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Friday, January 9

Now Let's Talk About Clark 

Half of Democrats recently polled say they know little or nothing about
Howard Dean. But if polled on how much they know about Gen. Wesley Clark,
I bet they'd know even less. Clark is a business associate of Arkansan
Vernon Weaver, longtime Democrat and President Clinton's choice for U.S.
ambassador to the European Union. The two met in Brussels. Weaver soon
returned to take a job as assistant to Chairman Jackson T. Stephens of the
Stephens Group, the Little Rock-based investment banking firm, one of the
largest U.S. investment banks outside Wall Street. Clark soon returned to
the United States too and was looking for a job in investment banking. He
met Warren Stephens, Jackson Stephen's son, and was hired even though
Clark knew nothing of investment banking
.

Clark left the firm of Stephens Inc. shortly before the invasion of Iraq.

The Stephens family has long supported Presidential candidates, most
notably Bill Clinton. But they are not Democrats. They supported the Bush
family. Back in the 1980s, when George W. Bush was looking for a cash
infusion of his failing Harken Energy Corp, he went straight to Little
Rock's Stephens Inc. According to the Wall Street Journal, in an article
entitled "Family Ties: How Oil Firm Linked To a Son of Bush Won Bahrain
Drilling Pact"
(12/06/1991), "He [Bush, Jr.] needed no introduction to
Jackson Stephens, having known him since the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign.
Mr. Stephens's wife, Mary Anne, would soon become Arkansas co-chairman of
the Bush for President campaign, while Mr. Stephens would donate $100,000
to Team 100, a GOP group that collected money for the campaign."

Stephens came to Bush's rescue with a $25 million cash exchange for Harken
stock, set up through the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), which
ordinarily did not invest in U.S. firms. The Wall Street Journal reported
that UBS was a joint-venture partner with BCCI in a Geneva-based bank.
According to the article, "Jackson Stephens suggested to BCCI in the late
1970s that it try to take over Washington, D.C.'s biggest bank, First
American Bankshares Inc... Mr. Stephens was among the defendants in that
suit, aimed at preventing a First American takeover by BCCI founder Agha
Hasan Abedi, BCCI principal Kamal Adham and Abdullah Darwaish, chief
financier for the royal family of Abu Dhabi."

Jackson Stephens also owns Donrey Media Group. "This company owns 53 daily newspapers, 71 non-dailies, outdoor advertising, TV broadcasting and cable television companies. Donrey is valued at about $950 million." according to an article in Free Republic. This may account for Clark's "darling" status in much of the media these days.

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IOWA SEN. TOM HARKIN WILL ENDORSE DEAN 

Jan. 9, 2004
1:48 P.M.

Des Moines, Iowa -- Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin endorsed Howard Dean for president on Friday, calling him the "kind of plain-spoken Democrat we need," and giving a key boost to the embattled front-runner 10 days before the state's kick-off caucuses.

A formal afternoon announcement was scheduled at Dean's Iowa headquarters.

"He's the Harry Truman of our generation," Harkin said in interview with The Associated Press. "Howard Dean is really the kind of plain-spoken Democrat we need."

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin Will Endorse Dean


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European-American Sees Bush/Nazi Parallels 

In light of the Republican frenzy over the two MoveOn ads comparing Bush to Hitler, this article by a European immigrant living in Wisconsin seems all the more timely: The Bush Hitler Thing. The author writes:

My family was one of Hitler's victims. We lost a lot under the Nazi occupation, including an uncle who died in the camps and a cousin killed by a booby trap. I was terrified when my father went ballistic after finding my brother and me playing with a hand grenade. (I was only 12 at the time, and my brother insisted the grenade was safe.) I remember the rubble and the hardships of 'austerity' - and the bomb craters from Allied bombs. As late as the 1980s, I had to take detours while bombs were being removed - they litter the countryside, buried under parking lots,buildings, and in the canals and rivers to this day. Believe me, I learned a lot about Hitler while I was growing up, both in Europe and here in the US - both my parents were in the war and talked about it constantly, unlike most American families. I spent my earliest years with the second-hand fear that trickled down from their PTSD - undiagnosed and untreated in those days.


So much for credentials. On to the parallels:

So far, I've seen nothing to eliminate the possibility that Bush is on the same course as Hitler. And I've seen far too many analogies to dismiss the possibility. The propaganda. The lies. The rhetoric. The nationalism. The flag waving. The pretext of 'preventive war'. The flaunting of international law and international standards of justice. The disappearances of 'undesirable' aliens. The threats against protesters. The invasion of a non-threatening sovereign nation. The occupation of a hostile country. The promises of prosperity and security. The spying on ordinary citizens. The incitement to spy on one's neighbors - and report them to the government. The arrogant triumphant pride in military conquest. The honoring of soldiers. The tributes to 'fallen warriors. The diversion of money to the military. The demonization of government appointed 'enemies'. The establishment of 'Homeland Security'. The dehumanization of 'foreigners'. The total lack of interest in the victims of government policy. The incarceration of the poor and mentally ill. The growing prosperity from military ventures. The illusion of 'goodness' and primacy. The new einsatzgrupen forces. Assassination teams. Closed extralegal internment camps. The militarization of domestic police. Media blackout of non-approved issues. Blacklisting of protesters - including the no-fly lists and photographing dissenters at rallies.

     There isn't much doubt in my mind - anyone who compares the history of Hitler's rise to power and the progression of recent events in the US cannot avoid the parallels. It's incontrovertible. Is Bush another Hitler? Maybe not, but with each incriminating event, the parallel grows -it certainly cannot be dismissed. There's too much evidence already. Just as Hitler used American tactics to plan and execute his reign, it looks as if Karl Rove is reading Hitler's playbook to plan world domination - and that is the stated intent of both. From the Reichstag fire to the landing at Nuremberg to the motto of "Gott Mit Uns" to the unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq to the insistence that peace was the ultimate goal, the line is unbroken and unwavering.


The author of this article is not the first European-American I've heard draw these parallels. Speaking to German friends who grew up in Germany in the 20s and 30s, one of whom served in the German army during the War, Bush seems Hitlerian to them. The difference, they told us is that "Bush is more arrogant."

This does not bode well for those of us who would prefer that our country not become a fascist dictatorship, especially since the average American seems hell-bent on looking the other way. But as the author of the piece above indicates, this is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany in the years leading up to the War. Could it happen again? I wouldn't bet against it.

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All Anti-Bush Protest Is Terrorism 

As anyone who's been paying even a tidbit of attention knows, all protest is now subject to suppression by the FBI, Secret Service, local law enforcement, the Justice Department -- in short, by the entire police state in which we live here in America. Why? Because according to the Bush administration, protesters against him are terrorists. Period. Here are some of my favorite quotes from a recent article in the San Franciso Chronicle:

When the police attack sparked a geyser of media criticism [by spraying a protest rally in Oakland with rubber bullets], Mike van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center told the Oakland Tribune, "You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."

Van Winkle justified classifying protesters as terrorists: "I've heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact, and shutting down a port certainly would have some economic impact. Terrorism isn't just bombs going off and killing people."


See? Protest is terrorism. How about this one:

Attempts to suppress protesters become more disturbing in light of the Homeland Security Department's recommendation that local police departments view critics of the war on terrorism as potential terrorists. In a May terrorist advisory, the Homeland Security Department warned local law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government." If police vigorously followed this advice, millions of Americans could be added to the official lists of suspected terrorists.


Actually, you don't have to protest. It's enough to simply 'express dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government' to make you a terrorist suspect. And finally:

The FBI took a shotgun approach toward protesters partly because of the FBI's "belief that dissident speech and association should be prevented because they were incipient steps toward the possible ultimate commission of act which might be criminal," according to a Senate report.


It's a preemptive strike! If you speak out against the government, that means you might be planning to commit a criminal act! Of course, anyone taking advantage of first amendment rights must be a criminal, I guess, because nice people don't speak out. Why do we have the first amendment again?

Good grief. How paranoid are these people? How pathetically weak? How stunningly dictatorial? They're going to love the next 5 years, they really are, if they're this freaked out about grandmothers with little protest signs...

Read the rest at: Quarantining dissent: How the Secret Service protects Bush from free speech by James Bovard.

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Disorderly Rate Conduct and Other Phantoms 

Although many of us think of the IMF as a tool of the US Government and its corporations, the IMF had some harsh words for the US this week with regard to the nation's fiscal policies. On the domestic front, these were their concerns:

U.S. government finances have experienced a remarkable turnaround in recent years. Within only a few years, hard-won gains of the previous decade have been lost and, instead of budget surpluses, deficits are again projected as far as the eye can see. The deterioration has not been restricted to the federal budget but has also taken place at the state and local government levels. As a result, the U.S. general government deficit is now among the highest in the industrialized world, and public debt levels are approaching those in other major industrial countries (Figure 1.1).



Although fiscal policies have undoubtedly provided valuable support to the recovery so far, the return to large deficits raises two interrelated concerns. First, with budget projections showing large federal fiscal deficits over the next decade, the recent emphasis on cutting taxes, boosting defense and security outlays, and spurring an economic recovery may come at the eventual cost of upward pressure on interest rates, a crowding out of private investment, and an erosion of longer-term U.S. productivity growth.

Second, the evaporation of fiscal surpluses has left the budget even less well prepared to cope with the retirement of the baby boom generation, which will begin later this decade and place massive pressure on the Social Security and Medicare systems. Without the cushion provided by earlier surpluses, there is less time to address these programs' underlying insolvency before government deficits and debt begin to increase unsustainably, making more urgent the need for meaningful reform.


On the global front, their fears are a bit vague ('adverse consequences') but still worth noting, since so many other economists are also thinking along these lines:

Although U.S. fiscal policy has undoubtedly provided valuable support to the global economy in recent years, large U.S. fiscal deficits also pose significant risks for the rest of the world. Simulations reported in Section II suggest that a 15 percentage point increase in the U.S. public debt ratio projected over the next decade would eventually raise real interest rates in industrial countries by an average of 1⁄2–1 percentage point. Higher borrowing costs abroad would mean that the adverse effects of U.S. fiscal deficits would spill over into global investment and output.

Moreover, against the background of a record-high U.S. current account deficit and a ballooning U.S. net foreign liability position, the emergence of twin fiscal and current account deficits has given rise to renewed concern. The United States is on course to increase its net external liabilities to around 40 percent of GDP within the next few years—an unprecedented level of external debt for a large industrial country (IMF, 2003b). This trend is likely to continue to put pressure on the U.S. dollar, particularly because the current account deficit increasingly reflects low saving rather than high investment.

Although the dollar's adjustment could occur gradually over an extended period, the possible global risks of a disorderly exchange rate adjustment, especially to financial markets, cannot be ignored. Episodes of rapid dollar adjustments failed to inflict significant damage in the past, but with U.S. net external debt at record levels, an abrupt weakening of investor sentiments vis-à-vis the dollar could possibly lead to adverse consequences both domestically and abroad.


As someone noticed recently, Argentina was once prosperous... See the U.S. Fiscal Policies and Priorities for Long-Run Sustainability on the IMF web site, for the details...

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Thursday, January 8

Iowans Besieged by Get-Out-Vote Drives 

Dean's campaign plans to use real-time voter tracking to shape the field of battle in Iowa, where Dean is hoping to beat Gephardt for first place. If all works out according to plan, Dean's supporters will number in the thousands by the following weekend before the 19th of January, the day of the Iowa Caucus. While Gephardt relies on traditional methods to keep track of his voters, Dean is using some pretty advanced technology that noone else will be using. Dean has also shaped the battlefield in another way by increasing the likely turnout of voters from 60,000 to 90,000-150,000 voters, which would be in his favor as Dean's voters are those who have not attended their caucus in the past. Read the whole story.


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Wednesday, January 7

Bush Has Great Impact - On Extinction 

Bush will go down in history, they say. For destroying most of the world by doing nothing.

"Prof Thomas said it was urgent to switch from fossil fuels to a non-carbon economy as quickly as possible. 'It is possible to drastically reduce the output of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and this research makes it imperative we do it as soon as possible. If we can stabilise the climate and even reverse the warming we could save these species, but we must start to act now.'

If conservation groups wanted to save species they should devote at least half their energies to political campaigning to reduce global warming because that was the greatest single threat to survival of the species.

John Lanchbery, climate change campaigner for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, agreed: 'This is a deeply depressing paper. President Bush risks having the biggest impact on wildlife since the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs. "


It simply isn't true. God wiped out the dinosaurs to make oil for us to burn. If I were Bush, I'd start a committee to study this issue, with results in 5-8 years. These things take time, and there is still lots of oil to sell to SUV owners.

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Tuesday, January 6

How Did We Find That Ad? 

You know the ad. The one we're promoting heavily on our RNC website, going on all the fake news shows to promote/decry?

Well, I spoke with someone who registered to be a judge of the MoveOn ad contest who was able to watch about 50 of the ads, and never saw the bad ad in question.

There were over 1,000 ads to view. Close to 1,500. Each had to be downloaded, evaluated, and voted upon. There was a catch, too. You could only watch 20 per day. That means that if you were truly devoted (through the holidays, even) you might be able to watch 600 of these in a month. The contest lasted just a bit over a month.

This would imply that the RNC got very lucky in their draw of ads, or they never watched any and otherwise knew about the very bad ad submission. Like miraculously finding the passport of Mr. Atta in the burning wreckage of the WTC almost immediately, something smells funny.

How would the RNC know about the li'l ol' ad buried in the pile of liberal rubble? It was placed there by an operative. Created for the purposes of decrying. Simple disinformation. And that made it easy to find. We can't be fair, and certainly can't care about anyone but ourselves, but we do know one thing: dirty tricks. We are GREAT at dirty tricks, and stop at nothing.

How else would we have permission to show the work of someone else on our RNC site if that someone wasn't us?

The moment our friends at the RNC announced the horribleness (and we all know that EVIL stopped in the 1940's - nothing, no one, no how could EVER be as bad as Hitler. Hitler was the only evil we will ever face. Everyone else is NOT evil. No matter how evil they may appear.), the talking points had been distributed and dutifully parrotted by media pals.

Personally, the gambler in me wants to win by playing fair. It's much more fun to win using legit means, but we know we can't win that way. Without money, power, and lies, we have to talk about issues. And we can't do that. What, tell you about all the programs for you that we gutted? Please!

As long as you believe that evil was long ago and far away and nothing now could compare, we can get away with it.


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Monday, January 5

How-Weird 

Howard Kurtz notes that the RNC is now running ads on its site comparing our candidate Bush to Hitler. It seems the RNC wants as many people as possible to make the connection that Bush is like Hitler, but only slightly more arrogant. Or something.

The ads were originally losers in an ad contest open to anyone, including Republicans, for MoveOn.org... that terrible organization that unites people around common interests and gets them active in the political process. MoveOn is so terrible that they succeeded in stopping a number of fabulous bills dreamt up by our Department of Questionable Efforts.

So what does the RNC do? Promote the ads themselves.

"...the Republican National Committee has posted the Nazi-themed spots on its own site, along with a blast from its chairman, Ed Gillespie.

-snip-

But (MoveOn's) Pariser said: 'Except for a few hundred people, no one would have seen it if the GOP hadn't picked it up and put it on their Web site.' "


This could be a new Democratic tactic if it succeeds. Create outrageous ads that no one notices, then let the RNC promote them. The truth is, this is Karl Rove's first dirty trick of the year. We submitted that ad so we could criticize it. You should watch the other nasty ads we created but didn't submit. Ah, there will be time for that later.

It's nice to see all the money flowing into the Bush campaign being used like this, isn't it?

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Bush Team Relaxed 

The NY Times says the Bush team is relaxed, except for all the hard work we are doing. While some campaign members dine in ritzy lunchrooms without a care in the world, others are working furiously around the clock to give Bush a second term.

"Money meanwhile continues to flow into Bush-Cheney election headquarters in Arlington, Va., where officials expect to announce the latest tally on Monday or Tuesday. Officials there say that Mr. Bush could have close to $120 million, and that he could reach his goal, $170 million, by March, when the Democrats may well have a nominee. That will allow Mr. Bush to switch from $2,000-a-plate fund-raisers in sterile hotel ballrooms to classic political activities, like rallies and baby-kissing shopping-mall tours."


Betcha can't wait for Bush to come to your shopping mall to kiss babies, eh? Watch out, though. Don't dress them as quail or they'll be shot rather than kissed. Just some friendly advice.

One wonders if anyone on our Bush team has any sense of reality. We spend so much time making stuff up and creating illusions of greatness that we may fail to see the true direction this country is going. Could it be that people are suffering? That they dislike being lied to, and know they are being lied to? Could Americans be sensing that they are becoming serfs in our kingdom? Might they realize we've stolen just about all of the money, and have our hands on any future money your kids might make? Maybe they've noticed that we do nothing for ordinary folk, and everything for ourselves and our friends. Might they see that we use fear to get our way, and have done more to destroy the Constitution in 3 years than any of our enemies could ever dream?

Nah. We're great. Let's relax and raise money. It's all about money. If we don't spend $200 million, how can we expect to be hired for the job that pays less than half of one million? We'll scare people into voting for us, or not voting for the other candidate. We're lining up our vote counters right now, and have judges in place to resolve any disputes in our favor.

That Dr. Dean guy isn't a threat. Just because he's actually fiscally conservative doesn't mean we can't say were more conservative in our massive spending on defense and homeland security.

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