat capable divisions for at least two years. Basic training requires 10 weeks. Advance infantry training adds an additional six months. Once the troops are trained they need to train as units. The unit training, starting with companies and working up to division level exercises, will require at least 18 months (and that is an optimistic scenario).

In the interim we would need to call upon NATO forces to deploy to Iraq and conduct a coordinated counter insurgency effort. This effort, over the next two years, will likely produce at least 10,000 fatalities and 80,000 wounded. Are we willing as a country to pay that price? I don't think so.

- Larry Johnson
Being responsible adults (and leaders) means setting a timteable for moving our troops back home with a plan for international cooperation for the security of the Iraqi public, but this "immediate pullout or none at all" is a false choice and I'm sick of these bastards in the GOP hastily arranging false-choice votes that we all can see are politically motivated. It's a worn out tactic and they've beaten it to death. It doesn't work anymore. Partisanship must end here and now. The macho bullcrap about "cutting and running" gets us nowhere. When are we going to see our political leaders acting as if we are one America?

Republicans hoped to place Democrats in an unappealing position - at their own political peril. They've come out looking worse than ever for f**king around with petty politics while our troops are risking everything in a disastrous war.

Fitzgerald Goes On - Woodward at Center

Fitzgerald Goes On - Woodward at Center

US Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald will convene a new grand jury to hear testimony in the CIA leak case, which has already seen the indictment of L. Scooter Libby. See Jason Leopold's investigative report at Truthout. Sources say the evidence involved additional aides in the Vice President’s office as well as senior officials who were part of a clandestine faction known as the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a group set up by WH Chief of Staff Andrew Card in August 2002 to "market" the Iraq war to the public via selective leaks to major newspapers about Iraq’s alleged WMD program. Reporter Bob Woodward said he'd first learned about Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity in mid-June 2003, during a time when Dick Cheney and his senior aides had gone to great lengths to find out her identity in the hopes of silencing her husband Joseph Wilson.

Let's get into Bob Woodward's head. Has he ever revealed his opinion about the cherry-picking of intelligence by Cheney's office? Yes, he has. In his book "Plan Of Attack", Bob Woodward had described a relationship between Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell that became so strained Cheney and Powell are barely on speaking terms. Cheney engaged in a bitter and eventually winning struggle over Iraq with Powell, an opponent of war who believed Cheney was obsessively trying to establish a connection between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and treated ambiguous intelligence as fact. Powell felt Cheney and his allies -- his chief aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz; and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's "Gestapo" office -- had established what amounted to a separate government. That's a strong statement for Bob Woodward to have made.

Arianna Huffington makes an astute observation about Bob Woodward's questionable forthrightness:
In his spin, Woodward is trying to put a positive face on things by making it sound as if he decided to come forward and disclose his Plamegate involvement to Len Downie of his own free will (a claim Downie seemed to back up when he told the Post that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story). But a tell-tale excerpt from Woodward's appearance on Larry King the night before the Libby indictment indicates that he had to be prodded into coming clean.
See Arianna's dynamite collection of Woodward-related blog commentary.
"I called Carl Bernstein to ask what he thought of his old partner's behavior. He was loyal as ever but he did say something very revealing -- and unintentionally damning. "This investigation," he told me, "has cast a constant searchlight that the White House can't turn off the way it has succeeded in turning off the press. So their methodology and their dishonesty and their disingenuousness -- particularly about how we went to war -- as well as their willingness to attack and rough up people who don't agree with them are now there for all to see. They can't turn off this searchlight, which is shining on a White House that runs a media apparatus so sophisticated in discrediting its critics it makes the Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Ziegler press shop look like a small-time operation." And these are the very thugs that Woodward was protecting while attacking the guy operating the searchlight. (my emphasis)

The question now is: how will the Post handle the story?"