The Rule Of Law: Excising The Local NeoCon Rot

The FDL family has had a profound positive impact on the federal scene on issues surrounding the rule of law. We are all hurt when justice is politicized. As I pointed out in Deceit In The Desert, the problem with politicization at the state and local level in many places is every bit as bad, and the effects every bit as ruinous.

In Maricopa County Arizona a battle to turn the tide and restore the fair and equal rule of law is in full tilt in the last two weeks leading up to the election. In the video, governor Janet Napolitano, former Arizona Attorney General and United States Attorney for Arizona, describes the critical significance of the office of county attorney, and how Tim Nelson will repair it. Let me tell you about the guy that broke it and who must be ejected from office.

Andrew Thomas has been the theocratic right wing tool in office as the Maricopa County Attorney since 2004. Attorney Gerald Richard, who represented the Phoenix Police Department and law enforcement interests for over 19 years, had this to say about Thomas:

As County Attorney, he has diverted resources away from prosecuting violent criminals to persecuting immigrants charged with “smuggling themselves.” His wiretapping of the Serial Shooter suspects without a court order could jeopardize the expected convictions in the case. Thomas has cut training for his staff attorneys by 90-percent, creating Read more

From Pollan to the President

I’ve been arguing for a while that Michigan–the state with the second greatest agricultural diversity after California–ought to use innovations in sustainable agriculture as part of its plan to drive economic recovery.  Agriculture is going to have to be more sustainably produced in the future, and MI is uniquely suited to lead in developing the policies and technology to accomplish this goal.

But then, we should be talking about how to pursue this sustainable future more widely.

Which is what Michael Pollan does in this long letter to the next President, recommending a number of changes to our food policies. Here are Pollan’s comments on the ties between our food and the petroleum that goes into it. 

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine.

[snip]

The F.D.A. should require that every packaged-food product include a second calorie count, indicating how many calories of fossil fuel went into its production. Oil is one of the most important ingredients in our food, and people ought to know just how much of it they’re eating.

[snip]

Read more

The Pentagon’s Media Analyst Domestic Psy-Ops Program: Is It Legal?

By now you have probably heard that the New York Times has an in-depth piece by David Barstow out for Sunday’s edition on the use by the Pentagon of media "military experts" as propaganda conduits.

It would be nice to be able to say that the revelations in Barstow’s article are shocking, but they are not. Spin and propaganda have, from the outset, been more important to the Bush Administration than efficient and effective performance and truth. This already looks to be a big deal around the blogosphere, everybody will be discussing the general parameters of the story. Dave Neiwert serves up a dissection at FDL (and do click through his links here and here to his earlier pieces at Orcinus in 2004 on Bush Administration psy-op propaganda, they are excellent).

Beyond the face value of the NYT article, however, lurk some more interesting issues. Marcy has, as usual, immediately found one in relation to the spotty history of the NYT on Bushco propaganda, most notably in regard to Judith Miller and the case for the Iraq War (can you say "Sweet Judy Blew Lies"? I can). Here is mine; we know this Pentagon propaganda scheme is crass and loathsome, but is it legal?

Arguably, the answer is no, it is not legal; of course, as we have seen time and again, that is never an impediment to the Bush Administration. And, as with so many other Bushco ills, we have a template for analysis because they have made a pattern and practice of crossing the line of propriety in Read more

Help this NOLA Family

Scout prime hasn’t forgotten NOLA, even if George Bush has. Today, she’s encouraging people to donate to a fund helping out a NOLA family that has lost its house twice–once in Katrina, and once through a terrible accident.

Two weeks ago I postedabout the Joseph family who lost their Lower 9th Ward home for thesecond time. Kellie Joseph and her 6 children lost their home toKatrina. The rebuilding of their home was nearly complete when it wastragically destroyed by a fire after someone abandoned a stolen car intheir backyard and lit it aflame to destroy evidence. The flamesengulfed the home.

A group of Tulane medical students who heard of thisdevastating news decided to help the family rebuild again and started awebsite called Hope in Grace for what is called Project: Bring Miracle.Recently the students contacted me. The online donation effort hasreached a standstill after some initial local media attention. It istheir hope to reach a wider audience through the Internet. 

Hereis where we can help. We as individuals and bloggers can not rebuildthe great city of New Orleans but perhaps we can help to rebuild thehome of one family that has now fallen through the cracks. The familyhad invested their Read more

Not Quite the Energy Task Force

I get the feeling today’s installment of Cheney started out as a story about the Energy Task Force. It also tells the story of the Klamath fish kill and snowmobiles in Yellowstone. The big news, though, is Christine Todd Whitman’s side of several issues, where Cheney blindly put business issues ahead of environmental requirements. In some ways, last week’s Rolling Stone article on Cheney’s involvement in climate change–which relies heavily on FOIAed documents–provides a valuable complement to the WaPo story, so I’m going to read them in conjunction. Doing so, I believe, closes the circle, shows how Cheney’s unwavering ties to the energy industry drive the rest of his actions.

The WaPo describes the Energy Task Force as an unquestioning affirmation of business assertions that environmental regulations hamper business and energy development.

Sitting through Cheney’s task force meetings, Whitman had beenstunned by what she viewed as an unquestioned belief that EPA’sregulations were primarily to blame for keeping companies from buildingnew power plants. "I was upset, mad, offended that there seemed to beso much head-nodding around the table," she said.

Whitman said she had to fight "tooth and nail" to prevent Cheney’stask force from handing over the job of reforming the New Source Reviewto the Energy Department, a battle she said she won only afterappealing to White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.This was an environmental issue with major implications for air qualityand health, she believed, and it shouldn’t be driven by a task forceprimarily concerned with increasing production.

Directly out of that effort, Rolling Stone suggests, arose the propaganda campaign that served to undercut EPA itself.

Lamont's "Single Issue" Voters

The Q-Poll shows that 44% of Lamont’s supporters support him mainly because of Lieberman’s stance on the Iraq war. And Markos anticipates a bunch of pundits frowning on the large number of "Single Issue" voters.

For a pundit to suggest the Iraq war is a "Single Issue" simply betrays their ignorance of the impact that war has and will continue to have on this country and the rest of the world.

Some are opposed to the war because they’re opposed to 2,500 Americans dead, 18,000 Americans wounded, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis dead, untold wounded. Some oppose the war simply because it uses violence to solve problems that should be solved using other means.

Some are opposed to the war because it has ruined our military. Two-thirds of our active army and three-quarters of our National Guard face readiness problems because it needs to replace equipment used in Iraq. Extended deployments and lowered recruiting standards are having bad effects on the military, their families, and our mission. The Iraq war–sold as a way to make our country safer–has only exposed it defensively.

Some are opposed to the war because it has thoroughly destabilized Iraq, and threatens to destabilize the entire region. By almost every standard, Iraqi quality of life is worse today than it was under Saddam.

Some are opposed to the war because it has created precisely the problem that it was cynically sold as a way to prevent. Iraq is creating terrorists, at a time when the threat of terrorism remains very real.

Some are opposed to the war because it has turned us into an international pariah. Some countries no longer trust us. Others want nothing to do with our aggressive ways.

Bolten’s 5-Point Plan, 75 Days Later

It’s a testament to how messy my desk is that I just came across Mike Allen’s article, from a week after Josh Bolten ascended to the Chief of Staff role, describing Bolten’s plan to right the sinking ship of the Bush Administration. But the benefit of rediscovering it now is that what once appeared as an earnest plan now reads like humor.

Buggy732600bmpSo how has Bolten’s five-point plan fared?

1 DEPLOY GUNS AND BADGES. This is an unabashed play to members of theconservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under thebanner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more fundingfor an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border,including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrainvehicles (ATVs).

A great idea, Bolten, if only the National Guard weren’t already so taxed as a result of long deployments in Iraq. As of last week, Bush was far short of his goal to have 2500 Guardsmen and women deployed by now (though Fox News says they’re not). It seems a bunch of Governors saw the devastation of Katrina last year, and want to make sure their Guard is available for any summertime disasters in their own states.

Bolten's 5-Point Plan, 75 Days Later

It’s a testament to how messy my desk is that I just came across Mike Allen’s article, from a week after Josh Bolten ascended to the Chief of Staff role, describing Bolten’s plan to right the sinking ship of the Bush Administration. But the benefit of rediscovering it now is that what once appeared as an earnest plan now reads like humor.

Buggy732600bmpSo how has Bolten’s five-point plan fared?

1 DEPLOY GUNS AND BADGES. This is an unabashed play to members of theconservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under thebanner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more fundingfor an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border,including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrainvehicles (ATVs).

A great idea, Bolten, if only the National Guard weren’t already so taxed as a result of long deployments in Iraq. As of last week, Bush was far short of his goal to have 2500 Guardsmen and women deployed by now (though Fox News says they’re not). It seems a bunch of Governors saw the devastation of Katrina last year, and want to make sure their Guard is available for any summertime disasters in their own states.

Wired Calls Abu Gonzales' Bluff

Child Support Is a Pro-Life Issue

Mark Schmitt has an important post up about Republican cuts in child support enforcement in the Budget bill. I agree with him that cutting enforcement funds for child support is about the most churlish short-sighted thing you can do.

And it worked. In 2004, 51% of child support was paid. From 18% to51% is a huge transformation. I doubt that anyone in the mid-1990swould have predicted that. One study showed that improved child supportenforcement was responsible for a quarter of the reduction in welfarecaseloads. See this report from the Center on Law and Social Policy for a summary of the success.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cuts in theincentive payments to states will cost families $8.4 billion in childsupport. Even that estimate assumes that states will make up half ofthe federal money they will lose; if they don"t, children will losetwice as much in child support.

The era of bipartisan collaboration on basic problems like childsupport or health care is long gone. I"ve gotten used to that. What Ican"t grasp is why this Republican majority wants to take some of thebasic accomplishments of that era, accomplishments that took a decadeor more of serious work, and casually toss them aside.

I’m no expert about this issue. But I remember clearly friends’ stories about how impossible it was to collect child support across state lines in the early 1990s. Men basically could leave the state, go to a lax enforcement state (I lived in UT at the time and everyone seemed to head for TX), and basically hide from any and all responsibility for the children they had fathered.

I’m not just disgusted with Republican attempts to turn back the clock to the deadbeat dad days. I’m disappointed Democrats haven’t more clearly demonstrated the hypocrisy of dedicating your political energy to eliminating access to choice, while at the same time effectively absolving men of all responsibility for the fetus-people they father.

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