Archive for October, 2006

Links…

Ed Kemmick weighs in on Walter Schweitzer.

Speaking of Schweitzer, the Cato Institute gives him an “F” — after having given Judy Martz an “A.” The lesson? Steer away from Cato-backed candidates.

Matt on the latest Rasmussen Senate poll numbers.

Jaime sums up Not in Montana’s argument against CI-97 in the Montana Supreme Court.

Nicole reflects on the 2006 political landscape…and feels hope, d*mn it to h*ll!

On the outing of Idaho Republican Senator, Larry Craig.

Glenn Greenwald posts on McCain’s plan for victory in Iraq, which relies on 100,000 spontaneous volunteers to beef up the military.

Former Army Ranger Kevin Tillman speaks out against the Iraq war.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has a story on the bread lines for military families. Had enough?

Steve Benen thinks the latest GOP scare tactics won’t work.

More news on the shady dealings of corrupt Republicans.

More news on the Republican sex scandals: this time, sexual assault. Good news for the GOP is that the victim wasn’t a child.

New York Times on the rats turning on themselves.

Is Karl Rove a genius or a fraud?

Here’s the free market in action: big corporations patenting their tax-evasion techniques. Classy.

Check out Der Spiegel’s “War for Wealth” special series for a look into debates on globalization, capitalism, etc & co.

Christianity Today: “Islam in American Protestant Thought.” Not much of a surprise that there’s great misunderstanding and hostility.

Colbert interviews NY 19 Democratic candidate and former lead singer of Orleans, John Hall. Must see! Watch his Republican opponent run…away from television cameras. Somehow an apt metaphor for the GOP…

Colbert on Santorum’s analogy comparing Iraq to the Lord of the Rings: “…in this analogy, the United States is Mordor, and Mount Doom, the midterm elections…”

I’ve had my say about John Adams’ article on the possible influence of Governor Schweitzer’s brother on state policy. But I don’t work in government, I don’t run think in political circles, I’m not familiar with Helena dealings.

This is your turn. It’s your chance to leave your opinion, in anonymity if need be. What do you think? Is Walt a pain? Is he unethical? Is this a real problem?

Let’s air this issue out; I want to hear what you’re thinking. I’m betting other people do, too.

For a little inspiration, here’s what commenter Reader had to say:

I don’t really care so much about the nepotism law’s letter as its intent, which I read to be ensuring that there are not special channels to people with power. That’s well-intentioned but it has had the effect of forcing Walt into an ill-defined, unofficial role without any check of public accountability.

Keenan has Walt’s e-mail records because Walt was doing it on the state’s dime when Keenan raised a stink about his work during the transition. It’s perfectly possible to see what he was up to at that time. That’s how it should be. Keenan used the nepotism law to score political points and sent Walt to the shadows but that’s not going to diminish his influence, just make it tough to find out what he’s up to. So, in a sense, Bob created the shadow creature he wants to slay.

That said, the governor and his brother need to smarten up about this. There is a strong tradition of disclosure in Montana and, if there’s nothing to hide, then Walt ought not act so combatively toward people asking questions. This might well have been a neutral to favorable profile with a big picture of him and the guv in brotherly arms on the cover and not just a forum for critics–many of whom (including the PSC commissioner Raney who was a big source) seem to think of themselves as allies of the governor though certainly a few wouldn’t look at themselves that way.

If everything is kosher here then the way this has been handled so far does not demonstrate the best political sense.

So…out with it!

Anybody see John Adams’ piece in the Missoula Independent today, on Governor Schweitzer’s brother’s influence in his administration? At risk of sounding like a partisan hack, it doesn’t seem terribly…controversial?

Let’s catalogue the accusations and examine them, one by one:

“Montana’s nepotism laws make it illegal for the governor to hire his brother as an official policy adviser or member of his cabinet, but the fact that Walter’s not on the state payroll doesn’t deter him from playing a key role in the administration. That same fact leaves him exempt from what politicians like to call the sunshine of public scrutiny, or the press. But multiple elected officials, lobbyists and bureaucratic staffers confirm that Walter is Brian’s front man on many policy and political matters.”

I’m not sure how Walter Schweitzer is different than any other lawmaker’s staffer or policy advisor, other than the fact that he’s not on the state payroll. Are other policy-makers or staffers held accountable for policy? No. The ultimate responsibility for policy lies with the boss, and that’s Brian Schweitzer.

Remember, just because he’s the governor’s brother doesn’t mean he’s not qualified to advise Schweitzer. The opposite may be true, if you think Walter Schweitzer has had a hand in his brother’s political and policy successes.

“The overall concern of Democrats is that there’s going to be a scandal that’s going to hurt Brian,” one Democratic lawmaker told the Independent. “There’s a lot of people who have a lot of hope for this administration, and this relationship Brian has with his brother is the one thing that is just weird. If Brian Schweitzer is going to have a problem, it’s going to be around Walt: Who’s paying him and what’s his accountability?”

Accountability lies with the governor, of course. As for paying…well…that is a good question. One that should be answered. How is the governor funding his brother’s non-state position? Is he using government funds?

Walter is known, in Helena if not beyond, as the governor’s enforcer, firewall and political bully. Most of the lobbyists contacted by the Independent told the paper they’re afraid to talk about him for fear of political retribution. Lawmakers refused to go on the record about Walt for fear that he and the governor would make it impossible to pass their bills in the upcoming legislative session.

As distasteful as this may seem, is this uncommon? Don’t most administrations have the “good cop/bad cop” staffers? One guy to chase away the problems and keep the wayward in line, the other to mend fences and forge alliances? One the governor’s accomplishments is his penchant for budget surpluses. If Walter’s bullying chases away legislators with pie-in-the-sky and expensive bills…that’s a good thing.

The main question asked by the people I talked to is this: Given that he seems to spend most of his time at the capitol, and given that he isn’t employed by the state, how does Walter make his living in Helena?

Now this is an important question. That should be answered.

There were also some remarks on Walter Schweitzer’s background and whether he was “qualified” to be an advisor of the governor’s, but Walter’s background – a rancher – seems to make him as qualified for a government position as Conrad Burns, Jon Tester, or Brian Schweitzer himself.

Ultimately my feelings on the issue are mirrored in the following quote:

“I will tell you there’s an upside and a downside to Walter’s presence in Helena,” one high-ranking Democrat told me. “The upside is…that there’s value in having somebody there that the governor absolutely trusts in an unvarnished way.”

The downside, the source said, is that the presence of the governor’s brother at high-level policy meetings raises concerns for some about his influence on policy decisions.

“I think it’s perfectly fine if the governor wants his brother to be involved…but then I think that his portfolio and job description, and what he does and doesn’t do, ought to be defined. I think that would be good for the governor and good for the Democratic Party.”

One of Adams’ biggest sources in this story is – surprise! – Bob Keenan. Keenan has been trying to make this an issue for quite some time, and even gave Adams “hundreds of pages from Walter’s state-owned electronic mail account from 2004 and 2005.” (How and why Keenan spent so much time acquiring the correspondence is a mystery.)

Keenan has been rumored to be interested in – guess what – running for governor! That’s right! One of the folks who’s “concerned” about Walter’s influence in Helena has a vested interest in seeing the governor embroiled in scandal. And the timing for this piece, scant days before the November election, also benefits Keenan’s pals, like Burns for whom Keenan recently stumped. If Burns’ camp wants to nullify the ethics scandal, he can point to this article and say “Schweitzer doed it, too!”

Of course, no way do I suspect that John Adams was played here. Nor do I think Adams wrote this story with the November elections in mind. I’ve met John a couple times – surrounding the blogger article he wrote – and I trust him completely. He’s a true investigative reporter, a man who’s keenly concerned with the integrity of our elected officials.

While I’m not overly concerned with Walter’s position, I do think Adams’ article – though at times substituting hyperbole for genuine ethical issues – has brought up some good questions that the governor should answer. Give Walter a portfolio, a job description, an official role. Make Walter’s funding transparent. Let us know what he does, exactly. Bring everything above board and have done with it.

Links…

If elected Senator, Tester would get a seat on the Appropriations Committee – Jon promises to use his seat to drive earmarking reform.

Vinnie speaks out against CI-97 and CI-98.

Ed Kemmick on Burns’ secret plan for Iraq: “The president don’t have a plan? He do too! It just that he ain’t gonna tell ever’ dad-burned wheat farmer that wants to know about it!”

The LA Times covers Idaho’s 1st District race in a feature! GOP sweating! The Cook Political Report reclassifies the race to “Leans Republican,” huge news!

Meth campaign not working? (Hat tip to JEFF.) And the Missoula Indy’s take.

Colby on the torture bill.

Scott returns with a plethora of election-season observations.

Rolling Stone: “The Worst Congress Ever.” Thanks, Conrad Burns and Dennis Rehberg!

The Foley scandal may be expanding soon, putting Hastert in deeper trouble and taking down at least one more GOP Representative.

Kevin Drum drums up a couple of liberal manifestos.

Dave Neiwert reports on a domestic suicide bomber, and why you haven’t heard of him.

More data supporting the theory that most Americans aren’t feeling the effects of a growing economy. With charts.

Does this mean that Dick Cheney is Gollum?

So it looks like Iraq is growing into a liability for Republicans across the country. According to a recent report by the New York Times, GOP candidates are cutting and running from staying the rhetorical course.

…the discussion on the campaign trail suggests just how much of a problem the Iraq war has become for Republicans.It represents a startling contrast with the two national elections beginning in 2002 with the run-up to the Iraq invasion, in which Republicans used the issue to keep Democrats on the run on foreign policy and national security.

Perhaps it shows how out of touch with…reality?…Montana? they are, but both Conrad Burns and Dennis Rehberg are touting the war’s…benefits. (Rehberg more egregiously so.)

For a peek into the machinations of the brain in a partisan hack on the other side, we can perhaps get a glimpse of why Republicans like Burns or Rehberg still cling our country’s disastrous policies.

A majority of Democrats in Congress voted to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq in 2002, and then voted to continue to fund the effort. Some Democrats even hit the talk shows early on and made the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or that a war in Iraq figured into the war on terror. And in the 2004 Democratic primary, the most outspoken critic of the war – former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean – was treated by several of his opponents as some crazy uncle who didn’t understand the stakes in Iraq or the weight of decisions that had to be made by Democratic members of Congress.

Members such as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. After Kerry became their presidential nominee, Democrats put on quite a show at their national convention, where – despite the anti-war leanings of delegates – one speaker after another talked tough, saluted the flag and promised to hunt down terrorists wherever they were.

And now, Democrats want to turn on a dime and pretend as if the Iraq War is someone else’s mess. With Iraq embroiled in civil war and U.S. troops overstaying their welcome, it’s a mess all right. But let’s be clear: It’s a mess that Democrats helped make.

Sort of mind-boggling isn’t it?

First, many of us who were against the war from the beginning do remember that the Democratic leadership supported the war. We will hold them accountable. They ignored our concerns about the war and failed to represent us.

Second, the Democratic party and the people of the United States were given bogus information for supporting an invasion. Given that the whole premise of the war appears to have been manufactured by administration ideologues, blame should hardly lie with the Democrats – or the people of the US – for this supporting this mess.

Third, the Democratic party had no say in how the war would be pursued. The present disaster in Iraq is due in large part to the administration’s lack of knowledge about the region, for using political hacks to create Iraq policy, and for using Iraq as an opportunity to let their corporate buddies run rampant in the country. The diplomatic bungling belongs solely to the President and his staff. The occupation bungling belongs solely to the President and his staff.

Fourth, that the Democratic party is now representing the will of the majority is a good thing.

Lastly, changing your strategy is smart if what you’re doing isn’t working.

That last point always gets me – for some reason, the Republicans and their supporters see admitting to mistakes as a sign of weakness, not as a sign of strength. But that goes hand-in-hand with the simplistic good/bad, black/white dichotomies that prop up so many of their policies. If you’ve established that maintaining the current strategy in Iraq is the height of patriotism, and questioning that policy is the treasonous work of terrorist-lovers, well, you’ve driven yourself into a corner, haven’t you?

One of the latest tactics of the right used to scare people into voting Republican in November is to use the specter of a Nancy-Pelosi-led House, if Democrats win back a majority of seats. What they fail to mention is exactly why that’s a bad thing. And if you look closer into Pelosi statements and the likely composition of a Democratic House, well, there’s less to fear and much to like.

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post, for example, takes a look at what the legislative priorities of the Democratic House would like be:

In the House, the Democrats have made clear that there’s a first tier of legislation they mean to bring to a vote almost immediately after the new Congress convenes. It includes raising the minimum wage, repealing the Medicare legislation that forbids the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices, replenishing student loan programs, funding stem cell research and implementing those recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission that have thus far languished.

Sounds pretty d*mn good, doesn’t it? Exactly! Popular legislation that the country wants, and that conservative ideology — radical conservative ideology — has kept out of political discussion. Of course, there’s political motivation to bring these issues up:

All these measures command massive popular support. The reason they’ve not been enacted is that House Republicans have passed rules making it impossible for the Democrats to offer amendments to any significant legislation, thereby sparing themselves the indignity of having to choose, say, between the interests of their financial backers in the drug industry and their constituents.

*chortle* Love this strategy! Force the Republicans to decide between popular measures and their corporate and ultra-conservative financial backers. If Republican House members stand up against minimum wage, stem cell research, student loans, and lower drug prices, then they’ll look like — accurately, I might add — the party of religious extremists and big business. If they go along, they’ll look like…well…Democrats.

More and better:

Cognizant that they will owe their victory in part to the public’s revulsion at the way Congress does (or avoids) business, the Democrats also plan to revise House rules to enable the opposition party to introduce amendments and to sit on conference committees, from which Republicans have routinely excluded them since Tom DeLay became majority leader. They also will ban members from accepting gifts and paid trips from lobbyists.

If the Democrats manage to win the Senate, argues Meyerson, then that would put the Republican party in the unenviable position of filibustering to oppose these bills. If the Senate folds under popular pressure, then that would force the lame-duck President to use his veto.

What a better way to frame the difference between the political parties before the 2008 election?

And what better way to reassure the nation’s voters — and Montanans, as well — that only are Republicans not the party looking our for their interests (unless they happen to be a CEO or right-wing ideologue), but that Democrats are.

Tired of opposition to stem-cell research? Tired of Congressional representatives giving themselves pay raises while shooting down the minimum wage? Tired of corruption? Back a Democrat this election. They’ve got their legislative priorities right.

Links….

How you can help get out the vote for Democrats from the comfort of your own home.

Tester outpolls Burns, 46-35.

Jaime covers the Montana Supreme Court case on CI-97, the “Scr*w our State” initiative.

Shane live blogs the Senate debate and the House debate via the radio.

Florio: Candidates “turn up the heat.” Johnson: Iraq “ignites debate.

On Conrad Burns’ secret plan to win the Iraq War.

National Review Online: “Parading your two billion in pork + ‘I’m a fiscal conservative’ = Loser.”

Burns makes another top ten list! This time, the ten dumbest Congressmen.

JEFF looks at more gay-bashing from the American Taliban.

New West: “The Problem with a Call Center Economy.”

Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal to stump for Gary Trauner. That’s great news in a tight race.

The right is using the specter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with a little help from the media. But if we examine the “values” of Pelosi compared to, say, Newt Gingrich, it’s Pelosi who comes out looking good…

Republicans raise more, spend more, and are still losing their races.

Like Connecticut’s Christopher Shays who, according to a report, is cracking under pressure.

One conservative commentator uses New Mexico Republican Heather Wilson as the bellwether for the fate of GOP House seats across the country. She’s down by 8 points in the latest poll.

What the Democrats would do if they win control of the House.

Charges against Ken Lay were dropped, following legal precedent, but leaves both Lay’s victims and the government frustrated in seeing justice.

You knew Olbermann would comment on the torture bill.

Now the feds want to know what websites you’re reading.

Can we expect this kind of sc*mbag politicking here in Montana soon?

Mike Tyson will fight women for Republican Senatorial candidate, Michael Steele!

Senator George Allen tried to smear his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, for his association with Daily Kos:

“Jim Webb has proven he will do anything for liberal Democratic money – even that of a fringe liberal blogger who gloats about the deaths of American contractors in Iraq,” said Allen Campaign Manager Dick Wadhams.In 2004, four American contractors were murdered in Fallujah; their mutilated and beheaded bodies were hung from a bridge and burned. Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (Kos), the creator and editor of The Daily Kos, who personally gave Webb $250, explained “I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries … Screw them.”

Allen’s campaign then calls for Webb to return the $130K raised through the blog.

It’s a similar tactic used here in Montana. Mike Dennison addressed Kos founder Markos Moulitsas’ “radicalness” in an October 12 story:

The group said to have “mocked American deaths” is actually one person: Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, a Gulf War Army veteran and attorney who runs one of the nation’s most prominent political Web logs, the Daily Kos. Moulitsas has contributed $725 to Tester’s campaign, and the blog and related groups have helped raise an additional $120,000 for Tester by using the Internet to tell sympathetic individuals to contribute to his campaign. In April 2004, Moultisas posted a comment on the Daily Kos that said he “feels nothing” for the deaths of four American security contractors killed that week in Fallujah, Iraq. “They aren’t in Iraq because of orders or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place,” he wrote. “They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.” Moulitsas told the Gazette State Bureau that he wasn’t mocking the deaths, but rather that he was angry that the media that day had publicized the deaths of the civilian “mercenaries” while ignoring the deaths of five Marines. “My No. 1 priority is our men and women in uniform, not mercenaries who make life difficult for them in Iraq,” he said.

Now most campaigns might have ignored Allen’s attempts to smear their candidate’s reputation with unfounded and exaggerated accusations about Moulitsas. After all, he’s hardly a household name. If you’ve heard of him, it’s likely you already have an opinion about him, and no amount of smearing is going to change your opinion.

But this time Webb staffer Lowell Feld responded in an unofficial post. First, Feld explained what Kos was about and explained the quote in question, and disagreed with the comment, but noted that it was an isolated statement made more than two years ago. Then:

But now, the Allen campaign, devoid of any issues or accomplishments to brag about, has resorted to a campaign strategy of attacking a blogger, who they strangely claim is “fringe.” Well, if he’s “fringe,” then why do they spend time attacking him? Also, if he’s so “fringe,” then why does his blog get 600,000 visits per day? And why does the Daily Kos community give hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates all over the country?…

Meanwhile, I wonder how much money the ALLEN campaign has raised from its “fringe” RIGHT-WING blogs. Have you ever gone to sites like Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, or Michelle Malkin? Does Dick Wadhams really want to have some of the comments from THOSE sites highlighted all over the place? Take 10 minutes, and I guarantee you that you’ll find a smorgabsord of homophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, misogynistic, even racist remarks on those right-wing sites (and others). Enjoy! Actually, you almost certainly won’t enjoy it, because it’s not a pretty picture.

Finally, I would point out that the Allen campaign receives ITS money from big corporations, such as the oil and gas industry (ExxonMobil et al), the entertainment industry (straight from Allen’s native Southern California!), the big pharmaceutical industry (including a company that makes the controversial “morning after” pill), Big Tobacco, the military-industrial complex (e.g., Halliburton), and other such sources. Which would you prefer YOUR Senator to be beholden to; tens of thousands of private Americans who give $25 or $50 each, or ExxonMobil and Halliburton?

I’ve always thought that it was stupid for Republicans to challenge Democratic candidates over support from lefty blogs. After all, right-wing blogs supporting Republican candidates would fare much worse in comparisons. And that’s doubly true here in Montana, where the sole blog actively supporting the incumbent Republican candidate Conrad Burns is a gathering place for white supremacists.

But most of all, I think this is an idiotic tactic because it brings attention to Markos Moulitsas and the Daily Kos. Curious undecideds will likely be wowed by Moulitsas’ brilliant organization, his low-key and moderate ideology, and his and his readers’ enthusiasm. By making Kos an issue, I suspect the GOP will only generate more Kos readers.

As expected when a ship sinks, the rats turn against themselves.

As the GOP ship sinks under the weight of bungled foreign policy, sexual predators, corruption, and torture, conservatives are turning on one another. Take NRO’s Jim Geraghty actually celebrates the downfall of his party’s leadership:

The good news is, it’s very clear that 2005-2006 style Republican leadership is destined for the – well, forget being put out to pasture, let’s talk glue factory. Think about the Republican House members that the average American has heard of this year – Mark Foley, and through that scandal Denny Hastert and Tom Reynolds; Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham…The conservative base wants the next crop of GOP leaders to be tougher on illegal immigration; tougher on spending; quitting the pork and earmark addiction cold turkey; less at home with the perks and schmooze culture of Washington.

One way or another, Hastert’s out. I suspect that next year, guys like Mike Pence, Jeff Flake and Jack Kingston are going to leading a more conservative House caucus – particularly if the Chris Shayses of the world get knocked out this year. And starting oh, probably too early after Election Day 2006, the Republican Party gets to have a good, long discussion of what it wants to stand for in the coming years and elections to come. But before then, there’s this little thing called the elections that has to get resolved.

Geraghty’s call for the Republican party to move further to the right reflects his disconnect with reality. What’s causing the GOP to fall so far behind in 2006 is the fact that it is too far right to begin with. Conservative ideology has lead to foreign policy disaster. Conservative small government rhetoric has led to massive fiscal irresponsibility, where GOPers gleefully cut taxes but still hand out massive pork projects to constituents. Meanwhile, the social radicalization of the GOP in Kansas is driving the state into Democratic hands.

What Geraghty and his ideological compadres fail to realize is that the majority of Americans find their politics repugnant. That’s why the GOP hasn’t advanced any of their social programs. Republican politicians know we don’t want them. See what happened in the wake of the South Dakota abortion ban? Widespread condemnation even by moderate anti-abortion opponents.

So the left should revel in people like Geraghty who are going to use the current implosion to destroy the GOP and take it even further right, ensuring that it become a fringe party of anti-government lunatics.

Links…

Part two of Craig’s journey into the heart of darkness: a Tester party. A very good piece and honest appraisal by a conservative of the political situation in Montana.

Tester breaks Montana’s fundraising records.

Information on the 527 groups running ads on the Montana Senate race.

New West: “The Moral Hazard of Federal Pork.”

The Denver Post endorses Democrats.

Wyoming Democrat Gary Trauner is within striking distance of the state’s Republican Representative. Western Democrat on the race.

Digby on Bush signing the torture bill: “I don’t ever want to hear anyone on the right talk about moral values again. They are concepts which they clearly do not understand.”

When the lapdogs turn against their master, you know things aren’t looking good for the GOP.

Shocking! Another GOP official charged with ethics violations! Lester Crawford, former chief of the FDA…

Another GOPer cavorting with underage pages?

More on the thecons’ planned purge of gays from the GOP.

Democrats show what to do with corrupt snakes in your party. Hold ‘em responsible and disown them.

Why lazy reporting is responsible for false rumors of Reid’s “corruption.”

Molly Ivins on Bush’s diplomatic failures in dealing with North Korea.

Ugh. One of the reasons we’re faring so poorly in Iraq is that our leaders don’t know the difference between Sunni and Shia.

First it was 665K Iraqi dead. Now the numbers of uprooted Iraqis is astounding, too, 350K+ this year alone.

Much has been made of Montana’s shift leftward recently, as evidenced most noticeably in Jon Tester’s lead over Burns in this year’s Senate race. But Democrats are winning out in other traditionally “red” states, as well, most notably in Kansas where Kansas Demcoratic governor Karen Sebelius is leading her race for re-election.

Why are Kansas Republicans making the shift, abandoning the Republican party to vote for Democrats? Steve Rose, chairman of Kansas’ The Johnson County Sun made a very eloquent case for switching parties. First, Rose’s paper is hardly a bastion of liberalism:

In the 56 years we have been publishing in Johnson County, this basically has been a Republican newspaper. In the old days, before the Republican civil war that fractured the party, we were traditional Republicans. That is, we happily endorsed Jan Meyers for Congress, Bob Dole for U.S. Senate, Nancy Kassebaum for U.S. Senate; virtually every Republican state legislator from here, with a few rare exceptions; and most governors, although we did endorse the conservative Democrats George and Bob Docking and John Carlin.

Nor is Rose himself a “Democrat” in the traditional sense:

But the shift, frankly, shocks me, because I have pulled the lever over and over since my first vote in 1968 for Republicans. If I was a closet Democrat, I must have hidden it well, especially from myself, since I always beat up on Democrats in my columns. I have called them leftists, socialists, and every other name in the book, because I thought they were flat-out wrong.

And, for the most part, I still do. I am opposed to big government. I have little use for unions. I never liked the welfare plans. I am opposed to weak-kneed defense policies. I have always been for fiscal prudence. I think back to the policies of most Democrats, and I cringe.

Sure, hardly a ringing endorsement for the Democratic party, and (I’d argue) mostly flat-out wrong. But, hey! We’re talking about a Kansas conservative here. That he’d even publicly announce his support for Democrats is a minor miracle.

So…why’s he backing the Dems this year?

The Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally.

You almost cannot be a victorious traditional Republican candidate with mainstream values in Johnson County or in Kansas anymore, because these candidates never get on the ballot in the general election. They lose in low turnout primaries, where the far right shows up to vote in disproportionate numbers.

To win a Republican primary, the candidate must move to the right.

What does to-the-right mean?

It means anti-public education, though claiming to support it.

It means weak support of our universities, while praising them.

It means anti-stem cell research.

It means ridiculing global warming.

It means gay bashing. Not so much gay marriage, but just bashing gays.

It means immigrant bashing. I’m talking about the viciousness.

It means putting religion in public schools. Not just prayer.

It means mocking evolution and claiming it is not science.

It means denigrating even abstinence-based sex education.

[snip]

That’s why, in the absence of so-called traditional Republican candidates, the choice comes down to right-wing Republicans or conservative Democrats.

And now you know why we have been forced to move left.

Nice summary. And he doesn’t even mention the fiasco that’s become Iraq, the increasing calls from “old-school” conservatives to change our Middle East strategy and our diplomatic endeavors with Iran and North Korea.

“Conservatives want limited government, a balanced Middle East approach, a foreign policy that builds, not destroys, and general, not special, interest,” [former George H. Bush speechwriter Curt] Smith said. “Bush 41 endorsed all of the above. Bush 43 supports none.”

Some partisan zealots argue that voting for Democrats puts the Democratic party in charge, that the party will roll back gun rights or foist “liberal activists” into judges’ seats (never mind that the job of nominating judges belongs to the executive, which is still in Republican hands). That is, a vote for a Democrat is a vote for a Democratic government.

But considering the state of the contemporary GOP, I’d argue that’s not a bad thing at all.

This year you’ve got a clear choice. Either you vote for the status quo in foreign policy (lots of terrorists and North Korean nukes), the further radicalization of our government, an increasing federal debt, expansive executive power, and the erosion of the middle class; or you vote for change.

And here in Montana “change” means Jon Tester, who has a strong record working with small businesses and the middle class under a balanced budget, and who promises to do more than pay lip service to national security while protecting our American values of liberty and justice.

The choice is clear.

As the election season counts down to its conclusion, the number of stories on the Senate race have increased exponentially. It’s so a hard-working blogger can’t keep up anymore. In any case, today I’m abandoning any attempt to parse these stories for you. Instead, I’m just going to offer you a smorgasbord of links, which you can freely discuss in the comments or pilfer for your own use:

Town Hall tries to whip up last-minute support for our corrupt and incompetent junior Senator by reminding conservatives he belongs to the Republican party. Yes, the old right-wing tactic of putting political party over…well…everything.

More debate packing by the Republicans? Pathetic.

The Washington Times subscribes to the meme that Burns’ appropriations are key to the race. Another observer might note that Burns’ pork spending projects don’t endear him to his conservative base.

The Great Falls Tribune profiles Tester in a good piece by Gwen Florio. It includes an attack by Bob Keenan on the Big Sandy farmer; Montana won’t forget you favored the unethical and incompetent junior Senator, Bob.

The Billings Gazette runs a bunch of “personality” questions past Jon. Ditto for Burns.

The title explains it all. “Sen. Conrad Burns: A buffoon fights to save his seat.”

Matt Gouras on the candidates’ fundraising: Tester’s raised more lately, but Burns has more overall.

Max Cleland is stumping on behalf of Tester today in Billings.

Mike Dennison scrutinizes the “radicals” in Burns’ ads and finds…people.

Burns: “Taxes!” He left out the terrorists who want to kill you in your sleep. *yawn*

Despite the rhetoric otherwise, Burns “remains a stout defender of the oil and gas industry.”

Links…

Schweitzer on Colbert!

GOP abandons Republican Senator Mike DeWine and “braces” for Burns’ defeat by sending money to more competitive races. That doesn’t mean it’s time to relax, though.

There’s lies, lies, and then there’s…well…not statistics. But more Burns tall tales and fantasies from his supporters. Guess wandering into delusion is easier than admitting you’re backing a crook because of party preference. Classy.

Tester calls for more transparency in earmarking.

Craig Sprout travels into the “belly of the beast” to get an insider view of the opposing camp. Part one.

An American citizen was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court despite a judge wanting to dismiss all charges because of a complete lack of “material evidence.” So why the death sentence? Because U.S. officials said the dropped charges were “unacceptable.” Politics trumping law. This is your future under the torture bill.

Contrary to what conservatives would have you believe, today’s brand of vitriolic partisanship started with Newt.

So, is Iran Bush’s “October surprise”? Probably. Wheee. I suspect this may backfire. Do we really need another war right now? Watch as all h*ll breaks loose in Iraq.

Bush Sr. buddies air harsh criticism for Junior: “Conservatives want limited government, a balanced Middle East approach, a foreign policy that builds, not destroys, and general, not special, interest. Bush 41 endorsed all of the above. Bush 43 supports none.”

Which might explain why James Baker’s policy recommendations for the Mid East will be duly ignored by the Bush administration. Apparently the view from up Bush’s *ss is just fine.

More views from up *sses.

Nice piece on Bush constantly revising justification for Iraq – only two years late.

Bush to replace Iraq’s elected government? So much for democracy.

Speaking of Iraq, check out Friday’s episode of NOW, which featured an American filmmaker whose Iraq documentary is being used as a training tool for US troops. Great clips available; definitely a must-see when the full-length feature comes out.

Another “family values” conservative turns out to be a hypocrite. Surprised?

Another Republican legislator in trouble with the law over ethics. Had enough?

“It was as if the Kerry of 2006 were channeling the Dean of 2003.” Ugh. Nothing like being three years too late. Does he really think he has a chance in ’08?

In Connecticut’s Senate debate, Republican Alan Schlesinger stole the show. That’s good news for Lamont, as you’d expect CT GOPers to head back to the fold.

Here’s a simple way you can help get the vote out on election day.

It’s not just a gut feeling! Middle class families are much more vulnerable now than they were a generation ago!

Well, at least one positive thing came out of these last six years…an emerging Democratic generation.

Mark T reminds us of Ghandi’s seven deadly sins. A nice reminder of what’s important.

Sometimes I get down on all this political mumbo-jumbo. The issue of the day. The squabbling. The fight for meaning and spin and message. It seems petty some days, too focused on the minutiae. And the blow back is discouraging. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it. You’ve seen the others complain. The disdainful and hypocritical denunciations of partisanship. The bloggers threatening retirement or calling for moderation.

I get tired, too.

Take the squabble over the Hamilton debate. I watched in disbelief as Senator Burns deliberately and maliciously impugned his opponent’s reputation by casting baseless accusations about his ethics. It was gut-wrenching, those lies. To see a man baldly attack an honest man in front of a crowd! And I was glad he was called out by the crowd. At last! I thought. Accountability! But then the local media made the boos the story, and not the lies that spawned them.

What’s the point? The left blogosphere works so hard — I work hard – to present the issues and the facts and weigh the coverage, and it got all p*ssed away by some thin-skinned reporters with a bizarre sense of impropriety – blatant lies intending harm made by a U.S. Senator are acceptable, but not the subsequent outraged reaction. Aren’t these jaded beat writers the ones knocked senseless by years on years of dirty politics? You’d think they’d applaud some genuine anger from genuine people for low-brow campaign tricks. But I guess they need to slip loose pent-up frustration on someone, and it’s easy game attacking people you don’t get press credentials from, isn’t it?

It was demoralizing, first Burns’ negativity, then the press’ indifference to the Senator, and then the ill-placed outrage at the people.

Vacation didn’t help. Bunkering in with food and family relaxed me. Ignoring the outside world was just fine. It’s easy. Painless. No disappointment. What was the point, again?

But just before I left, I received a copy of Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas’ Crashing the Gate, which I had agreed to read and review here on my blog. I’ve been meaning to get it for some time; it is, after all, the handbook for the burgeoning online grassroots activism written by two of the most influential bloggers on the planet. Armstrong (MyDD) and Moulitsas (Daily Kos) attract millions of readers (compared to my hundreds); they serve as the information and fund-raising centers of the activist wing of the left blogosphere. What nascent left-blogger wouldn’t want to see the big plan the big guns were working by?

Expecting an instruction manual or blueprint for Democratic party success, I got much more than that: I got a reminder of why we’re in this fight, why blogging matters, why the Democratic party matters, why politics matter, why people matter.

You know, it’s not really a ground-breaking book. It presents a very simple and at times simplistic view of the current political situation. There’s a quick chapter lumping conservatives into a handful of “types,” then a lament on how single issue groups have disorganized the Democratic party and the left, and a scathing indictment of the Democratic insiders and leadership. Moulitsas and Armstrong urge progressives to adopt some conservative tactics – like, say, paying people to work in their organizations instead of expecting them to volunteer or work for next to nothing – to ditch the passive Democratic consultants who keep on losing elections, and to present a unified and grassroots-based front to redefine the Democratic party and reconnect to voters across the country. And, yes, Montana plays a leading role in the book.

The indictments against conservatives are prejudicial and sweeping, and the natural advantages of the left is understood, not proven, so it’s sure to throw those conservative nit-pickers into a frenzy! Which is, of course, another reason to buy and read the book.

So it’s a cheerleading book, and that’s one of the things that I found inspiring, the simple message that the left is the political wing of the people, interested in protecting, serving, and representing the traditions, culture, and sheer numbers of Americans. We believe in equality of opportunity, of individual liberties, and the democratic process. It’s not about issues, it’s about identity.

Another good point was the reminder that the current Democratic leadership does not currently represent these ideals – they’re still issue-driven, vacillating, unable to effectively stand up to the Bush administration as a bloc, and too subservient to big-money corporations and special interests.

And to stand up to the Republicans and insider Democrats, there needs to be a partisan — but not ideological — bloc that presents a clear alternative to big-money and Christian fundamentalism. 

That’s where the netroots and its political allies come in – we (that is, you and I) are redefining the Democratic party. We’re fighting to free politics from the sway of business and moneyed interests, and back on track to represent us. Americans.

That’s why we back Jon Tester.

By the way, I’m not telling you this as a paid operative of a political party or PAC or interest group. I’ve always followed politics, thrown money at candidates, but stayed aloof, as if my semi-neutral status protected me from the corruption and idiocy that currently plagues Washington DC. But that ended when the Bush administration started actively curtailing our liberties, started tapping our phones, logging our phone calls, created databases of our Internet activity, suspended habeas corpus, and tortured. That’s why I started blogging. That’s why I’m actively supporting Jon Tester and a myriad of other netroots candidates.

It’s because I believe in Jon’s character and ability. And I believe in his patriotism to the real America – not to business tycoons and fundamentalist preachers and faux-foreign-policy ideologues who have us invading countries willy-nilly to prove their potency – but to the principles on which this country was founded. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And that’s the truly inspiring thing about Crashing the Gates, is that it’s a reminder that I’m the one – and all the everyday folks like me – who’ll define what the Democratic party is all about. I’m the one – and all the everyday folks like me – who’ll win back America for Americans, who’ll boot the incompetent and corrupt out of power. I’m going to kick those b*stards out of DC, and you are, too.

So, yeah, I’d recommend the book, especially for every left-leaning person wanting to make a difference, and especially for you lefty bloggers out there. It will remind you of why you blog and what we’re trying to achieve, and that will make all the pettiness seem…well…petty.

The Missoula Independent staff did a nice take on the recent Republican-generated “kerfluffle“:

Ohs was responding to the apparent flap that Gov. Brian Schweitzer caused in Bozeman Oct. 6, while discussing global warming, the governor asked a crowd of school children and their chaperones who among them thought the planet was millions of years old. Most of the crowd raised its hands. Then he asked who thought the planet was less than a million years old. A couple of people, including Rep. Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, raised their hands. Speaking to the Bozeman Chronicle later that day, Schweitzer was quoted as saying he didn’t need people in the Legislature “who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”

Here’s what Ohs had to say:

“I think the level of intolerance and contempt that some in the Democratic Party have for people of faith is shameful…Rather than lashing out against diversity, we should be encouraging religious debate so that we might all gain a better understanding of the world around us.”

Miss Right over at “What’s Right in Montana” (find your own link) works herself up in a tizzy to elaborate on Ohs’ statement:

First of all, Schweitzer is suggesting that a religious or philosophical belief in creationism or intelligent design somehow automatically disqualifies Koopman to be a state legislator. In the words of Representative Koopman, this is “incredibly bigoted.” Every legislator in Helena has personal beliefs with which Montanans may or may not agree. Voters know that they must elect the candidate who most closely represents their political interests in government, not the candidate who aligns exactly with every political, religious, or philosophical belief they hold. Adherence to any one of those beliefs, even if they are reprehensible (although Koopman’s is not) does not automatically disqualify the candidate to be a competent and compassionate representative of Montana’s people. Schweitzer’s overwhelmingly shortsighted and disingenuous remarks not only insult those who adhere to creationism or intelligent design, but also insult the right of Montanans to elect whomever they please.

There’s about two more pages of similar ranting, but you get the idea.

First, let’s take a moment and savor the irony of Republicans calling for tolerance in opinion and ideas. (Remember these folks belong to the same pack of goons who imply disagreeing with The Decider is treason.)

Next…um…I sure as h*ll don’t want any blockhead passing laws in my state who thinks the Earth is 4,000 years old. Let’s face it: the people who persist in believing the Earth is 4,000 years old have difficulty with dealing with objectivity, evidence, and reality. If your religion overwhelms any sense of reason you might have, then it sure as h*ll is going to cloud your judgment when it comes to crafting laws and budgets and forming policy.

And as the Independent piece notices,

And while Karl Ohs and his Republican minions are rushing to the defense of the principle of diversity, it’s impossible not to notice that the party isn’t going so far as to defend Koopman’s Stone-Age beliefs about the planet’s age, which is estimated by scientific zealots at some 4.5 billion years. It is admittedly easier to storm and stomp about nonexistent religious intolerance than to take on the vast sum of mankind’s geological evidence, never mind your own party’s Neanderthal fringe.

Zing!

I also like the Indy’s conclusion:

However, Schweitzer’s claim that the Legislature doesn’t need people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old is obviously wrongheaded. It would make good sense to have at least a few on hand so that when legislators next take up education funding, they’ll have a real, live exhibit of why Montana desperately needs more.

But seriously, the GOP’s defense of Koopman is an embarrassment not only to the party faithful who value education and science, it’s also an embarrassment to Christians, many of whom are quite rational. After all, rushing to defend Koopman isn’t the fight the GOP wants to get into right now. Schweitzer’s jab at Koopman didn’t seem to be a remark carefully weighed for its political content and effect, but an off-the-cuff moment of honest disdain for Koopman’s obliviousness, and rightfully so.

Links…

Helena debate links: Shane was there. Jason live-blogged the television event. Burns – after having pointed out that the candidates have attacked, attacked, attacked — is given a chance to say something nice about Jon Tester and attacks him.

In local newspaper coverage, Gwen Florio finds the debate themes to be “well-worn,” and Jennifer McKee found the debate “prickly.”

Moorcat gets a belated look at the Bozeman debate.

Colby blogs about Ahnold’s veto of a bill that would allow California to circumvent the Electoral College. Some may remember I wrote about this ages ago — I’m for the bill, because I think it will increase voter interest and participation and force the candidates to consider the entire country instead of the “battleground” states.

Tester trashes Hilary; touts Richardson for an ’08 presidential nod.

Ed Kemmick defends beetles.

Jon Stewart on President Bush’s recent press conference and his disconnect with…reality.

Britain’s top general warns PM Blair that the Army could “break” if Britain doesn’t withdraw from Iraq.

Conservatives prepare to purge the GOP of gays.

Olbermann on how a Ted Turner quote was taken out of context by Fox News to make him look like he wasn’t sure if he would support terrorists or not, when in fact he was talking about the decision to invade Iraq. Classy.

Speaking of Fox News, some Fox commentators consider North Korea’s nuke testing “good news” because it takes attention away from the Foley scandal. Did I mention these guys are classy?

Santorum goes nuts in last night’s debate with Bob Casey. The outburst takes place early on, at about the third or fourth minute – the video is well worth a watch. I can’t believe this Santorum fellow is in the US Senate. What a disgrace. (Is the GOP abandoning him?)

Steve Benen rips apart Peggy Noonan’s accusations about the left discouraging dissent. This conservative penchant for accusing the left of what they themselves are guilty of is getting tiresome.

A documentary of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders’ contribution to the Iraq War.

A sixty-three-year-old jobless man robbed a bank in order to ensure himself housing and food. It’s an anecdote, but a telling one, that someone would find prison easier than today’s job market.

Love the (unintentional?) comedy found in Ron Crocker’s recent letter to the Billings Gazette supporting Conrad Burns: “Burns is a true patriot, great defender of the U.S.” Check it out:

To quote Clarence Darrow, “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”

That’s Sen. Conrad Burns! He is a patriot, a Marine Corps veteran and defender of our nation! He supports our president, and the Patriot Act. He wants to rid us of those who ploy terrorism as a means to destroy the United States and its way of life.

I believe Jon Tester is a patriot in his own way, but a true patriot will do everything they can to defend and protect their country. What does Tester want to do? He wants to repeal the Patriot Act!

The Patriot Act has proven successful and has aided in preventing any repeat of 9/11. Why Tester and so many liberals want the Patriot Act repealed literally worries me. Tester says, “The Patriot Act will take away our freedoms.” The only people who have cause to worry about their loss of freedoms are those who deserve to have their freedoms lost. The Patriot Act is aimed at individuals who have caused the United States great concern, not the everyday citizens of our great nation!

I served 36 years in the service of the United States Navy, doing my part to support and defend the people of the United States and in keeping our borders free from enemy attack. And I pray there will be no more 9/11s. That’s why I support and urge you to support Burns for U.S. Senate. He is a patriot!

Hilarious. I don’t know if Crocker just Googled quotes to use to defend Burns’ position, or he’s fully aware of who Clarence Darrow is, but using Darrow’s quote to defend the Patriot Act is like, well, using a John Brown quote to defend slavery…or a MLK quote to defend segregation…or…well you get the idea.

Clarence Darrow was an activist and progressive lawyer and prominent member of the early 20th-centure ACLU, a staunch defender of labor unions, and most famous for defending the teaching of evolution in the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” (Basically everything that is an anathema to Conrad Burns.) Darrow’s idea of “injustice” is exactly the kind that the Patriot perpetuates, not shadowy and nonexistent domestic terror cells. That’s why Darrow’s organization, the ACLU (along with the NRA) is one of the most outspoken opponents of the Patriot Act.

That Crocker can claim “The only people who have cause to worry about their loss of freedoms are those who deserve to have their freedoms lost,” is the height of folly. Just ask the railroaded suspects in the Lodi case, or the Canadian man kidnapped by the CIA and sent to Syria to be tortured – and who happened to be innocent. The disturbing element of these two cases is that federal agents appear to have been politically motivated and resorted to extreme measures because they didn’t have enough evidence for a solid case.

That is, the more shaky the suspicion against you, the more severe the police tactics are that will be used against you. Or, the less likely you are a terrorist, the more likely you’ll be tortured.

Let’s hope Crocker doesn’t go buying a disposable cell phone anytime soon.

Finally, the “United States and its way of life” is inherently tied to the rule of law, our basic liberties, and the Constitution of the United States. Amending, curtailing, or simply eliminating any or all of these rights does not aid in preserving our country – it will destroy it.

Honestly, I’d oppose the Patriot Act and the torture bill and like-minded policies from the Bush administration even if they were effective. But they’re not.

Had enough?

Links…

Is Burns resorting to petty theft? Pathetic. Had enough?

The Western Democrat has a good post up about the importance of controlling state government in helping protect our democratic institutions.

Loads o’ important posts from Jaime. Let’s see…there was post 1 about the Supreme Court brief about the terrible trio of initiatives…and post 2…some thoughts about conservative retribution for challenging the trio…and thoughts on the Bozeman debate.

Montana Jones, idle at home, rips apart a Christian critique of television violence.

Court finds that WR Grace must indeed pay a federal bill for cleaning up its asbestos mess in Libby. Hm. You think they’ll try to wiggle out of their responsibilities? Let’s hope some of their executives see some jail time, too.

Robert Novak, of all people, hammers Republicans for sneaking earmarks into a Defense bill. On Montana’s junior Senator: “Clueless Republicans are personified by Sen. Conrad Burns, trailing for re-election in Montana. Burns said opposition to all earmarks by his Democratic opponent, State Sen. Jon Tester, ‘showed us how reckless and out of touch he is.’ Burns then issued a press release listing over $775 million of his earmarks, including more than $60 million for the Fort Peck Fish Hatchery.” You know you’re in trouble with Republican leadership when errand boy Novak puts a hit job on you. (Hat tip to Matt.)

Olbermann: “The Bush White House is playing millions of Americans Christians for suckers.” Commentary based on the new book, “Tempting Faith” by David Kuo.

“Frontline” on the Lodi, California, “terrorists.” Based on bad intelligence, coerced confessions, and likely motivated by politics, the case shows what’s wrong with Bush’s terror legislation and the suspension of habeas corpus.

North Korea: First it’s Clinton’s fault. Now they blame the intelligence community. Wake me when they approach a mirror.

James Baker rules out victory for Iraq.

CATO: libertarians are making the switch.

The “dumbest Democrat” responds to Kos.

AIPAC to get some competition? Good news…

Warner bows out of the ’08 Presidential campaign. A nod to John Edwards?

Google and Yahoo take note: Wikipedia stands up to China. Hm, is that because Wikipedia isn’t a for-profit venture?

Business editor Douglas Cunningham of Pennsylvania’s Times Herald-Record is going to abandon the Republican party this election in the wake of the Foley scandal:

I’ve had it. The Republican leadership in the House, beginning with Speaker Dennis Hastert, has got to go. As in now. I’m thinking we need to plow through four or five people right below Hastert, too. If the Republican members of the House had any guts, they’d have ousted these people last week. If the Republican leadership had any shame, they would have quit last week.Apparently, not very many people these days have either, at least in Washington. Anyone who knew anything about the scandal, I want them gone. If the Republicans come to be known as the party that protects gay sexual predators, we’re finished. I am not ready to abandon the party of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater to the likes of Mark Foley.

Zing! But that’s not the only reason why Cunningham’s abandoning the GOP:

The reason Republicans are bent out of shape is that this Foley scandal is the proverbial last straw. We’ve had it. The out-of-control spending. The earmarks. The graft with the lobbyists. The arrogance. The abrogation of principles that Goldwater, Reagan and others worked decades to spread.The Republicans will lose the House in November. Absent big changes, I have to say they deserve to.

In the upcoming election, Cunningham announces his intention to vote for Pennsylvania Democrat Chris Carney who’s running in PA 10 against Republican Don Sherwood. Why?

As the campaign literature for Carney slyly notes, he’s been married for 18 years to his college sweetheart.Why might he note that? Because his opponent, and the incumbent, Republican Don Sherwood, engaged in a five-year affair in Washington with a mistress some three decades his junior.

My father had choices. The Republicans offer me candidates who can’t even keep their pants on. I’ve had it.

The lesson here? Character matters. Values matter.

I’ve seen a lot of moaning and complaining that all politicians are the same, that Washington DC will corrupt everyone. Pah. That’s defeatist talk. The people who say this are the same who say we need to unite as a country to win the war in Iraq. I say this: we need to unite as a country to win the war against democracy here in the United States, waged by opportunistic lawmakers who use their position to personally enrich themselves and their family and friends against all of us struggling to get by working honestly.

It’s time for a change. It’s time to believe in honesty and integrity. You can make a difference this November. Vote for someone who’s competent, who’ll listen to the electorate and work in our interest. Vote for someone who doesn’t ignore the Constitution, who’ll put security ahead of profiteering. Take a risk. I think we Montanans have the chance to strike gold.

Roll Call, a subscription-only DC insider paper, has got a long story on the INSA scandal. Highlights:

Over the last four years, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) has earmarked more than $8 million for a project ostensibly designed to make Montana a center for space-related research and industry. But despite the millions of dollars in federal funding, it appears to have produced few tangible results while spawning several state and federal investigations. It has also earned lobbyists and companies connected to Burns hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts and lobbying fees as well as more than $80,000 in campaign contributions for Burns and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.).

[snip]

It is unclear how much of the $8 million in earmarks Burns sought to steer to INSA either directly or through the University of Montana has been allocated to the group. However, INSA’s tax records, federal lobbying reports and an audit by Montana’s legislative auditor of earmarks funneled to the group through the university show that between 2003 and 2005, more than $761,000 has been spent on salaries and benefits. Additionally, more than $320,000 has gone to former Burns Chief of Staff Leo Giacometto and a company associated with him.

According to Montana State University professor Loren Acton, a former astronaut who has long been involved in the private aerospace industry, almost from its inception INSA was plagued by a lack of “competence” and the technical inability to meet its goal of turning Montana into a center of private space travel and exploration.

Not much new, just some jaw-dropping numbers on how much was donated to Burns and Rehberg from the money they appropriated from Congress. $80 thousand? That’s a new figure for me, but this report also tracks money donated to PACs, while the numbers I’d seen before were contributions made directly to the candidates.

But then comes the juicy stuff.

According to the report, in 2003, Burns and George Bailey agreed with Space Sciences, Inc, to create the “Free Flyer Consortium.” Space Sciences, Inc founder – and hotel magnate – Robert Bigelow, and SSI counsel Mike Gold then began making donations to Burns and Rehberg (“the first time either man had made contributions to Montana politicians”) to the tune of nearly $30K ($21.5K to Burns, $7K to Rehberg) in 2003 and 2004, and paid for trips for Rehberg, and Rehberg and Burns staffers to Las Vegas.

According to sources close to Bigelow and INSA, Bigelow was willing to commit as much as a half-billion dollars of his own money toward perfecting the inflatable space habitat technology required to build a private space station.

In order for Bigelow to commit to funding, according to these sources, the government had to also make a good-faith commitment to work on the project, a condition to which Burns agreed. In 2003, Burns inserted two earmarks into the Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and independent agencies portion of the fiscal 2004 omnibus spending bill — a $1.5 million earmark for the University of Montana’s National Center for Space Privatization, which was used to fund INSA, and a $1.25 million earmark specifically for a Space Sciences Inc. microgravity pharmaceutical research initiative, according to a press release issued by Burns.

Burns stated in a letter to NASA officials that the new consortium would work on the inflatable space homes, and arranged a meeting between Bigelow officials and NASA. Meanwhile, the relationship between SSI and INSA was “cratering,” according to the report. Bigelow pulled out of the consortium for unknown reasons.

Nevertheless, Burns continued to use SSI’s name in pushing earmarks for INSA. On May 14, 2004, for instance, Burns wrote to O’Keefe regarding SSI’s “microgravity-related pharmaceutical development initiative” to inform NASA that because “SSI has not received federal grant money in any prior year … for reasons of expediency, as well as because INSA is based in Montana where the work will be conducted, INSA is preparing, submitting and administering the grant on SSI’s behalf.” Burns also added in the letter that, “This action is being taken with both the consent and approval of my office and SSI.”

Additionally, Burns included in the fiscal 2005 NASA spending bill a $3 million earmark for “INSA — Free Flyer Program, Space Sciences Inc.,” according to a Nov. 22, 2004, press release from Burns’ office. The bill also included $750,000 for the “National Space Privatization Program” at the University of Montana, according to the release.

According to Burns spokesman Jason Klindt – a master of absurdist drama and postmodern comedian/clown – Burns was just “trying to create jobs in Montana.” INSA, of course, was filled with friends and family of Burns and Rehberg staffers, while “…the bulk of the money received by INSA has gone toward compensating members of its board as well as to lobbying fees charged by former Burns Chief of Staff Giacometto.”

According to Senate lobbying records, INSA paid Giacometto’s firm, Gage LLC, $80,000 in 2004 and 2005. While INSA previously has insisted the funds were for “consulting,” a June 2006 report by Montana’s Legislative Audit Division found that INSA did in fact use federal funds for lobbying and that “to date, INSA has not submitted a lobbying activity disclosure form” to University of Montana officials as required by federal law.INSA also paid Compressus Inc. — which at one time included both Giacometto and Keely Burns on its board of advisers — $270,760 in “project management” fees in 2004, according to INSA’s tax returns. Although Keely Burns’ contract with Compressus included compensation in the form of stock options, Burns said in a statement released by the Senator’s campaign to the Lee Newspaper company this summer that she never exercised the options.

George Bailey was paid $153K, and Lucy Chesnut – wife of University administrator Lloyd – got $117K.

Although federal investigators have not named Burns as an official “target” of an investigation, sources close to the state’s investigations said the FBI has been looking into INSA and its relationship with both Burns and Giacometto. A source familiar with the legislative auditor’s work also said the auditor has given the FBI evidence not included in its June report that indicated “there was clear criminal activity” involved in the operation of the alliance. Because of the narrow scope of the auditor’s report, investigators did not include that evidence in the June findings, this source explained.

Nice dig by Roll Call there with the “target” reference. All I can say is no wonder federal investigators are taking so long to nail Burns and the other crooked Republicans. With the number of scandals Burns is involved in, feds obviously have too much work on their hands.

Call me crazy, but it looks to me as if Burns recognized an opportunity to set up a slush fund for friends and family when the INSA/SSI consortium fell through, and used SSI’s name after it backed out to pry earmarks from the federal government. And the evidence seems to show that INSA officials weren’t too interested in their mission: promoting and seeding space technology business in Montana.

Classy.

And how many of these appropriations does the drunken sailor consider “his” when touting his ability to “deliver” for Montana? If INSA is evidence of Burns’ delivery, I say we get the southpaw on the mound.

Greetings, Blackbirders! It’s good to be back. First, I’d like to thank all of the guest bloggers that filled in while I was gone, allowing me to do whatever the h*ll I wanted and to take a break from the day-to-day musings of election season. Of course, I didn’t really get to do what I “wanted.” Most of the time I was captive to my children’s bidding.

In any case, here are a few things I observed, learned, or re-learned on my trip to the Berkshires to visit my folks.

I had forgotten how cold the people of rural New England can be. I grew up in a small town of around 1,500 in the foothills of the Appalachians, and the people there can be downright hostile. It’s this sense that things must be done the right way, and if you step out of line, or make yourself visible, frowns abound. Needless to say, with two two-and-a-half year-olds in constant tow, I was visible.

Conversely, New Yorkers are very outgoing and friendly. They’re also hostile, nuts, silent, brash, rude, and extremely helpful. That is, they’re everything.

I learned just exactly how far it is from Brooklyn to 82nd Street. I walked it. It’s a long, long walk. My feet went numb at about 50th Street. But I recommend the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Beautiful.

New York City is crowded.

If the number of lawn signs are any indication, Republican Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is going to be destroyed by Democratic nominee Deval Patrick in the Massachusetts’ gubernatorial campaign and become that state’s first African-American governor, and the first Democrat since Dukakis.

That’s right…Dukakis!

Mitt Romney is a sleazy flip-flopper on every important issue. He was a social moderate when he ran for governor, and now he’s a religious right-winger. Incidentally, his state budget policies severely hurt the school system, especially in rural areas like the Berkshires, where local government had to raise property taxes and were still underfunded. (Why do Republicans hate schools and libraries?)

The East Coast is lush. I know this; I grew up there. But it’s easy to forget that Montana is essentially a desert. The average rainfall for Adams, Massachusetts – adjacent to my home town, Lanesborough – is over 44 inches a year. Here in Missoula, it’s 13.8. (For a point of reference, Seattle averages just over 37 inches a year.) Creeks and streams are everywhere; the forests are densely thicketed; the air is moist and sweet-smelling.

No one’s going to save the country from the Bush administration in Massachusetts. That struck home last week. Bay Staters aren’t the future of the country. It’s places like Montana that will decide what direction our country will go in. It’s here we can make a difference. It’s here we can demand honesty, integrity, competency. It’s here we can make a stand against the Bush administration and hold Conrad Burns accountable for his record in the U.S. Senate. Let’s do it. Let’s send a good, honest man to Washington.

Children are insane.

Ms. Marvelous and Mr. Proud – despite their insanity – were darling on the two plane flights we took each way. In fact, on the way to Massachusetts, Mr. Proud emerged from the second flight with a hop in his step and asked, “is there another plane?” He was disappointed when I told him, no. On the way back, Mr. Proud asked if he could play on the tarmac. Again, no, from his father.

More Mr. Proud: though he exited the dramatic showing of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in haste and for fear of the dark, he then admirably mimicked the duties of a baseball pitcher with his glove for the local museum staff and even fielded several imaginary ground balls for the onlookers.

Ms. Marvelous, meanwhile, is an apparent avid theater-goer. She was entranced by the play and forced many re-readings of the original text afterwards. She’s working on a memorization of the script.

I missed blogging… Go figure.

Links…

Moorcat responds to 4&20 blackbird guest poster, Widomaker.

Jaime sifts through the MT Supreme Court briefs on the case of the terrible trio of initiatives.

Jeff Mangan nails it in his assessment on the Missoulian editorial about the plethora of initiative-based lawsuits in court. Some good suggestions, but blaming the courts is ridiculous.

Nicole’s stirring tribute to the Amish how they contrast to the disturbing hypocrisy of right-wing Christians in power.

There was a debate in Bozeman while I was gone! ID’s posts: Senate debate part 1, part 2, and impressions; the House debate and impressions. Shane: Senate Debate and the House debate. Colby on the House debate. JEFF on the Senate debate. And a lil’ live blogging from Debate Scoop. Naturally the debate is on You Tube.

Evans-Novak email newsletter claims “worst-case scenario” for Republicans shaping up this election cycle.

Chris Bowers has a brilliant analysis of why Republicans are losing the 2006 election. It’s not because of “mistakes” the GOP is making: it’s because of GOP policy.

And here’s the “dumbest Democrat” on the Foley scandal.

And lest you think the Foley scandal was the Democrats’ “October surprise,” read about how knowledge about the case unfolded.

And surely this isn’t Karl Rove’s “October Surprise” either.

Let’s face it: the blame for our disastrous relations with North Korea and its impending nuclear test lies squarely on the Bush administration. Digby’s take.

And then there’s this little peachy article about the Washington Times owner and Bush-backer, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and his multi-million dollar gift to the North Korea regime.

Five years later, in the middle of a Middle East war, Arabic linguists still in short supply.

If you favor torture, you should read the accounts of what was done to “dirty bomber,” Jose Padilla, for 3 ½ years.

Did you see this? In excess of 665,000 “excess” Iraqi dead because of the U.S. invasion? That essentially means U.S. occupation is setting a faster pace for killing Iraqis than Saddam Hussein…

Bush says that’s okay, because the Iraqis are willing to tolerate the violence.

Tester is asking Burns to explain his support for a national sales tax, which would replace the federal income tax. Good for him, because the plan by National Taxpayers Union seems like yet another attempt to use government to give hand outs to big corporations.

The 23 percent national retail sales tax would replace the revenue of these taxes. Under the plan, all taxpayers would receive a monthly “prebate” so no one would pay taxes for consumption up to the poverty line.

It would apply only to new purchases, making “used” purchases tax-free. Business purchases would be exempt, thereby eradicating corporate tax compliance costs currently hidden in retail prices, according to the union. Theoretically, that should reduce the cost of retail items.

Hm…you think corporations will lower their prices to offset the tax? Yeah, me neither. Seems like just another plan to give a temporary and artificial boost to stock prices, but it also seems it would also discourage people from purchasing.

And then let’s talk who would be shouldering the tax burden. Assuming that the same folks who set the current and ridiculously low poverty rate would set an equally low rate for a national sales tax, that means that the middle class would be paying a disproportionate amount of their income to taxes.

The thing with the sales tax is, that the amount that people spend on consumables isn’t really all that much different, regardless of income. Sure, the insanely wealthy buy Lexuses (Lexii?) while we buy Pintos, but proportionally we pay more of our income for a Pinto than Denny Rehberg pays for his Lexus. That 25 percent of our Pinto is more of our income – a lot more – than 25 percent of a Lexus is of Rehberg’s income. That is, under this national sales tax system, we’ll be in the high tax bracket.

The income tax, at least, taxes somewhat fairly across all income levels. Sure, there could be an argument made for a more of a flat-tax system, but that’d have to include the elimination of payroll taxes, of course, and universal health care.

Enough of this pandering to the upper classes already. Away with Burns and his “ilk.”

Whither the Yankees?

I’m not back from vacation yet, but I wanted to talk about the baseball playoffs – and more specifically how the Yankees suck.

The Yankees looked awful, didn’t they? Where was the vaunted offense? Where did the pitching go? The one thing I keep coming back to is how phenomenal their four championships in five years was. I mean, this present team was no bunch of slouches…Rodriguez, Posada, Jeter, Giambi, Cano, Abreu, Matsui…I know Joe Morgan kept saying it might be the best lineup ever assembled — and it seemed hyperbole as the Tigers pitching shut them down – but he just might have a point. They slugged their way to a AL East title this year, and overcame some truly horrible starting pitching in doing so. That they would exit the season for lack of hitting was a surprise, especially to the likes of Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman.

But best of all, rumors have Boss Steinbrenner destroying this team in the offseason. That can be only good news for baseball, because when Steinbrenner puts his hand into things, in invariably results in poor Yankee finishes. The best news – for baseball – is that the Boss is going to sack Joe Torre and hire either Lou Pinella or Joe Giardi in his stead. There’s also talk of ditching Alex Rodriguez – maybe the best shortstop of all time, a guy who’s hit consistently in the .300 range with power, and who plays good defense.

Consider the winning Yankee ballclubs of the late 90s: they were assembled by then-GM Bob Watson while Steinbrenner was serving a suspension and not allowed to participate in the running of his ball club. It was Watson who found and played Yankee-bred players like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettit, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mariano Rivera. It was Watson who signed David Cone, John Wetteland, Wade Boggs, Joe Giardi, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Raines, and Paul O’Neil. You could even argue that Watson was responsible for the Yankee players who later emerged to help the with the WS wins, like Jorge Posada, Ricky Ledee, and Shane Spencer.

Brian Cashman, on the other hand, was obviously an extension of the Boss. He did the Boss’ bidding and signed the players the Boss demanded. Some of the signings worked well: Roger Clemens, Tino Martinez, David Wells, Graham Lloyd, Orlando Hernandez, Scott Brosius, Chili Davis, and Jeff Nelson. Others didn’t work out so well: Chuck Knoblauch, Kenny Rogers, Hideki Irabu.

But the core of the team remained, even with the tinkering made by the Boss.

Then came Giambi and Robin Ventura and Karim Garcia and Raul Mondesei and Jeff Weaver and Jose Contreras and Gary Sheffield and Javier Vazquez and Jon Lieber and Kevin Brown and Tony Womack and Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. All paid outrageous sums of money to turn in mediocre performances and sometimes childish behavior (the sissy slap, anyone?), and the winning stopped at the playoffs, when the games really started to matter.

Do I think the Yankees will slink to the bottom of the AL East? Do I think their run of playoffs are over? No. But these guys look old – Sheff and Giambi and Bernie Williams and the Moose – and their pitching stinks, and Rivera’s going to crack one of these days, and how likely is it they’ll win another WS this decade? They’ll pay for premium players as always, but they won’t find the young, top-of-the-line starters they desperately need.

So thanks Boss Steinbrenner! Wreck your team! Fire Joe Torre. Fire Lou Pinella whose motivational technique with players is to scream at them. That will go over real well with the grizzled veteran superstars that typically play in New York.

McSolutions

Guest Post by Widowmaker. 

Part 3 of 3

This might seem like watching  “Momento”, I do urge you to read the parts in order starting with 1 of 3…I probably should have posted them like that!

Islamic terrorists are dying for their cause, their cause of dying for Muhammad.   Fighting Islamic Fascism is not fighting Communism.  There is no fear of losing; losing is NOT dying in battle.  Being a martyr is the ultimate goal, the ultimate goal is to die in this war.  An enemy that wants to die compared to an enemy that feared dying.  The battlefield must be different; America must be prepared for a new enemy, a new type of war.  A war that is not always gracious, always honorable, and always easy to watch.  At the beginning of the Civil War, women and children gathered on blankets near battlefields to watch a glorious battle.  They soon realized that it was not as pretty, glorious, and as respectable as they previous thought.

Iraq is the excuse du jour for jihadists. But the important factor is that these are young men looking for an excuse. If you live your life calculating that it’s a mistake to do anything that might prompt murderers and savages to act like murderers and savages, you’ve basically decided to live under their thumb and surrender your civilization in the process.

Right now, our current method of the fighting our enemy is too weak, too pathetic and too wrong.  We have taken our Fast Food Nation and applied it to terrorism.  A McSolution just will not work!

We were told “Buy a car or the terrorist will win”.  This was and still is part of the problem.  “Go about our every day lives”.  No!  Once almost 300 million Americans woke up and realized that people were out to kill us.  That these people hoped to kill innocent people in the hope of convincing America of their strength, their goal, and whatever else.  That was the problem…people went out their everyday lives!  Look around, we did nothing, citizens of the United States, to make us safer.  Half of America wanted to bomb, the other half wanted to bury their heads in the sand.

What happens if a car bomb, anthrax, bio attack, dirty bomb, etc actually goes off?  Take big chains.  Some of the biggest actually, Wal-Mart and McDonalds.  No legislation was ever passed to give them tax breaks, incentives, anything to make their stores safer.  No legislation was required that they do this.  Nothing!  If you own a coffee shop, there is no incentive to install special glass that slows oxygen to a bomb.  No legislation for cut offs in vent systems to stop the spread of a bio attack.  People had revenge in their eyes.  The leadership was and is focused on prevention.  But nobody has asked, what if those efforts fail?  Terrorist Response teams have not been created.  Comparable to the Special Forces of the military.  People that are trained in dealing with a terror attack .

The first part of fighting terror is prevention, but the second part is what to do after the attack.  America, as a whole, has grossly been negligent on this.

I do think we should fight Al-Qaeda head on, in their backyards.  Wherever they reside, we should hunt them down.  It will be vicious.  Have you ever cornered an animal?  They became un-predictable and twice as dangerous as before.  Everything should be done swiftly, efficiently, and without them in a corner.  Al-Qaeda is much like a school yard bully.   Have you ever stood up to a bully?  I did, and got punched, kicked.  I came home more bloodied than the day before.  But you know what, I kept standing up to him.  The first day, the second day, even the third was horribly painful.  However, he eventually got tired of me actually getting a hit in.  Eventually, I did succeed in fending him off, and rarely got picked on by him again.  It was not a glorious seen.  I had to get knocked down to get back up.  We must realize that their will be sacrifice and pain to win this war.  We want life to be exactly the same as this war wages, it almost is, and it shouldn’t be.  I’m not talking loss of liberty, I am talking massive drives to improve our way of life so everybody can survive another attack.  I am talking people should be signing up in droves for the police forces, and military to defend ourselves.  People did after 9/11, wheres the rush now?

Unfortunately parties have taken a hardliner stance.  Democrats: police action, Republicans: Military.  It should be a little of both.  Dry out the swamps of dictators that support terrorism, and swat the mosquitoes in countries that help us.

We are not the enemy

Guest Post by Widowmaker. 

Part 2 of 3

The first major problem with fighting a terrorist…who the heck is defined as a terrorist!? Nobody has given us a clear definition on what a terrorist is. What is the definition of Terrorist? Sounds simple enough, but this is one thing that Webster can not tell you. The Patriot Act has a definition, but its days our numbered. All the government will tell me: “The calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological. Someone who does this is a terrorist.”

This is what leaves Americans confused, they hear “Fighting Terrorists” and don’t know what it means. “In Iraq we are fighting terrorist”…really, then when is it a war with a country, and a war against terror? Because there are state sponsored terrorists, such as those from Libya. Would invading Libya be “the war on terror”. Mmm, who knows! What about the black panthers, the kkk, bombing mass populations by a government, school shootings, etc. Who is it, where do we apply terror laws, and how do we even defend ourselves against such measures?

So, the problem: We tend to use the term terrorist too narrowly. By not clearly identifying who a terrorist is, it makes it difficult to combat. Because right now the lines between terrorist and criminal are blurred. Current system: if you kill for money, criminal. If you kill for an idea, terrorists. Much like hate crime laws.

The other major problem, people like George Soros tell the world that terrorism does not exist. It has been made into a political mess that both sides of the spectrum use too much. Click here to see the attacks against America. We had terror attacks with Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and now Bush. Terrorists do not care who is in office, so the GOP, the Democrats, the whatever party needs to stop saying that they do. Also, I believe people are confused who the enemy is. The enemy is not Uncle Sam, the enemy is the people that cuts heads of on TV, flies planes into buildings, gases innocent people, sends anthrax in the mail, etc. Do not forget who the enemy is. If we forget this, the CIA might as well come home.

And finally Iraq. Everyone has seen report by the National Intelligence Estimate (sorry no link). Nobody in their right mind needs to read that report to know that Iraq is breeding terrorists. Which makes Iraq, now, a terrorist threat. Don’t come screaming when I say its part of the war on terror, it wasn’t. But now, with all of these new anti-American terrorists being bred, we must solve Iraq before the new terrorists come to us. Which is where, Senator Joseph Biden comes to play. Right now, Iraq and Afghanistan will help define how the Arab world views America. And solving Iraq correctly might mean fewer enemies. Terrorists , jiahdistst, and others see Iraq as a rallying call against America. An Alamo you might say. Senator Biden recognizes solving Iraq, will solve so much more. He argues that the current government of national unity isn’t succeeding in holding Iraq together and that America should instead embrace a policy of “federalism plus” that will devolve power to the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Iraqis are already voting for sectarian solutions, Biden argues, and America won’t stabilize Iraq unless it aligns its policy with this reality. He’s asking the right question: How do we fix Iraq? There are many problems, but this is what I thought were the most important. Now, what can we do?

The Problem

Guest Post by Widowmaker.  

Part 1 of 3

My debut begins! The subject of fighting terrorism is exhausted, but I hope my experience and knowledge can shed some light on how I believe terrorism should be fought. As a guest columnist on a liberal blog, one could easily assume I’m a liberal. Not to discredit what this piece is about, but to describe a little bit about me, I believe in trickle-down, I have a poster of Ronald Reagan in my bedroom, and Jimmy Carter leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I say this in hopes of allowing readers to know what I am. That being said; I do not think the right is right on the war on terror and Iraq. I don’t believe the left does either. I do believe one Senator, Democrat Joseph Biden, is the closest thing we have. For ease of reading, I will break this piece into three pieces: a quick history, problems with the current system, and what I think can help solve it. Also, my main focus is Islamic Fascists terrorists. Which, I believe, is our gravest threat.

So it begins;

May 8th, 1945 marked V-E day. The close of the worst struggle that modern day civilization had ever seen. The following days began a new war, a new struggle, a new fear. The tanks of Germany no longer moved; the wheels of Communism rolled in. For 40 years Communism was the world’s gravest threat. Sparking “hot zones” of the Cold War killing nearly 100K US troops in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and across the globe. The United States, the other Super Power next to Communist Russia, did the only thing necessary to save man kind. They prepared for war. For 40 years US troops trained in battle conditions that mimicked a Soviet battle field. All of America was prepared for a day that we all saw ultimately inevitable. It did not come.

The Soviet Union was so focused on “preservation” of power, they feared each other. Atheism was the official religion of the country. All Christians, Muslims, and Jews were jailed, tortured, and most were horrifically murdered. The Soviets had a saying “We are all made of the same matter; we all turn back to sand.” During the internal struggle of the Soviet Union, the country ran into difficulty of men willing to die for the cause. Why die for Communism if the result is merely dust in the wind? This is what the United States Government, and the United States population prepared to fight. We were ready to fight a people that had a fear of dying.

The PLO launched the modern day war from Islamic Fascists in 1970. They realized that even though they had inferior fire power, fewer men, and lack of support, the US media would broadcast all over the world their atrocities. This began a series of attacks against the United States and her allies. As long as an attack occurred against the United States, or a US interest, the media would put focus on the event. This began the pull, push, focus on the United States and modern day terrorism. Then, in the 1990’s, Al Qaeda unearthed and shot down the famous Black Hawk helicopter in Somalia. America was pre-occupied, and confused by this new, relentless enemy. There were 700 American deaths, and 1600 Americans wounded between 1970 and 2000. Our enemy changed. America…did not. September 11th 2001 marked a significant increase in the willingness, dedication, and education of terrorists. There were now 4000 dead Americans by these Islamic Fascists in 31 years. The next question brings, what now?




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