News posts from Shay's Archive


Dems hold Bush aides in contempt!

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Just when we thought the Dems would cave like they are on immunity for telecoms who share our private data with the government, the House goes and votes—overwhelmingly—to hold two top aides to Pres. George W. Bush in contempt of Congress.

The New York Times reports, “It is the first time in 25 years that a full chamber of Congress has voted on a contempt of Congress citation.”

All we can say is it’s about time someone started holding this administration accountable. The GOP largely walked out of the chamber in protest of the vote, a stunt that says all we need to know about where their loyalties lie when it comes to the constitutional authority of Congress. All but 34 members of the GOP walked out of the chambers.

The two aides—White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Mier—refused to cooperate with an investigation into whether the firings of US Attorneys was politically motivated.

The American Freedom Campaign,  which had supporters send nearly 19,000 emails to U.S. representatives, urging them to use their power to hold Bolten and Meiers in contempt, was pleased with the vote.

“After months of frustration, we are pleased that the House has finally passed these important resolutions,” said Steve Fox, campaign director for the American Freedom Campaign.  “In order for our system of checks and balances to be effective, Congress must have oversight over the executive branch.  When Bolten and Miers – with the encouragement of the President—refused to comply with the congressional subpoenas last summer, they were tacitly saying that this oversight power no longer existed.  If they are not held in contempt—and prosecuted in the courts – our Constitution will have been defiled.”

The House Judiciary Committee approved the contempt citations, on a party-line vote, more than six months ago, but the resolution has stagnated since—despite efforts by activists to spur Democrats to challenge the Bush administration flouting of the Constitution.

“Those members of Congress who walked out on this vote, have turned their back on the Constitution itself,” Fox added.  “They have violated their oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution’ and do not deserve to represent the American people.  Again, this is not a partisan matter.  We would say the exact same thing if Democrats walked out on a vote to defend the oversight powers of Congress under the Constitution.”

The American Freedom Campaign (AFC) was founded in July 2007 by MoveOn.org co-founder Wes Boyd, scientist and social entrepreneur William Haseltine, Fenton Communications CEO David Fenton, and Naomi Wolf, author of The End of America with the goal to create grassroots support to restore checks and balances and reverse abuses of power by the executive branch.

With the passage of this contempt vote, let’s now hope they can not give the telecoms immunity from illegally sharing our information with government spies, and they should not give the government extended powers to secretly listen to our phone calls. Is that too much to ask?

Contempt isn’t just an eight-letter word

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

For all of you out there holding your breath, waiting for the Democratically-led Congress to hold the Bush administration accountable for something, this week just might be the week you get to exhale.

Still, why do I have the nagging feeling this will be another exercise in gulping down more air and turning ever bluer as a result?

Take this line from this morning’s New York Times:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, would not confirm the pending vote on Tuesday night. “One of these days,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Makes you all warm and fuzzy, right? The story explains that Democratic leaders may finally follow through on their pledge to bring a contempt resolution against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to the House floor for a vote. The vote could come as early as tomorrow.

One group, the American Freedom Campaign, has had supporters send nearly 19,000 emails to U.S. representatives, urging them to use their power to hold Bolten and Meiers in contempt for defying congressional subpoenas surrounding the investigation into whether U.S. Attorneys were fired for political reasons. They are hopeful.

(more…)

Super (Green) | (eco) Bowl XLII?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Too bad for the NFL that the Green Bay Packers didn’t make it past the New York Giants, especially given the league’s attempt to make this a “green” event. Still, for New England Patriots fans it probably doesn’t really matter in the end—they are hell bent on making this a perfect ending.

Still, we thought rather snarkily that the NFL is surely just putting on a “green” cover for what is really astroturf. Not so, here’s a snippet from the host stadium’s official site:

For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl will run on 100 percent renewable energy. Salt River Project, the largest supplier of power to the greater Phoenix Metropolitan area, is supplying SRP EarthWise Energy renewable energy certificates to indirectly offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with both the Super Bowl and the NFL Experience. As the green energy provider of Arizona’s Super Bowl, Salt River Project will donate renewable-energy credits from wind and solar energy sources.

Total renewable energy, not bad. And, they have a host of initiatives going on at the stadium, including an educational program with plenty of nifty facts and figures to read, um, during commercials? Halftime? After the game? Maybe folks could print them off and put them at the bottom of the bowl of [fill in the snack food blank.

Brita Belli of E! Magazine, has a nice summation of the NFL’s activities in a new article. Here’s a quick couple of sentences:

The more explicit the league makes that message, the more impact the NFL and other sports franchises can have among the fans who worship at their altars. Consider this: Superbowl Sunday is an unofficial national holiday in the U.S.—the most-watched event on television and the second-largest food-consumption day after Thanksgiving.

Click here for her full overview.

Can’t keep a good book down

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

While Naomi Wolf‘s book The End of America remains on The New York Times bestseller list (#28), it’s also just landed on the LA Times’ bestseller list.

More importantly, Naomi has a new call to arms posted on her blog at The Huffington Post, saying that Democratic leaders in Congress should be held in contempt for not challenging the Bush administration.

Here’s a taste:

“Like many of us, after having watched helplessly as the Bush administration trampled the Constitution and made a mockery of checks and balances over the course of five bitter years, I was hopeful when the American people elected a Democratic Congress in November of 2006. Finally, I imagined, we would have a whiff of legality and the hint of a restoration of the rule of law in the land.

(…)

And yet, where it counts most, Democratic leaders in Congress have completely abdicated their constitutional oversight role.”

What to reduce first? Footprints or tire tracks?

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

When it comes to man vs. machine, machine usually wins, but not always. When it comes to man & machine vs. Earth, guess who wins? Exactly, not Earth.

The havoc created by motorized “recreation” in the national parks is getting more and more attention. The New York Times recently had an article on the subject.

As luck would have it, Chelsea Green has a book on this subject, Thrillcraft. The book exposes the lasting damage done to the land, water, and air from the growing plague of jet skis, quads, dirt bikes, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and other motorized recreational craft that are penetrating the last bastions of wild America. Offroad vehicle use has been deemed responsible for wildlife habitat fragmentation, disturbance of sensitive wildlife, soil erosion, spread of invasive weeds, loss of silence, as well as water and air pollution.

Here’s a snippet from The New York Times article that captures some of that sentiment from the ranchers and people most directly affected:

“Forty years ago when I was out cowboying I never saw a soul,” said Heidi Redd, who operates the Dugout Ranch near Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. “Now it’s at a point where you realize the public land is not yours, you’re just one of the users. And whether it’s A.T.V.’s, horses or climbers, it’s a traffic jam.”

“There are so many of these machines,” said Dave Petersen, a bow hunter who monitors public lands issues here in Durango for the environmental group Trout Unlimited. “It’s made our big public lands much smaller, for the wildlife and for us.”

Environmentalists worry about the destruction of fragile soils and erosion, when outsize Western rainfalls course through the ruts left by hill-climbing all-terrain vehicles. There are also concerns for streams, rivers and wetlands, precious resources in the arid West and magnets for those who think all-terrain-vehicle riding is best when muddy. “They wouldn’t do this in their backyard,” said Liz Thomas, a lawyer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “But it’s not their backyard.”

To read more about Thrillcraft, its authors and the organizations behind it, check out this great review from The Chronicle Herald of Nova Scotia.

MyDD vs. Kos?

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Crashing the Gate authors Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong this week both took on the report that Barack Obama asserted that the GOP has been the “party of ideas” over the past 10 to 15 years. And, each had slightly different takes on how it applies to they described the rise of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy in the US.

Jerome’s diary is here, which is, in part, a response to Kos’ original post here along with a post by another top blogger, Digby. Kos followed up with this post. Interesting reading, from two blogosphere titans interpreting their own work, a book that still holds relevance as we are in the midst of another presidential campaign cycle—and the use of language to telegraph certain “ideas” to voters.

Here is a relevant snippet from Jerome:

“But lets all admit that for Obama, while running to be the Democratic nominee, his calling the Republican Party “the party of ideas” was really dumb. Heck, I would never write that without some sort of qualification that the ideas sucked (as CTG did). But obviously, Obama couldn’t say that in this context, as he was pandering for a few Republican votes. So he skipped over that messy part to keep the wingnuts happy. He got the endorsement, but he gave a lot of ammo up in doing so—not a smart move at this point in path of the DEMOCRATIC nomination for President.”

Kos’ second post is largely a cut-and-paste from Crashing the Gate, but his first post included this observation:

“I didn’t see the part where Obama said the GOP’s ideas were ‘all the good’ ones.

In fact, Obama isn’t saying anything that couldn’t come straight out of Crashing the Gate—that the GOP build a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that used its think tanks to create ideas, a media machine to sell those ideas, and a modernized campaign operation to win elections on those ideas. Yes, the GOP was the party of ideas. They were crappy ideas. But they were ‘ideas’.

That’s not controversial, so I’m not sure why the Clinton campaign is making such a big deal out of it.

Especially “welfare reform” Bill Clinton.”

When it comes down to it you have two candidates—Obama and Clinton (Hillary, not Bill)—who are essentially centrists, i.e. moderates (although Clinton’s domestic stances appear slightly to the left of Obama’s and perhaps more ambitious in terms of health care reform), getting called on the carpet for being, well, centrists and appealing to other centrists.

*UPDATE*

After posting this, I began my usual stroll around the blogosphere and found this interesting post over at OpenLeft by Paul Rosenberg on this subject, and he takes it much further than my little graf above. Worth the read.

Here it is.

Here’s a preview:

“Regardless of his intentions, Obama has been doing a pretty good job of splitting the left for some time now. Secular humanists, peace activists, Boomers, gays, all have had their turns feeling particularly spurned, while his version of triangulation has many even more nervous than the Clinton version made them. Many think he’s got the perscription exactly backwards-Democrats don’t suffer from being too much like the always-combatative Republicans, but from being too wimpy, too reluctant to stand up and fight for what they belive. And many think that now’s not the time to reach out with a hand of friendship, just when they’re sinking like a stone.”

Putting a Cap on the Climate

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

One our newest authors, Peter Barnes, has been getting some great digital ink recently on his cap and divided proposal. It’s an argument he lays out in full in his forthcoming book, Climate Solutions. Even former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has this to say of Barnes’ proposal:

“The best and most efficient way to reduce global warming isn’t a cap-and-trade system that gives historic polluters free rights to pollute in the future, and it’s not a carbon tax that hits poor and middle-income Americans especially hard. It’s a cap-and-auction with dividends to all Americans.”

But, recently the idea was chatted up in the TerraPass newsletter, as well as on The New York Times’ dot Earth blog. First, there was a review of the proposal, and then Peter logged on and answered some questions from curious readers.

Peter raises important questions about the kind of climate change policy that our country needs, and our kids deserve. Maybe we can get the candidates talking about these issues instead of the same-old emotional ones? Maybe? Please?

Darth Cheney Strikes Again!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

OK, just when you think that the Bush Administration was being bled dry of its “talent” with people leaving the Ship of State before January 20, 2009, we forget that the real shadow of the shadow government is still alive and kicking: Vice President Dick Cheney.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, who I’m sure has a nice big SUV at taxpayers’ expense, told California, and other states including Vermont, that they don’t know as much as car industry executives when it comes to regulating tailpipe emissions and rejected their bid to set more stringent standards than the meager ones in place by the feds. While the states plan to sue, and many EPA insiders believe they will win on the merits, what is most disturbing is that despite all the rhetoric the GOP of today really don’t believe in state’s rights.

Johnson’s move to reject the states’ efforts came after Cheney met with car executives. Here’s how the US Guardian reported the story:

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was behind a controversial decision to block California’s attempt to impose tough emission limits on car manufacturers, according to insiders at the government Environmental Protection Agency. Staff at the agency, which announced last week that California’s proposed limits were redundant, said the agency’s chief went against their expert advice after car executives met Cheney, and a Chrysler executive delivered a letter to the EPA saying why the state should not be allowed to regulate greenhouse gases.

Check out the full story here.

I Spy With My Little Eye …

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Talk about news getting buried at the end of the year did you see this one … J. Edgar Hoover must be laughing in his grave over the story asplash in the papers during the last week of December regarding his plan to detain as many as 12,000 people at the outset of the Korean War (97 percent of whom, he assured President Harry Truman in a letter, were U.S. citizens).

The US version of the UK Guardian has the story here.

And people think End of America author Naomi Wolf (including us the book’s publisher) are just spinning conspiracy theories. You just can’t make this kind of stuff up.

End of America Named Best Political Book of 2007

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

In his most recent column, author John Nichols of The Nation, has named Naomi Wolf’s book The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot as the most valuable political book of 2007!

On the list, Wolf joins Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, Rachel Maddow (the best radio host ever on Air America), Tim Carpenter of Progressive Democrats of America, Debra Sweet of The World Can’t Wait, and David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org, and many others from the grassroots to the government who are raising key issues on everything from holding this current corrupt administration accountable, to ending the Iraq War.

Here is their entry for Naomi’s book:

* Most Valuable Political Book: NAOMI WOLF’s THE END OF AMERICA: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (Chelsea Green). When Wolf started writing about the drift of the United States toward fascism, she was dismissed by some as another casual commentator blowing off some anti-Bush steam. But her detailing of the parallels between steps taken by the current administration and moves made by the 20th century’s most notorious dictators to transform democracies into authoritarian states is convincing as it is chilling. And Wolf is not just complaining; she’s the “face” of the American Freedom Campaign’s important drive to identify and confront assaults on basic liberties and the system of checks and balances.

Congratulations, Naomi and thanks to John Nichols for adding this important book to his list. It’s good company to be sure, and Nichols knows books. He penned an excellent book in 2006, called The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism.

To read the full article, click here.

To check out Naomi’s side project, the American Freedom Campaign, click here. Currently, they are seeking 1,000 lawyers to sign a petition calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the crimes of the Bush Administration.

And, as an aside, Vermont’s own Independent Senator Bernie Sanders also made the list as the most valuable senator. Maybe it’s something in the air, or the water or the soil, but Vermont does seems to offer up more than its fair share of spirit to help replenish this drained nation—from books to politicians.


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