Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Friday, June 29, 2007

Shakin' The Keys

Imagine your toddler is headed right for your porn collection. One way to prevent embarrassment is to grab your keys and give them a shake to attract the attention of the toddler and distract him from what would be really embarrassing.

The Right is shakin’ their keys at us. Jingle, jingle – don’t look into those subpoenas – look at the Fairness Doctrine instead. Jingle, jingle – don’t promote “Sicko” look at Paris Hilton instead. Jingle, jingle – don’t listen to Cheney’s critics, a pregnant white girl got killed! Jingle, jingle – highest casualty rate so far in Iraq, ooh look at the shiny, noisy, shaking so called bomb in Piccadilly Circus.

Jingle, jingle . . . .

Congress is Letting Us Down (Again)

A new amendment, called Section 123, was quietly added to Title I of the 2007 Farm Bill a few weeks ago, and it is a huge step backwards on food safety. If passed, it would hamstring state and local food safety efforts by wiping out critical authority on meat, poultry and biotechnology.

The sweeping language of Section 123 would prevent states from prohibiting the sale of USDA-inspected products. This provision could prevent local health inspectors at a supermarket from condemning contaminated meat or spoiled poultry! Since 90% of food inspections are done at the state and local level, the impact could be severe.

Section 123 also prohibits states from passing laws that protect animal welfare, such as laws on horse slaughter and sale of horsemeat.

Finally, Section 123 prohibits state and local laws on biotechnology -- such as laws to review whether or not to grow genetically-engineered rice in a state.

After recent problems with Melamine in pet and livestock feed, Listeria in chicken, and E. coli in spinach and ground beef, we should be strengthening our food safety system, not weakening it! Tell our Representatives to stand up for food safety and oppose Section 123 in the Farm Bill.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Slavery By Another Name

The Seattle Weekly had an interesting article on how guest worker contractors screw their workers by charging huge fees and don't provide promised work. But hidden in the article was this little gem from an orchard owner in Yakima:
Valicoff Farms co-owner Rob Valicoff, who owns about 1,500 acres of fruit trees in the area, started using guest workers last year. He says he plans to use even more this season because of a lack of loyalty among the locally available workforce.

"Domestic workers are not committed," says Valicoff, sitting in an office overlooking the floor of his packing plant, where rows of rosy Washington apples come out of cold storage through an intricate series of conveyor belts surveyed by hair-netted Latino women. "They work hard, don't get me wrong, but last year they would get on their cell phones and figure out where the best pay was—and some would leave." [Notice how workers aren't allowed to participate in the "free market"]

Valicoff claims that he has lost tens of thousands of dollars in the past few years due to lack of consistent labor at crucial harvest times, and that rising wages increased his expenses by 20 percent last year. He says he watched sensitive crops like cherries and apples wither on trees as workers freely roamed from orchard to orchard in search of higher pay. [How dare them!!]

But, he says, such labor mobility can basically be solved through the use of guest workers. "The guest workers...aren't allowed to go anywhere," says Valicoff. "They have a contract with us and we have one with them. If they leave, it's our responsibility to inform ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement, formerly INS]. That's why the guest worker program works."

That sure sounds like indentured servitude or slavery to me! Poor Valicoff -- he's a victim to workers wanting to get the best wage they can for their labor. Boo Hoo.

Maybe I'm glad our do-nothing Congress couldn't get an immigration bill together if legalized slavery was the expectation of employers!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The Taipei Times is reporting this today:

Al Gore visit postponed
Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan had been postponed to next year, she added. Tien said the reason for the cancelation was that Gore was considering a presidential bid.

First Round is on me!!!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

De-Fund Cheney

We need to show the American people that this corrupt, incompetent and evil administration must still answer to the people.

Think Progress reports we tax payers could save $4.75 million this year alone. Congressman Rahm Emanuel (usually not one of my "faves" but on target this time) says he will introduce legislation to remove funding for Dick's plush office and all his minions.

I say DO IT!! Make every mealy mouth Republithug choke out a lame but public defense for this King wanna be.

See Hominid Views for another idea. Also Todd Gitlin over at TPM Cafe has a better quote:
Is this not one of those extraordinary moments when the people's representatives will actually vote on whether to fund the horrific farce that is this administration?
Finally my hero, Digby, of course, says it best:
The Republicans keep daring the Dem majority to stop funding the things they object to and the Democrats keep getting tied up in knots over it. I don't know if this is constitutional or if it is p[ractical, but I do know that a debate on the floor of the House over Vice President Cheney's assertion that he answers to no one is the kind of thing that might be able to compete with Paris Hilton and some roid-raged killer wrestler on the evening news and bring home the fact that our government has gone completely batshit crazy.

Update 6/27/07 9AM
I decided to date & time stamp these updates since things seem to be changing rapidly. Politico thinks Cheney is backing down. I usually don't find Politico that reliable, more of a right wing talking point disseminator -- but this doesn't seem like their typical report. Could it be true?
Dick Cheney's office is abandoning a justification for keeping the Vice-President's secret papers out of the hands of the National Archives.

Officials working for Cheney had tried to claim he is separate from the executive branch, but they will no longer pursue that defense, senior administration officials tell The Politico.

The decision follows a threat by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the No. 3 House Democrat, to try to cut off the office’s $4.8 million in executive-branch funding.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sweet Home Gore-Obama

This is so good! It cames from Air America's Young Turks and the Take Back America Conference (yes, the same one that boo'ed Hillary)


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Digby's Acceptance Speach at "Take Back America"

I often quote Digby here and here's the reason why -- she made brilliant speech last night in accepting the Paul Wellstone award on behalf of the progressive blogosphere at the Take Back America Conference. I was going to edit it a but but I couldn't change a word. It is long but soooo worth it. Please hang in there and enjoy. You can see a clip of the whole speach at Blast Off!

Thank you very much, Ned. That is overwhelming. I hope you’ll bear with me here. I’m not accustomed to public speaking. I write pseudonymously.

Those of you who know my blog know that it’s nearly impossible to draw me from my secure bunker in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica. But when I was approached by my friend Rick Pearlstein about accepting this award on behalf of the progressive blogosphere, I knew it was an honor that I could not refuse. Not for myself, although I’m grateful, but for my fellow bloggers.

We are proud to be part of the great progressive, liberal tradition of Paul Wellstone, and we are grateful for your kind acknowledgment. Thank you.

As there has been a lot said recently about the netroots and our influence on the Democratic Party, this is especially rewarding. Let’s just say we’ve ruffled some feathers. We’ve been called everything from “some guy named Vinnie in a bathrobe in an efficiency apartment” to “blogofascists.” Some critics dismiss us as useless elites, the “Metropolitan Opera crowd,” or a noisy Upper West Side cocktail party for the college graduate class. Still others take us to task for our vitriolic, unhinged tone.

The other day, Tim Russert agreed absolutely with his gracious host, the concerned centrist Sean Hannity, that the Democratic Party was being unduly influenced by bloggers, who were dragging the Party kicking and screaming to the Left. Then there is the criticism that we are fascists or Stalinists, demanding that everyone march in lockstep to the edicts of our leadership – generally assumed to be Markos, of Daily Kos, who apparently directs us with secret signals deeply embedded in the code of the Daily Kos website, while we carry on an elaborate ruse of spirited political debate and disagreement in public. We are, in short, something of an enigma. I like to call this phenomenon “Irrational Fear of Hippies.” And this has, in my view, become irrational fear of political passion.

Of all the criticisms I just mentioned, that is one that we are all willing to accept. We are passionate about politics, and in this era of Republican corruption, excess, and failure, that passion sometimes manifests itself as anger. But how can you not be angry? So many institutions have failed us in the last decade that being vitriolic seems the only sane response.

And as for the idea that we are modern Stalinists, does that make any sense at all? We can’t even agree about what to call ourselves. The netroots – the progressive blogosphere – consists of a very lively and disparate group of citizens who are political observers, activists, readers, writers, entrepreneurs, communicating and organizing via the Internet. We have opera-loving liberals from Georgia, NASCAR-loving progressives from Chicago, and Grateful Dead-loving Democrats from Florida. We are from everywhere, and our common tribal signifiers aren’t social status or professional authority or region. We find each other in remote places and big cities alike, on the Internet, through our politics – period. In the blogosphere, nobody cares if you are a 70-year-old Chinese immigrant, or a 22-year-old Harvard student, or a stay-at-home blogger dad. If you have something to say, you can say it, and if it touches a chord, people will return time and again to read what you’ve written and discuss the issues of the day with others who are reading the same things.

Al Gore – a man who knows something about the Internet – wrote in his book, The Assault on Reason, “The Internet is perhaps the greatest source of hope for reestablishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish. It is the most interactive medium in history, with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to the universe of knowledge.” So while we may not be Stalinists, the Netroots is a revolution – a revolutionary, participatory democracy.

And for that purpose, the Left is more effective than the Right. Whether by temperament or philosophy, we are simply better suited to the freeform, constantly changing nature of these new political communities. Each of us finds our niche: I’m a blogger-pundit, a role for which I am eminently qualified since, exactly like pundits on television and in newspapers, I have opinions, I write them down, and a lot of people read them. Yes, that’s all there is to it. Sorry, Mr. Broder. Others have different endeavors. Bloggers Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers, for instance, are organizers of this nascent movement. They traffic in ideas that affect our ability to keep doing what we do, from net neutrality to finding a much-needed funding base for bloggers and activists. With vastly different approaches, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake are creating a new form of journalism; Talking Points is modeled on the more traditional form, and Firedoglake is mixing reporting, opinion, and direct political advocacy. Daily Kos is a virtual community that operates like a small city, offering full-stop political shopping for its progressive inhabitants. Crooks and Liars catalogues the juiciest morsels of political TV. MoveOn moves millions to action. Media Matters monitors and calls out the right-wing noise machine. And writers for liberal magazines are all blogging and mixing it up with their readers. And there are literally thousands of others out there doing all that and more – writing back and forth with their readers, linking and arguing and organizing. This is a 24/7 worldwide political discussion and strategy session.

But all of us who blog in the progressive blogosphere have a common goal. It’s the same goal of virtually everyone in this room tonight. We want to begin a new era of progressive politics and take back America. We may argue about tactics and strategy, or the extent to which we are partisans versus ideologues (and believe me, we do), but there is no disagreement among us that the modern conservative movement of Newt and Grover and Karl and Rush has proven to be a dangerous cultural and political cancer on the body politic. You will not find anyone amongst us who believes that the Bush Administration’s executive power grab and flagrant partisan use of the federal government is anything less than an assault on the Constitution. We stand together against the dissolution of habeas corpus and the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and we all agree that Islamic terrorism is a threat, but one which we cannot meet with military power alone. And yes, a vast majority of us were against this mindless invasion of Iraq from the beginning, or at least saw the writing on the wall long before Peggy Noonan discovered that George W. Bush wasn’t the second coming of Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we also all agree that the mainstream media is part of the problem. Democracy suffers when not being held accountable by a vigorous press. During the last decade, there have been three catalyzing events that drove people like me to the Internet, to research, investigate, and write about assaults on democracy itself. In 1998, the political media lost all perspective, and aggressively helped the Republicans pursue a partisan witch-hunt against a democratically-elected president and against the will of the people. The coverage of the presidential election of 2000 was legendary for its bias and sophomoric personality journalism. The press actually joined the Republicans in telling the majority who had voted for Al Gore to get over it. I don’t know about you, but I never got over it. And the third event (I don’t need to tell anyone in this room) was the almost gleeful support of the invasion of Iraq, a journalistic failure of epic proportions. If you had not been sufficiently aroused from your complacency by this time, you never would be.

The blogosphere was the natural place for many of us to turn when the institutions we counted upon seemed to be daring us to believe them, or believe our own eyes. And that coming-together set the table for the seminal candidacy of Howard Dean and all that has come since.

As it turned out, we didn’t just raise money for progressive Democrats, although many of my fellow bloggers raised a whole big pile of it from our readers all over the country. We began to push back the prevailing manufactured narratives, produced in bulk by various Republican PR shops and distributed to their talking heads in radio and television. We talked back to the media, and yes, to our own party, some of whom understood that while we were opinionated thorns in their side, we were also opinion makers, read by influentials in the everyday world of water coolers and dinner tables all over the country. We were a part of the base that could move other parts of the base, and a counter to the prevailing political stories and narratives of the day. And they know we could potentially help create a new modern political movement.

And so here we are – the famously vituperative, angry bloggers, standing before you today politely accepting this award as proud, full-fledged inheritors of the great liberal and progressive political traditions of America. On behalf of all of them and netroots activists, and especially on behalf of our dear friend, Steve Gilliard, a fighting liberal of both the old the new schools, I thank you again for inviting us to your party. Our party rages on, 24/7, all over the blogosphere, and we’d love it if all of you would stop by frequently. Thank you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I Love Clever Web Cartoons

Here’s one of my current favorites:

Animator vs. Animation

Posted May 13, 2007

An animator faces his own animation in deadly combat. The battlefield? The Flash interface itself.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Some Republicans Should Have Sever Whip-Lash

On June 6th Rudy Giuliani told Fox News
The [Scooter Libby] sentence was grossly excessive. I would see if it fit the criteria for pardon. I would wait for the appeal. I think what the judge did today argues more in favor of a pardon.

He should be wearing a neck brace to handle the whip-lash. Look at this story from the NY Times back when Rudy respected the law:
September 11, 1987
The United States Attorney in Manhattan, Rudolph W. Giuliani, declared yesterday that the one-year prison sentence that a Queens judge received for perjury was ''somewhat shocking.''
''A sentence of one year seemed to me to be very lenient,'' Mr. Giuliani said, when asked to comment on the sentence imposed Wednesday on Justice Francis X. Smith, the former Queens administrative judge.
Justice Smith was convicted of committing perjury before a grand jury ..., Mr. Giuliani said later, adding that ''he could have helped root out corruption'' by cooperating with the grand jury.
He was sentenced in State Supreme Court in Queens by Acting Justice John S. Thorp Jr.. who could have sentenced him to a maximum of seven years. A Probation Department suggestion called for community service, rather than a prison term.
Federal prosecutors usually refrain from commenting on sentences, particularly in state cases. But Mr. Giuliani said the sentence given to Justice Smith had sent the wrong ''signal'' regarding the investigation of corruption in the city. 'An Inappropriate Sentence'
''This kind of sentence is a damaging one in the effort to uncover the corruption in the city,'' he added, ''because it is a more lenient sentence than those given to people who have pled guilty and cooperated and assisted in uprooting much of the corruption.''

''I think it has a relationship to the entire investigation of corruption in the city,'' he said. ''These sentences do not exist in a vacuum. They send signals, and the signal sent by this sentence is the wrong one.''

If sentences as lenient as this one had been given to the Watergate burglars, he added, the whole Watergate affair would not have been uncovered.



Saturday, June 09, 2007

Gore Wins Another Honor

From The Chicago Tribune

Gore Wins Award for Environment Work
Associated Press Writer
Published June 6, 2007, 1:35 PM CDT

MADRID, Spain -- Former Vice President Al Gore won Spain's most prestigious prize Wednesday for his "decisive contribution to progress in solving the grave problems of climate change which threaten our planet."

Gore won the Prince of Asturias award for international cooperation, considered by some to be a warm-up for the Nobel Prizes, for which Gore is nominated this year in the peace category.

The jury meeting in the northern city of Oviedo called Gore "a public man who, with his leadership, has contributed to making societies and governments around the world aware of this noble and transcendental cause."

The prize is named for Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and is one of eight given out annually in categories ranging from arts to sports.
"I was deeply honored to learn this morning about the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation," Gore said in a statement.
The award is defined as going to the "person, persons or organization whose work has contributed in an exemplary and relevant way to mutual knowledge, progress and brotherhood among peoples."
The prize carries a $68,000 stipend and a reproduction of a statue by Spanish artist Joan Miro.


Friday, June 08, 2007

CNN Program with Dem Front Runners and Faith

I've been avoiding even thinking about what we saw on Monday night on CNN. My immediate reaction was that there were three Democratic candidates pandering in a forum they had no choice but to attend. The forum was not for a religious-leaning audience *but a nationally televised audience.* They were being asked to demonstrate their religion for audience approval.

I found it offensive and demeaning.

Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, progressive Christian movements founded to fight poverty and promote social justice, has a different view. He says:
I am convinced that the discussion of faith and politics, religion and public life, will be a very different one and far better one in the election cycle of 2008 than it has been for a very long time. That broader conversation, with both sides participating fully, will better for the country, for politics, and for the faith community.

I describe myself in many ways – progressive, woman, pet lover, baby-boomer, middle-class, caucasian – but I make a practice of avoiding admitting in public my religious beliefs. The reasons are complicated and I have to admit that some of it has to do with wanting to avoid being lumped in with the so-called christians shouting their hatred on TV these days.

The word “Christian” today has been twisted like a deliberately misnamed antagonym 1984 newspeak. I don’t want anyone to mistakenly confuse me with the misnamed version of ‘christian’.

My version of Christianity – Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes, Luke 18 – “sell all your possessions and give to the poor”, James 2 “words versus actions” – is completely opposite to the christianity I see shouted by these so called “values voters.” I don’t want to be identified with them and their hatred of gays, lust for wealth, greed, scorn for women, un-charitable ways, suspicion of other cultures and people, cynical assumptions, cheating, power grabbing, and lying -- so I refuse to call myself Christian in public. I don’t trust anyone who identifies themselves as “christian” because the ones who profess it the loudest do not model it in their behaviors. I want someone to lead this secular Country who models christian behaviors and I don’t care if they are agnostic, atheistic, Jewish, Islamist, Hindu, Chinese folk religion, or Buddhist. It’s the works and attitudes they live, not the sect they identify with.

When candidates think it’s more important to explain their faith than the provision of the constitution that says:
“ religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. ”I wonder why they are seeking a position where they will have to pledge that they will support and defend the Constitution. Why don’t they seek a job that will support and defend their religion? I suspect their motivations.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Good Cartoon

From the Wenatchee World:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bob Herbert "Hearts" Al Gore

Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert at the NY Times devotes his column today to Al Gore. Here's a couple of great quotes:

You look at him and you can’t help thinking how bizarre it is that this particular political figure, perhaps the most qualified person in the country to be president, is sitting in a wing chair in a hotel room in Manhattan rather than in the White House.
I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.

The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.

How True!!


Hope Your Lunch Has Settled Before You Read This

The Boston Globe has an editorial about the FDA. Some of the key points (sit down for this!):

The FDA is located in Montgomery County, Md. , a suburb of the nation's capital; the suburb's school board has a bigger budget than the FDA; the county's budget is twice that size.
After the 9/11 attacks, Tommy Thompson, then Health and Human Services secretary, demanded that the food inspection force at the nation's ports be improved, and 600 more inspectors were rapidly put in place to examine the burgeoning imports of food. Today, they are all gone, the victims of year-by-year budget cuts that cripple the agency's ability to do even rudimentary screening of our food.
There are 13 million food imports this year, with FDA able to inspect only about 1 percent. The system is so weak that many FDA professionals fear the word is out in the international community you can send virtually anything, of any quality, regardless of risk, to the United States, because no one's looking.
The FDA is responsible for inspecting over 200,000 food processing facilities in the United States, but because their staffing is so inadequate, they can get to most only once every 10 to 15 years....


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