Andrew Breitbart Partners Up with Joe Miller and Sarah Palin to Hide Old Lies with New Ones

From Thursday’s successful effort by Dan Fagan, Steve Aufrecht and others to get a lot of people to consider, or to actually sign up as write-in candidates in the November 2nd Alaska U.S. Senate election, through Halloween night, one strange aspect of Joe Miller and his campaign, or another, has dominated the major national web-based news aggregators:

Thursday:

1. Right wing talk jock Dan Fagan urges on his KFQD-AM Anchorage radio program, that people go down to the Alaska Division of Elections offices to file as write-in candidates for U.S. Senate, before Thursday’s end-of-day filing deadline. As complaints gather at KFQD‘s parent company, Dan is told to take Friday off. The Miller campaign then tries to pump this into an example of the heavy-handed Lisa Murkowski once again suppressing dissent. 160 people sign up, ,making it so that the Division of Elections will not have an easy task explaining to voters how to write in Murkoski’s name Monday and Tuesday, without also exlaining how to write in each name on the list for that office.

2. Anchorage TV station KTVA‘s planning for coverage of Thursday evening’s Joe Miller rally at the Denai’ina Center, and for an interview with Miller gets recorded accidentally by a message machine at the Miller campaign. The rally itself, hijacked by Sarah Palin and turned into a self-promotion tool, is another Tea Party rehearsal for Christo-Fascism.  . . . (more…)

Is Texas Facing a 25 Percent Budget Shortfall?

It could be. Forget the $18 billion being bandied about. Gov. “Economic Miracle” (only by crony contracts that get unfulfilled) Rick Perry isn’t necessarily telling the truth. It could be worse.

First, the bare background:

That central question of the state’s budget debate isn’t answered yet, at least officially. Estimates of the shortfall range from $11 billion on the low side to $25 billion on the high end. At issue is the difference between the comptroller’s assessment of how much money the state will bring in during the next two years, and the budget writers’ determination of how much money it will take to run the state in that same period.

$18 billion has been the normal number. $25 billion will be a lot worse. Bill White needs to run some last-minute ads on this.

But, then, an establishmentarian paper like the Times, perhaps kissing Tricky Rocky Gov. Helmethair’s ass, says, “don’t worry,” so to speak. Or, so this could be read:

The actual shortfall number matters only for rhetorical purposes. The important thing is that it is somewhere between one in four and one in five of the state’s total discretionary dollars.

Well, there’s a huge difference between $11 and $25 billion, and huge enough between $18 and $25 billion. The second sentence I agree with, on the percentages; but, percentages are just dollars, expressed differently, in this case, so it’s poor writing at best and disingeneousness at worst to print that first sentence.

That said, there’s also room for fudging in Texas, just like in California:

The budget writers’ number is a lot looser, because what you think the budget should be depends on what you think Texas should be doing. One idea is to figure the costs of the programs running now, assume they’ll continue to run pretty much the same way and adjust only for variables like population growth and the price tags of various state services, like paying for medical care. … (I)t’s possible to hide $3 billion or so with tactics like delaying big payments from the end of one budget to the beginning of the next.

Speaker Joe Straus, and everybody else, especially GOP, swears “no new taxes,” of course. That said, Texas has increased a number of **fees** in Helmethair’s decade in power.

So, if it’s a $25 billion shortfall, your next car registration could cost $100, perhaps. Your next driver’s license $30. Your hunting license could go up another $10. Nothing “rhetorical” about that.

That said, Comptroller Susan Combs needs to tell us more before Nov. 2, or some staffer needs to leak. We as a state, and as a nation that could see this “confrontational cowboy” run for president in two years, can’t afford to wait until December for more detailed budget information.

Anatomy of a Campaign Function: Governor Hits UMass to Upstage My Rock Opera, but Jill Stein Shines

Six weeks ago we ten awaited our candidate for Governor in an Amherst living room. At a Northampton community hall meeting a month earlier, all persons present had donated up to their respective limits, so none of us had money to give to the campaign this time. I didn’t give either time. No money. I may look old with my long gray beard, but most others in the campaign are older yet. I’ve been a fan of Jill Stein since she spoke in Northampton on her 2002 Massachusetts Gubernatorial run. And now she’s the Green-Rainbow Party nominee again.

“How can we get Jill Stein to speak at UMass?” someone asked. “I wrote a Rock Opera;” I said, “I think I could get it presented at the University of Massachusetts, and she can speak at the event.” People were surprised. Those most familiar with my political activities stared suspiciously at me. “Does this have anything to do with Marijuana?” one asked. “Yes. I work with the UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition (CRC). They would sponsor it.”

“I don’t know if she’d want to associate herself with the Marijuana movement,” my suspicious friend said. “But it’s one of the Te–” “I know it’s one of the Ten Core Values [of the Greens], but I still don’t think she’d want to.” At the same time, someone asked a brilliant lawyer (an avowed Socialist elected to the Governor’s Council as a Democrat) about the sitch. He said “Well, she could, if she gets an official invitation from a campus student organization, like the Cannabis Reform Coalition…” I waited for him to say “…but…” but he just trailed off…

When Dr. Stein got to the meeting, she walked across the room to shake my hand and say “I want to associate myself with the Marijuana movement.” She’d begun associating with our movement in April when I invited her to speak at Extravaganja, Amherst’s annual Marijuana-legalization hemp rally, on 4/20 weekend. I asked “Do you want to speak at next week’s event in Boston?” referring to the upcoming [September 18] Boston Freedom Rally. “I’m going to speak at the Boston rally,” she said, both of us remembering that I’d introduced her to its organizers at 4/20. I told her about my Rock Opera idea. She said she’d do it, and that I should talk to her Campaign Manager about scheduling it. Both her Campaign Manager and Field Director are veterans of large Democratic campaigns, but this third-party run is a different animal altogether.

Two days later I floated the idea at the CRC meeting: “I wrote a Rock Opera. It’s called ‘Protest PG.’ I’d like to present it at UMass. Jill Stein said she’d speak at the event.” The words were out a scant second from my lips when the roomful of students erupted in a spontaneous roar of consensus assent. The club president immediately shouted “We’ll do it!” then quietly added “It’s already written, right?” Soon UMass rejected our proposed date for the event, and told us that the room we’d requested, the Cape Cod Lounge, could never be used for political events. They offered two alternative dates, in the Student Union Ballroom, only one of which was workable for Dr. Stein. So, two-and-a-half of weeks after the idea was hatched, we had our date, our auditorium, and not much time left to plan and promote it. Now, to be fair, we invited all four Gubernatorial candidates to open for my Rock Opera sponsored by the CRC. Casino-backed Democrat-turned-Independent State Treasurer Tim Cahill, casino-backed Republican Charlie Baker, and casino-backed conservative incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick all politely declined to take part.

We issued press releases. I printed 700 fliers and personally posted or handed out 500 of them, getting help with the rest. The CRC also printed fliers and distributed them. I emailed hundreds of similar (yet individually personalized) letters to professors, arts professionals, environmental organizations, and student groups who might be interested. Everywhere I went I enthusiastically told everyone who’d listen about Jill Stein and the Rock Opera. I gave many of them fliers.

It seemed that God and/or the Goddess and/or the synchronicity of the Universe and satellite TV wanted me to pull this off: Suddenly, they’re showing Hair and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, neither of which is called a “Rock Opera ” in the encyclopedia, but they kind of are. Then came a special about the Kinks (including Rock Opera composer Ray Davies). Next the brilliant Zeb Buffman production of Webber’s Joseph. Finally, the special about the Who and its leader Pete Townsend, whose Rock Operas are important to me. I am still vibrating from the time I saw the Who live, decades ago. At the University, for a dress rehearsal before the event, I walked into a nearly empty cafeteria, and student radio played Cannonball Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. His brother Nat Adderley was the first Ybor City artist to write a Rock Opera. I may be the third one. Ybor City is the artists’ ghetto of Tampa, also its Latin quarter and entertainment district. God(dess)/Universe Does want this to work! I couldn’t help it, I began to dance, with glee and enthusiasm. Cannonball wasn’t even to his first lyric and I was already gliding across the floor. Within seconds the food workers were dancing too.

How I love Rock Operas! People who’ve seen only television and movies (but no live theatre) can’t even imagine the thrill and spectacle of actors, musicians, singers, and dancers, all treating me like I’m royalty, bringing the poet’s message directly to me, the audience member, filled with the composer’s music. We the audience transcend our superficial differences and become one. People leave awestruck, and remain so for days. By the end of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, my face was bright red with excitement. I was sweating and crying and laughing and smiling so hard that the corners of my mouth pushed my red cheeks up into my teary eyes. That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

Then the day before the opera, Governor Patrick decided to come to UMass, and speak two-and-a-half hours before our event. And where did the University put him? In the Cape Cod Lounge. I guess he’s not all that political. Actually, he’d requested the Student Union Ballroom, but the CRC had already rented it for $200. As I reached campus I saw what looked like a gaggle of Mormons walking down the University sidewalk. Probably the Governor’s entourage, seven guys in black suits. I’m not stereotyping here: Mormons really do dress in black suits, and people dressed like that on campus usually are Mormons.

It seemed like the Governor was trying to upstage us. But his appearance actually drew attention to his opponent being at UMass the same day. So their photos shared the front page of both the student newspaper and the town paper. The student paper shows the survey at UMass wherein the morning of the twin events, Governor Patrick led Dr. Stein 43% to 16%, with Stein polling much higher at the University than she does in other parts of the state. Now that their appearances have sunken in and taken effect, she’s gained 5 points on him, and now it’s 40%-18% in the four-way race. A UMass employee who attended both events said ours had 30% more attendees. And there was a huge enthusiasm gap. As you can see by watching video of the Patrick event, the students look bored. The suits try to get applause going, but it doesn’t work and they give up.

But at our event, Jill Stein was interrupted for applause several times, and so was I. She spoke about single-payer healthcare, about Marijuana legalization, about industrial hemp, about banks and insurance and drug companies. She told us of how, when Exxon deforested a patch of Brazilian Amazon rainforest the size of Rhode Island, causing extinction of one tribe and permanent displacement of four others, that Exxon then hired “civil rights lawyer” Deval Patrick to get them off in court. (I hope to get video of Jill Stein and my Rock Opera uploaded to YouTube and FDL.)

With our audience, we bridged the generation gap, from elderly lefty ladies to the freshest freshmen. Friends came from afar to watch the show and meet the candidate. A friend of mine, a visual artist and bicycle athlete older than me, told me on the way in that he was going to vote for Governor Patrick. The candidate took questions from the audience after her 50-minute speech. One woman said she’d never heard of Stein before seeing the fliers, but now intended to vote for her. Neighbors I’d met on the bus showed up, and left carrying large Jill Stein signs for the neighborhood. When my artist friend left, he said he’d be voting for Jill.

My Rock Opera “Protest PG” laments the fact that people aren’t protesting the Pashtun Genocide. The Pashtuns are the people American warriors are killing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They call themselves the “Children of Israel.” Their national hero is Moses. Their national symbol is the Star of David. They are pleading with the US to end its Genocide against them. Most Americans don’t know who the Pashtuns are. The PG I’m protesting also stands for the Pariah Gases, Prison Guantanamo, Prohibition of Ganja, and Pinocchio Government. A reporter becomes an actor, then uses the actor’s characters to draw attention to the newsman’s reports.

The Rock Opera begins with a scene I’ve been performing for 26 years, the anonymous English-Scottish border region poem The Laily Worm and the Mackerel of the Sea. And I’ve performed two of the songs from the show and told one of the jokes at each of the last two years at Extravaganja, so Tommy Devine’s review notes that he’s heard some of the material before. Tommy Devine shot the photo of me above, in my work clothes. The student techmaster who was to set up the screen for the video part of the one-man multi-media performance didn’t set it up. So I had to do major revision at the last minute, cutting a scene, cutting out characters. With the video playing, I’d have had time and cover (behind the screen) to change costumes. Now, the monk, Osama bin Laden, and Uncle Sam could stay in, but Crazy Al and the newsman were suppressed, ironically.

The room burst into uproarious applause late in the show when I sang “The honored US Military is dressed in baby blood and khaki,” and again seconds later, when addressing the President, I sang “You’d not’ve got a goddam vote if you hadn’t lied, if you’d told us you wanted private armies and Pashtun Genocide.” Democracy Now! had revealed the fact that Blackwater/XE is Monsanto’s private army the day before. The Pashtun Genocide news bite hasn’t made the US media yet.

In most major media, Jill Stein has been ignored: She’s experiencing a “brown out” (named after the good press coverage Jerry Brown gets, nearly none). Here’s a UMass Daily Collegian editorial endorsing Stein. Independent Amherst/Granby State House candidate Dan Melick introduced Jill Stein. He’s a member of the CRC, a recent graduate from UMass, and a longtime cannabis activist. CRC organizer Terry Franklin introduced me. In the days approaching the performance, he advised me that students would relate better if “George Bush” were mentioned rather than my original lyric, “Oliver North.” He was right. He also told me that a former CRC officer had given me unbeliveably glowing praise during my absence from a meeting, and that she had called my work “life-changing.”

After the performance, one student tried to buy a CD from me, but I had only been joking about selling them. Another ran up to me and shook my hand, saying “Your Rock Opera was fantastic! Life-changing!” If you added the ages of the two women who used that term, I’d still have a few years on them. I knew the second one must have heard it from the first one, but she was sincere: Her face was red, she was sweating and laughing and crying and smiling so hard her red cheeks were pressed up into her teary eyes.

I called Jill’s Field Director to tell him about her rise in the UMass poll, and he shocked me by telling me that this Rock Opera was her most-attended campaign function. What?! Why didn’t I do ten times as much? Why didn’t ten people do ten times as much? One person with no money writes some poems, and that’s the biggest event? I don’t get it.

Sunday Late Night: Happy Hallowe’en

So, did you hear about the freshman Senator who came as a progressive for Hallowe’en, made one very nice convention speech, and fooled all the Democrats about being a status-quo corporatist underneath his costume?

Okay, enough JFK bashing for this creepy, spooky night.

What’s your favorite Hallowe’en story?
Embarrassing costume faux pas?
Happy hayride tale?

I’m a bit dismayed, as are my peeps, over the conversion of American Hallowe’en from a fun but frightening kids’ holiday (enjoyed by kid-like adults) that celebrated the creepy and freaky, the zombie and scary, the horrible and haunted — into a holiday that’s all about the Sexy.

Every other costume or get-up in the stores or on the street is Sexy This or Sexy That. Sexy Nurse, I get. Sexy Vampire? Okay, you’re still in the genre.

But — Sexy Schoolteacher? Sexy Lumberjack? Sexy Ballerina? Sexy Snooki? Sexy Meg Whitman?

And that’s just the fourth-graders!

Adults are much worse. They act like tonight is a chance to deck themselves out all naughty, putting their silly ids out on display with societal permission. There are plenty of other days, and nights, to be sexy. Let’s reserve this American holiday for the witches, ghosts, vampires — and zombies, like Misery Bear does in the video above. Okay?

Enter your worst suggestion for Sexy _______________ Costume in the comments. No prizes, just break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar, m’kay?

Here, I’ll get you started: Sexy Joe Lieberman.

When There’s Nothing On The Horizon, You’ve Got Nothing Left To Prove

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1001-10
October 31, 2010
DOD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Diego A. Solorzanovaldovinos, 24, of Huntington Park, Calif., died Oct. 29 in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit on Oct. 27 with small arms fire in the Yahya Khel district in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

For more information, media may contact the Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office at 270-798-3025.

Gitmo Teen Soldier Given Eight-Year Sentence

Omar Khadr as he looked when he was first sent to Guantanamo--seven years ago. (photo: wikimedia)

Breaking, 5:30pm. After 8 hours of deliberations by the seven-person military jury, the jury reached a decision, sentencing Omar Khadr to prison for 40 years. The decision is subject, reportedly, to the plea deal made with Khadr and his legal team, whereby the young man confessed to murder and other crimes, for a promise of an eight year sentence — one year in Guantanamo, followed by seven years in Canada. The following liveblogging started earlier today.

+++++++++++++++++++

After a day’s break in the proceedings of the Omar Khadr military commissions trial, and five hours of jury deliberation yesterday, the trial picked up at 12: 27pm today, Eastern time. The trial is being live-tweeted by a number of journalists present in Guantanamo, most notably Carol Rosenberg, Andrew Mayeda, Michelle Shephard, Derek Stoffel, French journalist Malorie Beauchemin, and others, who are watching proceedings on a video feed. Other journalists and observers, such as Daphne Eviatar, are in the courtroom, and we can expect reports from them later.

It has been a contentious week, and I’ll assume if you’re reading this you have already been following the trial. I should mention up front, that I find the military commissions trial of Omar Khadr to be a kangaroo court, meant to produce a false confession for show trial, propaganda purposes. The purpose of liveblogging this proceeding via twitter-feed is to give as up-to-date information on the breaking news of this important trial — the first trial of a former child soldier in modern, Western history — and a forum for readers to discuss and process the proceedings.

For those interested in such things, Twitters own license, agreed to by those who sign up via Twitter, says that anyone using Twitter agrees “to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.” The two relevant feeds from Twitter can be directly accessed here and here.

Right now, it appears the 7-person military jury has asked to have the video replayed of the testimony of Captain Patrick McCarthy, the former legal adviser at Guantanamo, who testified earlier that Omar Khadr had the “potential to rehabilitate.”

(more…)

Why the Rest of the World Doesn’t Understand “Our Freedom”

Remember back when George W. Bush used to say that we were being attacked by terrorists because they hate “our freedom.”  Terrorists may indeed hate the fact that Americans do have essential freedoms that they want to restrict for their societies.  In their case, terrorists want absolute tyranny (which, of course, is good for them and terrible for everyone else).  However, the rest of the world (Continental Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, even Canada, Australia and the UK) does not hate our freedoms, they greatly respect many of them.  But, I think the majority of people outside of the US views freedom very differently than most Americans do.  Some of the things that Americans view as sacrosanct (absolute protection of private property and the right to bear arms are good examples) are viewed as promoting tyranny in other countries.

Let’s take the absolute right to private property as an example.  In the US context, colonists conquered this country of continental size (conquest being regarded as a legitimate means of acquiring property at the time) and inhabited it.  The vast majority of the country was depopulated due to the death and subjugation of the native people, so land rights were dispensed on a first-come first-serve basis.  There was enough and as good for everyone (save the native people), so if you did not get your piece of the pie, you just were not aggressive enough.  We think that the absolute right to private property is sacrosanct because we generally feel that property was acquired justly at the “beginning” (though it emphatically was not).  Think about that in the context of a different country with a much longer, and different, history of property acquisition than ours.  In most of Europe land was seized by force of arms and serfs were forced to work on land they did not own.  This is much different than the intrepid free hold farmer in the American West.  So property was based on an original theft on the principle of “might makes right.”  So, how would you feel about supporting inviolable property rights that essentially legally codify an original injustice?  This is basically what happened in Russia after the fall of the USSR.  Property that was communal was distributed to individuals through corruption, then American advisors said that a legal system must quickly recognize this as legitimate private property.  What works great in the American context is just not necessarily regarded as fair in different places.

The right to bear arms is another example.  It is pretty obvious, in the US we have a stable civil society that generally does not resort to political violence.  That is not the case in most countries.  In most countries the government’s monopoly on the use of force is seen as freeing the people from the the whims of thugs, as protecting them, not as a violation of a fundamental right.

In all, many countries around the world have a view of freedom that extends beyond negative rights (the rights that protect you from the government).  In impoverished countries, these rights are regarded as quite meaningless, since it only gives you the right to live “freely” in grinding poverty.  The government can provide the means to a better life through education and health care, so it is not something to be feared unless it resorts to physical violence against its own people or restricts their right to choose their leaders through democratic elections.  In short, the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans are great things, we should celebrate them, but we should not be surprised when people in other countries have their own views of what freedom means to them.  I also think that there are legitimate concerns in the United States about balancing the freedom of people with property to enjoy the fruits of that property (without any interference from the government) with the legitimate need for the underprivileged for access to the things that allow them to positively affirm their freedom, such as education and health care.  In not every part of the country was property acquired legitimately, and many people in this country are also victims of an original injustice.

Originally Posted at www.ragingprogressivemke.blogspot.com