Monday, June 30, 2008

Blood Drunk Views on the Israeli-Hamas Cease Fire

By: Harry Waisbren

A recent article in the Jewish Standard exposes all that is wrong with the extremely limited debate in America regarding Israeli foreign policy. This article attacks an ad in the New York Times created by J-street, a pro-peace, pro-Israel organization founded specifically to broaden the debate over how to make Israel safe beyond the dominating right wing narrative.

This ad notes how "When Israel Goes to War, Supporters Rally. When Israel Negotiates, Why the Deafening Silence?" Very regrettably, Josh Lipowsky, the author of this Jewish Standard piece, not only failed to take this message to heart but continues to suggest that "supporting Israel" means nothing more than calling for unending war in the Middle East.

To his credit, Lipowski notes how "we agree with J Street that the pro-Israel community should wholeheartedly support Israel in its moves toward peace. However, we must question the cease-fire with Hamas in its current form." Unfortunately, despite supposedly supporting Israel's moves towards peace, I fear that Lipowski and his ilk will continue the constant questioning and undercutting of any attempts to do just that.

Lipowski justifies this swift rebuttal of the Israeli cease-fire with Hamas that the J-street ad highlighted by claiming it was doomed to fail from the beginning. He first argues that "Israel should have known better than to trust Hamas’ promises" and then states explicitly that "as long as Israel refuses to respond to these attacks, Hamas will grow stronger militarily and politically, creating a slippery slope that will lead it to completely replace the Palestinian Authority."

My first question to Josh is who is he to make such assertive predictions regarding the most unpredictable region in the world? His pronouncements that any attempts to negotiate with Hamas are futile from the get go resemble the claims of the Bush administration that war with Iraq was the only reasonable option---a theory that has certainly been debunked and then some since.

Although he might not know it, he is arguing AGAINST the majority view of Israelis themselves regarding what will keep them safe. Constitutional lawyer turned blogger Glenn Greenwald analyzed this reality in an important post from a few months ago:
But a new poll of actual Israelis -- the people who have to live with the consequences of their choices as opposed to those who can beat their neoconservative, protected chests from a safe distance -- reveals:

Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Less than one-third (28 percent) still opposes such talks.

The figures were obtained in a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University.

According to the findings, Israelis are fed up with seven years of Qassam rockets falling on Sderot and the communities near Gaza, as well as the fact that Shalit has been held captive for more than a year and a half. An increasing number of public figures, including senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces' reserves, have expressed similar positions on talks with Hamas.

Lipowski is attacking the method Israelis themselves believe is most likely to achieve an actual peaceful resolution. As he calls to "look at the realities on the ground without rose-colored lenses" he is viewing such realities with the same blood drunk incoherence that has led our country to decide that Iraqis' views on stabilizing their own country do not matter.

The manichean nature of Lipowski's views can be seen at the end of the article, which he closes with an explicit call for war:
Rather than allow Hamas to reap the benefits of the quiet from Israel, Israel should issue an ultimatum to Hamas and the world. As Israel eases the blockade, it should announce that every rocket from that point forward will be treated as an act of war, indisputably laying the blame for the consequences on the shoulders of Hamas.

Israel, the Middle East, America, and the world at large do not need more war, especially war that can be avoided through diplomacy. What we really need is a true attempt at peaceful reconciliation, which apparently is something that Lipowski is not even willing to rationally consider. This article is not a serious rebuke of Israeli policy, rather, it is an explicit example that J-street's ad is truly correct in highlighting how desperately our country needs a wider discourse regarding how Israel, and the world, can achieve peaceful prosperity.

This discourse needs to be opened up, as the pitfalls of diplomacy (seen in the post-cease fire bombings) are NOT a repudiation of a non-military based strategy. Lipowski is merely calling to continue the failed policies of unending war promoted by the Bush administration, and the horror in Iraq should be a prime example of how such a strategy fairs in reality.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 29th Edition of Forward Forum

By: John Quinlan

On this week's show, we'll be interviewing the authors of two cutting-edge books that examine American history in ways with deep resonances for the challenges facing the country today.

At 7pm, we'll be joined by Paul Fisher, author of "House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family." Author Paul Fisher's book about the James Family tells a uniquely American tale about this family comprised of both superachievers and underachievers. Much of this story takes place in 19th century Wisconsin, and at least two of the characters are involved in homosexual relationships in an era before that term had even come into widespread usage. Patriarch Henry, Sr. and matriarch Alice had high expectations for their progeny, seeing many of their dreams realized in the lives of two of their sons, literary great Henry James and pioneering psychologist William James. And yet much is also revealed about the family in the telling of the family's lesser-known members, the story of two younger brothers who worked primarily as manual laborers, Wilkie and Bob, and their lone sister, Alice, a pioneering feminist. Grappling with both success and disappointment, with struggles of sexual identity, and with the challenges facing strong women in a time of contradictory social expectations.... this is a family whose struggles rival those of the characters of any modern day melodrama. It's a story you'll want to hear firsthand.

In our 8 pm hour, we'll be joined by James W. Douglass, author of "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters." In Madison, and in locations across the US, James Douglass has drawn large crowds, interested in hearing his compelling observations about the deeper meanings of the Kennedy presidency, and the motivations of whose actions were behind his assassination--as a means preventing him from challenging the status quo in a world on the edge of nuclear war by pursuing policies of peace. Millions of words have been written about the "truth" behind the Kennedy assassination, with accompanying conspiracy theories galore. But somehow Douglass has raised the bar on these discussions with his insightful analysis of the institutional forces in American society who have used virtually any means available to prevent substantial changes in American policy.

Douglass's reference to "The Unspeakable" evokes the identities and motivations of those mysterious powers-that-be behind the scenes who had a vested interest in ending the Kennedy presidency. At the same time, his book is also a deep analysis on a psychological level of the changes in philosophy that occurred in a young president who assumed office simultaneous to his becoming a father. One of the most poignant and prescient passages in his book describes how the birth and death of Kennedy's premature infant son affected him deeply--opening up a deep empathy in him for the suffering of the world's children, and the potential loss of life represented by nuclear war. At a time of profound political change, there are deep resonances and myriad lessons contained in Douglass's books about the nature of those who oppose positive social change because it threatens the realm of the ruling elite. Please join us for a fascinating discussion of the Kennedy era--a period often romanticized, but seldom understood--an era whose lessons have multiple implications for today.

As always, we'll also take time to examine recent developments in the news from a Madison perspective. The end of June is a time of year when Forward Forum traditionally covers two overarching themes: the anniversary of the history-making 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, and its impact on the LGBT rights movement, and the multi-layered meanings behind patriotism, as we mark Independence Day. (LGBT Pride is traditionally celebrated in Madison during the third weekend of July, and next weekend will be the week we use to mark Independence Day.) Look for our exploration of these and other themes next week, and in weeks to come throughout July on Forward Forum.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bush vs. Genghis Khan

By: Harry Waisbren

Matthew Yglesias reports that even Genghis Khan of all people recognized the need to ban torture, noting that "under George W. Bush the United States of America is regressing to an understanding of humane treatment of people that doesn't reflect the enlightened views of Genghis Khan."

This point is particularly damning in light of former Navy general counsel Alberto Mora's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that described how "there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo." Check out video of his testimony below (via Think Progress):

Bush has no real defense of torture and can only resort to wild claims that his critics are slandering America. Plus, considering the premium such people place on protecting America from da terrorists, it is quite convenient that the whole torture crowd has also ignored how a FBI Special Agent has predicted that America is likely to be hit with a "catastrophic" attack as "revenge" for torture and Abu Ghraib. Way to go Bush: our president, doing his part to help "recruit a new generation of jihadist martyrs”.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Visioneers Movie Trailer

By: Harry Waisbren

This Office Space style spoof of the inanity of the office place and suburban life looks hilarious. It's called Visioneers, and it stars Zach Galifianakis who was ridiculous in one of my favorite comedies Out Cold. Check out the trailer below (via Slash Film):

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22nd Edition of Forward Forum

By: John Quinlan

Please join special guest host and longtime Forward Forum contributor Laura Gutknecht, on this week's show. Laura is joined by co-host Harry Waisbren and producer Stephanie Woods. They've got a good one planned, discussing issues on the cutting edge of social change--one you won't want to miss. (I'm off this weekend, enjoying some time with my dad at my uncle's cabin in Michigan.)

Our topics include efforts to counter individual rights to privacy, the growing income gap in Wisconsin, and's efforts to create change and support Obama.

"Forward Forum" airs Sunday evenings from 7-9 pm on WTDY, 1670 AM, and streams live and podcasts at Join in the pre and post-show dialogue on our blog at Show website:

On the Sunday evening, June 22nd edition of Forward Forum:

7:00 hour - Chris Ahmuty, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, recently back from Washington where he was lobbying against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (the Foreign Intelligence Service Act), will talk about the act and its passage in the House. The discussion will include issues of privacy and of retroactive immunity for major US telecoms, who have shown a willingness to compromise the confidentiality of thousands of their customers.

8:00 hour - A brief interview (recorded) of Joel Rogers, Director of Center on Wisconsin Strategy (aka "COWS"), on a report they issued this week with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families about the growing income inequality in Wisconsin. We will then speak with political activist and Moveon member Barbara Wright who will discuss the recent Bake Sale fundraiser as well as how she has been utilizing Mad Progress to report on such events.

Moveon Gets a Bad Rap

By: Barbara Wright

For those of you who are familiar with only through the media, you might have the wrong idea. The media likes to portray MoveOn as a small bunch of radical lefties taking a swing at the right through contoversial ads like the " Petraeus don't betray us" ad. MoveOn was actually started during the Clinton years and was named for the stance, " censure Clinton and then move on." After September 11th, the ranks of MoveOn grew to more than 4 million members mostly based on the internet. There is no MoveOn office, just a few computers at the home of MoveOn founder Eli Pariser. MoveOn is funded by small contributions of it's members and has used it's funds to create amazing software applications that began to have a huge impact during the 2006 election. MoveOn members can use a calling tool to talk to voters in all corners of the country to get people out to vote and is now being used for the 2008 election to help elect Barack Obama.

There has recently been a change of strategy and on the ground organizing is now in progress. This takes the form of Operation Democracy Councils that are being organized in every city in the country. Once a month these councils meet and plan events to keep the public thinking about our fight to win back the White House and strengthen our Democracy.

MoveOn helps plan events like the Bake Sale we organized this last Saturday at the Farmer's Market. They are always simple events that don't take alot of experience or effort but are fun and inclusive of all different types of people.When MoveOn suggested the bake sale idea, I thought it was lame. It reminded me of the old bumper sticker that said something like " What if schools had all the money and the Air Force had to have a bake sale to buy new jets" It turned out to be a wonderful way to get the message across. There were so many cookies delivered by members that the table was groaning. It was a beautiful day and families and friends were at capacity around the Farmer's Market. When one of the members showed up with ice cream, I thought she was crazy but sandwiched between two cookies, it was a big hit. I met many new folks and it was so much fun that when I had to leave early to get to work, I was sad.

I have come to the conclusion that many people avoid anything to do with politics because they are stuck in the middle of two sides that they see as both radical. Even if the Right Wing tries to portray MoveOn as way to the left, the simple truth is these 4 million plus people ARE the middle. They have just decided not to sit around waiting for someone else to do something about all the problems our country is facing.

Moveon Bake Sale a Major Success

By: Paul Otto

Hi Folks, we had quite the successful event with our Moveon “Hungry for Change” Bake Sale this Saturday. It was a challenging event and I think that everyone did a terrific job. The proof is in the puddin’ as they say, so lets look at how we did. We had several goals for this event:

1. Raise money for MoveOn’s efforts to elect Barack Obama to the White House and other progressives to the House and Senate.

2. Let Madison know that MoveOn has changed gears and is organizing local grass roots councils to help make their formidable internet communications network more effective.

3. Spread the word that there is a Madison Area MoveOn Council that holds Monthly action events and will be participating in MoveOn’s massive voter registration and get out the vote efforts this fall.

4. Recruit members for our local council (about 60 strong now).
At last month’s council meeting, we set an ambitious goal of $500.00. We raised just over $600.00. This is fantastic!!

We made a lot of progress with our recruiting goals: by talking directly with people, handing out our business card and by just taking the names of people who want to help.


Visit My Flickr Site for Photos of the Bush-McCain Challenge and The Hingry for Change Bake Sale:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Democrats: Rolling on their Backs and Pissing Themselves

By: Harry Waisbren

It has been very hard for me to follow, much less write about, the Democratic capitulation to telecom cash and Whitehouse demands. This has been an issue I have followed in extreme detail since last August, long before I wrote an article praising our very own Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for being one of the extremely few Democrats who was not cowed by such chest thumping. I will certainly have more detailed analysis coming soon as well as plans for what we can do in Madison to prevent such atrocities to the rule of law in the future. For now, I am trying to keep my lunch down while watching the Democrats selling out their souls and their constituents by shredding the constitution.

It's not only that the Democrats gave up on this issue...I fear that they have now permanently seared the party's efforts to support the lawlessness inherrent in this imperial regime into the history books. Glenn Greenwald says it best in his analysis of this supposed "bipartisan" compromise:
In January, I compiled a list of the Great Bipartisan Compromises of the Bush era and demonstrated that they are characterized by one common attribute: namely, they are supported by almost all Republicans and then enough Democrats from a split caucus to ensure its passage. As I wrote:

But more importantly, "bipartisanship" is already rampant in Washington, not rare. And, in almost every significant case, what "bipartisanship" means in Washington is that enough Democrats join with all of the Republicans to endorse and enact into law Republican policies, with which most Democratic voters disagree. That's how so-called "bipartisanship" manifests in almost every case. . . .

On virtually every major controversial issue -- particularly, though not only, ones involving national security and terrorism -- the Republicans (including their vaunted mythical moderates and mavericks) vote in almost complete lockstep in favor of the President, the Democratic caucus splits, and the Republicans then get their way on every issue thanks to "bipartisan" support. That's what "bipartisanship" in Washington means.

That's right---the vaunted bipartisanship we always hear so much about it means nothing more than Democrats selling out their constituents to appease the big money establishment. Don't believe me? Greenwald continues by providing polling data showing a pretty disturbing state of affairs:

The Democratic Congress is more popular with Republicans than with Democrats. And that doesn't even include yesterday's events, so I'm sure the Democratic Congress will become even more popular among Republicans.

And can you blame Republicans? If I were a hard-core Bush follower -- such him or him, praising the "compromise" bill -- I would have a huge poster of Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emanuel on my wall. Unconditional, endless funding of the war. Warrantless eavesdropping. A stop to lawsuits examining Bush lawbreaking. Telecom immunity. What more could a Bush follower ask for? As Kit Bond put it: "the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get" -- a deal they tried but were unable to get when the Congress was controlled by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert.

So there you have it, the Democrats are an even better enabler for the Bush administration than the Republicans! So much so that Greenwald emphasizes that, "the White House had to wait until Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi took over before they could get that done. For a right-wing Bush supporter, what's not to love?"

Most disgustingly, as Greenwald chronicles in superb detail, is the fact that the Democrats do not even receive the veneer of a political boost for this. Rather, they are always depicted as the craven, cowardly, and principle-free capitulators to money and power that they are. This is so severe a problem that Sen. Kit Bond felt free to say the following:
"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do," Bond said.

Greenwald, as he does so often, cuts to the heart of what this means for our democracy when he closes his post with this:
Today, the House leadership has set aside a grand total of one hour to debate the FISA/amnesty bill, and gave its members less than 24 hours from the time it was released yesterday until they have to vote on it today. That's the same bill which the NYT this morning calls "the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years." They're going to enact massive changes to our spying laws without having the slightest idea what they're voting on. All they know is that the President demanded this, and that's enough, because -- as Kit Bond says -- "when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do." In this formulation, "the government" means "The President."

The Democratic party is willingly ceding the rule of law for some backslaps and petty telecom cash. I will be working as hard as I possibly can to undermine such efforts in the future, which is why I will be doing everything in my power to support the Strange Bedfellows campaign. The Democrats seem to have come to believe in the Nixonian principle that "when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal", and that just does not stand with me.

As much hope as I have for Obama, I do not trust him or anyone else with that kind of power. It's long past time that he weighed in on this issue, and it is absolutley disgusting that he has not yet done more to stop it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Countdown Special Report: McCain is full of It

By: Harry Waisbren

Ok, so Keith Olbermann's Special Report isn't so crude to just come out and say it...but it's true. As McCain harps on how we have to drill anywhere--environment be damned--in order to lower gas prices, Keith exposes how he helped create the Enron loophole that has been much more detrimental to the price of gas. Check it out below:

The whole offshore drilling escapade is even more damning considering one of McCain's senior advisors contradicts his notion that this would provide relief for gas any time soon. Plus, Mr. Mavericky Straight Talker himself blatantly flip flopped on this anyways. This should come as no surprise though, as McCain has become nothing more than an oil company shill. Plus, he has long since sold his soul by flip flopping on torture to help the Bush administration get away with it.

Katrina Hits Home

By: Harry Waisbren

The Midwest flooding does not compare to Katrina in terms of level of catastrophe, but they have been very emblematic of some of the endemic problems in our society. First and foremost, the blatantly racist reaction following Hurricane Katrina in which our government and media spent more time worrying about how to prevent the coming Lord of the Flies level race riots as opposed to working to solve the problem has not been seen during this latest catastrophe. In fact, Rush Limbaugh has gone so far as to attack the black Katrina victims while praising the white Midwestern flood victims. I must admit, before Digby started chronicling this despicable state of affairs in the lead up and aftermath of Katrina, I did not fathom this being the case. However, as the racist id of the Republican party becomes increasingly unhinged in light of the prospect of a black President, it is becoming more and more apparent.

Quite unfortunately, the non-minority status of Midwest residents has proven to be little solace in light of the frightening degree of government malfeasance. This goes so far as FEMA blatantly lying to residents about their flood risks:

Around the country, thousands of residents who relied on risk maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency may unknowingly face similar dangers.

"People put all their hopes in those levees, and when they do fail, the damage is catastrophic," said Paul Osman, the National Flood Insurance Program coordinator for Illinois. "New Orleans is the epitome; a lot of those people didn't even realize they were in a floodplain until the water was up to their roofs."

Even worse, as I discussed earlier this week, the global warming nature of this catastrophe has not only gone unreported, but warnings of climate change's effect on the likelihood for such floodings went completely unheeded (via Wonk Room):

The extreme storms and record-breaking floods that have devastated the Midwest, killing dozens, disrupting the nation’s infrastructure, causing billions of dollars in damage, and sending food prices skyrocketing, are consistent with the effects of global warming on the region predicted eight years ago.

In 2000, the National Assessment Synthesis Team of the US Global Change Research Program published “The Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change,” with regional overviews of possible and likely changes due to global warming.

In the Midwest overview, the authors noted the effects of climate change that were already evident in the region:

Annual precipitation has increased, with many of the changes quite substantial, including as much as 10 to 20% increases over the 20th century. Much of the precipitation has resulted from an increased rise in the number of days with heavy and very heavy precipitation events. There have been moderate to very large increases in the number of days with excessive moisture in the eastern portion of the basin.

The Midwest, models predicted, would suffer from both extreme precipitation and increased drought, as the region warms

Depressingly, we should come to expect nothing less from Republican led governance and conglomerate controlled media, as the Wonk Room also emphasized how "unfortunately, just as with the Iraq debacle, Katrina, housing bubble, and September 11 attacks, experts warned against this type of disaster — but they have been ignored by the press and blackballed by this administration."

However, very fortunately, there has been a deep contrast between Barack Obama's reaction to the flooding and our president who gave us his best Mr. Mackey impression. Watch Keith Olbermann emphasizing and chronicling the depressing yet hopeful nature of this contrast:

This whole episode should remind us all of the importance of government that is responsive to the people. It also should remind us of what John McCain was doing while New Orleans drowned, and why this election really is that important.

Impeachment: Not Going Away

By: Harry Waisbren

With the horrid news that the Democrats are likely to succeed in their efforts to give the Bush administration and telecommunications everything they want, it is good to remind yourself that there are at least a few politicians who are not entirely snake oil salesmen. With that, I give you video of Dennis Kucinich vowing that more impeachment articles are upcoming and that he will do everything in his power to prevent the Democrats from preventing this debate (via Think Progress):

“The minute the leadership said ‘this is dead on arrival’ I said that I hope they believe in life after death; because I’m coming back with it,” Kucinich vowed in an interview with the Sleuth this week. “It’s not gonna die. Because I’ll come back with more articles. Not 35, but perhaps 60 articles."

Supporting Kucinich's and Wexler's calls for impeachment, or at least investigations of impeachment, is an act of patriotism. Another act of patriotism: supporting the very recently launched Strange Bedfellows campaign to expose how little the bipartisan politico/media establishment cares about our rights.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strange Bedfellows Effort Launches

By: Harry Waisbren

In the founding post of this blog, I cite the progressive blogosphere and movements' success on retroactive immunity as a prime rationale for suggesting we have achieved a "Mad" amount of progress. However, in that post I also cite how I have learned (the hard way) never to underestimate the Democratic Party's ability to capitulate to big money interests and/or succomb under political cowardice. This is precisely the situation that is occurring, and it is also why I will be emphatically supporting the Strand Bedfellows campaign. This campaign aims to publicize and prevent the latest episode of this, in which the Democrats are aiding the Republicans and the Whitehouse in their efforts to sell out our privacy rights and ensure that no one will ever be held to account for the illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

This campaign combines the efforts of some of the very best liberal blogs alongside both the ACLU and Ron Paul supporters. I suggest this post by Glenn Greenwald if you want to be updated on the need to push the Democratic leadership to prevent retroactive immunity, and Jane Hamsher details the coalition's goals here. I'm copying and pasting the official press release below as well:

Washington, DC — A sham spying deal could be rammed through both the Senate and House this week. It's moving that fast. If we don't stop this, telecom companies that broke the law by supplying mountains of personal information to the government without a warrant will be let off the hook.

A broad alliance of strange bedfellows is now forming to support a campaign to fight the gutting of FISA (The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) with the intent to work together on all civil liberties, constitutional rights and rule of law issues.

The ACLU is joining with activists from the Ron Paul campaign, represented by Break the Matrix, Rick Williams and Trevor Lyman, and civil liberties writer Glenn Greenwald of Salon, and leading liberal bloggers including, Jane Hamsher of firedoglake, Matt Stoller of Open Left, John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Howie Klein of Down with Tyranny, Digby, Josh Nelson of The Seminal and activist Josh Koster to tell Congress that we will not let them ignore the Constitution or give immunity to telecoms which deliberately broke our laws for years.

This group of Strange Bedfellows is mobilizing a broad-based left-right coalition of office holders and candidates, public interest groups and individuals who are devoted to preserving basic constitutional liberties to join in the fight. The goal is to work together to impede the corrupt FISA/telecom amnesty deal.

Glenn Greenwald said, "The Beltway establishment has made clear that they support the Bush administration's assault on our basic constitutional protections and the rule of law. Constitutional rights and the rule of law are not liberal or conservative principles. They're American principles, and this broad-based alliance is devoted to defending them from the bipartisan political class that wants to trample upon them."

Lust for freedom can lead to some pretty strange bedfellows.

This issue has already been covered by the New York Times, and the Washington Post has began covering this particular effort. Mad Progress will be aiding the campaign as much as we possibly can, and if anyone wants to contribute or has any advice or ideas for how we can best do this please email me at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

McCain=Oil Company Shill

By: Harry Waisbren

Here's a new Brave New Films video in their Real McCain series that exposes how he's become a shill for the oil companies (via Think Progress):

Faiz at Think Progress helps expose how "this afternoon in Houston, John McCain is delivering a “speech to energy industry leaders.” Seeking to boost his cash-strapped campaign, McCain appears to be ditching his principles in favor of policies more palatable to oil interests. A whopping 74 percent of McCain’s lifetime campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry has come since he announced for president."

This is a great line of attack considering the oil crisis has gotten so bad that drivers at heading to Mexico in search of cheaper gas. McCain will hope to obfuscate the fact that gas prices have soared under Bush's rule. All of this is particularly disconcerting considering McCain has already implied that we did, in fact, invade Iraq for oil when he said:
My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will — that will then prevent us — that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.
McCain has become simply another oil-greased politician who wants to continue occupying oil rich countries on the American taxpayers' dime while we receive none of the benefits. Anyone arguing that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties needs to wake up, as our country is in desperate need of ending the war profiteering and right now the Democrats are our only shot of doing this any time soon.

Gore Endorses Obama

By: Harry Waisbren

Every time I hear Gore speak these days I try to imagine how different our country would be if this was the man campaigning in 2000. Check out his endorsement of Obama from last night:

New Moveon ad Hits McCain hard

By: Harry Waisbren

Here's a new Moveon McCain ad of a mother discussing whether or not her infant child will be a part of McCain's grand plan for a 100 year war in Iraq (via Raw Story):

“Hi John McCain,” the woman says, holding her infant son on her knee. “This is Alex. And he’s my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”

Powerful stuff----I certainly hope progressives continue to emphasize the amoral nature of this war by humanizing the effect. This is a major pressure point considering we haven't even been able to see the caskets of our returning soldiers who have fallen, and our nation's political discourse is in desperate need of a reality check about the true cost of this war.

Laura Flanders emphaszied this point in a post at Firedoglake regarding the endless Tim Russert obituaries when she said "I know it’s possibly a subversive thought and heaven forbid – but – what if in journalism --- mourning – not to mention expressing feeling wasn’t saved up just for journalists? What then, do you think?

VP Speculation Update

By: Harry Waisbren

My first post regarding VP speculation highlighted my predictions that Wesley Clark would make the best option for Obama as VP as well as my theory that McCain calling on Bobby Jindal would be a major mistake. Since then, I believe both predictions have been further confirmed.

Here is a video of Wesley Clark absolutely tearing John McCain's argument regarding his military experience into shreds. No other democrat has been able to make this argument so forceably, as they do not have remotely the experience or the backbone of Clark to take a page out of Karl Rove's handbook and attack the strengths of the opponent. However, he did this with class and decency in very unrovian like fashion, further increasing its effect (via OL):

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bobby Jindal continues to make himself look like the wingnuts' wingnut by arguing that creationism is part "of the very best science" (via TP):

If these two do become the Vice Presidential candidates, I believe the chasm of credibility between them will certainly aid Obama. All the more reason for Obama to consider Clark, as there just isn't anyone else out there who has as much credibility on military issues. I am certain that a debate between him and a flat-earther like Jindal would be absolutely hilarious, and it would further emphsize just how unserious of a presidential prospect John McCain has become.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 15th Editition of Forward Forum

By: John Quinlan

Please join us this week on "Forward Forum" as we present a fascinating potpourri of interesting guests and topics, including some of our all-time favorite guests. We air Sunday evenings from 7-9 pm on WTDY, 1670 AM, and stream live and podcast at

Here's our show lineup for the June 15th edition of Forward Forum:
  • Author Jonathan Mooney (one of our all-time favorite guests) on his book, The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal.
  • Activist and Advocate Selwyn Swe on his furthering understandings about autism, and also, with an update on recent developments in Burma, the land of his birth
  • A Father's Day tribute to the men in our lives who epitomize the values of respect, compassion, and responsibility, as part of a special project by UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence, with local Latino community leaders Fernando Cano Ospina and David Durn
  • The Salvation Army's Ruth Ann Schoer on local relief efforts for people affected by this week's flooding
  • More highlights from last weekend's National Conference on Media Reform, and other developments in the news

At 7 pm we're joined by Jonathan Mooney who first appeared on our show last year. Jonathan's life story is fascinating and inspiring, and the lessons he's learned along the way hold great meaning. Armed with an irreverent wit and an inspiring message, Jonathan is now a nationally-known expert and much-sought-after speaker on issues of educational reform. Diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, at the age of 13, Jonathan was still learning to read. Barely a decade later, at the age of 22, he had graduated from prestigious Brown University with honors in English Literature. How he describes his journey is even more fascinating, however. He's careful to explain that he did not overcome or move beyond the person who his teenage self--it was in rejecting the messages given to him by educators that he was somehow "less than" his peers, and instead learning to embrace and accept the young man that he was at the core, that placed him in a position to excel. Put another way--Jonathan says his problem was not so much "dyslexia," as it was "dysteachia." Jonathan is an advocate for the concept of "cognitive diversity," the acknowledgement that one-size-fits-all teaching methods serve no one well, and that we must learn to meet children on their own terms, rather than molding them into someone different than who they are.

His book "The Short Bus," alludes to the derogatory title that kids often apply to the bus that brings kids enrolled in special ed to school. His book describes another journey--one he took as a man in his late 20s--in which he traveled the country in a short bus, seeking out the stories of young people also striving to transcend the stigmas inherent to special ed, and to realize their full potential. It's an inspiring tale, one with lessons for all of us who find ourselves marching to the call of a different drummer. For more details, see .

Throughout our two hours, we'll also be joined by another one of our favorite guests, Selwyn Swe. In this context, Selwyn joins us in his role as a local advocate for children with autism, drawn out of his own experiences with his pre-teenage son. (See

Last fall, Selwyn also joined us for a show describing the resurgent democracy movement in Burma. In 1973, at the age of 2, Selwyn and his family escaped from the military regime by fleeing overland into Thailand--a journey chronicled in a best-selling novel by a family friend. A visit to Selwyn's website is divided into sections on Burma, autism, and special events for families celebrating cultural diversity--showcases this remarkable young man's overarching mission in life, which is to spread understandings and promote appreciation for difference. In addition to his participation in our conversation with Jonathan, Selwyn will return in our second hour with reports from Burma on the military regime's shameful response to the recent crisis triggered by a typhoon.

At 8 pm, in addition to Selwyn, we'll be visiting with Ruth Ann Schoer from the Salvation Army, learning how we can support that organization's relief efforts for people affected by this week's extraordianry floods. We also hope to revisit efforts by UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence to involve men and boys in their important work, by offering the chance to support this program in honor of the outstanding men in our lives--David Duran and Fernando Cano Ospina are our guests.

Lastly, time permitting, we'll be revisiting highlights from last weeks' Conference for Media Refom, and developments in the presidential campaign.

We hope you can tune in!

VP Speculation Heats Up

By: Harry Waisbren

DC is abuzz with speculation regarding who might be the presidential candidates' choices for VP. Obama's coming decision has been particularly relavent in the news, given that Jim Johnson, his "veep vetter", was forced to resign amidst criticism that he received benefits "while leading Fannie Mae that may have come from subprime mortages." This has been depicted as a necessary move by Obama considering that "Republicans sought to paint Obama as a hypocrite and undercut his image as a voice for change by criticizing Johnson, a former CEO of lender Fannie Mae and DC insider since the 70s."

Obama also has had a list of potential VP choices leaked to the press, a list that includes:

Ret. Gen. James Jones, the former Marine-turned-NATO Supreme Allied
Commander....Besides Jones, the other names on the list bandied about with
congressional Dems include (and not in any order): Hillary Clinton, John Kerry,
John Edwards, Evan Bayh, Kathleen Sebelius, Ted Strickland, Mark Warner, Tim
Kaine, Jim Webb, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Tom Daschle, and
Sam Nunn.

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake makes a great case for Kathleen Sebelias that I think is worth checking out, but I must admit, Matt Stoller of Open Left has me convinced that Wesley Clark should the guy.
Clark would be an excellent VP, and a great President. The guy won a war using multi-lateral strategies with zero American casualties, and he can and will be able to help ride herd over the Pentagon. He has stated that he thinks it is important to keep investigating Bush administration crimes and not just drop it (which is what happened with Iran-Contra in 1992). This is an important test of our democracy, and a good addition to Obama's clear statement that he will rescind unconstitutional executive orders. And if you read his real State of the Union, you'll see that Wes Clark is a seriously progressive visionary who understands that education, child care, health care, and leadership training should be core responsibilities of the government; and since he's already run a military that had huge responsibilities and systems in these areas, he knows it can be done.

Having a progressive military leader who also would help unify the party ("Clark is a Clintonista thorugh and through" as Matt describes) seems almost too good to be true, yet Matt argues that the Clark for VP bandwagon is picking up steam. If you doubt his progressivism or his desire to end the war, check out the ad he filmed for Ned Lamont in his primary battle against Joe Lieberman which successfully kicked the backstabber out of the party:

What is most surprising to me is that while Obama has a variety of great choices, the Republican favorite seems to be 36 year old Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. McCain wants to focus on Hurricane Katrina as a strength of his in terms of his perceived competence in contrast with President Bush, but picking up Jindal seems like the exact wrong way to approach it:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is on a path to finish the job Hurricane Katrina started, destroying the public infrastructure that served, however imperfectly, poor and working-class New Orleans residents.

Jindal, the wunderkind who is being touted as conservatism's rising new star and an
at-least-half-serious contender for being John McCain's running mate, has openly embraced some of the most extreme components of the right's agenda, from tax cuts for the wealthy to public funding of private and religious schools. The New Orleans area can least afford to be the staging ground for a bankrupt conservative ideology, but Jindal is zealously leading the state into the void nonetheless, even to the point of criticizing President Bush for not being right-wing enough.

Jindal's heartlessness buried beneath the usual right-wing zealotry isn't even the beginning of the story though, as it appears the guy has gone so far off the deep end that he professes his keen ability to exorcise demons:
We’ve discovered that in an essay Jindal wrote in 1994 for the New Oxford Review, a serious right-wing Catholic journal, Jindal narrated a bizarre story of a personal encounter with a demon, in which he participated in an exorcism with a group of college friends. And not only did they cast out the supernatural spirit that had possessed his friend, Jindal wrote that he believesthat their ritual may well have cured her cancer.

As funny as this may seem, I wholeheartedly agree with Tristero writing on Digbysblog that "this would be hilarious were it not for the fact that Jindal actually believes the exorcism also cured the woman of cancer. People die on account of such stupid beliefs."

The idea that this kind of man could even be in consideration to be a heartbeat away from a 72 year old president shows how far the Republican party has fallen. They can't possibly be that desperate to counter Obama's "ethnic excitment" with the Indian American Jindal...can they?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Olbermann Special Comment on McCain

By: Harry Waisbren

Keith Olbermann's newest Special Comment lays into John McCain like a semi. Olbermann provides the proper context to McCain's assertion that it's "not too important" when our troops come home by looking at McCain's long and sordid history of support for the Iraq war:

As great as Olbermann's comment is here, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite McCain war-love analogy that explains how a man like him could come to show so little respect for our country's soldiers. Check out Arianna Huffington telling Stephen Colbert that the Iraq war has become the equivalent of viagra for dear John McCain:

Midwest Flooding Should be a Global Warming Story

By: Harry Waisbren

The Center for American Progress's Progress Report from this Thursday focused on the devastating flooding that has caused so much damage in the midwest. The report catalogued the damage, but also emphasized how this catastrophy should be considered a wakeup call to our government and media to truly focus on climate change. This connection can be made because:

As far back as 1995, analysis by the National Climatic Data Center showed that the United States "had suffered a statistically significant increase in a variety of extreme weather events." In 2007, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that it is "very likely" that man-made global warming will bring an "increase in frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation." The Nobel Prize-winning panel of thousands of scientists and government officials also found, "Altered frequencies and intensities of extreme weather, together with sea level rise, are expected to have mostly adverse effects on natural and human systems." In 2002, scientists said that "increased precipitation, an expected outcome of climate change, may cause losses of US corn production to double over the next 30 years -- additional damage that could cost agriculture $3 billion per year." Scientists have also found that the "West will see devastating droughts as global warming reduces the amount of mountain snow and causes the snow that does fall to melt earlier in the year."

However, Matt Stoller of Open Left noted how this has been far from the case, and he puts the blame on the environmental advocacy groups for not ensuring that our politicians and media cover this issue in the way that they should:

One would think the press would cover global warming in the context of extreme weather. Of course journalists don't. But is this a media problem? Yes, but it's not just a media problem. I looked at the home pages and press pages of the Sierra Club, NRDC, Environmental Defense, the League of Conservation Voters, and Al Gore's We Can Solve It. The Sierra Club is asking for higher mileage standards on cars, NRDC is discussing lead and growing support for action on global warming, the League of Conservation Voters brags about its recent endorsement of Gabrielle Giffords, Environmental Defense asks for lower gas prices, and We Can Solve It puts its new ad front and center.

So yes, the media isn't tying the Iowa floods to global warming. But then, neither are the major environmental groups.

I agree wholeheartedly with Stoller, and I believe that environmental groups really need to get on the ball in terms of messaging regarding such disasters. It is a callous thing to suggest that we need to take advantage of tragedy, but if we do not take advantage of the times when the nation is most focused on what can be done to avert similar tragedies in the future, then we simply are playing into the hands of the politico/media complex that has so successfuly distracted us from dealing with such issues for so long.

Tim Russert: RIP

By: Harry Waisbren

Tim Russert died this Friday at the age of 58. It has been very interesting to watch the media reaction, as although I knew he was revered in press and political circles, the outpouring of good will to the family and friends he left behind has been remarkable. Here is Tom Brokaw commenting on his passing (via TP):

I find his passing to be very sad, despite the fact that I believe his form of gotcha style journalism to be the epitome of what is wrong with our media system. I find myself in complete agreement with John Cole regarding this subject when he wrote:

I liked Tim Russert, even though I thought his BS gotcha nonsense was
thorough idiocy and not helping the debate at all. He was a likable guy-
friendly, always smiling. I understand it is a loss for the beltway folks, and
he had a lot of really good friends and meant a lot to people, and I would be
dishonest if I failed to mention that I feel sad by his passing.

MSNBC has been running nothing but a 5 hour (and presumably it will go
until 11 pm or beyond) marathon of Russert remembrance. CNN has done their due
diligence, and Fox news has spent at least the last half hour talking non-stop
about him.But let’s get something straight- what I am watching right now on the
cable news shows is indicative of the problem- no clearer demonstration of the
fact that they consider themselves to be players and the insiders and, well,
part of the village, is needed. This is precisely the problem. They have walked
the corridors of power so long that they honestly think they are the story. It
is creepy and sick and the reason politicians get away with all the crap they
get away with these days.

Tim Russert was a newsman. He was not the Pope. This is not the JFK
assassination, or Reagan’s death, or the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. A
newsman died. We know you miss him, but please shut up and get back to

I think Cole is completely right, and the degree of reverance paid to Russert signifies all that is wrong with our system. It is true that he has become a very important political figure, but isn't that a sign that there is something inherrently wrong with the form of journalism he practiced? In fact, I believe a true journalist would find it abhorrent for the news to be blocked out for so long in order to cover his passing. It is just this sort of distraction that allows the crimes of the powerful to go unheeded, and if similar distractions were not constantly made up I might feel differently about it. However, considering our media has used the death of quasi-celebrities such as Anna Nicole Smith as a rationale not to cover issues of true import, I am forced to look at the self revelry of a death of a colleague in a similar fashion.

So for what it is worth, I spread my regrets of his passing out into the wilderness of the internets. However, I believe that during times of passing such as these it is incumbent upon the living to reflect upon what the life and death of a person truly means. In this case, I hope our media, political, and citizenry classes recognize that Tim Russert was loved very dearly by his friends, colleagues, and the politicians he would interview...yet is that the sort of person who should be entrusted with being a watchdog on the powerful for the rest of us?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

John Cusack Gives the Bush/McCain Challenge

By: Harry Waisbren

Here's a new Moveon ad starring John Cusack discussing the Bush/McCain challenge, which Madison's Moveon Council participated in with our own event a few weeks ago:

John Cusack has become very politically active, especially with his private contracter debasing movie War Inc. Private contracting has more than gotten out of control, from them covering up sexual assualts to knowingly providing our troops with contaminated water. Makes you happy to know that they don't even have to pay taxes, despite the steady stream of stories like this one in which they ignored faulty wiring that directly led to troop deaths. Check out the trailer below:

Can We All Agree Government Spying is Out of Control?

By: Harry Waisbren

Bill Moyers reports that the government is now going to spy on World of War Craft and Second Life activity (via John Cole):

Can we see some presidential-style leadership from Obama on issues relating to our privacy already? With such a dynamic, I fear that a whole generation of WOW fanatics will find it that much harder to live to win:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Impeachment: Dare we Dream?

By: Harry Waisbren

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has presented 35 articles of impeachment for President Bush to the congress, but quite regrettably it's being reported that Democratic leaders remain strident in their efforts to appease the Republican criminal syndicate. Check out a portion of Kucinich's speech here (via TP):

This atrocity to the notion of rule of law is occurring despite the fact that 46% of Americans want to begin impeachment hearings against the president and 54% voting for a Cheney impeachment. The popularity of such a measure might be why the Republicans are freaking out over even discussing it, as Think Progress reports how House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) dismissed debate as merely the efforts of “left-wing bloggers“:

This is just another example of the Democratic leadership in the House indulging
trivial and silly conspiracy theories from left-wing bloggers, rather than
working with Republicans to deal with the real issues facing the American

Boehner's argument that the only people pushing for this are the dirty hippie types took a big hit when law professor and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley argued on Countdown with Keith Olbermann that America's founders "would have been astonished by the absolute passivity, if not the collusion, of the Democrats in protecting President Bush from impeachment." Check out the video here:

I agree wholeheartedly with Chris Bowers that even if Boehner is right that the Democratic establishment does not truly value the rule of law and will let this important debate be stifled, the Democrats should at least have the spine to allow an open debate on whether or not to impeach. This would allow the courageous ones amongst them to record their dissent in the history books, as well as help with that whole looking at yourself in the mirror thing.

UPDATE (via TP): Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) “said he’s not going to let his effort to impeach President Bush die a quiet death in committee. He said Wednesday that he’ll bring his resolution back in 30 days if the Judiciary Committee…doesn’t act on it.” “In 30 days, I’ll be joined by many more” members, he said.

O'reilly Ambush Fallout

By: Harry Waisbren

Earlier today I wrote about how Bill O'reilly's producer got absolutely ridiculed while trying to ambush Bill Moyers at the National Conference for Media Reform. Keith Olbermann, whose show's ratings have now surpassed Bill O'reilly's, covered this in all it's hilarious glory last night on countdown, which can be seen here:

Despite the widespread disdain for such ludicrous tactics, Billo still went along with his heavily edited hit piece on Moyers. Think Progress got the video of the creative editing as well as the expert analysis from a "body language expert":

Think Progress notes how:

The reporter, Porter Barry, accused Moyers of not “having the courage” to come
on the O’Reilly Factor. Moyers replied, “I will come on Bill O’Reilly’s show after
he accepts my invitation to come on my show
, unedited, a whole hour. I’ll
give him a whole hour.” He added, “But let’s see if that message gets on the

Unsurprisingly, O’Reilly chose to air only a tiny portion of the
ambush on his show Monday night. He praised Barry’s performance, saying “he
handled himself well.” O’Reilly’s “body language expert,” Tonya Reiman, agreed,
saying that Barry “handled
himself beautifully
.” Unsurprisingly, O’Reilly used the segment to launch
personal attacks on Moyers:

– “Now, it doesn’t matter what he says. It’s
just pure rank propaganda.”

– “Isn’t that rude? No, really?”

–“Look, he’s a real fanatic, this Moyers. He’s like a crazy guy.”

–“Moyers is scary.”

Bill Moyers: the scary rude fanatic crazy guy that we all must fear. That description kind of reminds me of this guy:

Obama Takes it to Lieberman

By: Harry Waisbren

I am so happy to report that one of Obama's first acts of domination of the Democratic party was to absolutely embarrass Holy Joe Lieberman. In the video below he leads him away and threatens him to all hell in politcal speak for stabbing him in the back through contributing to the insinuations that he is a Marxist Al Qaeda Black Muslim Reverand Wright loving threat to national security:

I'm particularly psyched about this, as I consider Joe Lieberman to be an absolute disgrace for the Jewish religion (as well as all Americans in general). Holy Joe loves war so much that he is still a major supporter of Pastor Hagee due to his calls for war with Iran which he believes will speed up the rapture, brought on by an anti-christ who is a gay Jew (seriously, he's coocoo for cocoa puffs). This is even more egregious considering McCain has already been shamed into flipflopping on him after persuing his endorsement for over a year.

Call me crazy, but anyone who supports a guy who says that Hitler merely was fulfilling God's wishes of speeding up Armageddon should be tarred, feathered, and ridiculed so badly that he has to move to another country Steve Bartman style. J-Street is contributing to this effort through it's petition calling on him to immediately withdraw his commitment to deliver the keynote address at Hagee's Israel Summit this coming July, which you can sign here.

McCain: Bringing Troops Home Not Important

By: Harry Waisbren

So McCain was on the Today show expressing the delicousness of unending war and when he was asked if he knew when American troops could finally begin to return home, McCain responded: "No, but that's not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq."

Who cares that 36% of active duty troops say the war wasn't worth it? Who cares that there are now MORE SOLDIERS WHO DIED BY SUICIDE than the war, a number that will assuredly increase given the 40,000 cases of PTSD already diagnosed. With leadership like this, no wonder a majority of our soldiers are supporting the democrats these days

The Huffington Post scooped the video and resulting politicorgasm from notable Dems:

Stop the Presses

By: Harry Waisbren

It's official: Barack Obama has made it. Forget the projected $100 million he is expected to raise in June---the official announcement comes via Matt Stoller through the news that J-Lo has officially made her endorsement.

The Hill emphased that "rumors circulated that Lopez may be writing Obama a song." Call me crazy, but somehow, I doubt it will be nearly as good as this one:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

McCain is Anti-beer

By: Harry Waisbren

In McCain's latest gaffe he promises to veto every single beer.

After this I think we can finally presume that there will be no McCain surge to success in Madison. Forgetting how many troops we have in Iraq and who actually is in charge in Iran be damned----this is the nail in the coffin!

Dan Rather at the National Conference for Media Reform

By: Harry Waisbren

Dan Rather gave quite the speech Saturday day at the Free Press National Conference for Media Reform. I was especially excited to see him in light of his $70 million lawsuit against CBS and it's parent company Viacom which could act as an "extraordinary commission of inquiry into a major news organization's intimidation, complicity and corruption under the Bush administration."

Although Rather was unable to discuss the law suit, he provided an astute insider's view into how our press has grown so rancorous:

Rather made sure not to extricate himself from the farcical nature of today's journalism, emphasizing that "when you hear me criticize the press, please know, I do not exmept myself from these criticisms."

Within the speech, Rather described how "almost all of [the mainstream media's] failings come down to this: in the current model of corporate news ownership, the incentive to produce good and valueable news is simply not there. Good journalism, quality news of integrity requires resources and it requires talent. These things are expensive, these things eat away at the bottom line."

I agree wholeheartedly with Rather, as it is undeniably true that our founding father's never envisioned the free press to be relient on a for profit system. This is why I consider blogging to be so important, as it is a medium where passionate citizens can write controversial and dissenting views no matter what advertisers or subscribers would think. I consider the most patriotic and courageous acts of an American to be ones in which uncomfortable, inconvenient, or even enraging truths are told in our efforts to create a more perfect union. Hopefully more and more of our country's "professional journalists" will see the error in their ways and recognize this edict from our founding father's as well.

Fox News---need I say more?

By: Harry Waisbren

So the Bush administration's official propaganda outlet had some things to say about Barack Obama giving his wife some "dap" when they engaged in a fist pound following his wrapping up the democratic nominiation----shockingly, Fox News was perturbed by this startling development:

In this clip they refer to the fist bumb as a "terrorist fist jab", going even further than they typically do. The supposed controversy over this incident was so ridiculous that even conservative Democrat Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) showed support to the Obamas by engaging in their own fist bump on CNN.

I agree with Rachel Maddow in the clip when she describes how this incident is something to laugh and rejoice over, as it is just one of the more blatant examples of how ridiculous the far right has gotten. The best part is that this is still so early in the campaign that the psychotic and racist id of the radical Republican psyche is only beginning to be tapped, and we'll be seeing a whole lot more comedy spectacles like this in the near future.

UPDATE: Haha, so E.D. Hill, the fist bump questioning terrorist detector, has had her show canceled mere days after the outcry from such a display of ludicrousness.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bill Moyers at the National Conference for Media Reform

By: Harry Waisbren

Bill Moyers gave a pheonmenal speech regarding the importance of media for a democracy as well as the importance for America to reform our media if we plan to remain a free people. Here is his speech in full, which I could not recommend watching enough:

Despite his caustic view of our current media, Moyers' speech was remarkably inspiring. He argued that "nothing is ever broken that can’t be fixed if enough people are committed" and insisted that the media reform movement is well on its way. He marveled at the 3,500 particpants at the conference as evidence of this, and had us turn and shake hands with each of the "kindred spirits" on our left and right. He told us to "hold your neighbors presence in your heart, and keep reminding yourself 'I am not alone in this movement'."

This part moved me in particular, as my favorite aspect of the conference was realizing just how many kindred spirits I have---people who have felt in their bones that something fundamentally wrong has been going on with our democracy, and who have come to learn that our media systems have been concocting a truth-free reality in order to pacify the populace.

A great example of this dynamic came following his speech when Bill O'reilly's producer attempted to ambush Moyers much like they did to Arianna Huffington at the Take Back America conference. Moyers was having none of it though, and put the propagandist in his place:

The fact that Fox News can get away with referring themselves as a news organization is evidence enough that accountability for these propaganda organizations is essential. I entirely agree with Moyers when he argued that "Democaracy without accountability creates the illusion fo popular control, while offering ordinary Americans only cheap tickets to the balcony too far away from the public sphere to see that democracy has become just a Reality TV set."

This is why I believe that accountability for both the politicians and media figures who have misled us into war can not be avoided. If media figures are not included in the equation they will continue to manipulate the public through their propaganda, and true accountability for the political operatives direclty responsible will not ever be achieved. And if high crimes and misdemeanors can be committed without accountability, what is to stop other leaders corrupted by power from committing them again?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

June 8th Edition of Forward Forum

By: John Quinlan

This is Forward Forum's John Quinlan, attending the National Conference for Media Reform. Please join Harry Waisbren, Stephanie Woods, and Laura Gutknecht (all here in Minneapolis, too!) for a very special show this Sunday evening, June 8th, from 7-9 pm on WTDY, 1670 AM, and streaming online at

Dozens of Madisonians and thousands of activists, journalists, broadcasters, bloggers, and podcasters from every corner of the US and beyond are here this weekend to examine the current deplorable state of corporate-owned journalism, and the promise represented by new technologies that we all hope will democratize the way we interact and receive our news.

This is a conference that began four years ago in Madison at an event that many believe signified the birth of a powerful new movement for social change--the movement for Media Reform. Guests here will include Amy Goodman, Dan Rather, and Bill Moyers--not to mention Madison's own Bob McChesney and John Nichols, the founders of this conference.

We also hope to hear from a cross-section of many of you who are also here with us this weekend for your own perceptions. Join us at 608-321-1670.

Our discussion will wander well into our second hour, but as we wind up our show, we'll be marking this historic week in the presidential race, with reflections on the many meanings underlying the clinching of the Democratic nomination by Barack Obama. Once again, your comments are welcome! (As of press time, we were seeking comments from those involved with the voting rights struggles and other aspects of the civil rights movement.... stay tuned.)

All of us are hyped to the max by this exciting conference, and all it represents for the future of our media and our country. Please tune in!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What is the Responsible Plan?

By: Harry Waisbren

One of the founding premises of this blog, seen in its very naming of "Mad Progress", is that we are seeing a "Mad" amount of progress (i.e. a lot). Although it might seem rash to refer to the amount of progress in the areas of most dire need in this country in such a manner, my excitement over the gains progressives have been making prevents me from caring at all.

I go through many of these developments that have made me more optimistic about our potential to achieve progress than at any point in my lifetime in this blog’s very first post. However, there is one development that stands out from all the others (though it is followed closely by the Iraq/Recession campaign), and that is the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

The Responsible Plan was crafted outside the bubble of the DC Beltway, as it was designed to organize a fundamentally different and less limited conversation around national security. Darcy Burner, the plan's primary author, consulted Gen. Paul Eaton to ensure that the plan holds the upmost credibility, and the endorsement from Center For American Progress Senior Fellow Larry Korb, who also is the former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Ronald Reagan, exemplifies the seriousness of this proposal.

This expansion of our discourse regarding reforms in our Post Iraq War World is essential if we are to end the war, but more importantly, if we are to prevent a repeat of the mistakes we have made by ending the causes of the war in Iraq. This is why the plan consists of a series of objectives that, taken together, refocus our current military involvement in the region while repairing damage to the U.S. to prevent a repeat of our mistakes. I believe that Dday sums it up very well with this assessment:

The beauty of this plan is in its recognition that the decision to invade Iraq was a catastrophe not just on its own merits, but because of what it said about the failure of our democracy to ably consider and implement solutions to national security challenges. A failed media, an executive drunk with power, and an emasculated Congress were all culpable in the systemic failure that was Iraq. And so for the first time, we have a comprehensive plan that seeks to address THAT side of the national security debate, the broken institutions, as opposed to simply setting up a timeline for a phased withdrawal with various dates and numbers.
Supporting the Responsible Plan is one of the two main goals of Madison’s Chapter of Campus Progress, and we plan on contributing as much as we can to this broader conversation on national security on Forward Forum. My excitement for the potential of the Responsible Plan to actually change our conversation on national security and ensure that we address the causes of the war in Iraq comes not only from how powerful its argument is, but also in the fact that it has already been endorsed by over 55 Democratic congressional candidates which could lead to the emergence of a "Responsible Caucus" that could act to enact the plan.

It truly is an incredible plan that could have profound results on our democracy, and I implore you to check it out for yourself. Obama has yet to endorse this proposal, but as Digby so often mentions, it is our job to ensure that he does:

President Franklin Roosevelt recognized that his ability to push New Deal legislation through Congress depended on the pressure generated by protesters. He once told a group of activists who sought his support for legislation, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

We don't help our cause or our candidates by failing to "make them do it." It's our end of the deal.

As always, Digby is entirely right. This sort of monumental change can not happen from the top down, and must be pushed from the bottom up from grass roots activists just like us. I intend to do everything in my power to keep up my end of the deal and "make them do it", and I can only hope that I can inspire others to do the same.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Phonebanking for Obama

By: Barbara Wright

I spent this last Saturday calling Puerto Rico on behalf of the Obama campaign. Let me explain first that the Obama Campaign is now using software that developed and put into play for the 2006 election. It is designed to let people call from their own phone to a list of names of voters that appears on their computer. It comes with all of the reference information that the voter and the caller needs to know. When is the primary or general election date, where is the polling place for this voter, when are the polls open, how can the voter register. There is also a script that prompts you on what to say. In the case of calling Puerto Rico it was in Spanish and was great because it reminded me that in Puerto Rico they don't say Votar, to vote for someone, they say Apoyar, to help someone, as in ?Apoyar Obama?

In 2006 I called 1500 people. I have not been able to do anywhere near that amount for this election but I really enjoy talking person to person with people all over the country. It takes a little practice so you don't sound like a telemarketer or a robo-call. Sometimes, depending on the list they give you it can be allot of no answers or machines. My list for calling Puerto Rico was all men's names. My first call was answered by a woman and after I asked for Juan, the name on my list, she told me he was not voting for Obama, he was not voting at all, he'd been dead for a year. I had two other calls where I was told the person had died as well. I had two calls where the person laughed and said they were not eligable to vote.

I had a few Hillary supporters and several people that were going to vote for Obama. One man kept saying he was voting for "el varon". " the man". I had to make him say Barack Obama so I could click the right button on my computer screen. I had a few curious women who demanded to know who I was and why I was calling their husbands and if he gave me his number! I assured them it was strictly political. My Spanish improved as I called although I had one man who hung up on me saying he couldn't understand what I wanted. Did you know that Puerto Ricans get to vote in the primary but not in the general election? Who knew?

I recommend this activity to anyone wondering how to get involved for the general election. It amazes me every time I do it that you can, through the miracle of technology,from the comfort of your own home or office, talk to someone far away that you've never met and get them to help us fix our broken democracy. This tool is gluing back together the fabric of our society that the Republicans and some Democrats have been trying to rip apart. That person on the other end of the phone is my fellow citizen, my fellow American, a member of the "We, the people " the Constitution refers to so eloquently. I had better end this. For some reason, I've got a tear in my eye.