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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Push-Blogging, Part II -- Pentagon Propaganda

Because Tweety ended the first half hour of his Hardball show--ALL WRIGHT ALLA TIME-- with the promise that he'd be right back with *surprise!!!!* MORE WRIGHT ALLA TIME....
[sorry, Tweety, your push-pastoring is as slimy as push-polling, ya lost me, bigtime]

Because the corporate media are so deep in bed with the perps on this story they are too ashamed, scared, intimidated, cowardly, all of the preceding, to report on it....

Because this is endemic to the "news" these days, we're going to offer from time to time a look at stories that are making the blogosphere that you may not necessarily see on teevee...unless they are dragged kicking and screaming and furiously rubbing their Bush Secret Decoder Rings for orders....

The Pentagon's Psy-ops on America
--finally someone asks the question of the White House, courtesy Raw Story.
Others said that if they departed from the Pentagon's talking points, their access was cut off, and my question is: Did the White House know about and approve of this operation?

Ms. Perino: Look, I don't...I didn't know...look, I think you guys should take a step back and look at this op...look....
Who you gonna believe? Dana Perino or your lyin' eyes?

UPDATE: Think Progress blogs on the Pentagon's Psy-Ops tactics, also. Get to know your blogs, folks, they may be all the news we have left in the "newsertainment" world.


dday and tristero over at digby... what they're sayin'....

Topics that matter. McCain, by dday, and Media, forward from Glenn at salon courtesy tristero.

Oh, the venality* of power.

* venality: 1. The condition of being susceptible to bribery or corruption. 2. The use of a position of trust for dishonest gain.

I'll leave it to you to sort out which one's which....

100 More Years

...Of this:

(from Editor & Publisher)

Obit Reveals: Ex-Commander in Iraq Dies -- Suffering from 'Depression'

By Greg Mitchell
Published: April 29, 2008
NEW YORK10:55 AM ET Even after so many tragic final chapters in the lives of so many U.S. military personnel in Iraq or veterans back home, the brutally frank opening line in a newspaper obituary from five days ago seemed particularly haunting: "Donald P. Christy, Lt. Col, USAF, passed away April 21, 2008 in Colorado Springs after an extended bout of anxiety and depression."

Further on, the obit mentioned that in 2004 "Don served a tour of duty as the Deputy Commander at Baghdad Airport in Iraq"

Maybe it was this, from the ending of the article, that added poignance...

"Don, It seems like yesterday that you and I were young lieutenants in Grand Forks. Back then your greatest worry was which video game you could borrow from me. I'm sorry that I lost touch over the years. I'm also sorry to hear that your life was in turmoil. My prayers are with you and your family. RIP my friend. I hope you have found peace and may your family find solace in this difficult time.
For he was, albeit for a short time "like yesterday" a neighbor, up north in Grand Forks. RIP, Don Christy, and peace, to you and your loved ones.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't Worry, Stay Healthy

Well, John McCain brought forth his healthcare plan today. And if you are...well, that is...hey, no problem. A tax credit. An open market. [Would that be like the unregulated airline industry?...that's workin' well these days. Not.]

People choose, says McCain, instead of employers or...booga, boogah...the gummint. We, the people are the government, though, if we can just wrench it back from the neocon Republican extremists.

But if you're not well, hey, have they got a deal for you.

Oh, wait, what's that you say? There is no deal for the chronically ill, those with pre-existing medical conditions?

Shhhh, wait, have you heard the latest about Obama's pastor?

McCain offers the usual Republican panacea...the unseen hand of the marketplace. Hyperbole about state-philosophized GAP programs that may or may not emerge. Oh, and go walking 30 minutes a day so ya don't get sick.

That's our Johnny. Always a quick fix that ends up not passing the smell test. Kinda like that campaign finance reform bill--unKeating-Feingold, remember?--he's end-running these days. Or is it end-flying, thanks to his wife's corporate jet.


The longer the undecided Democratic primary season persists, the uglier it gets. Like the latest speculation that the Clinton campaign has been egging on and facilitating the current press availabilities of Rev. Wright. The very idea is picking up speed and traction in the New York press and radio.

Now if one were of a suspicious...or cynical...or speculative...or, well, I'll leave the label to you, then, one could certainly string out a plausible case for this. Or tweak it a little.

Just consider, Wright has a massive ego and doubtless was stung by what he saw as Obama's rejection of him. Hell hath no fury like...

And he has the righteous cause of liberation theology which he says has been totally miscast, misrepresented and been attacked in the broader universe. And, given the screedy rants of hate radio, it's hard not to see that.

But coming from the world of reading and writing, I'm drawn to the simple concept that when all else is proven false, the obvious may be true.

So let's say that Wright did, indeed, succumb to the beguiling temptation to get his story out there, by whatever means necessary, with a little organizing and prompting from the Clintonistas.

Fair game? T'ain't beanbag....

Well, as Mr. Carville might say, every campaign has its Judas.

Monday, April 28, 2008

In the Tank

Earlier today, on his regional show, Fargo's best known talk radio voice bantered about attending the White House Correspondents Dinner and how rude the audience was while students were being presented awards for their journalism. And how the inside talk is that Obama is off his game...while he correctly points out that the media focuses on Obama's bowling rather than his basketball. False-framers, they.

And then we get the National Press Club's pathetic, shallow Q&A for Rev. Wright aired today on C-Span. How often does Barack go to church? Wright turns it right around, prolly 'bout as much as you, questioner....

And MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell push-polling Bill Bradley about whether Rev. Wright is a real story or a media creation, thus furthering the media creation....

Meanwhile, the trade e-newsletter Publisher's Lunch prints a blurb about Huffington Post blogger E.J. Eskow's forthcoming book:
HuffingtonPost featured blogger R.J. Eskow's DEMBACLE: How the Democrats Lost the Unloseable Election, chronicling the two parties in the race for the 2008 White House and how the Democrats blew their chance against all odds, to Drew Nederpelt at Sterling & Ross, for publication November 2008 (world).
Anybody who had any doubt that the struggle to restore America and democracy is a battleground not only against neocon/corporatist Republicans but also what passes for a practicing press corps need only consider the self-fulfilling, self-absorbed lemming Vapid Vapors Media in full search and destroy mode these days.

They've learned nothing from Colbert.

Meanwhile, on a more hopeful note, Aaron Brown returns to the airwaves soon at PBS's Wide Angle. Score one for intelligent journalism.

UPDATE: Froomkin's take on the media, must reading today...and everyday. Another score for intelligence. If only this were soccer, we could declare victory and go home.

Moratorium on Infrastructure

Just what is a tax, anyway? The way I look at it, it's an investment in civilized society, the common good. Oh, and in some cases, it's:

a) a political gimmick
b) a road repaired or a bridge replaced
c) either/or...or all of the above? [just two, you say? Well, isn't that enough?]

Though I will allow that John McCain actually does see a tax as a couple more things:
1) political opportunity to posture over and spin and distort and twist and divert
2) something to flip-flop over.
3) both of the above, and more...

Take McCain's recent proposal for a temporary freeze on collecting taxes at the gas pump.

Big whup.

Let's say that tax amounts to 5 or 10% of your gas bill. Pretty small potatoes when compared to the two, three, four times per gallon as much as gas cost back in the good ol' days, also known as before the Bush Dark Ages.

Nope, McCain doesn't want to talk about the grotesque profiteering Big Oil's taking these days, coupled with the rampant speculation of Wall Street's hedge fund types who are driving gas prices right through the roof.

Get a handle on those guys? Not our John. His phony concern for the poor at the pump is belied by his diversion from the real issue: the greedy gas gougers who want four more years of Bush-whacking everyday Americans.

So this summer, as the dials spin higher and higher on gas prices, thank a Bush and a McCain as you hit those potholes and drive over the shaky bridges. Infrastructure brought to you by Republican politics.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

And then they came for me

Here in Prairie Country, we like to flatter ourselves that we're pretty much removed from the kind of race-baiting, code-wording crapola that's re-emerged in this election campaign via voices as disparate as Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton and Lou Dobbs and John Hagee and, well, the list, sadly, goes on...and on...and on...and....

We see it in the subjects the media choose to focus on. The endless Rev. Wright. Hmmmm, just who is actually going to be on the ballot this year? Hillary Clinton, or Bill? Barack Obama or his former pastor? John McCain or George W. Bush? The lines are way too blurry these days.

Maybe in your neighborhood, you, too, have thought, hmmm, it can't happen here.

Until it does. Switch off the news about the gang shootings in Chicago, or the punditizing about the Alabama section of Pennsylvania or the upcoming Appalachian spring back to a previous century, and it's still right here.

Here in the Red River Valley of the North the ugly head of bigotry and hate emerges, too. North Dakota not-so-nice at the University in Grand Forks these days. A Jewish student has lived in fear, subjected to a swastika painted in the stairs at his dorm, a pellet gun shooting at his dorm room door. A school administration too slow to respond, to investigate, to do anything until the glare of publicity forces their hand.

So, hate radio is merely "bombast" and political campaign tactics merely "this ain't beanbag" until each and every one of us must say, enough.

Enough of smear by association. Enough of the politics of fear and hatemongering. Enough of screed and slime in the name of furthering a personal agenda of power or privilege.

Because the more we let ourselves be divided against "them," whoever "them" may be, the weaker we all become.

The collapse, right here in the heartland, of a major bridge across arguably the most important river in America, the Mississippi, is omen of these times. Neglecting the ties that bind us, the power that is "We, the people..." invites collapse and ruin.

Together, we are stronger, we are, yes, our brother's keeper. We are the exemplar of living toward a more perfect union, not division, of states.

Too often, it's easy to forget the lessons of history, or give them short shrift. And then comes an episode that reminds us of one pastor's call*:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The version inscribed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. reads:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

New England Holocaust Memorial

The version inscribed at the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts reads:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
* Martin Niemoller's poem, in various forms can be found at Wikipedia.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

White Dreaming


White should be a thing of beauty, like the late spring blizzard which has frosted trees and cabins and homes in heavy coats of white.

But white, as we have seen more and more of late, can be a thing to distort and corrupt and contaminate, too.

The Clintons play it while protestin’ too much, but we ain’t buyin’ it.

But it’s emerging elsewhere, too. North Carolina Republicans are using it to attack statewide candidates.

We have, we admit, very low expectations of standards of decency from Faux News during and after Chris Wallace interviews Barack Obama Sunday morning. Tell me again, is Chris’ daddy Mike? Or George Corley? Guess we’ll learn soon.

And then there’s the corpulent hillbilly heroin junkie, leading the refrain, “Dreamin’ of Riots in Denver….” Theme song of the White Citizens Council, "White Christmas" is, in his corrupted version.

They're all playin' from the same deck, just hidin' in different suits in the vast White Wing Conspiracy. Exactly what Obama's been sayin' about the same ol' same ol' we're being offered by two of the presidential candidates this year: More of the same or if you can't beat 'em become just like 'em.

But this isn't something to toy with and tell yourself you can fix it later. Not for Clinton, not for McCain. What does each of them tell their community, their children? What does each of them tell the person in the mirror?

White. It's the same ol' race card. Will it win again?

Only if we let it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Auspicious April Day

One hundred years ago today, Edward R. Murrow was born, and his is a time worth marking for reminding us what journalism at its best can be. Intelligent, dogged in cutting through the chaff to bring the real story, unflinching in pursuing a story that needs telling. Not because it will pump ratings or advertising dollars, in fact it might cut them.

But it’s the right thing to do.

We’ve seen of late far too much of the opposite: “journalists” who act as little more than stenographers or plagiarists of partisan or agenda-driven press releases and “leaks,” or are totally clueless of the everyday lives of the people they’re “reporting” to, or are preening their own self-importance.

There are stellar exceptions.

Today is Murrow’s day. Journalists and consumers of the news alike will be well served by reflecting on what he brought to the news biz, the First Amendment, and democracy through his work.

Visit the new Newseum if you’re in the DC area, or watch George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck in your own hometown. And keep Murrow in mind as you listen to those who call themselves the media. Keep Murrow in mind as you watch the Sunday gasbag shows.

Keep Murrow in mind, and remember what news is supposed to be: information, not infotainment--with far too much of the info gettin’ lost in the swirl of “-tainment.”


Today is also Arbor Day. So get off your duff and go out and hug a tree. Better yet, use the widget and contribute to the Plant a Billion Trees campaign. And while you’re at it, plant some seeds…for the earth, for democracy.

h/t to Mr. Sunshine...38 years and every day an A Day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Looking Glass

The Current Occupant holds fast to his insistence that we are not in a Recession.

Now that's something I'm starting to come around to. Take a look around. Gas prices. Schools in peril because their property tax base is crashing amid foreclosures. Rice rationing, as Brian Williams reported tonight on NBC. A tent city in the LA neighborhood. Dorothea Lange would find too much familiar terrain to the Dirty 30s these days.

We're lookin' thru a glass darkly at the D-word. And I don't mean Dubya...he's too busy dartin' his eyes around while people like Dr. DeBakey speak. Or dancin' on the shards of America.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

For all those of us who do not live in Pennsylvania, here are some suggestions for ways we can occupy our day while making our start at saving the planet. Pennsylvanians welcome to join in, too.

Contribute to the Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign. Better yet, contribute and then go out and get your own tree and plant it right in your own backyard.

Starting today, Drive 55. Why wait for somebody else's campaign or legislation? Nobody's stoppin' you...oh, the more foolish may honk their horns, but hey, it's good "greenin'," less pollution emissions into the air, and it'll raise your gas mileage, too.

Recycle—take magazines with you to the doctor's office and the next guy won't have to mutter because everything's months old. Donate books to your local library for their shelves and/or book sales. De-clutter your home, your life, your spirit...donate to thrift stores. Make your mantra "Everything I need I already have."

Stash your re-usable grocery bags in your car, and next time, no matter where you go shopping, take 'em along. The less plastic we use, the less oil needed to make it. The less coin in Chee-knee's pocket.

Whaddya think—how can you be a better planet steward today?...and the day after and....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moore 4 Obama

He brings a whole lotta reasons why to the table—Michael Moore sends an open letter to Pennsylvania asking 'em to vote for Obama.

Hey, I'm good with that. Need more reasons than Moore offers? How about Condoleezza Rice going over to the Baghdad Green Zone to taunt al Sadr? And to catapault Bush-Chee-knee's propaganda a step closer to bomb-bomb-bombing Iran with the same ol' conflate and lie tactics that bogged us down in Iraq. Not so exercised about that? Think what does it matter if it's the same ol' same ol?

Then consider last night's 60 Minutes report by Lara Logan about Green Berets under attack in Afghanistan.

The Republican civilian leaders treat our troops like cannon fodder and can't make the effort to take care of our bravest except with strategerially timed award ceremonies. Where's the Tough But Fair questioning of McCain about the veterans' benefits bill he steadfastly stands against?

And one of the candidates tactics are right out of the Rovian Republican playbook of race-baiting fearmongering. The candidate who voted for the Iraq war, who in recent days showed herself ready to meddle in the middle of further war. She who claims the feminists of a certain age base as her due has lost more than just moi.

One quibble I have with Moore's letter, which he closes with: On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Seems to me we all have a chance for redemption—and restoration and renewal and just plain being able to hold our heads high with honor again—as we vote this year.

H/T's to reader Melody and Sammie's Mommy for the heads-ups to Paglia and Moore links.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Artistic License

This evening, toward the end of the powerful HBO miniseries John Adams, the aging former president is brought to view a magnificent wall-sized rendering of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Adams castigates the artist Trumble for his work, pointing out that there was never an occasion when all the signers came together in such a fashion, signing one by one. There was a war on already, and the signers came when they could, quickly signing the document and hurrying away over the summer.

Artistic license, asserts Trumble, it makes for a better picture. And thus was propaganda given one of its "grander" moments.

There's a lot of artistic license going on these days, too, what Adams decried as the fiction of modern history in HBO's narrative.

Artistic license played by media who call themselves tough but fair when they are little more than stenographers and tools of one-party rule. Or diggers into the same ol' garbage long after it's been debunked, like smelly rotted russet potatoes.

Artistic license by those who pose as respectable consultants or opinionizers only to be revealed as paid shills for special interests.

Artistic license on such a grand scale as done by Faux that it is breathtaking in its sheer audacity...as befits the propaganda arm of this most corrupt and fabricated of administrations.

There are a few, a very few who still remember what it is to be responsible reporters of modern history, the first telling as some call journalism. And they are worthy of noting...Moyers, Schieffer. You may know of others not weighted down by the corruption of their integrity in the name of "access" or "off the record...." or willful disregard.

The series ends with a soft-voiced notation by Paul Giamatti, in his magnificent Adams role, saying he hopes he doesn't repent in heaven the effort he put into establishing this democracy.

There is much to be learned from history, from understanding the Founding Fathers not as flat images clustered on a contrived wall portrait or selectively skewed for political policy partisanship, but as humans with their frailties and imperfections....and yes, accomplishments.

For if we fail to learn from history, then we, in this age, indeed give Adams cause to repent in heaven.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Puttering..."Tough but Fair"

Life’s laid back in the tall timber…even the snow is more stubborn about melting. Crystallized and crusty drifts linger under the pine trees and in hollows and on the shadow sides of cabins.

In the morning, the thermometer dial under the eave says “27” and the mug of hot coffee billows steam into the air even as the sun warms the ground.

This is the season of puttering along. The ground still too frozen to work, but the “gifts that keep on giving”—from the dogs…and neighboring deer, and maybe fox, or coyote or wolf, or, hey, why not a cougar? “Some say” they’ve been seen up by Itasca—form hot spots absorbing the sun. Little flashpoint poops of form but not-usable substance.

We saw too much of that form but damned little useful substance from a slice of the media again this week.

TBF “Tough but fair” Stephanopoulos and ACE “arrogant condescending elitist” Gibson gave us another round of preening It’s-all-about-me “journalism.”

Plenty’s already been written about the “Fiasco in Philly”—you may have written a comment or two yourself. I understand a few people have….

So I won’t rehash that, except to note:

  • Hey, ACE: He’s right—stop doing Stewart’s job. He’s a helluva lot better at it. Oh, and while you’re at it, stop doing Charlie Black and the RNC’s jobs, too. Do your own. And if you can’t figure out what that job is, have a chat with Moyers. He’s got it.
  • And TBF? We’ll believe that whole tough but fair business when we see it equally dispensed—like the next time you sit down for a wee chat with McCain. I could offer some questions, but I bet if you really, really think about it, you could come up with those on your own. Go ahead, we know you can….

In the meantime, TBF and ACE, you stop the posturing and faux framing, guys—and I won’t try tellin’ you that plain ol’ dog poop is good fertilizer.

* * *

Oh, and as for flag pins on lapels. Hmmmm, I won’t look for ’em next time my house is on fire. Just for the people who know how to do their jobs and put out the fires instead of fanning destructive flames.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Is Our Children Learnin'?

Not if the Current Occupant has his way about it...

Dollars allocated for the Reading Is Fundamental [RIF] in the Bush budget? Zero

Because if there's one thing Bush has learned...

oh, wait.

He's learned nothing.

The rest of us, well, we'll need to make sure our Congresspeople safeguard this most fundamental part of governance and democracy.

I know, quaint. So pre-9/11. Let 'em hear you roar.

The Morning After


Stephanopoulos on Imus this morning saying: "It's our job to ask the tough questions."

Okay, George, that's the benchmark. We'll look forward to hearing "the tough questions" of Bush authorizing and his Principals micromanaging torture. Bush lying us into a war that has now cost over 4000 lives and driven our economy into a tailspin. McCain pushing a "gas tax" holiday instead of going after the profiteers who are gouging us at the gas pump. Did Cokie have a nice ride with Bushie to meet the.... oh, wait, how did that one get in there?

Tough is in the eye of the beholder, and we'll be holding Stephanopoulos to that standard. Gibson, who 'way back told us where he was coming from when he said his "news" show wouldn't cover the Libby trial because it was too complicated and gave him a header, is so totally self-absorbed in his greatness and totally UNself-aware in his incompetence that we will henceforth ignore.

Meanwhile, Imus and Snuffalufagous totally ignoring the turd in the punchbowl--which in this case is the firestorm of outrage about their ghastly, slanted trivializing of the vital issues of these times into a reenactment of The Gong Show. With no insult meant to gongs.

How odd.

Oh, wait. Imus is simulcast on RFD-TV and WABC Radio. 'nuff said.

UPDATE: And then Jeff Greenfield, in a later morning appearance on Imus at RFD-TV added that he didn't understand what all the fuss was about because "ACE*" "news" man Charles Gibson was just asking the questions that the Republicans would be pushing in months ahead.

Here's a tough question for all these guys, but especially ACE*: Since when is it the job of debate moderators/"news"people to become partisan hitmen for the corrupt Republican campaign committee?

* ACE = arrogant, condescending, elitist

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


This day began with the Pope at the White House "God blessin' America."

And ended with the worst presidential campaign "debate" I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.

Sublime to totally beyond ridiculous.


East Side-West Side Court Side Story

After earlier today talking of a Shark, seems only a propos (that word isn't condescending, is it?) to speak of a man who's taken off like a Jet...

and judge a man by the company he keeps...on the basketball court. Pickup game with Ft. Bragg troops, courtesy HBO's Real Sports

Basking Shark

Basking in the glow of his own self-delusions and hypocrisy, Joe Lieberman told Imus this morning that Harry Reid has assured him he won't lose his seniority...essentially.

As for reports that he'll speak at the Republican convention, Lieberman says: "doubt I'd be a keynote speaker" but "if John McCain asks me to speak I'll go speak...I'm doing what I think is right and not worrying about the politics... I think it's going to be all right..."

"Harry Reid has said you're a member of the caucus, you've been a friend to me...he basically said 'No' they're not going to take Lieberman's seniority away."


On the media-McCain-Clinton conspiracy to drive the "elitist" argument on Obama: "let's hope it's inartful...The comment he made was, I thought, offensive, and will raise a lot of questions."

(Hmmmm. I find a man who refuses to hold hearings in the committee he chairs on the debacle of Katrina offensive...but that's just me. And I find offensive a man whose mixed "loyalties" are on daily display as he attacks Democrats on the days he says he's I-Conn, and then attacks liberals on the days he says he's ID-Conn. But that's me, too.)

Lieberman continues his ongoing McCainiacism by painting Obama as too liberal, anti-Israel, too naive/inexperienced....


Lieberman sucks up to Imus by bringing up BPA in order to mention Imus' wife's greening work—her latest book, Growing Up Green now out and available at bookstores everywhere. Will that mention make me an I-Fave?


Hyper-selective-religionist Lieberman apologizes to Imus and listeners before uttering the word "urine." Apologies for failing the NOLA-ites left to piss on the floor in the Superdome?...hmmm, I ain't hearin' it. Apologies for sending men and women into a war based on lies to get their bits blown off so they can never take a normal piss again? I ain't hearin' it. Apologies for turning ordinary American men and women into torturers on the knowledge and approval and micromanagement of the Current Occupant's team of Principals?

I ain't hearin' it from Joe put the lie-in-Lieberman.


Midway thru the conversation, Imus asks: Lieberman the most bitter man in the Senate? "Well, yeah..."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McCain's Gassing

McCain's big plan for the economy? Suspend gas taxes for the summer.

The gas taxes that pay for highways and bridges and all that oh-so-dull infrastructure.

You know, the common good. "Socialist" stuff.

Instead of sending his minions like Bill Kristol and Joe Lieberman out to smear Senator Obama, perhaps the McCainiacs could turn their attention to something more useful and, dare I say it, honorable.

Like recouping middle class assets and money from the elite class by taxing and regulating the out-of-control profiteering, nay, pirateering, of America's energy dollars.

Pump up the economy, Senator McCain, not the price at the pump.

IRS Hood Ornament

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan calls it a "hood ornament" for incompetence... the IRS program of outsourcing the collection of unpaid taxes, which lost some 37 millions of dollars while ostensibly collecting back taxes. Add in the questionable companies and their Republican ties, including a Texas company which was dismissed from collecting under circumstances not made public, and you have yet another example of the Bush Administration and Republican governance Stuck on Stupid.

Or maybe it's too clever by half, and just another day at the office for the Grover Norquist drain the bathtub way of running the country.

So for seven plus years we have watched our country spiral down into a morass of debt to China, an occupation of Iraq instead of crime fighting in Afghanistan, fearmongering propaganda and spinography posing as "news" from Faux and the traditional media, political prosecutions of folks like the Democratic Governor of Alabama, bridges tumbling down, economy in RECESSION, corruption and greed and cronyism that hasn't seen its like in American history, cynicism and manipulation of voters on hate and division issues, devastation of a beloved American city still ruined.....

Oh, and did I mention a Current Occupant who admitted his Principals authorized and micromanaged torture?

So, as you contemplate paying your taxes today, thinkin' you've gotten your money's worth lately?

One consolation, you've got another opportunity to "pay your taxes" come November. And next April, there'll be a whole new administration and Congress.

Let's cheer 'em on, but also, let's pay attention and hold their feet to the fire so we don't keep diggin' deeper in the mess we're in.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Be Your Own Advocate

We've all heard the urging over and over to be your own advocate when it comes to health care. To read the fine print, to ask questions, to take notes in the doctor's office, to look things up.

Well, yesterday's 60 Minutes caught our ear because one man, who also travels the leukemia road as our Sunshine family does, decided to go a step further. He's invented a radiowave machine that kills cancer cells.

John Kanzius may not live long enough to see his machine routinely used for cancer treatments, but it's already caught the attention of cancer doctors who are carrying forward his research.

With all the fluff and flat-out crapola that passes for news and information these days, we want to take a moment out of "bitterness" and orange juice and elitism and salute a man who shows what really matters.

Like the farmer who plants walnut trees that will be harvested long after his own passing, John Kanzius is planting a seed of progress. His selfless gift gives hope and inspiration. He lives the example of the best of using one's intellect and imagination. And we wish him long years of good health.

In times when science is kicked around like a football, subject to scorn and derision from the Luddites who want to take progress back to—well, I would say the Stone Age, but we're learning more and more that centuries ago men were performing scientific tasks that became lost in antiquity and had to be totally reinvented. [Check out the History Channel for excellent examples.]

Imagine how far we could have come if so-called civilization had focused on bettering the whole rather than dividing and conquering and mocking and warmongering the planet. Could be, that's the real Revelation.

Salute and thank you to CBS... at least you're gettin' one thing right.

Hunter Is My Hero

Hunter over at DailyKos is my hero this morning. He does a great job of summing up the whole abomination that is what used to pass for journalism.

The president says his Principals micromanaged torture and he knew about it.

The presidential candidate says "bitter," orders orange juice, bowls lousy.

The media reported on.... Yep, you guessed it.

Who could have anticipated....
Yeah, I'm bitter. At the "journalists."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Moyers on the Role of Journalism in Democracy

If you haven't yet, consider these words by Bill Moyers from his speech upon receiving the Ridenhour Award. A prism through which to evaluate each and all of the people who are bringing you your information in the media these days:

Temptation to co-option is the original sin of journalism, and we're always finding fig leaves to cover it: economics, ideology, awe of authority, secrecy, the claims of empire.

In the buildup to the invasion of Iraq we were reminded of what the late great reporter A.J. Liebling meant when he said the press is "the weak slat under the bed of democracy."

The slat broke after the invasion and some strange bedfellows fell to the floor: establishment journalists, neo-con polemicists, beltway pundits, right-wing warmongers flying the skull and bones of the "balanced and fair brigade," administration flacks whose classified leaks were manufactured lies - all romping on the same mattress in the foreplay to disaster.

Five years, thousands of casualties, and hundreds of billion dollars later, most of the media co-conspirators caught in flagrante delicto are still prominent, still celebrated, and still holding forth with no more contrition than a weathercaster who made a wrong prediction as to the next day's temperature.
Only one thing else need be added to Moyers' words: shame on them for their shamelessness. Read the full text here.

Devilstower at Kos has excellent thoughts, too, on the state of journalism these days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gasbaggery by the Numbers

What's it to be this Sunday morning?

1. Barack's bitter orange juice
2. President admits he was in the loop of his senior officials playing "pull the wings off the baby butterfly" in the White House, thus channeling the corrupt president on "24"
3. 13 at current count killed this week while Petraus plays the war forward
4. Trent Lott says he paid for lunch while a Republican Senator/leader zero times
5. McCain confuses, conflates, and/or screws up Sunni and Shia for the bazillionth time, revises housing bailout for the mazillionth time; media reports flip-floppery....zero times
6. $109 million dollar sniper fire dodgin' Hillary says the guy who just finished paying off his student loans is an elitist

Whaddya think?

Jane Smiley has a great post up at HuffPo, where I added this comment:
We can anticipate Hillary's poll numbers will drop again, just like they did when she attacked Obama about Rev. Wright. She cannot break thru the 46% marker.

Audacity of Truth... Obama tells it while Hillary offers more "sniper fire" via the Politics of Screed.

Thanks, Jane, and the commenter who provided the women over 50 for Obama link.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Audacity of Truth


Is it any wonder people are cynical about politicians and the media? Since Huffington Post published an audio recording of Barack Obama talking about the despair of people who cannot count on their government and their elected officials to live up to their campaign promises, much less their oath of office, the full court press of spin and distortion have gone viral.

From Lou Dobbs to Republican pundits to Hardball's Chris Matthews to John McCain's campaign to Hillary Clinton's lips, the self-serving Politics of Screed is on display.

Never mind that Obama is giving voice to the frustrations that ordinary Americans are feeling every day. Never mind that he's showing the best of what a community organizer does--explaining perspectives of people who have been shut out of the process to try to build bridges and community and a better life for everyone.

Never mind that he's telling the truth. How quaint.

When the media make it all about the process, who's up, who's down, who's trending which way, they add nothing to the discourse except more reason for the very folks Obama gives voice to to become even more disenchanted.

Obama responds swift and strong.
Who's out of touch now?

Repairing the Brand?

George Dubya Bush tells Martha Raddatz in a soft-focus interview on ABC Nightly News that he plans to go back to Crawford and write a book... How 'bout you read one first, George?

All's just soft and soothing and so very, very.... ah, b.s. The crap detector alarm is blaring off the scale these days when it comes to anything connected to George Dubya Bush. Unless, of course, you're Fox News' Ministry of Propaganda oh-so-ably deconstructed by the little Brit from The Daily Show. Michael Moore must be beaming.

The House of Bush Cards is tumbling down and the propaganda efforts to reinvent his history via the cocktail wienie media isn't going to put it back up again.

The ditch is far too deep and wide that he has driven US into. Truth will out.

Shale of a Tale


Now that the report on Bakken Shale is out in public, thanks to the prodding of North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, the whole world of oil could be shaken to its core. According to the report, 4.3 billion barrels of oil await under the subsurface of North Dakota and Montana and stretch up into Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Which brings us to some sobering questions: will North Dakota overtake Texas as “the” oil state of America? Will some ne’er-do-well North Dakota cowboy become next in line for the White House? Will filming of “Dallas” be revived as “Dallas North”? It could happen. It’s a lot warmer around here since global climate change set in. [never mind that blizzard raging across our steppes right now—call it the Bush Principal of denyin’ your lyin’ eyes....]

With oil added to our ethanol-producing capacity; our lignite coal which already fuels most of the East Coast, it seems; our wind energy which has admittedly been a bit diminished since Dick Armey packed up and moved to Texas some years back; it does seem that wee little ol’ North Dakota, the state that folks forgot, is about to make its mark on the global energy market.

Which brings us to a sad admission. One walks among us who may not take kindly to this “harvesting” of a great North Dakota resource.

Ole Ben Larssen.

Those like us who have trod the twisting trails of the rugged Badlands swear we’ve passed by his encampment deep among the ravines and scoria. Sage has scoured our nostrils but a faint scent of his passing is unmistakable. Lutefisk, lefse smeared with the rancid fat of animals, strong Norwegian coffee.

’tis said Ole Ben Larssen holds strong religious beliefs that make him ascetic in his habits. No compounds crowded with multiple wives for this man. He roams alone, seeking out the infidels. You know, Baptists, Presbyterians. Shhhhhhh. Methodists.

For Ole Ben Larssen is heir to generations of Lutherans—Missouri Synod Lutherans. His great-great-great grandfather reportedly married outside...to an ELCA Lutheran. But within a generation that aberration was corrected.

And now Ole sits waiting. For the outlanders to come and try to take this oil. To invade the rangeland with their heavy equipment and sidewise sidewindin’ drillin’ rigs. And he’ll bide his time, and wait for his chance.

For the lands of the Badlands are vast. And the range is open. And the muleys roam and the antelope play havoc with hunters’ egos.

But there is just one discouraging word for all the landowners and all the speculators and explorers and wildcatters and bureaucrats and oil scouts and gamblers and hangers-on as they start settin’ up their rigs and readin’ them some legal papers of land rights and water rights and mineral rights and diggin’ deeper and deeper until one day the truth will shine.

As Ole Ben Larssen just smiles, and says “Mine.”

h/t to Mr. Sunshine for primin’ the well of “The Legend of Ole Ben Larssen”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hungry...for Food, for Truth, for Life

Google "Haiti hunger riots" as I did this morning and you'll get 165,000 links and counting... we touched on this issue back in January in Let Them Eat Mud Cookies... and then we got distracted again by "larger" world issues...
  • the Iraq occupation/fiasco
  • the assault on the Constitution, Yoo-hoo, anybody seen my civil liberties lately?
  • the political campaign season and the media's best efforts to trivialize it to horserace and gotcha status...which spouse has the corniest jokes, or the most troweled-on cosmetics, or the most money-grubbing ties to Colombia....
When what we should all be doing is paying attention to our world. The media doesn't help. Shiny objects--the latest blonde in distress--get more attention than hunger. It's about ratings and profit centers and who's got the get... and there just is nothing glamorous about a starving nation, now is there? And we don't have to look to Darfur and Africa to find that.

We can look right in our own hemispheric back yard. Where Haitian immigrants fleeing their desperate straits across dangerous waters get turned back while Cubanos are welcomed to South Florida with open arms. Where rightwing ranters fly over on the way to Dominica and its sex tourism trade and juicy cigars.

And the rest of us "fly over" too, turning a deaf ear to the cries for food, for help; a blind eye to the gaunt desperation that drives people to riot, to burn buildings, to attack their neighbors. To foment the seeds of revolution.

We have a Current Occupant who doesn't have a problem with dictators, as long as they're "our" dictators; we have leadership on both sides of the aisle who go along, we have media who hide the truth or slant it for their cronies' convenience and their profit margins.

We are urged to SHOP--Self-absorbed hypnosis on parade.....

Where is our Golden Rule? Our Christian compassion? Our "whatsoever ye do unto the least of my brethren...."? An overarching government policy based on humanitarianism instead of warmongering, unity instead of divisiveness, diplomacy instead of saber-rattling and bombs is good business in the long run.

Starving people without decent jobs do not good consumers make.

This transcends a single program or policy. No matter how much I may care about a single issue, like healthcare, or restoring scientific research, or bringing our troops home, or..... I truly believe we must embrace the "and." Because this year, single issues are more of the same ol' destructive road we've been travelling far too long.

Hunger intersects with economics, and environment, and immigration, and global climate change, and revolutions, and we must look at the big picture we've ignored far too long, no thanks to the slice-n-dice political posturants and the media.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

History Begins Now


In an extended report on tonight's ABC Nightly News, justice correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg reported on top level meetings in the White House discussing and approving uses of waterboarding--forced drowning until stopped by the interrogator--and other torture tactics to be used in terrorist suspect interrogations.

Greeburg's report said the meetings were chaired by Condoleezza Rice, attended by Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, John Ashcroft, George Tenet... Ashcroft was unavailable for comment, others had no comment, Colin Powell thru a spokesman said they had lots of meetings and he couldn't remember and even if he could he wouldn't tell.

Greenburg sourced her information as in a way that didn't make clear who the source was, but the tip of the iceberg of coverup and obfuscation of this shameful passage in American history just may be starting to melt.

Or, to borrow another metaphor, maybe the wagons are circling to protect George W. Bush from the darkest decisions of his administration.

The question is, if he's the decider, why wasn't he mentioned in the report as being in the room? Just who is running our government?

ABC'S transcript names these attendees:
At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Again, the question is, just who is running our government? Is this the plausible deniability strategery to protect George W. Bush? Who protects the rest of us?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

To Our Troops, Our Vets and their Families...

During questioning this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Petraeus said the troops just want to know the American people appreciate their sacrifice.

To Our Troops, Our Vets and their Families who serve in this war....

We appreciate you, the value of your life, the value of your service, more than we can express. That is why those of us who oppose this current occupation of Iraq are doing everything in our power by raising our voices, by supporting particular candidates, to hold to account for their policies, their decisions, their actions those leaders who hold your lives and well-being in their hands.

We each have just one voice, just one vote. But the value of your life weighs heavily on us, just as the value of the lives in the country we now occupy weigh heavily upon us. And there will be much dissection and deconstruction and parsing and partisan posturing and pontificating about these hearings over the next few days.

But our goal is clear: To bring you home...safe, alive, and whole.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Personal Prisms

Each of us looks at life through our own personal prism. A spoiled, profligate son acts with recklessness and gets us into a fiasco in Iraq. Why would anyone expect any different? For the indulgent parents who raised him, substitute now the enablers of media and party who put him into power. And the cost is never his to pay.

This weekend, 2/3 of the remaining major presidential candidates dropped by the North Dakota State Democratic-NPL convention and gave all of us the opportunity to take their measure.

Barack Obama packed ’em to the rafters at the Alerus Center on the University of North Dakota campus, some 16,500 strong. But even in a pre-speech gathering on a smaller scale, he commanded the room as he spoke. He is a man who exudes intelligence and and a self-deprecating humor that fits with ease. A man comfortable in his own skin, assured in his style. Whether standing before a crowd of thousands or walking alone.

He tells a story of a campaign stop early on in Greenwood, SC. A much tinier venue than he realized when he agreed to appear. A rainy morning, short on sleep, a hundred miles from anywhere. And a wee woman, The Chant Lady, who revved up the “crowd” of about 20 with the chant…fire up, ready to go. Fire up, ready to go. Fire up…. Got ’em calling back to her. Fire up, fire up; ready to go, ready to go.

And he says, with that inviting grin, after a few minutes of that, he was fired up and ready to go….

Nowadays, of course, he packs ’em in wherever he goes in tens of thousands, as he did a short time later in Grand Forks. And he captivates the crowd from the first “Uff da,” making the transition to oratory, yes, but woven seamlessly with policy notes, should listeners choose to hear them. You have a sense that the community organizer/activist in him sometimes shakes his head and says, wow, can you believe it? Look how far weve come already. Can you believe what we can accomplish….

And primary by primary, state by state, caucus by caucus, poll by poll, the better people get to know him, to hear his story and his vision, the more they’re saying hey, we can accomplish…. Because Obama makes clear that he has expectations of the rest of us, too.

This is a man who won’t need to have someone whisper corrections in his ear about war logistics, names or places. A man who walks over to a young boy in a huge arena and calls him by name though they've never met before, because at a crowded rope line earlier in the afternoon, his gramma pointed him out sitting on his daddy's shoulder. Personal prisms.

Hillary Clinton’s personal prism is her partnership with Bill and she weaves a solid tapestry of that with connections to the Flood of 1997 and how the Clinton administration came to the aid of the Red River Valley of the North when we needed our government most. And contrasted that with the debacle of the Gulf Coast during and post-Katrina under Bush and heckuva job Brownie.

We’ve taken the measure of two of the three candidates, and know that though we have one strong preference, each would serve us and America well.

We’re still awaiting the other. We’ve seen him from a distance. We’ve heard his life story, the haunting endurance trial he faced in Viet Nam. But questions still remain from that time for a lot of us. And as we watch sons and daughters, families who sacrifice for this current war-turned-occupation of Iraq, we wonder if lessons—the right lessons—have been learned after all this time.

And because he’s a heartland neighbor, we lend credence to the words of Chuck Hagel more than John McCain. Because enduring imprisonment, enduring torture is a heroic effort, but it’s not a litmus test.

Tuesday, each of these three—Obama, Clinton, McCain—will have a leadership test as their Senate committee holds a hearing on Iraq with General Petraeus. We know each will bring their personal prism—endurance, experience, judgment—to the questioning. But we’ll be watching with our personal prism, too.


Petraeus and Crocker testify before the Senate Armed Services Ctte [Clinton, McCain] at 9:30 a.m. ET, before the Senate Cttee on Foreign Relations [Obama] at 2:30 p.m. ET. Hagel and Minn's vulnerable Sen. Coleman sit on Foreign Relations also. Should be an interesting day.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Integrity Matters


Why would Hillary Clinton bluntly ask North Dakota's pledged delegates to ignore their pledge and switch their votes to her? Does she assume that North Dakota's pledged delegates will toss aside their integrity for her expediency? Maybe that's the way things are done in Hillaryland. But not here in the heartland.

Ends justify the means. Sounds like the same kind of rationale a certain Current Occupant of the White House uses too often.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Obama & Clinton speak in ND

Watch the April 4 speeches by Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton at the North Dakota State Dem-NPL Convention in Grand Forks.

"Uff da, what a crowd."

Lessons in Framing: Sin of Omission

How a seed is planted...today's lesson. ABC led its Nightly News with a report on Hillary Clinton and the debunked story of the woman dying because she didn't have $100 for the fee, a story told to Clinton by a deputy in Ohio. Jake Tapper reported and segued into Obama's statement about not taking money from oil company pacs when he did take money from individuals who work in the oil industry.

Tapper's Framing Message? They both do it. Tall tales....

So we'd certainly expect equal fact-checking treatment of John McCain, right? After all, there are now three major candidates in the running for president. Except there's no mention at all. Hmmmm. I guess St. John must be a perfect candidate, eh? Tapper and ABC certainly imply that with the sin of omission.... nothing to see there, move along.

We'll be watching for those fact checks of McCain. Right along with those fact checks of things like the latest reports out of Iraq. And the testimony of Mukasey. Or Petraeus. Or.... We'll be watching. But we won't be holding our breath.

Today, Jake Tapper further burnishes his bona fides as a Republican. ABC slants its reporting against Democrats.

My lesson in framing for today. /s

Friday, April 4, 2008



visionary man said, "I have seen the Promised Land." And too soon, on this date, 40 years ago, he was gunned down and taken from us.

Today, in North Dakota, I have seen the promise of this land.... and I'm sharing this event with you at the end of a long, exhilarating day. A day that offers promise.

For now, that's all...because a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when North Dakota Obamacrats gather to joyously welcome a new friend to the neighborhood.

Prologue: 40 Years Ago Today


On this date, April 4, in 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. There'll be a wealth of programming and resources today commemorating his life and his vision. You can learn—and re-learn—the best of him here and in the "I Have a Dream" speech.

Not going to do your homework for you by providing a trove of links. Instead, do yourself a favor and make the time to do your own seeking out, to consider the legacy of this man's words.

How far we've come...and how far we have yet to go.

I'm planning further commentary later today, do stop back....

h/t to RevDeb @ FDL for the link


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Health. Care.


The passion Elizabeth Edwards brings to the subject of health care is undeniable. Many of us share that passion because, like her, our family travels the cancer road. And in so doing, we experience, either directly or through our loved ones, the exquisite toll that road extracts.

We know what it means to deal with health care providers, even at their best, and with the frustrations of insurance coverages, or lack of coverages. And even the Rube Goldbergian state of the business side of the health care industry these days. Makes those Hillary Care mocking diagrams the Republicans pushed back then look like a straight-line walk in the park compared to the cumbersome and convoluted and maze-like contraptions the Republican-controlled Congress provided over the years since 1994.

So I follow with interest Elizabeth's take on the candidates and their health care programs.

Without getting into the fine points of those programs, however, because me weary head spins in the doing, I'm of a mind that style matters as much as substance in this argument. Here's why.

No health care program at all will be effective if it can't get through the Congress. Carl Bernstein addressed this issue on the Imus Show this morning [no link avail yet] in making the point that the health care plan—and the way Hillary shepherded it—not only did not pass muster with the Congress, it was also, in Bernstein's opinion, a significant if not the major, cause of the Democrats' loss of the Congress to Newtster and the Republicans.

I think we're seeing deja voodoo all over again in this campaign. All the detailed nuanced planning in the world won't make a hill of beans of difference if it can't be passed. And that's where I may be diverging from Elizabeth Edwards' take. Because I'm seein' same ol', same ol' from 2/3 of the remaining candidates.

My personal candidate support is not based on a single issue, important as it is, but the overarching arc of what each of the three remaining candidates offer in terms of style as well as substance. Because it's going to take style—a cool kind of style, methinks—to lead the people in getting this car that is America back out of the muck in the ditch, cleaned up, tuned up, and back on the road.

And there's only one place I'm seeing that right now, with a candidate who coolly tells his audience that he has expectations of them, as well as himself. A candidate who refuses to let his opponents or the media frame him as a single issue candidate. And the audience responds to that, because they—we—are ready for expectations. Young and old, we're not cowering under our school desks anymore, and we're ready to do better.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blindered Loyalty


Governor Bill Richardson has been trashed by Clinton loyalists in the wake of his endorsement of Barack Obama, to the extreme that James Carville lashed out and called him "Judas" and persists in that tone to this day.

This whole sorry aftermath of the Richardson endorsement reflects far more on Hillary Clinton and her collection of pitbull minions typified by Carville, Mark Penn and Harold "Ickies" and their ilk than on the opposing "team"...which seems to be Obama and a helluva lot of greater America.

You can read Richardson's response to the self-admitted by Carville personal attack here.

Richardson's closing comment that out of loyalty to country, he chose to endorse Obama is one that resonates. There are a whole lot of us these days whose first loyalty is to this country, not a particular party or candidate, because frankly too many have let us down too many times in the past seven years, on both sides of the aisle.

And I really don't give a rat's ass whether or if he promised to endorse Hillary or not.

Because this election transcends little prick your palm and sqwoosh the blood together buddy-buddy pledges or anything but the need for clear-headed reasoning, sound judgment, and restoration of rule of law and honor to our citizens and the world.

We are of a housecleaning frame of mind.

While skimming the net yesterday, on another blog I read a newsreport that quoted a Republican woman as "Bushed out." That, "Bush-whacked," however you want to describe it, resonates, too.

We have had enough of blind loyalty to one person, of politics by division, of disavowal of reality for blindered loyalty. The Cult mentality that's overtaken too much of political life these days may be attributed to the constant, culpable media assault of "catapulting the propaganda."

But whatever the source, the high turnouts for Obama events, the broad spectrum of people attending, the level of the scurrilous desperation of the attacks against him, whether Carville's public "Judas" comment about Richardson or the whispering campaign to Superdelegates about Rev Wright...all these show a nation hungry for change.

A nation paralyzed by fear, as mentioned in the Sundance Channel documentary about architect Mike Reynolds, is slowly, neuron by neuron, starting to move again.

And the move is away from same-old, same-old. I like to think of the American Voter as Captain Kirk kickin' that Klingon over the side of the Genesis Planet cliff. "I...have....had....enough...of...you...."

Maybe it's a good thing the Carvilles are reportedly packing up and moving outa the Beltway Zone. If they get a big enough moving van there are a lot more pundits and consultants and media mavens and politicians and lobbyists and hangers-on who should crowd right in. Or get on the bus....