This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Is the Deep Throat Mystery About to Unravel?

In today's LA Times, John Dean leaks the following juicy tidbit:
Bob Woodward, a reporter on the team that covered the Watergate story, has advised his executive editor at the Washington Post that Throat is ill. And Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Post and one of the few people to whom Woodward confided his source's identity, has publicly acknowledged that he has written Throat's obituary.
Since Woodward has long said he would reveal Deep Throat's identity once he was dead, it naturally leads to the speculation -- who's feeling peckish these days? Pat Buchanan seems fine. So does Papa Bush. And it's probably not Terrell Owens.

When President Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, Rehnquist returned to work in Washington. He served as Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel, from 1969 to 1971. In this role, he served as the chief lawyer to Attorney General John Mitchell. President Nixon mistakenly referred to him as "Renchburg" in several of the tapes of Oval Office conversations revealed during the Watergate investigations. Nixon nominated Rehnquist to replace John Marshall Harlan II on the Supreme Court upon Harlan's retirement, and after being confirmed by the Senate by a 68-26 vote on December 10, 1971, Rehnquist took his seat as an Associate Justice on January 7, 1972. (Wickipedia)
Dean authored a book quite critical of Rehnquist. What a grand irony it would be if he'd written a book about Deep Throat without ever knowing it. And the notion that Nixon elevated the man who undid him to the Supreme Court is positively Shakespearean.


Conscientious Objector from Iraq Speaks Out

photo hosting and image hosting by has a really insightful interview with Spc. Aidan Delgado, a conscientious objector who spent six months of a one-year tour of Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison. An excerpt:
Q. How did the post-9/11 increase in racism affect the army?

Delgado: This is really key to understanding the Iraq conflict. There is so much anti-Arab sentiment in America after September 11, and we don’t want to talk about it or think about it. I don’t think the soldiers knew any words for the Iraqis besides “haji,” which is a term like “Charlie” or “gook” for the 21st Century. There is such disdain for them as individuals and as prisoners.

I think racism is a key motivating factor in the war. We witnessed a Marine kick a 6-year-old child in the chest for bothering him about food and water. People in my unit used to break bottles over Iraqi civilians’ heads as they drove by in their Humvees. A senior enlisted man in my unit lashed Iraqi children with a steel antenna because they were bothering him.

The only way people can do these sorts of things—which would never be acceptable in America—is the notion that Iraqis are somehow related to terrorists and 9/11. We completely dehumanize them. I used to come into conflict with other members of my unit who were doing these things, and tell them it was wrong. It made me really unpopular, the radical notion that you should treat Arabs or Iraqis as human beings.
I guess it must've come as a big disappointment when, contrary to White House predictions, US soldiers were not in fact greeted as liberators by the people of Iraq. We're going to be living with the fallout from this for decades.

(via Suburban Guerrilla)


Is there no limit?

From the WaPo:
The Environmental Protection Agency ignored scientific evidence and agency protocols in order to set limits on mercury pollution that would line up with the Bush administration's free-market approaches to power plant pollution, according to a report released yesterday by the agency's inspector general.

Staff at the EPA were instructed by administrators to set modest limits on mercury pollution, and then had to work backward from the predetermined goal to justify the proposal, according to a report by Inspector General Nikki Tinsley.

Mercury is a toxic metal released as a byproduct by coal-burning power plants and other industries, and it is known to have a range of harmful health effects, especially on young children and pregnant women.
Somebody who quoted my blog accused me of having an "angry, anti-Bush tone." I can't imagine why.

(via Eric Alterman)

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)


Friday, February 04, 2005

Friday Oregon Poodle Blogging

The end to a good week here at poodle beach. Kobe and Boo Boo are getting along much better, thanks to a combination of Paxil and mom dropping the hammer every time someone growls. No flesh tearing Kujo action. We are still observing separate morning beach walks: Kobe and Lucy go with me, and Boo Boo and Katie go with my friend Marian and Boo Boo's new girlfriend, Peggy. Much thanks to Marian and Peggy for helping to wear them out & keep peace in the family. I took this photo as a study for a painting I am doing and Kobe and Lucy are the subject. Hopefully I will finish it soon and maybe I will put it up for Friday poodle blogging next week, provided I don't hate it which is always a possibility.

I've been blogging for two months now, and I really enjoy it. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their ideas, suggestions, comments and criticisms. I sincerely appreciate it.


The Matrix is Here

A truly frightening commercial for the ACLU outlines the dangers of a government program to compile your personal information for use by law enforcement agents and government contractors. You can view it here.

In a nutshell, a handful of states in conjunction with the federal government are supporting a program that would combine state government records (such as driver's license records) with commercially available data to create a vast database called The Matrix, which stands for "Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (obviously named by someone who either didn't see the movie or has a brutally cynical Orwellian sense of humor).

The ACLU has been fighting the program's implementation, and it is only pilot funded through March of this year. Here's hoping it goes down in flames.

(Thanks to Walt for the tip)


Ben Nelson (D-NB) Getting Dangerously Chummy with the Chimp

photo hosting and image hosting by

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NB) is being targeted as a vital link in BushCo.'s plans to piratize Social Security, and he needs to hear from the netroots community.

I was watching MSNBC this morning and saw him speaking about Social Security piratization, and basically repeating BushCo.'s talking points about an "impending crisis" that needs to be addressed.

Nelson is a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), there's no doubt about it. Novak and others have talked about how Nelson has long been targeted by the GOP for defection, and the LA Times ran an article today saying that "the administration sees Sen. Ben Nelson as crucial to its efforts in advancing legislation that would restructure Social Security." They go on to talk about how Nelson and his wife have been socializing with the Bush's of late, riding on Air Force One and watching movies with them.

With Joe Lieberman, Nelson was also one of two Democrats who stood up and applauded at the SOTU address when Bush urged Congress to consider changes to the Social Security system.

At the same time, the NYT is reporting everyone's favorite foaming fascist, James Dobson, has targeted Nelson as one of six Senators whose re-election bids will be opposed if he votes against confirmation of Bush's conservative judges. Taking credit for the defeat of Daschle, particularly on account of his use of the filibuster to block BushCo.'s judicial nominees, Dobson said, "let his colleagues beware, especially those representing 'red' states. Many of them will be in the 'bull's-eye' the next time they seek re-election."

And we all know he has resisted Harry Reid's attempts to hold Democrats together to vote en mass against the confirmations of Alberto Gonzales and Condaleezza Rice.

The point is that Nelson is the recipient of an enormous amount of attention from the right at the moment, both in the form of seduction and coercion. We can't afford to ignore him. Every time someone tunes in and sees a Democrat repeating the "impending crisis" rhetoric of the Administration, it inflicts huge collateral damage. And if Harry Reid can't hold the Democrats in line to oppose Bush's judicial nominations, we're going to suffer some truly repellant judges who won't be gone even if the Dems win back the White House in 2008.

We need to let him know we are watching. I wrote him a letter this morning, and in the process I looked up his voting record and found that despite the fact most of it was straight line DLC/DINO, there were a couple of things that I could get behind (support for public education, opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserves.) So rather than harangue and threaten him at this point (which I worry might push him into the arms of the Repugs) I personally made the decision to applaud and encourage him on these fronts.

I let him know that he shouldn't be intimidated by Dobson's bullying. I took issue with his statements on MSNBC this morning, and I urged him to be more cautious in his language regarding Social Security and expressed my hope that he would stand firm with the Democrats to resist BushCo's attempts to loot one of the only financially healthy government programs around.

Nelson's contact information is:

Washington, D.C.
720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
T: (202) 224-6551
F: (202) 228-0012

You can also email him here.


Vintage Vandals

photo hosting and image hosting by
eyeformation, "be a tourist"

Portland's Wurst Gallery asked a group of artists to find a framed piece of artwork at their local thrift store and manipulate it into a piece of their own.


(via BoingBoing)


Joementum Cheers Gonzales as "Remarkably Just"

photo hosting and image hosting by

I'm beginning to think that if we discovered ovens being built at Guantanamo, Lieberman would say that it was "mildly distressing." - TBogg

"Republicans love him for the same reason that Democrats love McCain -- because they both spend a great deal of the time beating up publicly on their own party. But for that reason, especially given our minority status (when the party needs to stick together for survival), Lieberman must go. I don't want another six years of him bashing Democrats on Fox News next to a fawning Sean Hannity." - Kos

The Daily Kos is the most popular and important force in the blogosphere; it's a fact with which Democrats are just now coming to grips....In recent days, Kos has begun suggesting that someone challenge conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary. Given Kos's recent successes, Lieberman would be wise to not take this threat lightly. - Dean Barnett, The Weekly Standard



Thursday, February 03, 2005

Real Family Values

Uncle Dee and his crew

My Uncle Dee weighs in on the State of the Union address:

I didn't even watch any of the speech because of my weak stomach.  I get queasy just listening to him.  This administration has hyped the private enterprise junk more than any I ever remember.  It is neither private nor enterprising.  It is giving the government to the highest bidder and unfortunately the poor and downtrodden do not have the money to get in on the bidding.  I too am glad to be out of the job market.  Higher education has lost its zeal for teaching and placed emphasis on "research" that is 80 or 90 percent crap.  I'll stop before I do any more sermonizing.


Kinky Friedman Saves Texas

photo hosting and image hosting by
kinky & iggy

Back from my root canal. Everything went okay, thanks for all the cards & letters.

Anyway, came back to find that noted author and songwriter Kinky Friedman, famous for such classic tunes as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Any More," has announced that he is running for governor of Texas as an independent.

He says that he wants to move into the governor's mansion "because I need the closet space."

"Don't worry about my lack of experience," he says. "Trust me. I'm a Jew. I'll hire good people."

On the subject of the death penalty, Friedman notes, "I'm not anti-death penalty. I'm anti-the wrong guy getting executed. Two thousand years ago we executed an innocent man named Jesus Christ and we don't want to make another mistake like that."

That ought to give Texas fundies something to chew on.

Kinky is also the self-professed "Ghandi-like figure of the Utopian Animal Rescue Ranch", where he play spiritual leader to 63 dogs, 22 horses, 3 donkeys, 9 pigs, 2 goats, 15 chickens, 11 cats, 2 turkeys, and a rooster named Alfred Hitchcock. We here at Poodle Ranch give him our heartfelt encouragement for that reason alone.

Kinky's entry into the race should provide a welcome respite to the choking bullshit likely to be doled out by probable Republican candidate and Enron buddy Kay Bailey Hutchinson. We wish him well, and urge anyone who wants to support his campaign or find out more about his platform to visit him here.


Worst SOTU Ever

I'm having a root canal this morning, so my cousin Wendell is guest blogging. Here is his SOTU wrapup:

I started listening to the State of the Union speech tonight and got so upset when he started listing his accomplishments, that I had to go downstairs and am now watching a home decorating show.    He tells how he has cut taxes for EVERYONE and how he has brought peace to many areas of the world and yet he says nothing about the stagering debt and the position of the dollar on the world market.   Are we speaking the same language?   He talked about all the jobs which had been created since he took office, yet here in Kansas City, there are men and women who have been on the job market for months and little chance of getting a position commenserate with their training and ability.   I am so glad I do not have to face the sparce job market of today.   We are in Merger-Mania and from experience I can tell you that those mergers do not create jobs -- they eliminate jobs.   I am trying desperately to be civil about the President, but occasionally I just lose it.   Sorry. also has a point-by-point refutation of the State of the Union address here.


Why the Public Has So Much Trouble Understanding Piratization

photo hosting and image hosting by

As a professor of economics, Atrios has an excellent grasp of the minutae involved in the arguments over Social Security and projections of solvency, and his blog, Eschaton, is a great place to follow the discussion over it. But as one reader, watertiger, commented:
What Atrios says about Social Security:

To understand this, it's important to remember that only initial benefit levels are pegged to the wage index, it only impacts the first year of SS benefits. Subsequent benefits are pegged to the CPI. However, the FICA cap impacts the potential taxes paid by the entire working population (those who are at or above the cap)....

What watertiger hears:

______________________________________________ wage ______________benefits __________________
taxes ____________________cap_________________

I'm trying, A Man, I really am. That's four more words than the last SS post.
I feel your pain, my brother.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Republican Sycophants on Parade

photo hosting and image hosting by

Many of you have missed the Republican oozing of senatorial support for Alberto Gonzales on C-SPAN. I'll save you the trouble of watching the rerun, 'cos they pretty much all say the same thing:

1. Let me read this article praising Gonzales from the Big Paper in my constituency, since it will a) fill up time, b) save me the trouble of writing anything original c) suck up to someone I want to endorse me during my next election bid and d) give my dubious position credibility since if it's printed in a paper it must be true.

2. Alberto Gonzales is Mexican, dammit. He comes from humble origins. We must confirm him because by all rights he should be mowing my lawn.

3. Democrats are playing partisan politics. Wasn't anyone paying attention during the last election? America hates you. You must abandon the constituency who voted you into office and any shred of conscience you may have about torture and fall in line behind George Bush because to do otherwise is un-American.

4. Did I mention he's Mexican? Viva la Raza!

They are reporting on the DailyKos that the only Democrat who is holding out to vote in confirmation of Gonzales is Ken Salazar. His contact information is:

Washington Office:  202-224-5852
Denver, CO Office:  303-455-7600
Senate Switchboard: 202-225-6827

I sleep a lot better knowing that every day I did just one little thing to make it more difficult for BushCo. to wage this immoral war.


Progressive Immigration Reform Site #1

Okay, so I sent out the call for other blogs or sites who came down on the side of progressive immigration reform and got no response, and I was just about to declare myself THE ONLY PROGRESSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM SITE on the web, and then someone reminded me of Lucas Doolin. Who I actually knew about but I forgot him when I was writing my post. Lucas says he has trouble identifying himself as a "progressive," but I guess I ought to give my definition of "progressive."

Someone who wants "progressive" immigration reform wants it because our current policy exploits illegal aliens. Does someone want to argue that letting people work in sub-standard conditions for poverty wages is okay just because it was worse before they came to the US? If so I'd love to hear it.

A "progressive" immigration reform policy is formed for the protection of labor and labor unions, not out of hatred of foreigners or notions of "racial purity". It sees the inherent unfairness of big business exploiting the destitute in order to increase its profit margins, and the steady upflow of wealth from the bottom to the top that it facilitates. It acknowledges the damage to the environment caused by spiraling population growth and urban sprawl due to unchecked immigration levels. And it recognizes that most of the "immigration reform" policy put forward these days is just window dressing to assuage public discontent while perpetuating the status quo.

I use the word "progressive" to distinguish it from people who want immigration reform for "regressive" reasons, i.e., they long to return the US to an All White Nation Under God it never really was but like to pretend.

So Lucas goes on my list of progressive immigration reform websites, and if anyone wants to put forward a better name for it that would make everyone happy let me know. He also has consistently excellent coverage of the rift going on in the Sierra Club over this very issue, so check him out.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Late Night Blog Poaching

photo hosting and image hosting by
David Cho, "Whisper"

Don't know why this amuses me:
Last weekend I blacked out for the third time(ever) in four months. During the blackout process I called my roommate's cell phone and told him he was the ugliest roommate I had ever had. Mind you, he was sleeping downstairs and I was upstairs indulging in box of cookies and a plate of onion rings. So if there's anybody out there who recieved a phone call from me last weekend around 3 a.m. I sincerely apologize. It wasn't me calling, it was Blackout Me. Blackout Me is still a bit of a mystery, but I'll let you know that he likes peeing on stranger's carpets, making phone calls, and onion rings. And Ashlee Simpson. - from the manic hispanic
Okay well maybe I do.


Iraqi Voter Enthusiasm

photo hosting and image hosting by

According to unembeded reporter in Iraq Dahr Jamail:
Many Iraqis had expressed fears before the election that their monthly food rations would be cut if they did not vote. They said they had to sign voter registration forms in order to pick up their food supplies.

Their experiences on the day of polling have underscored many of their concerns about questionable methods used by the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government to increase voter turnout.

Just days before the election, 52 year-old Amin Hajar who owns an auto garage in central Baghdad had said: ”I'll vote because I can't afford to have my food ration cut...if that happened, me and my family would starve to death.”
So maybe they weren't ecstatic at the thundering onslaught of democracy, maybe they were just hungry?


Drifting Toward a Surveillance Society

photo hosting and image hosting by

Big Brother, aka the US Department of Homeland Security, is testing the use of RFID surveillance tags for those visiting the US from abroad. According to
The trials will start at a "simulated port" in the spring and will then be extended to Nogales East and Nogales West in Arizona; Alexandria Bay in New York; and Pacific Highway and Peace Arch in Washington by the end of July.

The testing phase will continue until the spring of next year. The exact way RFID will be used with the travellers is not yet known.

RFID chips will be used to track both pedestrians and vehicles entering the US to automatically record when the visitors arrive and leave in the country.
Many are worried that the government sees this as a first step to keeping track of all its citizens with RFID chips in the future.

I can't imagine what they're worried about. Considering the bang-up job they've done recently with the safeguarding of the civil rights thing.


Need Your Help

photo hosting and image hosting by

Okay so I am going to rant here a little bit. ran a story last week about how a woman in Chicago went to apply for a job at Target, and was turned down because they said she already worked there. Or at least her Social Security number did.

Government reports suggest that hundreds of thousands of Americans have the same problem -- namely, that their social security numbers are being used by illegal immigrants so they can comply with employment requirements. The government often knows this is happening -- a stolen social security number is used on average of 30 times, according to private data collection firm ChoicePoint. The government isn't required to tell you that it's happening, nor do they make any attempt to stop it, happy to collect social security contributions made by people who will never claim them. But your credit can be destroyed, and the IRS will come after you for the taxes.

It's just one of the myriad problems caused by illegal immigration in the US, and it's the big elephant in the middle of the room nobody wants to talk about. Republicans like O'Reilly and Sensenbrenner bitch about putting up walls around the US and spend a lot of time thinking up ways to make the lives of illegal immigrants worse than they already are, but they're really pleased as punch that they're here and willing to live at subsistence levels and provide cheap labor to American business.

Democrats are, if possible, even worse. Feeling powerless in the face of the Republican machine, they have sat idly by while 4 to 6 million US jobs have shifted from the legal work force to the underground since 1990, gutting organized labor and compromising safe working condition -- this according to a report by Bear Stearns earlier this month (pdf). They console themselves with the feeble hope that when and if these illegal aliens are given citizenship, they will vote Democratic. Truly pathetic.

But the thing that's bugging me at the moment is that despite the fact that an overwhelming number of Americans favor immigration reform, despite the fact that when Bob Schieffer hosted the third Presidential debate he said he got more emails on this topic than any other, and despite the proliferation on the web of left-leaning voices, none are speaking out about this from a liberal perspective.

Sure there is FAIR, but they might as well call themselves Republicans. When Sensenbrenner pipes up about prohibiting driver's licenses for illegal aliens, which I have to say I really don't give a crap about, they're all over the fact that he's a Republican. When Tom Adelson of Oklahoma puts forward meaningful legislation to penalize employers who hire illegal aliens and allow citizens to take action against them, no mention is made of the fact that he's a Democrat. (BTW, two snaps up for Senator Adelson's bill, which calls for "suspension of corporate charters of companies that knowingly employ illegal aliens." Now there's some teeth.)

Conversely, when uber-loathsome Mike Johanns was nominated for Secretary of Agriculture recently, FAIR sent out a press release saying Johanns had done everything he could to keep the Justice Department from cracking down on meat packers who were using illegal aliens to bust up unions and devastate fair wages. No mention was made of the fact that he was a Republican.

So. What I'm asking is this. If you know of a site on the web, be it a blog or an organization, who is supporting PROGRESSIVE immigration reform, please drop me a line or put it in the comments. I want to have a separate blogroll for them. Don't bother with the winger sites that fuel themselves with racist, jingoistic notions of a "pure America," 'cos I know they're out there and I'm not promoting them.

I still maintain that this is going to be a HUGE voter issue at some point in the future, and progressive people need to get out in front of it or it will be co-opted and twisted by the mouth breathers into something none of us are going to be happy with.

(Thanks to GM for the tip!)


Monday, January 31, 2005

Staying Au Courant With Office Slang

photo hosting and image hosting by

Assmosis - The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

Batmobiling - putting up emotional shields. Refers to the retracting armor that covers the Batmobile as in “she started talking marriage and he started batmobiling”

Blamestorming - A group discussion of why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

Egosurfing - Scanning the Net, databases, etc., for one’s own name

Irritainment - Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials were a prime example.

Keyboard Plaque- The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on some people’s computer keyboards.

Perot - To quit unexpectedly. “My cellular phone just perot’ed.”

SITCOMs - What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids. “Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage”

Umfriend - One with whom one has a sexual relationship; as in, “this is Dale,”


A Little Historical Perspective

photo hosting and image hosting by
Saigon 1967, by Philip Pelino Jr.

From the New York Times, 1967:
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday.  Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
Not to rain on anyone's parade. But still.

(via patachon at DKos)


Japanese Street Fashion

photo hosting and image hosting by

Really well done photo essay about kids on the cutting edge of style, according to my friend Linda anyway. And she knows her stuff.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

You want how much?

George Bush seems intent on warring this nation into bankruptcy with a with requests for a further $80 billion for Iraq that includes $1.5 billion for a new Iraqi embassy. As Atrios noted, it's the same amount that the US is spending on a the Freedom Tower, the building that will replace the World Trade Center, which will be the tallest building in the world.

What's this embassy supposed to be, some monument to rapacious greed?


Malaysia First Country to Dump US Dollars

A recent report by Bank Negra Malaysia, the nation's central bank, states that Malaysia made $2.1 billion "revaluation gain" in 2004, "arising mainly from the depreciation of US dollar against major currencies."

While central banks don't generally release the details of their holdings, it has led to speculation that Malaysia is buying an increasing amount of euros and/or yen these days. "Its central bank sure didn't make that kind of cash holding the dollar," says William Pesek, writing in Bloomberg news, noting that Malaysia's own currency, the ringgit, is currently pegged to the dollar.

According to Pesek:
The plot thickens when you consider how such a shift away from the dollar would jibe not only with comments from top Malaysian officials, but trends throughout Asia.

Here in Malaysia, for example, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently said he is seeking ways to reduce the economy's reliance on the dollar for trade. Indonesia has mentioned it is considering trimming its holdings of U.S. Treasuries. The same goes for Thailand, according to the Financial Times.
There is no doubt that the Chinese are watching this with great interest as they consider un-pegging the Yuan from the dollar. Pesek notes the irony that the US has been using its economic might to bully China into revaluing the yuan: "Yet it seems it is US weakness -- a fragile dollar -- that may be the catalyst:"
The U.S. finds itself in a be-careful-what-you-wish-for situation here. If China tomorrow announced it was letting the yuan float, as the U.S. wants, its central bank wouldn't need anything near the $191 billion of U.S. debt it holds. Massive dollar selling could follow.
Coming on the heels off comments by Chinese economist Fan Gan last week (which can be found in the excellent diary by LondonYank) it only goes to support the thesis that we are lurching toward a "tipping point" where nobody wants to be the last one out of the US currency business.

And it may happen sooner rather than later:
It means now is as good a time as any for this region to avoid losses ahead of any surge in U.S. debt yields. After all, in real estate, it is all about location, location, location. With markets, it's timing, timing, timing, and waiting means Asian central banks may lose even more.

Confidence in the dollar wasn't enhanced this week by President George W. Bush's record budget deficit forecast of $427 billion for this fiscal year. It belied assurances that the White House will bring one of the world's most worrisome economic imbalances under control.

All this has investors turning to the euro. Once Asian central banks do, the dollar's woes will worsen. By buying vast amounts of Treasuries, Asian central banks are delaying the rise in U.S. yields that would typically accompany a falling currency. If Asians pull the plug, U.S. rates could skyrocket.

Should be an interesting to watch in the near future as dollar tensions aproach critical mass. But what do I know -- as my friend Peter reminds me, "you thought Kerry was going to win."


International Chicken, Anyone?

This week Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute, formerly a senior trade negotiator in the Reagan administration, hypothesized the following (via American Prospect):
In a future crisis involving the tense China-Taiwan relationship, the Chinese ambassador suggests to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that maybe the United States would like to move its warships 500 miles away from Taiwan. Rice demurs. The next day, the Bank of China sells a few -- just a very few to get our attention -- U.S. Treasury securities. Money markets reel.

Would the Chinese play such a risky game? They have their own interests, geopolitical as well as economic. They are certainly not an American pawn, less so with every passing year. Miscalculations have happened in world economic relations before, and with calamitous results.
(thanks to Mercury Rising)


Anti-Draft Ballot Initiatives for 2006?


Okay so I admit I have spent the past few months in reluctant admiration of Karl Rove. The anti-gay marriage initiative was like red meat for the knuckle-draggers, luring millions to the ballot box to cast their vote against a future filled with fine window treatments, Limoges china and color-coordinated gym ensembles. Or whatever the hell it was they thought they were voting against, I just don't know, who can tell with people whose only exposure to gays is half an episode of Queer Eye. But while they were at it, they took the trouble to hang a chad for fellow homophobe GWB. And the rest is history.

But it got me to thinking. Because sometimes that's what I do. Like others before me, I wondered how the Democrats might adapt Rove's tactics, just not in the pursuit of Pure Evil.

Is it possible to use anti-draft initiatives to pro-actively combat the possibility of a draft, as well as lure young anti-war voters to the ballot boxes in 2006?

As this disastrous war continues apace, it is abundantly clear that the military just does not have the personnel to fight it. Lt Gen James Hemly, Chief of the US Army Reserve, said in December that the draft might have to be reinstated. And just this week, an internal memorandum came to light in which he said that the Reserves are understaffed and "rapidly degenerating into a broken force."

Of course, states do not have the power to regulate what the federal government does with regard to a draft. They do, however, have the power make the efforts of the Selective Service easy or hard, and they certainly have the ability to advise the President not to resort to a draft, and cause him grievous political embarrassment in the process.

According to the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD), 13 states have laws that automatically register males between the ages of 18 and 26 for the draft by linking Selective Service registration with driver's license applications. Ballot measures could be used to strike them down, or pro-actively, to keep them from being enacted.

On the other hand, legislation can be advisory in tone, much like the Maine resolution of 2002 to advise the President to pursue a diplomatic solution to Iraq rather than go to war.

For the sake of discussion, this is the process of getting an initiative on the ballot in states that allow them:

1. The initiative process in any state can be found by going to They have a comprehensive website full of information about what type of initiatives and referenda are allowed in each state, as well as downloadable pdf's from each Secretary of State outlining what has to be done to qualify.

2. The proposal must be drafted according to the law as expressed in the state's handbook. I'm gonna guess that if anyone does this, they will find plenty of help with language and legalities by posting on the DailyKos.

3. The petition must be submitted to the Secretary of State and a registration or processing fee paid. Sometimes approval is limited to title and format; other states require complete legal review.

4. Upon approval, the petition must be circulated. The number of signatures required is usually determined as a percentage of the votes in the state's last election for governor.

5. Enough signatures must be collected and returned by the deadline. In Oregon, for example, the deadline was July 2, 2004 for the November election.

6. Then the state verifies the signatures. If enough signatures are verified, the measure is placed on the ballot.

In addition to luring young voters to the ballot box to vote Democratic if for no other reason than saving their own hides, the fact that such anti-draft activity is going on would naturally generate press and highlight the reality of what continuing to support long-term war in Iraq (and now, potentially Iran) would mean to the country on an individual, personal basis.

It would force wingers into the awkward position of having to come out against such measures and yet at the same time declare that there is no danger of an impending draft.

It would give people a concrete measure to rally around, rather than expressing vague rage at the machine that keeps pumping its citizens into body bags in the quest for black gold.

And best of all, it just might keep GWB from churning the nation's young into the imperial pipeline that he simply must feed or his insane, megalomaniacal plans for perpetual war with the Middle East will come to an end. Anywhere else in the world, these would be treated like the delusional rantings of some coked-up bullshit artist looking with dread at the sun coming up while screaming that the night was still young. But hey, this is America, where we take our cokeheads very seriously.

So I open up the floor to people who probably know much better than I do what the feasibility is of a proposal like this. Would it work? Or have I just been suckered into the whole "Rove is a genius" thing, too?

The floor is yours.

(Special thanks to Linda M., who did much of the research for this diary in an effort to get me to stop jabbering about the idea and finally put it to paper.)