Archive for March, 2006


Taking in the view

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Recent news suggests we are at the oil peak as I type. Hold on tight–this could be a scary ride down the back side.

Kos Célèbre

Monday, March 20th, 2006

What a stud muffin!

Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
Published: March 19, 2006

Q: As the founder of the left-leaning Daily Kos, the largest political blog in the country, did you find it hard to write “Crashing the Gate,” an actual book, as opposed to your usual raw and episodic three-sentence musings?

It was brutal. My co-writer, Jerome Armstrong, and I had no idea of what we were getting into. There came a point where we literally sat around for a day trying to figure out how to tell our publisher there would be no book.

Which may prove that bloggers are better at demolishing arguments than building them.

When bloggers make an argument, we can add a link to support our premises. You cannot link with books.

The strongest part of your book argues that Democrats are in desperate need of savvier consultants, their own Karl Rove, to help them build a political majority. Why would you want them to be more like Republicans?

To get their message out, the Republicans created this entire conservative noise machine. They have Fox News and The Washington Times and the 700 Club and just about the entire talk-radio dial. They have this incredible ability to promote whatever the big issue of the day is. There is no partisan liberal media that is working in concert with the Democratic Party in order to sell whatever the party is selling.

That’s not true. The liberal media has you and Michael Moore. Think of the endless volume of verbiage you guys produce.

The blog world is tiny compared to talk radio. Rush Limbaugh reaches nearly 20 million people every week. The Daily Kos reaches maybe a million.

What about the old liberal media, like The Village Voice?

Ha-ha.

What about The Nation?

What’s its circulation — 200,000 maybe? The American Prospect has maybe 75,000 readers. And The Washington Monthly maybe 50,000 readers. These are not big publications.

Whom would you like to see run in 2008?

I like Mark Warner. I like Russ Feingold. I don’t hate Hillary, but I don’t like anyone who is declared by fiat to be the front-runner.

Unlike any of those contenders, you’re a U.S. Army veteran.

Joining the Army was the best decision I ever made, and leaving the Army was the second-best decision I ever made. I went into the Army weighing 111 pounds, at 5 foot 7, and I had no self-confidence. I came out thinking that I could conquer the world.

You sound like an Army recruiter. Can you sell us on basic training?

In basic training, you get ground down to zero, which for me was really easy because there wasn’t much to grind. But then they build you up. You do a 25-mile road march with a 100-pound rucksack in Oklahoma in the dead of summer — I can still remember squeezing blood out of my socks because my feet were so blistered.

How do you support yourself these days? Does Daily Kos bring in enough advertising revenue to enable you to eat?

Last year, I probably earned somewhere between $70,000 and $80,000. I live comfortably. My wife and I just bought a house here in Berkeley.

Is it odd to live so far from Washington and spend every nanosecond of your life writing about it?

No. I avoid Washington like the plague. And I generally avoid politicians. I find them quite dull.

Have you met John Kerry?

Only once. I was in a bathroom stall next to him at the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t say hello. It was a private moment for him.

Do you read your fellow liberal bloggers, like those who write for Huffington Post?

To me, Huffington Post gives voice to the voice. They’re celebrities who don’t need a platform.

That’s not fair. You can’t discredit bloggers like Jane Smiley or Nora Ephron just because they have a reputation outside politics.

These people don’t have trouble being heard if they want to be heard. Sometimes Huffington Post has noncelebrities — I am more interested in them, people who don’t have the chance to get their message out.

Worth a try for sure

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Andrew Leonard has an article in Salon describing something potentially very cool. The idea is to build biofuel refineries in Maine (and other heavily wooded areas). That’s the one stone that could help with the two birds of long-term job supply in these rural areas as well as reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Put your TV to good use

Friday, March 17th, 2006

If you’ve got one, check out PBS tonight:

NOW with David Brancaccio
“The Sunshine Gang” Tonight at [check your local listings]

A blanket of secrecy has fallen over the American government. In the name of the war on terror, an alarming amount of public information is being kept secret, and some fear the government’s grip on information citizens have the right to know is growing tighter. In “The Sunshine Gang,” a special one-hour broadcast, NOW shines a spotlight on what has happened to open government in America through the stories of whistleblowers—insiders who in many cases have risked it all for their democracy by telling the truth. The special is timed to begin during the second annual “Sunshine Week,” when newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, and Web sites around the nation foster a dialogue about the importance of open government to the public and to our democracy.

NYPD Brownshirts

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Unpublished constitutional amendment number zero: You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to move your ass off the street. You have the right to be arrested for acts that you may or may not perform at some unspecified time in the future. You have the right to distrust your fellow protesters as possible police spies and stooges. You have the right to accept whatever your government does if you know what’s good for you.

Is an invasion of Syria in the works?

Friday, March 17th, 2006

That might help explain this banding together of disparate Syrian ex-pats. Maybe they have some inside information from Rumsfeld. Pure speculation, mind you, but I can’t help but wonder.

Syrian opposition leaders unite

A group of exiled Syrian opposition leaders has announced they are to form a common front to oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Speaking after a meeting in Brussels, former Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam said all factions agreed that the regime Damascus had to go.

He said the goal of the new grouping was to set up a transitional government in Syria.

Mr Khaddam broke with President Assad last year, after serving his father.

The opposition grouping includes the Muslim Brotherhood, Kurds, liberals and communists.

The aim of the grouping, a delegate said following the two-day meeting in Brussels, was to be ready “to fill the void” if there were to be a collapse of the Assad government.

Damascus has been under heavy Western pressure since a UN investigation implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials in 2005′s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Syria has denied the charges but was forced to pull its forces out of Lebanon in the wake of the death.

Water water all around, and not a dollar to buy it with

Friday, March 17th, 2006

The polar ice caps are melting, but that doesn’t mean that the poor of the world will have any better access to clean, fresh water.

Mexico water marches turn violent

Masked protesters have clashed with police at a global conference on water management in Mexico City.

Police detained about 17 people as some rallies turned violent on the second day of the World Water Forum.

More than 120 countries are represented at the conference, which has pledged to focus on ways to improve access to water for the world’s poor.

Mexican President Vicente Fox said water needed to be seen as a global heritage to which everyone had a right.

But protesters claim the forum is being held in the interest of big corporations and their profits, rather than that of the poor….

More vets against the (very expensive) war

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Shades of Mission Rejected!

Iraq Veteran Sees Nothing Positive About U.S. Troops Fighting There
by Tess Nacelewicz

Brian Clement of Gardiner, an Army veteran, said during a talk at the University of Southern Maine on Thursday that he started his yearlong duty in Iraq believing America hadn’t gone to war for the right reasons, but “thought I could do some good.”

However, Clement, who was with the 1st Cavalry Division, said that in his job driving a truck around Iraq, including such hot spots as Fallujah and Sadr City, “I didn’t see anything positive about our being in Iraq.”

Clement, who returned home last March and received an honorable discharge from the service in June, has since joined Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“I support the troops wholeheartedly,” he said, “but I don’t support the misuse of our armed forces as they are being used now.”…

And meanwhile,

U.S. War Spending to Rise 44% to $9.8 Bn a Month, Report Says
by Jeff Bliss

U.S. military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will average 44 percent more in the current fiscal year than in fiscal 2005, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said.

Spending will rise to $9.8 billion a month from the $6.8 billion a month the Pentagon said it spent last year, the research service said. The group’s March 10 report cites “substantial” expenses to replace or repair damaged weapons, aircraft, vehicles, radios and spare parts.

It also figures in costs for health care, fuel, national intelligence and the training of Iraqi and Afghan security forces — “now a substantial expense,” it said.

The research service said it considers “all war and occupation costs,” while the Pentagon counts just the cost of personnel, maintenance and operations….

Impeach him, and I meme it!

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Cool post over at Blue Mass Group.

Spineless bastards of the world unite

Friday, March 17th, 2006

What do you do when the president breaks the law? Why, change the law to suit his desires, of course. Otherwise, someone might mistake our constitutional democracy for a strongman autocracy. How silly of them!

Bill Would Allow Warrantless Spying: GOP Plan Would Bring Surveillance Under Review of Congress, FISA Court

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 17, 2006; Page A05

The Bush administration could continue its policy of spying on targeted Americans without obtaining warrants, but only if it justifies the action to a small group of lawmakers, under legislation introduced yesterday by key Republican senators.

The four senators hope to settle the debate over National Security Agency eavesdropping on international communications involving Americans when one of the parties is suspected of terrorist ties. President Bush prompted a months-long uproar when he said that constitutional powers absolve him of the need to seek warrants in such cases, even though the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires warrants for domestic wiretaps….


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