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September 30, 2003

Edwards assails Bush ties to Iraq consulting firm

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A company that was created to help clients take advantage of business opportunities in Iraq is made up of businessmen associated with President Bush, his family and his administration.

The connections drew criticism Tuesday from Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who called for an independent oversight board to ensure that Iraq reconstruction money is doled out fairly.

New Bridge Strategies, on its Web site, says it will "seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush administration."

The firm is headed by Joe Allbaugh, Bush's campaign manager in 2000 and director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency until March. Other directors include Edward Rogers Jr., vice chairman, and Lanny Griffith. Both were assistants to the first President Bush and now are closely linked to the White House.

"This is an administration of the insiders, by the insiders and for the insiders. This is just further evidence of it," Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "Vice President Cheney's Halliburton has more than $2 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts and we now find out that Bush's campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh, who just left government, has set up a business to procure business contracts on Iraq."

Posted by Mike at 12:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 28, 2003

Linus Torvalds' interview with the NY Times

My favorite quotes:

Is file-sharing, which has the recording industry so up in arms, the ''dark side'' of open-source attitudes?

Sharing is certainly not bad in itself. In open source, we feel strongly that to really do something well, you have to get a lot of people involved. What the recording industry is so worried about is obviously something totally different -- the ''sharing'' of stuff that isn't yours to share in the first place.

O.K. So what are your views on sharing music files?

I don't actually think about it much; I listen to the radio if I listen to music. What I do find interesting is how the file-sharing thing ends up changing how people think about computers and copyright law. Some of it is a bit scary: just the fact that your question equated sharing with something bad is a pretty scary statement in itself. What also bothers me is the apparent dishonesty of especially the R.I.A.A., claiming that file-sharing is destroying their business and that they are losing billions of dollars on it. There's been a number of studies done, and it looks like the major reason for the dip in CD sales ends up being lack of interest in the music produced. And let's face it -- how many boy bands can you try to sell before your revenues start dipping?

...People position you as the nemesis to Bill Gates. He started Microsoft and you started Linux, the big competition to Microsoft's dominance of operating systems. Is that an unfair or inaccurate characterization?

The thing is, at least to me personally, Microsoft just isn't relevant to what I do. That might sound strange, since they are clearly the dominant player in the market that Linux is in, but the thing is: I'm not in the ''market.'' I'm interested in Linux because of the technology, and Linux wasn't started as any kind of rebellion against the ''evil Microsoft empire.'' Quite the reverse, in fact: from a technology angle, Microsoft really has been one of the least interesting companies. So I've never seen it as a ''Linus versus Bill'' thing. I just can't see myself in the position of the nemesis, since I just don't care enough. To be a nemesis, you have to actively try to destroy something, don't you? Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.

Posted by Mike at 06:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The family that blogs together

According to Ed Cone:

The best post yet on the John Edwards campaign blog comes from... Elizabeth Edwards. She's personal, she's passionate, she's smart. Her husband should take notes.

Click here to read Mrs. Edwards' post and see for yourself.

Since the official Edwards weblog is only getting started, I hope everyone will give both Mrs. and Mr. Edwards a chance to get the hang of this. Unlike the other candidates, they are making a genuine effort to update the blog themselves when they can, despite spending more time traveling than at home, especially now - with third quarter fundraising drawing to a close. Stay tuned.

Posted by Mike at 04:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Edwards rocked the house on Bill Maher

If you missed Edwards on Bill Maher, you will have several chances to watch it again throughout the week. Here is a corrected schedule. Check your local listing to be sure:

Fri 9/26 11:00 PM HBO
Sat 9/27 11:00 PM HBO2
Mon 9/29 12:15 AM HBO
Mon 9/29 10:30 PM HBO2
Wed 10/1 12:30 AM HBO
Wed 10/1 11:00 PM HBO

I missed it Friday, but saw it Saturday, and not only did Edwards do well, but it was a great show overall. No, Edwards was not on the panel with Charles Barkley, Aaron McGruder, and Michael Moore. He had a guest appearance by satellite near the beginning of the show. Except for a lost audio signal at exactly the wrong moment, Bill Maher even said that Edwards did great. If you are not familiar with Bill Maher, it is very rare for him to compliment a politician.

Posted by Mike at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 27, 2003

Boot Bush back to Texas

It's not exactly Mortal Kombat or Quake II, but you can play Boot Bush online:

Please make a donation to Edwards for President now, so you can see Bush bounce in the Louisiana Bayou and skid across Texarkana on his way back to Crawford - in real life.

Cut and paste this HTML to add the Boot Bush game to your site:

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<param name="movie" value="http://www.johnedwards2004.com/bootbush_donate.swf">
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Click here and tell your friends about this flash animation, too.

Posted by Mike at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More about New Bridge Strategies, LLC

More details from Josh Marshall:

I should have known that a little digging into this Iraq contracting biz would bring me to uber-GOP-insider Haley Barbour. But I tend to be a touch naive about these things, as you can imagine.

Barbour of course is former chair of the RNC, former chair of President Bush's campaign advisory committee in DC in 2000, and former just about everything else in the DC Republican party, as well being one of the priciest and most wired Republican lobbyists in town....

...when you look more closely at New Bridge, of which Allbaugh is Chairman and Director, you start to see that New Bridge looks an awful lot like an outgrowth of Barbour Griffith and Rogers.

For one thing, the Vice President and Director of New Bridge is Ed Rogers --- the same Ed Rogers who is Barbour's partner in Barbour Griffith and Rogers....

...Isn't it weird how that happens when you apply for a second job and all the dudes from your first job work at the new place too? Anyway.

Actually, you can see why it's so convenient to work at both of these two places since they both happen to be located on the 10th floor of 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Posted by Mike at 11:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

September 26, 2003

Connecting the dots

America's new leading export: Insider deals, front companies, and bribes. I still remember Riverbend's post about ridiculously high US estimates for bridge work. Now I understand why. There are pockets to pad, and investors to pay.

So, what do Riverbend, a concerned Iraqi woman, and Josh Marshall, a liberal US columnist, have in common? Let's just say they are arriving at the same conclusions, at the same time. Josh Marshall, meet Riverbend. Riverbend, meet Josh Marshall. Time to trade some notes.

Part of today's latest entry from Riverbend:

As for employing the locals… things are becoming a little bit clearer. Major reconstruction contracts are being given to the huge companies, like Bechtel and Halliburton, for millions of dollars. These companies, in turn, employ the Iraqis in the following way: they first ask for bids on specific projects. The Iraqi company with the lowest bid is selected to do the work. The Iraqi company gets *exactly* what it bid from the huge conglomerate, which is usually only a fraction of the original contract price. Hence, projects that should cost $1,000,000 end up costing $50,000,000.

Now, call me naïve, or daft, or whatever you want, but wouldn’t it be a. more economical and b. more profitable to the Iraqis to hand the work over directly to experienced Iraqi companies? Why not work directly with one of the 87 companies and factories that once worked under the ‘Iraqi Military Council’ and made everything from missiles to electrical components? Why not work directly with one of the 158 factories and companies under the former Ministry of Industry and Minerals that produced everything from candy to steel girders? Why not work with the bridge, housing and building companies under the Ministry of Housing that have been heading the reconstruction efforts ever since 1991?

Some of the best engineers, scientists, architects and technicians are currently out of work because their companies have nothing to do and there are no funds to keep them functioning. The employees get together a couple of days a week and spend several hours brooding over ‘istikans’ of lukewarm tea and ‘finjans’ of Turkish coffee. Instead of spending the endless billions on multinational companies, why not spend only millions on importing spare parts and renovating factories and plants?

But Riverbend, that would clearly be socialism in it's worst form! Not even one Bush associate can buy a new home in the French Riviera with that plan! Why are you trying to engage in such class warfare? (My irony should be apparent, on so many different levels).

It gets worse. This Riverbend post from a month ago is must read material:

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!

Something you should know about Iraq: we have over 130,000 engineers. More than half of these engineers are structural engineers and architects. Thousands of them were trained outside of Iraq in Germany, Japan, America, Britain and other countries. Thousands of others worked with some of the foreign companies that built various bridges, buildings and highways in Iraq. The majority of them are more than proficient- some of them are brilliant.

Now, take into account this post from Josh Marshall. Everything becomes clear:

File this one under Un-#$%@#*&-believable.

Let me introduce you to New Bridge Strategies, LLC. New Bridge is 'Helping to Rebuild a New Iraq' as their liner note says.

Here's the company's new blurb from their website ...

"New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Its activities will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration. The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C. and on the ground in Iraq."

A 'unique company'? You could say that. Who's the Chairman and Director of New Bridge? That would be Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's longtime right-hand-man and until about six months ago his head of FEMA. Before that of course he was the president's chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and campaign manager for Bush-Cheney 2000.

Allbaugh was part of the president's so-called 'Iron Triangle' -- the other two being Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. And now Allbaugh's running an outfit that helps your company get the sweetest contracts in Iraq? That sound right to you? Think he'll have any special pull?

Visit the site to see their "interactive map of Iraq [which] will show areas of opportunity in the post-war rebuilding effort for specific industries."

It's James Fisk and Jay Gould of Arabia. Unbelievable ...

Some heads need to roll over this shit. Heads in the Bush administration.

Posted by Mike at 05:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

September 25, 2003

Not just prolific, but authentic

Prometheus 6 continues to be one of the deepest bloggers on the web, especially when it comes to addressing this myth that we call race. (A myth with very real social consequences, of course). Here's part of his latest post on the subject:

A couple of years ago a friend of mine was asked in a Black history course she was teaching how the construct of race came into existence. In response I suggested chapter three of The Shaping of Black America, titled "The Road Not Taken." It documents the reasoning behind enslaving Africans as opposed to Amerinds or European indentured servants, and the steps taken to make it legally and socially acceptable. Recently I added the chapter as a permanent piece of my web site for discussion and documentation purposes. It's an important chapter because it documents how legitimizing slavery damaged both Africans and Europeans in ways that survive to this day.

The reasoning behind the institution of slavery tends to be ignored or misrepresent by historians....

To say there is a natural or cultural bias toward domination in all Europeans is an ugly thing. Especially since there is proof that Europeans at the time (they weren't "White people" yet any more than Africans were "Black people") worked together, intermarried to some degree, escaped bondage together and on the whole held common cause against an oppressive land-owning class.

Until the advent of African slavery. At that point a society was built that automatically enforced and invisibly rewarded differences that, up until that time, were seen as purely cosmetic. Even religion was turned to this purpose. So now we are the recipients of over 350 years of programming....

Black people had to be broken to be slaves, and White people had to be broken to be masters. How else can you explain slave owners who allow slaves to buy their own freedom when laws states anything the slave owned belonged to his master in the first place?

It is critical for Black people and White people to recognize this, that it is not natural for us to be divided. It is not natural for us to consider our differences to be more than cosmetic. A society was built that trains us to see these differences as significant. The result of this is ugly.

Now Black people aspire to become all that White people are... never understanding that White people are no more what they would have been than they [Black people] are.

Black people have only been free for two generations. White people have only had free people of other races around them for two generations. Neither group has mastered their situation yet, and who can blame either?

Because the society still gives racialized feedback so clearly and strongly that the honorable efforts made by many on both sides of the veil are simply overwhelmed....

Posted by Mike at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Here's your chance to meet TOPDOG04

I'll be there, in my classy Edwards T-Shirt, but so will the real Top Dog, Senator Edwards.

Everyone in the Greater New York area is invited to meet Senator Edwards and celebrate his candidacy for president with supporters from around the Metro Area in a great place with great music and an open bar. The details of this Late Night at LIGHT party are:

Where: LIGHT, 125 East 54th St. (between Park and Lexington Aves)
When: Tuesday, September 30th, 8:00p.m. – 10p.m. (Open Bar til 9:00)
Minimum Suggested Contribution: $100 (Ask about lower student rate).
Information: (212) 868-4080 or johnedwardsgroup@yahoo.com

Please pre-register online using this link to the official invitation from the Host Committee:


Everyone who attends will get to shake hands and speak with the Senator at this unique and exciting event. Together, we can make this quarter another fundraising and political success story and help send John Edwards to the White House.

Contact: The John Edwards Group
Email: johnedwardsgroup@yahoo.com

Posted by Mike at 05:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 23, 2003

Anyone not think this is a good idea?

Check it out:

RALEIGH, NC: Senator John Edwards (D-NC) Tuesday called for a ban on campaign contributions from federally registered lobbyists to federal candidates.

“Washington's filled with high-priced lobbyists who walk around with drafted legislation in one hand and envelopes filled with campaign contributions in the other,” Edwards said. “These lobbyists run the government, and they own this White House. We ought to say to these lobbyists, you can't give out campaign money. We ought to make that the law of the land.”

Senator Edwards said that too often in Washington - and without fail under President Bush - the interests of high-priced lobbyists have trumped those of the American people.

For instance, Senators Edwards, John McCain, and Edward Kennedy fought on the Senate floor to pass the Patient’s Bill of Rights. The legislation would have taken medical decision making away from HMOs and insurance companies and given it back to doctors. Despite its overwhelming public support, President Bush blocked the Patient’s Bill of Rights at the urging of insurance industry lobbyists.

At the prompting of energy industry lobbyists, President Bush has tried to weaken the Clean Air Act. Senator Edwards has fought an uphill battle to protect our air, introducing legislation to stop the EPA from creating regulatory loopholes to allow factories and power plants to emit more air pollution.

President Bush’s own advisors warned him about homeland security risks at chemical plants across the country. There are 123 facilities where a chemical release could threaten more than one million people. Senator Edwards fought for legislation to require major chemical plants to assess vulnerabilities and implement security improvements. In contrast, the White House has bowed to pressure from chemical industry lobbyists and blocked this legislation.

“Nobody who makes the law or enforces the law should take money from lobbyists trying to influence the law,” said Edwards.

Senator Edwards is leading by example. Since entering politics, Edwards has held himself to a higher standard than campaign law requires, and has refused contributions from federally registered lobbyists or Political Action Committees.

“I've never taken money from Washington lobbyists, and I never will,” said Edwards. “We'd be a lot better off if everyone in politics followed the same rule. We should make it the law - you can't take money from someone registered to lobby in front of you.”

Click here to make a donation to Edwards' campaign. (Assuming you are not a federal lobbyist). You can also get DVDs for ten dollars each that feature - among other things - an in-depth interview with Edwards on some of the issues vital to this campaign.

Posted by Mike at 07:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Edwards in his own words

Looks like Edwards' personal weblog entries will be a regular feature. This is what many people had been calling for. A candidate who blogs for himself, not just through his staffers, and doesn't act like he's giving a campaign speech. Hopefully Edwards will get some attention and credit, for going through with this.

From the Campaign Trail

This section features blog entries from Senator Edwards as he travels the country meeting voters, talking about important issues and telling people about
his message. Check back to see new updates!

Here is the first entry:

A busy start to the week

Tuesday September 23, @08:03AM

Posted by John Edwards

I’ve had a busy couple of days. Sunday night, I took the red-eye from Los Angeles to Chicago. While the overnight flight tires you out, it was important to be in California to help unite Democrats against this recall.

I am very encouraged by the recent poll results in Iowa. It is evident that Iowans too want to expand opportunity for all Americans.

This morning, I have an early event in McAlester, Oklahoma. Oklahoma is playing an important role in this election, and Democrats there are energized.

From the campaign trail,

John Edwards

Posted by Mike at 07:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush: Who? Me? Link Saddam to 9/11?

Funny stuff:

Posted by Mike at 07:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Smackdown Your Vote

More positive developments to report:

The body-slamming promoters of professional wrestling and the mavens of hip-hop music are teaming up to bring their fans to what may be an unfamiliar place — the voting booth.

The unlikely partnership between World Wrestling Entertainment and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network — called "Smackdown Your Vote!" — wants to get 2 million more 18- to 30-year-olds to register and cast their votes in the 2004 presidential election than did in 2000.

"Wow. The WWE and hip hop together — there goes the neighborhood, huh?" quipped WWE chairman Vince McMahon at a news conference Monday. He was joined by Rev. Run, aka Joseph Simmons, of the hip-hop group Run-DMC and wrestling stars Bradshaw and Maven, among others.

Known more for promoting bone-jarring wrestling spectacles than for his political savvy, McMahon said the two groups are forming a "tag team championship combination to go out and find these new people, sign them up and get them to vote."

The groups will register voters at hip-hop concerts and wrestling events around the country, hold rallies at colleges and high schools and create public service announcements to promote voter registration and voting.

"We're going to work hard and inform young people why voting is important," said Benjamin Chavis, CEO and president of the action network, an education advocacy group founded by music mogul Russell Simmons. "If young people understand that voting can change their living conditions, they will vote."

Overall voting rates have dropped from 63 percent in 1960 to 50 percent in 2000, according to Curtis Gans, who studies voter turnout as director of the Committee for Study of the American Electorate. Turnout of young adults between 18 and 24 has dropped to about three in 10, Gans said.

The nonpartisan partnership also plans to unveil a report on issues important to young voters shortly before the New Hampshire presidential primary, tentatively set for Jan. 27.

The action network has already organized nearly a dozen concerts to promote voter registration in major cities this year. At its most recent hip-hop summit in Philadelphia, organizers registered more than 11,000 new voters.

Posted by Mike at 02:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Rock Against Bush, Rap Against Bush?

Unless we get stuck with Gephardt, Kerry, or Lieberman, this could be a very good thing:

Good Charlotte, Pennywise and Sum 41 have always been known more for their practical jokes than their practical advice. That may soon change.

Next year these bands, Green Day, NOFX, Alkaline Trio and others will unite to raise political awareness and encourage pop-punk fans to vote in the next presidential election — against George Bush. The groups will each contribute a track to the compilation Rock Against Bush and take part in at least one show on a tour organized and funded by NOFX singer/bassist Fat Mike, who also owns the label Fat Wreck Chords.

"About a year ago I decided to use my influence to get bands together to speak out about the president," Fat Mike said. "I think it's our responsibility as citizens and musicians to do so. He's wrecking the country and the world. He's starting wars for no reason, our economy is in the toilet, he's ruining the environment, and he does things like cut taxes when we need money."

Green Day, NOFX and Alkaline Trio will record new songs for the album. The other groups haven't yet announced whether their tracks will be new cuts, remixes or previously released tunes. The album should be in stores by April or May.

There will be two legs of the Rock Against Bush Tour. The first will take place around the release of the album, and the second will occur closer to the election. At the shows, Fat Mike's Punkvoter.com political organization will set up voter registration booths, and the bands that play will encourage kids to take part in the voting process.

"We're trying to build a coalition of kids 18 to 25," Fat Mike said. "We want punks and other disenfranchised young people to vote as a block, which no one has ever done before. Kids are the biggest group of people that don't vote. We want to change that."

Now I'm just waiting for the Rap Against Bush album and tour. Nas, Scarface, Kurupt, Gangstarr, Mos Def, throw in some Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, and a 2Pac cut? You've got yourself an album (and one hell of a tour). I'd pay double to hear all these guys ripping into Bush like you know they can. Almost forgot. Need to have Lauryn Hill on there, too. Plus Common, of course.

Posted by Mike at 04:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

September 22, 2003

Shock and Awe Economists

Courtesy of the BBC:

The American-backed administration in Iraq has announced sweeping economic reforms, including the sale of all state industries except for oil.

The surprise announcement by Iraqi Finance Minister Kamel al-Keylani dominated the second day of meetings organised by the International Monetary Fund in Dubai.

The recently-appointed minister unveiled a string of reforms that analysts said read like a manifesto devised by Washington, signing off 30 years of Saddam Hussein and the socialist Baath Party.

Mr al-Keylani said liberalisation of foreign investment, the banking sector, taxes and tariffs would "significantly advance efforts to build a free and open market economy in Iraq".

But the BBC's Nick Springate, in Baghdad, says many ordinary Iraqis will see the moves as a big sell-off with predominantly multi-national, American companies viewed as getting "rewards".

But wait, it gets better:

Other measures announced:

The central bank will have full independence and investors will be allowed full transfer of foreign exchange earnings.

Under new bank rules, six foreign banks will be allowed "fast-track" entry into the country and will be permitted full ownership of the local banks within five years.

The reforms also see a new maximum tax rate of 15% for both individuals and companies.

A 5% surcharge will also be imposed on all imports, with the exception of humanitarian goods such as food and medicine.

The World Bank said on Saturday that a full assessment of Iraq's long-term economic needs should be ready within two to three weeks.

Then there is this interesting detail from the New York Press:

I interrupt my campaign diaries to bring the people of New York a startling Holy-Shit-O-Gram from Moscow. Early last week it was announced that the U.S., in the person of L. Paul Bremer III, had invited one Yegor Gaidar to Baghdad to assist in the development of Iraq’s postwar, "transition" economy.

Gaidar, former Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin, is not the most despised man in Russia. That title belongs to the man who succeeded him as the chief architect of the Russian privatization effort, Anatoly Chubais. There is no way to talk about the meaning of this decision to invite Gaidar to Iraq without mentioning Chubais, because in inviting Gaidar, what the U.S. almost certainly was trying to say to the world was: At least we didn’t invite Chubais.

This was, in fact, how most Russia-watchers interpreted the news. Harvard’s Marshall Goldman, one of the big heavies in the Russia-watching business, said as much to the Moscow Times in response to the Gaidar announcement: "If they had invited Chubais, that really would have set off a firestorm. That would have really been too much."

Chubais, a William Weld lookalike and towering genius of sleaze, was, with Gaidar, part of a group of beady-eyed intellectuals known in Russia as the "St. Petersburg Mafia."

Gaidar and Chubais are both affiliated with Harvard. Their ascension to power in the early 1990s–with the enthusiastic backing of the U.S.–willed into being an expression that now comprises the three most-feared words in the Russian language: Harvard-trained economist. That’s because the economy they created was not capitalism, but a cruel parody of it. Lenin preached communism but created a dictatorship: This crew preached laissez-faire economics but created a corporate oligarchy in which the state replaced the market. Their legacy was the wholesale theft of Russia’s riches from the population, and their delivery into mafia and foreign control.

The theft was a surprisingly quick and brutal process. If Iraq is in for the same treatment, here are some of the things Iraqis have to look forward to.

First, stealing money from people’s pockets. In 1992, Gaidar began implementing a program known as "Shock Therapy" (yet another cruel irony of this business: first Shock and Awe, now Shock Therapy?). Shock Therapy was the brainchild of another Harvard villain, Jeffrey Sachs. In the early phase, this took the form of Gaidar’s move to free the ruble before the end of state-controlled prices. This resulted–as even a child could have predicted it would–in hyperinflation. By the end of 1992, prices in Russia had increased by a factor of 26. Money from 1991 became worthless overnight. Families that had been stuffing mattresses since the siege of Stalingrad saw their life savings disappear in a few weeks.

The Moscow Times definitely seems to agree.

And the Saint Peterburg Times has some more details about Gaidar:

"Many of the problems they are experiencing in Iraq are problems created by the collapse of a totalitarian regime that had a high level of state participation in the economy. These problems have parallels with the histories and practices of post-socialist countries," Gaidar, a co-founder of the party, told the conference. "They want to work out how to minimize the risks and privatize the economic system in the shortest period possible."

As President Boris Yeltsin's first - and youngest - prime minister, Gaidar spearheaded the country's move away from a planned economy. He was also the overall architect of the largest and swiftest privatization in world history.

Seeing himself as a "kamikaze" who didn't have much time to bring about revolutionary change before opposition forces moved in, his program of "shock therapy," aimed at combating potentially disastrous shortages of goods, ended up sparking a wave of hyperinflation that saw prices increase by a factor of 26 within a year, wiping out the life savings of an entire generation overnight. His scheme to privatize as rapidly as possible saw the crown jewels of the economy handed over to a handful of well-connected insiders for next to nothing.

This time, however, it's unlikely that Gaidar will have quite as much influence. An official at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said that Gaidar had been invited to take part in an international conference in Baghdad later this month "with a view to explaining how European experience with economic reform might help Iraq manage its transition."

Posted by Mike at 04:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guilty until proven innocent

Not sure which is worse. The fact that it took eleven days for the story of James (Yousef) Yee's detainment without charges to get out, or the coverage that it got once it got out. Why isn't anyone asking any critical questions here?

From watching the nightly network news, I learned that Yee was not so much a threat to break anyone out of Guantanamo (no shit) as a threat of "aiding and abetting the enemy" by passing on information about American interrogation techniques to Al Qaeda, so they could train their members to keep silent under interrogation. Apparently Yee had been present at some interrogations in one capacity or another. I also learned from the news that Yee can be held for many months without charges under US military code. At least he has not been declared an "enemy combatant" - yet. He is however being housed with several people who have. I believe it was 60 Minutes who reported that the military had sought Yee out and asked him to return to service after 9/11, not the other way around. Not the way someone usually infiltrates an organization.

Here's what the New York Times said about the charges against him:

Military officials declined to say why Captain Yee, a 1990 graduate of West Point who converted to Islam, was being investigated. But a civilian law enforcement official said that the investigation was aimed at suspicions of espionage, improperly assisting the prisoners or some other breach of military duties.

The arrest was reported in The Washington Times today.

A second law enforcement official said that the military had opened its investigation of Captain Lee before he left Guantánamo and that when he was searched upon arriving at the naval air station in Jacksonville, Fla., investigators found what appeared to be sketches or diagrams of the prisoner facilities at Guantánamo.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that he was sympathetic to prisoners there and was preparing to aid them in some undetermined way.

No one else seems to be asking any of these questions, so I will, not that anyone will listen:

1. If the CIA, FBI, and four branches of the armed services can not get in touch with Al Qaeda, how is Yee supposed to be plotting to do so on his own?

2. If he is only accused of planning to leak details of torture to the press, since when is leaking something to the press in order to protest conditions, illegal? Weren't the story of his arrest and all those damning accusations leaked, too?

3. Even if he wrote such details down, which no one has said he did, is that proof of criminal intent? Wouldn't a true spy commit the details to memory, instead of writing it all down then packing it in his bags to be discovered?

4. If there was torture going on, would there be any legal way for someone to report this to anybody without being locked up for a very long time and accused of aiding and abetting the enemy by releasing details of interrogation methods?

5. Interrogation methods aside, how does showing sympathy for the prisoners he counciled, even if this is true, show any intent to break the law? If you feel sympathy for a murderer on death row, does that make you guilty of conspiring to break the law and help him try to escape? Really?

6. If lists of names and sketches of facilities are considered classifieds information, wouldn't someone with true criminal intent simply commit such details to memory, too, instead of writing them down so they can be found?

7. Is there any real way for us to tell the intent of James Yee without getting inside his head? Isn't that why it is only against the law to commit crimes, not to think of commiting them?

8. As a US citizen who is not charged as an enemy combatant, isn't there a higher standard for holding someone without charging them than this?

9. Would there be any way for James Yee to report anything to anyone about Guantanamo Bay without being charged with aiding and abetting the enemy?

10. If not, isn't the true source of his guilt his memory, and his true crime leaving Guantanamo Bay at all, cerebellum intact? Perhaps he should simply be charged with remembering things that he was supposed to forget?

Regardless, the example has definitely been made. Good luck getting anyone else in Guantanamo to speak up about anything the US might be doing wrong.

Here is the original leaked story from the Washington Times. Any bets on whether Rumsfeld or Ashcroft called it in themselves?

An Army Islamic chaplain, who counseled al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, has been charged with espionage, aiding the enemy and spying, The Washington Times has learned.

Capt. James J. Yee, a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., was arrested earlier this month by the FBI in Jacksonville, Fla., as he arrived on a military charter flight from Guantanamo, according to a law-enforcement source.

Agents confiscated several classified documents in his possession and interrogated him. He was held for two days in Jacksonville and transferred to a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., where two Army lawyers have been assigned to his defense.

The Army has charged Capt. Yee with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order. The Army may also charge him later with the more serious charge of treason, which under the Uniform Code of Military Justice could be punished by a maximum sentence of life.

Posted by Mike at 02:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 21, 2003

Cold-blooded character assassins

Is it just me, or does this sounds like a pre-emptive strike to discredit someone who Bush feared might speak out against his treatment of prisoners in Cuba?

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. authorities have detained a Muslim chaplain who counseled suspected terrorists at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, saying he was carrying classified documents when he arrived back in the United States.

News reports said Army Capt. Yousef Yee had drawings of the prison and lists of detainees, but that could not immediately be confirmed. Yee has not been charged.

Yee, a 34-year-old who converted to Islam after being raised as a Christian, arrived at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba last November. His job was to teach fellow troops about Islam and counsel detainees suspected of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the al-Qaeda terror network....

Yee is being held at a military brig in Charleston, S.C. — the same place where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought with the Taliban, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member charged with plotting to detonate a bomb.

"He had daily access to the detainees," said Capt. Tom Crosson, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command in Miami, who confirmed the military was holding Yee in South Carolina. "He is the first U.S. soldier that I know of to be detained and held since the war on terror began."

Since when are "drawings of the prison and lists of detainees" something you can get thrown in a military prison for without being charged? The idea that he was gonna try to spring them from jail in an elaborate escape plot or something is ridiculous on it's face! Wasn't part of his JOB to have lists of the prisoners that he talked to there? Are a few sketches that he could have reproduced from memory later anyways really significant at all? This man was HAND-PICKED by the US military, to provide basic religious services and cultural sensitivity training. He is by no means some type of fundamentalist. It is dispicable that they are trying to discredit him as a terrorist sympathizer, without even filing a single charge against him! Were they that afraid of what he might say once he got back home to New Jersey? They had to grab him in Florida, as soon as his plane from Cuba touched the ground? Why not just cut out the middle man and lock him up with the other detainees in Guantanamo?

Oh wait, that's right. He's a US citizen with a distinguished military career! Guess the suspicion of terrorism makes it harder for him to get on 60 minutes now and start talking. Right? Wouldn't want him to show up at the UN on Tuesday and start asking about execution chambers, teenagers held without cause, and violations of the Geneva Convention.

Why do I have images of that scene in Scarface, when Al Pacino is driving the station wagon behind the reporter and his family on their way to the UN. The Bolivian assassin wants him to pull closer, so he can denotate the bomb rigged to the family's car, but Scarface can't do it. Obviously, John Ashcroft would not have shared Scarface's dilemma. Someone needs to be shut up? You shut them up. Or if you can't do that, you discredit them and ruin their life.

Hey, Ashcroft: SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND (freedom of speech).

Posted by Mike at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 20, 2003

Oliver Willis announces his candidacy

It's official:

In a move that stunned the ten existing Democratic campaigns, Oliver Willis announced his candidacy for the presidency today. "We've got several senators, a governor, and a four-star general. So I figured the party needs someone with the experience for the job. That man is me.", Willis said at his campaign kickoff, Oliverpalooza, held in the middle of the Boston Commons.

His campaign already has a chief blogger, too:

Neither Flip Nor Flop

Posted by Willis4America Chief Blogger Ezekiel Fenderester Jones [EFJ for short]

After seeing some of the flip-flops that Wesley Clark is doing, I'm even more sure of my support of The Dub for president. He hasn't wavered one day in his opposition to the war, but even more importantly as he says in his stump speech "Doctor Phil having a diet plan is just wrong! The man is loud, he's chunky, and he's the completely wrong person to sell a weight loss program to America...."

Looking ahead, here's my prediction:

From an interview with CNN's Judy Woodruff.

Date: July 31, 2004.

JW: So Oliver, tonight is a big night for you. Your acceptance speech right there in your home town of Boston. Welcome to the program.

OW: I'm glad to be here.

JW: So tell me, what do you think was the key to obtaining your party's nomination?

OW: I'm still somewhat suprised that most of the delegates were willing to overlook the fact that the Constitution specifically prohibits me from being President. I'm 26 years old. It says right there in Article Two, Section One, you have to be thirty-five years old to take office.

JW: What do you think contributed the most to your success?

OW: I still remember the September afternoon that Ezekiel Fenderester Jones walked into my living room. He said, "Hi, I heard about your candidacy and drove twenty miles to meet you." I told him: "You're hired. I can't pay you. But you're hired." The rest is history.

JW: Ezekiel, or Zeke, as his online fans affectionately call him, has obtained quite a cult following. In one recent post, at 3AM, he referred to one of your opponents, Richard Gephardt, as what was the term?

OW: I probably shouldn't repeat that on the air.

JW: Regardless, the next day Gephardt was forced to drop out of the race. Does this show the true power of a netroots organization?

OW: Yeah, Zeke is something else, but I think the key was our use and promotion of meetup.com, which allowed Dub for President supporters to actually contact one another. Talk about a revolutionary idea. For most of the other candidates, you could have twenty supporters in the same neighborhood, but they all think they're the only one in town. They have no way to find out otherwise. As a result, they have no grassroots organization, and our organization gets all the media attention, instead. Pretty soon, these isolated supporters for other candidates start to wonder why they are the only one supporting what's his face, and they jump on the Dub for President band wagon, too. You can't ignore the importance of media hype.

JW: Fascinating. Speaking of Zeke, tell me about his latest zany fundraising technique.

OW: Well, as most of you probably know by now, Zeke is a huge She-ra and Masters of the Universe fan. As a result, someone posted to the blog a simple suggestion: Why don't you get people to watch She-ra and Masters, then donate $20 everytime they say "By the power of gray skull." We put a graphic on the site, showing the amount that had been contributed, and got people to send chain emails asking their friends to join the fun. People started putting the graphic on their own blogs, and we even started selling "By the power of gray skull T-Shirts" online. Before long, we had ten million dollars. I still can't believe it.

JW: Indeed. I guess I ought to ask your thoughts on the Constitutional Amendment effort that is currently under way, in an attempt to ensure that if you win you will actually be able to take office?

OW: I've got high hopes for the Amendment. We're using the same argument George Bush used to get a dozen states to move out their filing deadlines so he could have a NYC convention the week before September 11th. The latest in American history. They're the same words Bush used to get that last Amendment so Arnold Schwarzenegger could be his Vice Presidential candidate, too, despite the fact that he was born in Austria. "It would be incredibly unfair, and un-American, to keep our party's nominee off of the ballot for purely legalistic reasons."

JW: Well, good luck to you Oliver. We'll be watching you tonight.

OW: Thanks, Judy. Honestly, I'm not too stressed about the speech. The hardest part will be deciding who to take with me, Beyonce or Britney. They almost broke out in a catfight at my apartment the other day. I encouraged it, but they decided to let me choose. I'd still rather take both. What can you do?

JW: For CNN's Inside Politics, this is Judy Woodruff reporting. Good night.

Posted by Mike at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Holding the bag

H. Carl McCall must have walked under one too many ladders.

First, the Democratic party establishment abandons him when it starts to look like he's going to lose to George Pataki in 2002. On election day, he loses big.

Next, he is named to Chair the NYSE Compensation Committee, just in time to preside over the biggest scandal in the recent history of the Stock Exchange. A scandal he had no role in creating. Grasso's huge retirement package had been built up over decades by his friends and partners on the NYSE board.

Last but not least, now that Grasso has stepped down, taking $140 million with him when the annual income of the Exchange is less than one-fifth that amount, guess who they name interim chair of the NYSE? A job no one else wants? Bob Rubin and numerous CEOs have already turned it down. You guessed it.

H. Carl McCall. The guy just can't catch a break.

Posted by Mike at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Big week for Edwards

First, from the week before, he gets better poll numbers in all three primary states. Ten percent in South Carolina, and six and both Iowa and New Hampshire. Pulling even with or ahead of Lieberman in all three.

Then Monday night was the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Tuesday was the announcment in Robbins, NC with a crowd of over 2,000. Then the announcement in Columbia, SC that afternoon.

If you missed his announcement Tuesday in Robbins, you can see it here.

Wednesday, he's in New Hampshire for a town hall meeting. 32 down, 68 to go?

Thursday he's at his daughter's school, Princeton U in New Jersey.

On Friday, he's back in NC trying to co-ordinate hurricane relief efforts.

Friday afternoon, they release two new commercials.

This one. And this one, which is the best one yet, in my view.

Friday evening he posts his first weblog entry, then catches a flight to San Fran.

Saturday he'll meet supporters with Gray Davis at a Market Street cafe.

Sunday morning he'll be on CBS's Face the Nation.

Not a bad way to kick start a campaign.

Posted by Mike at 02:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 19, 2003

Hate to say I told you so

But I told you so:

"Ali-Baba" is one of the few words that is understandable in both English and Arabic. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in Iraq who doesn't think Bush is an Ali-Baba (thief). After we left the demonstration, the American soldiers stole this sign away from the people. I guess they have no sense of irony.

Don't mistake my disappointment for joy. It's not.

Posted by Mike at 02:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sign of the times

The first thing I thought when I read this headlines:

Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered

Was: Jeff Bezos patent enfringement litigation from the pre-dot com era?

How screwed up is that?

There are way too many corporations filing lawsuits these days.

Posted by Mike at 01:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 16, 2003

Still no respect for Edwards

10:29!!!!!!!! 10:29!!!!!!! I'm waiting for the Edwards announcement at 10:30, and at 10:29 they cut in with BREAKING NEWS that Clark will be running for President. If this is the type of shrewd tactic we can expect from Clark in the future, maybe he is the best one to face George W. Bush after all.....

They spend the next ten minutes talking about Clark not Edwards, and on MSNBC, they actually wanted to get a reaction from the crowd at the Edwards annoucement, about Clark's decision to run!!!!!!!!!!!

The TV networks have flown people in to Robbins, NC to answer questions about Clark!!!!!!! Completely unreal. Now that is responsible journalism. Someone in the Clark campaign clearly planned to steal Edwards' thunder, and the press helped them all the way.

Finally, at 11:15, CNN cuts into it's coverage of "Cold Creek Manor" among other things for ten minutes of Edwards 45 minute speech. He's barely getting rolling, before all the networks have cut out again, and return to the subject no more.

The story, when they do touch on it, is not about Edwards, but about the affect of a Clark candidacy on Edwards and the rest of the field. Clark only announced a week ago that he is even a Democrat, and already he gets more press than a respected Senator with a wide network of supporters and the third best fundraising effort in the field, who many say has the best message, strongest charisma, and most innovative policy ideas.

Am I missing something or is Edwards being ignored intentionally by the bosses at GE and elsewhere who think he could actually beat Bush in 2004.

Posted by Mike at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

End of the cattle call?

The Cattle Call used to be a weekly feature at Kos, and one that usually pissed me off, too. Nonetheless, it figures it would shift from weekly to bi-weekly just when Edwards has a big week. It sounds like Kos might be getting disillusioned with the idea himself, too. Does this spell the end for our bovine friend?

This Open Thread is for those of you who want to engage in mindness repetitive drivel about how Dean/Clark/Kerry/Edwards sucks and how your guy is the only one who can defeat Bush.

Or you can try and keep it sane, rational, intelligent and respectful. We will all be rooting for the same guy in 6 months, ya know.

I just hope that guy is not Dean. Can you say credibility gap? Which is a pretty hard thing to accomplish when you're going up against George W. Bush.

Posted by Mike at 02:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2003

A high-tech poll tax

The Reverend has a very good point on this one. You should not be at a disadvantage because you can not afford a computer and internet access. I thought the digital divide was a major Democratic concern? What happened?

Democrat Al Sharpton is protesting a plan to allow Internet voting in Michigan's presidential caucus and challenging rival Howard Dean to stand with him.

For the first time, the Michigan Democratic Party is planning to allow party members to vote for the party's presidential nominee via the Internet, as well as by attending the Feb. 7 caucus or mailing in a ballot.

Sharpton sent a letter to Dean Thursday, challenging the former Vermont governor to oppose the Internet voting plan. Dean's campaign has focused on building support from Web users.

"Perhaps it is due to the fact you governed a state with virtually no people of color living within its borders that you are unaware that this is a racially biased proposal," Sharpton wrote. Vermont is nearly 98 percent white.

In a telephone interview Friday, Sharpton said the plan would give an advantage to voters who are wealthy enough to have a computer and Internet access and can participate from home.

"A grandmother in a housing development is going to have to go downstairs and walk five blocks to vote," he said. "Who do you think is going to get more of the vote? Democracy is about equal access. This is not equal access. It really is a high-tech poll tax."

Dean and the Michigan Democratic Party did not immediately return calls for comment.

Dean's lack of experience with minority voters is seen by some as a weakness of his campaign, which has gained in fund raising and grabbed the lead in many key polls. Now that Dean is the front-runner, he has become the target of criticism from his eight primary rivals.

Sharpton said he only wrote to the former Vermont governor and not the other candidates because Dean said Tuesday night at a debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus that he speaks about race not only to blacks, but to white audiences.

"Here's where he can take a real moral stand to show that he wasn't just using one line at the debate," Sharpton said. "Since he's now posing as the guy who deals with race, this is his responsibility."

Posted by Mike at 03:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 12, 2003

The other Baghdad blogger

If you like Salam Pax, you should check out Riverbend from Baghdad Burning:

Friends, Americans, Countrymen...
I heard/read Bush's speech yesterday. I can't watch him for more than a minute at a time- I hate him that much. He makes me sick. He stands there, squinting his eyes and pursing his lips, going on and on with such blatant lies. And he looks just plain stupid.

I listened for as long as I could tolerate his inane features and grating voice, then turned off the television. Then turned it back on. Then turned the channel. Then turned it back. Then almost threw a cushion at the screen. Then thought better and decided he wasn’t worth it. Is it possible that someone like that is practically running the world? Is it possible he might see another term in the White House? God forbid…

His whole speech was just an idiotic repetition of what he’s been saying ever since Afghanistan, “Give me more money, give me more power- I’m doing this for you. Bechtel and Halliburton have nothing to do with it.” Doesn’t he ever get tired of saying the same words? Don’t people ever get tired of hearing them?

...We have thousands of competent, intelligent, innovative people who are eager to move forward but it’s impossible under these circumstances. There’s no security, there’s no work and there’s no incentive. AND THERE’S NO ONE WHO WILL LISTEN. If you’re not a part of the CPA or one of Ahmad Al-Chalabi’s thugs, then you’re worthless. You can’t be trusted.

I read Bush’s speech… just like I’ve read/heard what feels like a thousand different speeches these last few months. Empty words, meaningless phrases.

The abridged version of the speech…

“Friends, Americans, Countrymen, lend me your ears… lend me your sons and daughters, lend me your tax dollars… so we can wage war in the name of American national security (people worldwide are willing to die for it)… so I can cover up my incompetence in failing to protect you… so I can add to the Bush and Cheney family coffers at your expense and the expense of the Iraqi people. I don’t know what I’m doing, but if you spend enough money, you’ll want to believe that I do."

Posted by Mike at 01:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dear Darl

Interesting article from Infoworld, for once:

The war of words between The SCO Group Inc. and the Linux community escalated this week in a flurry of open letters, the latest from Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

In a letter dated Tuesday, the maintainer of the Linux kernel dismissed an offer from SCO Chief Executive Officer Darl McBride to negotiate the dispute with the open-source community. "There doesn't seem to be anything to negotiate about. SCO has yet to show any infringing IP (intellectual property) in the open-source domain," Torvalds wrote.

Torvalds also had a few sarcastic words for the Lindon, Utah-based SCO, noting that it is ironic that SCO acquired much of its capital from an initial public offering based on a Linux business model. "We have to sadly decline taking business model advice from a company that seems to have squandered all of its money ... and now seems to play the U.S. legal system like a lottery," he wrote

SCO, which previously operated under the name Caldera Systems Inc., once operated as a Linux distributor. The company has seen its status in the open-source community plummet over the last year, however, as its anti-Linux rhetoric has increased. In March, the company sued IBM Corp., claiming that IBM illegally contributed code to Linux. Since then, SCO has alleged that Linux contains a number of copyright and other intellectual property violations, and it has demanded that Linux users pay it a $700 per processor licensing fee to bring their systems in compliance.

These charges led to lawsuits from both Red Hat Inc. and IBM, and appear to have inspired a number of denial of service attacks on SCO's Web site.

Here is the entire letter, which they reprinted. Is Linus great or what?

Open letter to Darl McBride -- please grow up.

Dear Darl,

Thank you so much for your letter.

We are happy that you agree that customers need to know that Open Source is legal and stable, and we heartily agree with that sentence of your letter. The others don't seem to make as much sense, but we find the dialogue refreshing.

However, we have to sadly decline taking business model advice from a company that seems to have squandered all its money (that it made off a Linux IPO, I might add, since there's a nice bit of irony there), and now seems to play the US legal system as a lottery. We in the Open Source group continue to believe in technology as a way of driving customer interest and demand.

Also, we find your references to a negotiating table somewhat confusing, since there doesn't seem to be anything to negotiate about. SCO has yet to show any infringing IP in the Open Source domain, but we wait with bated breath for when you will actually care to inform us about what you are blathering about.

All of our source code is out in the open, and we welcome you point to any particular piece you might disagree with.

Until then, please accept our gratitude for your submission,

Yours truly,

Linus Torvalds

Here is the letter he was responding to from Darl.

Posted by Mike at 01:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 10, 2003

Edwards rightly calls Dean's remarks divisive

Dean's remarks also happen to be untrue.

While the concept Dean was trying to convey makes sense, the words that he chose to make it were a lie. He had no business lying to the American people.

During last night's Congressional Black Caucus Debate, Howard Dean said, "I'll tell you why I connect with African-American audiences. I'm the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences. Black people have heard lectures from white politicians for a long time. White folks need to talk to white people in America about race."

Senator John Edwards (D-NC) made the following statement today in response to Governor Howard Dean's statement at last night's debate that Dean is "the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences."

"Governor Dean's statement was divisive. And divisive is exactly what we're trying to overcome. His statement does a disservice to everyone he stood next to and all the people before us who have raised this issue over and over again in front of all audiences.

"Senator Lieberman marched with Martin Luther King. Senator Kerry talks about his experience in Vietnam. I grew up in the segregated South. Fighting for civil rights is part of who I am. I talk about it in front of every audience I'm with.

"Governor Dean was right about one thing - politicians should talk about civil rights wherever they go. In the future, I hope he leads by example instead of by attack."

As you might expect, there is a stream of outraged posts over at the Edwards blog about Dean's gross distortion of Edwards' record. (To be fair, Dean distorted the records of several others, too). Is there anything Howard Dean wouldn't say to get applause?

Posted by Mike at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

RIAA files multi million dollar suit against 12 year old girl

You just can't make shit like this up:

Brianna LaHara said she was frightened to learn she was among the hundreds of people sued yesterday by giant music companies in federal courts around the country.

"I got really scared. My stomach is all turning," Brianna said last night at the city Housing Authority apartment where she lives with her mom and her 9-year-old brother....

The family signed up for the Kazaa (search) music-swapping service three months ago, and paid a $29.99 service charge.

Usually, they listen to songs without recording them. "There's a lot of music there, but we just listen to it and let it go," Torres said.

When reporters visited the apartment last night, Brianna — who her mom says is an honors student — was helping her brother with his homework....

Brianna and the others sued yesterday under federal copyright law could face penalties of up to $150,000 per song, but the RIAA has already settled some cases for as little as $3,000.

"It's not like we were doing anything illegal," said Torres. "This is a 12-year-old girl, for crying out loud."

The RIAA settled with the public housing resident for $2,000 when word got out:

A day after being sued for illegally sharing music files through the Internet, a 12-year-old girl has settled with the Recording Industry Association of America.

She's the first of 261 defendants to settle their lawsuits with the association.

Brianna LaHara agreed Tuesday to pay $2,000, or about $2 per song she allegedly shared.

"I am sorry for what I have done," LaHara said. "I love music and don't want to hurt the artists I love."

The suit claimed LaHara had been offering more than 1,000 songs on the Internet, using the Kazaa file-sharing service.

The RIAA said it was pleased with the settlement. There are 260 cases still pending.

Her Mom had previously vowed to fight the suit, which she termed "ridiculous." She no doubt realized very soon that it could cost much more than $2,000 just to take the case to court, and her chances of recouping her fees might be spotty at best. Is it just me or do these type of scare tactics, with fuzzy legal claims to back them up, sound familiar? SCO has been completely discredited for trying the same type of thing on Linux users. Will the music industry experience a similar backlash for trying to ruin the lives, not just businesses, of its customers? This calibration of the penalty to avoid looking bad thing is bull shit, too. It's like saying "Yeah, I'm gonna screw your wife, but only a little bit." That's not the point! The point is that the RIAA is screwing these people over. Period. It's bull shit. What's next? A ban on lip-syncing and karaoke? How ridiculous and greedy can these corporations get? Imagine if the pornographers of the world got their act together, and started coming after everyone who had downloaded free porn from the net. Then you might start seeing some Congressional action. Hit the bastards where it hurts!

Posted by Mike at 02:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Edwards message is getting noticed

Mark Shields finally gives John Edwards the time of day. Now I only wish anybody else at CNN, NBC, CBS, or ABC would do the same:

...In the last six months, the nation's economy has lost half a million jobs.

With this dismal background, the 2004 Democratic nominee will say the following next July: "Our opponents' economic vision has one goal: to get rid of taxes on unearned income -- from interest and dividends and inherited stock portfolios -- and shift the tax burden onto people who work. This crowd wants a world where the only people who have to pay taxes are the ones who do the work. ... The character of our country has been betrayed by some at the top who want the measure of an American to be how much she is worth, not how hard or how well she works. ... Theirs is a discredited conservative notion that America should ask the least of those who have the most. ... We are committed to a fair shake for all and a free ride for none."

"Mr. President, I challenge you. Explain why you think a multimillionaire should pay 15 percent on his next million while a fireman has to pay over 30 percent on each extra dollar of overtime. ... In these times of national sacrifice, we should not be asking less of the most fortunate."

Those are words almost all drawn or paraphrased from a June speech by North Carolina Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. The fates appear to be conspiring against Edwards, whose moment in the media spotlight and at the microphone was generally expected to be in September.

But the California gubernatorial recall is dominating the political coverage and short reports about Edwards and the Democratic challengers are mostly buried somewhere near the classified ads.

John Edwards may not get to deliver it, but I'll bet you breakfast that large chunks of "the Edwards speech" will be heard next July in Boston.

Posted by Mike at 01:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The real reason Nigeria gave Taylor asylum

The lucrative email scamming opportunities:

Dear sir,

First, I must solicit your confidence in this transaction, this is by virtue if its nature as being utterly CONFIDENTIAL and TOP SECRET. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day.

I have decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction. Let me start by first introducing myself properly to you.. I am WILLIAMS ROBERT(DR),sercertary to the former President CHARLES TAYLOR of LIBERIA whom was involved in a mis-rule of his country LIBERIA which is presently in a war situation. Fortunately,president CHARLES TAYLOR has been giving an escape opportunity by the Nigerian government who has granted him political asylum.

In view of this,the president has moved all his valuables including physical cash to Nigeria and some European countries for safe keeping.Your assistance is therefore needed to enable us move a very large sum of money belonging to president CHARLES TAYLOR to your country for safe keeping/investment purposes. Note that the money in question is already withdrawn fron the National Bank Of Liberia and is presently in the custody of a security company,we have options to move the money from where it is,directly to any country where it will be easier for you to receive it on our behalf. We assure you that everything will be done legally as we will provide you with all legal documents making you the beneficiary of the fund,i will finally move to be with the president in Nigeria due to the asylum that has been granted to President CHARLES TAYLOR. Be free to negotiate your percentage as we are ready to reward you very well for your assistance.

I will give you further details as soon as i receive your response which must for now be by the email address above. Thanks & God Bless as
i await your prompt response. Best Regards,


Obviously, I'm only joking about why they offered Taylor asylum. It's a good thing they offered it to him, and a good thing he accepted it. I just thought it was funny how relentless these guys are. Now they add in a new twist. Keeping their pitch fresh, and up to date with current events. Is there anybody in the US government looking at a way to solve this problem? You know people are falling for it, or they would have stopped a long time ago.

Posted by Mike at 12:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 08, 2003

Taking down the banner for now

Just too much damn red white and blue on here. Please continue to visit youthforedwards.com - or check it out if you haven't already.

Posted by Mike at 11:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shooting off at the mouth

Valid criticism of my post on gangs in the 21st century:

how the hell dose creip kill more crip than slobs kill more crip?

Posted by: lil juviy at September 8, 2003 02:09 PM

Good point. I was trying to show gangs are so fragmented due to crack downs on the leadership that you have different sets of the same gang killing each other, not just rival gangs. I don't have numbers, though, so I shouldn't have claimed that it was more common than rival gang members killing each other. For all I know, more Bloods kill Crips than Crips kill Crips. It'd make sense. I heard the quote I used somewhere, but shouldn't have assumed it was true.

Posted by Mike at 10:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Life after death

Got the following responses to my post about PRESIDENTIALPRAYERTEAM.ORG:

Since when has prayer been a partician factor?
I believe even George Washington prayed for the country and his guidance. I think this movement is to be congratulated for their work.

Posted by: Dorothy Gwozdziewicz at August 3, 2003 08:05 AM

REegardless wheather you believe in "JESUS CHRIST"or not YOU are still going to answer to"HIM when its all over. Make no mistake about that **** "BE SAVED"

Posted by: F.W Rhorer at August 11, 2003 10:24 PM

Dorothy, I agree that prayer should not be a partisan act. That is exactly why I am criticizing that web site! For trying to turn prayer into a partisan act!

FW, I'm confused. Saved from what? George W. Bush? The only after life you will ever prove, is the life of those who live after you die, and the influence you have on them. Treat people like shit, and hell is your legacy. Treat them with love and respect, and you're paving the path to heaven on earth. Write a book that shows it, and your helping lead the way. How you affect people - in the long term and the short term - is the net result of your existance. Now let me ask you, which has a larger net effect? Worrying about yourself and your own after life all the time, or worrying about the lives of those who will live here after you? Maybe that's the question you'll want to start thinking about, and trying to prepare your own answer for.

These guys are by no means my heros, but I think Above the Law said it best:

On my Judgement Day, the good Lord is gonna take care of me, for my misgivings, as well as my good deeds.

Posted by Mike at 01:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Did Barone call it or what?

He saw Bush's "reframing" of Iraq coming from a mile away. Watching the Bush Administration unfold gets more like watching a car crash in slow motion every day. Nnnnnnoooooohhhhhhhh. Sssssccccccrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeecccccchhhhhhh. Boom!

Posted by Mike at 01:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jay Marvin lays out the evidence

And you thought the Presidential candidates were tough on Bush Thursday night? Read this first, then decide. Jay Marvin is still the voice of liberal radio. Now we just need to get him syndicated. Hello? ABC? WLS? Anyone home? What's the hold up?

Subject: Presidential Confession

I attacked and took over two countries.

I spent the U.S. surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.

I shattered the record for the biggest annual deficit in history (not easy!).

I set an economic record for the most personal bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period.

I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock market.

I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history (tough to beat my dad's, but I did).

After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.

I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by any president in US history.

In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs.

I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any other president in US history.

I set the all-time record for most real estate foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.

I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president, since the advent of TV.

I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other US president in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.

I cut health care benefits for war veterans.

I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history.

Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history. (The poorest multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.)

I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously struggle against bankruptcy.

I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market in any country in the history of the world.

I am the first president in US history to order a US attack AND military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.

I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States, called the "Bureau of Homeland Security"(only one letter away from BS).

I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any other president in US history (Ronnie was tough to beat, but I did it!!).

I am the first president in US history to compel the United Nations remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.

I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.

I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history.

I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.

I withdrew from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.

I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.

I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations.

The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).

I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.

I am the first president to run and hide when the US came under attack (and then lied, saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1)

I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.

I took the world's sympathy for the US after 9/11, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).

I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.

I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I set the all-time record for the number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling their huge investments in corporations bidding for gov't contracts.

I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history.

I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.

RECORDS AND REFERENCES: I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).

I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during time of war.

I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.


The White House,

Washington, DC

(Note: this information should be useful to voters in the 2004 election. Circulate to as many citizens you think would be helped to be reminded about this record).

Posted by Mike at 01:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 07, 2003

Still Time to Avoid Failure?

If you are ever gonna be stuck on a plane or a train for a few hours, US News & World Report usually has enough to keep your mind occupied the entire trip, but this time I also picked up a copy of Newsweek, and it had a few good pieces, too. Especially "Still Time to Avoid Failure" by Fareed Zakaria:

Keeping peace in a [strongly nationalistic] country like this cannot be easy. That is why the Bush administration's attempts to do so unilaterally and on the cheap have been such a disaster. In a remarkable interview last week, Gen. John Abizaid, head of the Central Command, told the New York Times that he needed more troops. This seems to contradict what Donald Rumsfeld said two days earlier...

Abizaid's explanation for why we need foreign forces is even more remarkable. American troops, he explained, were fueling Iraqi nationalism that was morphing into anti-Americanism: "You can;t underestimate the public perception, both within Iraq and within the Arab world, about the percentage of forces being so heavily American." But who underestimated this problem of Iraqi nationalism? Certainly not those of us who argued from the day the war ended that the operation should be multinational, with full U.N. authorization. It was the administration itself that argued that American troops were going to be welcomed as liberators; that the postwar period would require few forces; that Iraqis dislike the Europeans and the United Nations, and that America would have absolutely no legitimacy problem.

Abizaid's interview is a powerful admission that on the two most impoartant postwar issues - the number of forces and the nature of the occupation - the Bush administration got it badly wrong. The only question now is, will the administration finally recognize its errors? It might already be too late to acheive a great success in Iraq. But it is not too late to avoid a humiliating failure.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with Fareed there. By the time a new President could be inaugurated, January 2005, it will probably be too late. Some might think Bush plans to announce a dramatic change of course tonight in his speech. I don't think there is any chance in hell. He may try to make it SOUND like he is announcing a dramatic change, but the SUBSTANCE of his policy is not going to change at all. What may change is a louder call on foreign countries to commit their own troops, without Bush giving up any real control. Interestingly, in US News and World Report, there was a very interesting article by Michael Barone, called " A Knack for Framing" which predicted that Bush might do exactly that, soon:

George W. Bush has the habit of changing the subject - using a moment when all eyes are on him to frame issues in a new way, one that maximizes public support and consigns the opposition's (and the press's) preoccupations to irrelevancy.

...look for him to take advantage of a high-visibility moment to reframe the issues in the war against terrorism. One occasion may be his annual September speech at the United Nations. Bush doesn't usually provide many hints about what he'll say when he changes the subject. My guess is that he will challenge the nations of the Middle East to act against terrorism and move toward democracy and human rights.

My second prediction is that Bush will put the spotlight, probably in his 2004 State of the Union speech, on his proposal for individual investment accounts in Social Security. Assuming Congress passes a Medicare bill this fall, this would be the only one of the four major domestic planks in his 2000 platform on which action has not been taken. Bush is known to believe that this was a winning issue for him in 2000.

Clinton used triangulation. Bush just changes the subject but keeps on truckin. Driving our place in the global community, and our economy, into the ground. For some reason it reminds me of one of those high speed pursuits on the LA freeway. The wheels are coming off, the sparks are flying, but the petal is still to the floor. Now we just need a Democratic candidate who can learn some "pursuit intervention techniques" and put this tragedy to an end.

Posted by Mike at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2003

Kos says Edwards blog "gets it right"

For a change, Kos has good things to say about the Senator, or his campaign's blog at least:

Thursday | September 04, 2003

Edwards gets it right with blog effort

Edwards has launched its blog effort, and while late, it's solid.

Not only is it based on Slash, the premier community building tool, but they've also created sections for every state and territory with a primary.

It's not perfect, of course. The state sections have URLs like:


It would be much nicer to have user-friendly URLs for those state-specific pages. And it would be REALLY cool if those state sections where customized with, say, the state flag, colors, birds, flower, recognizable landmark, or whatever. Instead, each state blog looks like the others. (The reason is obvious -- they didn't build 50 blogs, they simply created categories off the main one. And it's impossible to customize category pages. They must all look the same.)

Furthermore, the message boards seem a bit overproduced (see here), and will probably load slowly if they get a large number of comments on those boards. And speaking of comments, why can't I see how many people have posted comments at the bottom of each blog entry?

But most importantly, most of the states are missing content. Ultimately, content is king and will determine the effectiveness of Edwards' tech efforts. Having a section for American Somoa is cool, but only if someone is updating it. Otherwise it's kind of sad. It says: "John Edwards doesn't give a flying f about your neck of the woods".

But this is a solid first effort. Whether Edwards' team can build community remains to be seen. Blogs are just tools. They have to be wielded skillfully to generate success.

But this initial effort bodes well. The foundation is solid.

Any bets on how many days it takes Kerry to launch a slash site? I think it took two or three days after Kerry's staff attended an Edwards town hall for Kerry to announce his own "open air forums" in New Hampshire. He has all the right to do it, I mean Edwards got the idea from McCain, but does Kerry need to be so blatant about it? I know his staff has to have some good ideas of their own.

Posted by Mike at 04:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Forget one blog, Edwards just launched fifty-six!

I got the following email this evening. Check your inbox. You might have, too:

We are pleased to write and let you know about an exciting new phase of the Edwards for President campaign. As we pass from summer into fall, election season kicks into high gear! Following his successful summer bus trips through Iowa and New Hampshire, Senator Edwards has pledged to hold 100 town hall meetings in New Hampshire. In Iowa, over 200 new local activists recently endorsed John Edwards. And here in Raleigh, we are launching a new tool for supporters and volunteers to come together and share your stories about why you support John Edwards for president and what you can do to help move him to victory!

Today, we are launching our campaign blog - an online discussion area for Edwards supporters like you (http://blog.JohnEdwards2004.com). Each state and territory has its own blog page, just for the people in your state. There is also a national blog where you can chat with supporters from across the nation.


Posted by Mike at 02:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 02, 2003

CNET has RSS feeds you can use

Just added the CNET Perspectives RSS feed to my side bar.

Pretty nice:

What is RSS?

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an XML-based format for content distribution. Below, CNET News.com offers several RSS feeds with headlines, descriptions and links back to CNET News.com for the full story.

We encourage you to use these feeds, so long as you do not post our full-text stories, and so long as you provide proper attribution to CNET News.com.

If you are wondering, here is the code I used:

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" SRC=http://www.wcc.vccs.edu/services/news/channel.asp?c=http://rss.com.com/2547-1071-0.xml&bg=FFFFF&noTable=true&refresh=true>

Click here for more information on the script I'm using. I think the new O'Reilly RSS book shows you how to make your own reader, too, code and all.

Posted by Mike at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Republicans outsource fund raising overseas

Taaza: Republicans: Outsource Fund Raising to India

All this talk about outsourcing and how it is killing the US economy, well here is proof that it is not going away anytime soon. I would love to see what a conservative politician has to say about this. I just cannot understand why the Republicans have to outsource fund raising, after all most of their donors have offices on K-Street.
HCL eServe, the business process outsourcing arm of the Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies, has bagged a project to undertake a fund-raising campaign for the US Republican Party over the telephone. This is the first time such a project has been handed out to a company outside the US. The market research and public relations companies engaged by the party usually undertake such projects. [ Business Standard ]

What's so bad about outsourcing? Nothing, as long as you don't expect to find a job here.

Posted by Mike at 12:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)