Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, August 31, 2007

Running out the clock?

Our junior Senator here in Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, had these good words on the Senate floor during July 18 debate:

The President says Iraq is part of a vast “global war on terror” and that remaining mired in a conflict there is critical to our national security. But the war in Iraq has made us less, not more, secure. The way to reverse this trend is to redeploy our troops out of Iraq.

After our country has expended over $450 billion and lost more than 3,600 American lives, according to the unclassified key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate released yesterday, al-Qaida and other Islamist terrorist groups remain undiminished in their intent to attack the United States and continue to adapt and improve their capabilities.

While the Bush administration wallows in Iraq, al-Qaida has protected sanctuary along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, again according to the unclassified key judgments of the NIE.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believes a successful attack by al-Qaida would most likely be planned and come out of the group's locations in Pakistan, not Iraq. Al-Qaida, the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, remains a significant threat to our country and our national security, and 4 years of war in Iraq has not changed that fact.

Strangely enough, while most of the country has agreed with this assesment for some time, the MSM has only just begun to accurately represent this as a consensus opinion, in the context of reporting the upcoming GAO report, NIE reports and the like.

So how is Cheney/Bush trying to spin all this? Well, it's hard to know exactly what the new justification for staying the course might be. The administration will surely try to discredit the expert opinions of those in the miltary and elsewhere who are now convinced that the "surge" has not worked. Yet they seem to be drifting off message. For example, in January of this year Bush made his case for a temporary surge in U.S. forces, lasting about one Friedman unit:

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced….
The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will….
victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect.
If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.

So, according to President Bush in January, mere progress in military operations, even the temporary sweeping away of hostile forces from a particular province, or city, is not an end in itself. The "new strategy" can only be judged a success with major political improvements-- the benefits of which are obvious to "ordinary Iraqi citizens."

The Cheney/Bush propaganda machine is of course trying to paint a picture of progress made towards these benchmarks, slower than hoped, but good enough that we might get there after the next Friedman unit. However, despite expensive and slick marketing, the Bushies seem to be falling back to nearly abandoning any serious claim to having achieved success, even on the modest scale advanced by Bush in January.

Listen to the words of White House spokesman Tony Snow at yesterday's briefing: “The real question that people have is: What’s going on in Iraq? Are we making progress? Militarily, is the surge having an impact?” The answer is yes. There’s no question about it.” Maybe these crooks and liars realize that they can no longer obliterate the truth. Now they are reduced to pretending that momentary military advances were all they wanted in the first place.

Now is the time for an anti-war surge here at home. We cannot let yet another Friedman unit go by, with our troops still spinning their wheels in the quagmire of sectarian violence, rampant gangsterism, and civil war.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Writer-Warrior comes home

Some readers may recall my post of 8/20/2007 , that included an excerpt from an extraordinary op-ed piece, contributed by seven soldiers winding up a 15 month deployment to Iraq.

Well, one of the co-authors has the added distinction of being a fantastic blogger to boot! If you haven't already seen this outstanding blog, you should march right over there on the double. The site has a clever name: Army of Dude.

Here's a bit of one recent post. I hope it gets you all motivated to visit and read more.

I’m not a radical or an extremist, as you might think. My biggest fans are in my platoon. The most common thing I hear from them is, this is what I’ve been thinking the whole time. So my thoughts and ruminations aren’t entirely unique. I just simply have the attention of people to tell it to in the country we left behind fifteen months ago.President Eisenhower warned of the growing military industrial complex in his farewell address. Since Dick Cheney can now afford solid gold oil derricks, it’s safe to say we failed Ike miserably. After losing two friends and over a dozen comrades, I have this to say:Do not wage war unless it is absolutely, positively the last ditch effort for survival.I was a struggling senior in high school when the invasion took place, and I supported it. I was mesmerized by the way we raced across the desert and took Baghdad in less than a month. War was a sleek, glossy commercial on TV, and we always won at the end. It’s easy to be for a war when you have absolutely no connection with it. Patriotism lead me to believe what we were doing was right and noble. What a difference a deployment can make.The public can do something about this. It doesn’t have to be a hopeless cause forever. Write your Congressmen, go to a rally, read as much as you can about Iraq to see it for what it is: a place men go to lose their minds and their lives. And most importantly, love your children. Teach them that war is not honorable, it’s no plaything cast with an indifferent hand. It’s the most terrible thing man ever brought to the world. My generation didn’t learn from Vietnam, but the next one can learn from us. The memories and spirit of Chevy and Jesse compel you, America. Do not forget your fallen sons.

This young man will hopefully serve as an instructive example of the truth of that ancient adage: "The pen is mightier than the sword!" If we heed his call to action, then his iminent homecoming may be a joyous occasion, not only to his loved ones, but for the whole American family.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Labor Day

American workers fought hard for generations to make gains that bore fruit in the rising living standards of the 1960's. Yet now we find ourselves rolling backwards-- to a situation in some respects more bleak than any we've faced since the Hoover administration. And yet many of my white collar friends seem to shrug this off as "just how things are." They buy the corporate line that low wages are the key to "being competitive." WalMart, they assume, must be more successful than competitors who pay higher wages. Fortunately, the reality is very different. A happy, unionized work-force with low turnover, incentives to innovate, and good will towards their company is well worth the cost.

Here's just one example cited by Prof. Shaiken from U.C. Berkeley in his testimony before Congress on February 8, 2007:

In retailing, the high-road, partially unionized Costco outperforms the low-road Sam’sClub, a Wal-Mart affiliate. Costco’s labor costs are 40 percent higher than Wal-Mart’s, but nonetheless Costco produced $21,805 in operating profit per hourly employee in theU.S. in 2005, almost double the $11,615 generated at Sam’s Club (Cascio, 2006: 28, 35).And, Costco sells $866 per square foot compared to $525 at Sam’s Club. How does Costco do it? “It absolutely makes good business sense,” CEO James Sinegal maintains.
“Most people agree that we’re the lowest-cost provider. Yet we pay the highest wages. So it must mean we get better productivity.” Echoing Henry Ford, he points out “that’s not just altruism; it’s good business” (Cascio 2006: 28). Costco, as Freeman and Medoff (1984) found in unionized firms, has lower turnover—6 percent annually compared to 21 percent for Sam’s Club” (Holmes and Zellner, 2004).

Support Union businesses-- the economy you save may be your own!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moving Forward

Ralph Neas, of PFAW, had a good, pithy response to the news of Alberto Gonzales' resignation today:

“It’s high time this attorney general resigned. Alberto Gonzales was the 'Enabler General' for the imperial Bush presidency. He undermined the Constitution, made a mockery of the rule of law, and turned the Justice Department into an arm of the Bush Administration’s political operation.“Gonzales protected the interests of George W. Bush over the interests of the American people at every turn. He oversaw a Justice Department that was twisted to serve political interests, from the president’s domestic spying program to bogus allegations of voting fraud that kept minorities and poor people from the ballot box. He showed open contempt for oversight by Congress, and gave testimony under oath that was at best incompetent and at worst, deliberately untrue."

Much as we would all like to breathe deep and put the nightmare of this A.G.'s disastrous tenure behind us, we need to keep pushing hard for answers that he and others in this Cheney/Bush administration have done their level best to keep hidden. What other departments, besides Justice, were pressured into becoming tools of the political operations of this corrupt regime? How was political loyalty enforced, and how often did it trump competence, honorable service, and experience in promotion/demotion, hiring/firing decisions throughout the government? Most critically, how extensive was the misuse of official powers in "caging" voters, fudging results, and otherwise stealing the 2004 Presidential elections?

The Department of Justice must be put on notice that the American public demands the full restoration of our constitutional rights and liberties. Hearings should be held, in which the new Department of Justice leaders must explain how they intend to restore our Constitution as the real framework for their actions. Those current and former White House officials who haven't fully complied with subpoenas must be made to do so-- resignations notwithstanding.

This is not the moment for sad shakes of the head, and letting bygones be bygones, this is the time to nail the bastards to the wall!!

Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

From today's New York Times:

A senior administration official said today that Mr. Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.
Mr. Gonzales and his wife flew to Texas, and over lunch on Sunday the president accepted the resignation with regret, the official said.
On Saturday night Mr. Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and he told the spokesman to deny the reports.
White House spokesmen also insisted on Sunday that they did not believe that Mr. Gonzales was planning to resign. Aides to senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said over the weekend that they had received no suggestion from the administration that Mr. Gonzales intended to resign.
As late as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales himself was denying through his spokesman that he was quitting. The spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, said Sunday that he telephoned the attorney general about the reports of his imminent resignation “and he said it wasn’t true — so I don’t know what more I can say.”

How fitting that the Bushies even stonewalled about this resignation until the last second! We'll have a lot more on some of the implications... later tonight.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let's Impeach The President

A good rousing song to keep our spirits up!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Any reason to hope?

Let's take a quick look at the case of

Robert Isakson, who filed a whistleblower suit against contractor Custer Battles in 2004, alleging the company — with which he was briefly associated — bilked the U.S. government out of tens of millions of dollars by filing fake invoices and padding other bills for reconstruction work.
He and his co-plaintiff, William Baldwin, a former employee fired by the firm, doggedly pursued the suit for two years, gathering evidence on their own and flying overseas to obtain more information from witnesses. Eventually, a federal jury agreed with them and awarded a $10 million judgment against the now-defunct firm, which had denied all wrongdoing.
It was the first civil verdict for Iraq reconstruction fraud.
But in 2006, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III overturned the jury award. He said Isakson and Baldwin failed to prove that the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-backed occupier of Iraq for 14 months, was part of the U.S. government.
Not a single Iraq whistleblower suit has gone to trial since.
“It’s a sad, heartbreaking comment on the system,” said Isakson, a former FBI agent who owns an international contracting company based in Alabama. “I tried to help the government, and the government didn’t seem to care.”

A partial list of similar shabby, and even worse, treatment of whistleblowers calling attention to fraud in Iraq is detailed in this AP story.

The truth is that the entire Iraq adventure was fraudulent from the start. Some war cheerleaders may have had loftier reasons for supporting the invasion, yet Dick Cheney's Halliburton, and other businesses driving the war machine, have never seen the whole affair as anything more or less than a cash cow. These interests aren't bothered in the least to learn Iraq has become an interminable quagmire. The longer chaos reigns, the longer their opportunity to rake in obscene profits.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moving the goalposts

Occasionally there are moments in our national political life that help to clarify for everyone the stakes involved in choosing our leaders. When the Supreme Court foisted G.W. Bush upon a hapless nation in 2000, they gave to us a President with an almost infinite capacity for self-delusion. The Enron debacle, with an equally "reality-challenged" chief executive, was devastating to thousands of people. Having "Dubya" in charge of the world's only remaining superpower has caused calamities that affect millions.

Sen. John Warner (R. VA) has caused something of a stir with his call for an immediate start to the redeployment of troops from Iraq. This isn't because of the boldness of his proposal (a more modest call for change could scacely be imagined) but results from his standing as an establishment pillar deeply embedded in the military-industrial complex of Washington D.C. Yet even more significant, in my mind, than high-level GOP defections, was the instant negative reaction to Bush's latest arguments for staying the course. Bush cherry-picked a conservative VFW audience for this appeal. The reaction showed clearly that not only does an overwhelming majority of the American public reject Bush's warmongering, but even his Republican base has lost patience with our Commuter and Thief. They may soon begin to join their fellow citizens of the Democratic persuasion in calling upon the national GOP to disown the disastrous Bush Iraq "policy."

Take a look at this account of the VFW speech:

Bush's remarks, the first in a series of appearances and other administration initiatives designed to rally support for maintaining as many as 170,000 U.S. troops in Iraq well into 2008 in advance of a critical report to Congress due in mid-September, suggested to supporters and critics alike that the president remains as determined as ever to hold out against pressure, even from his own party, to begin withdrawing troops in the coming months. "The president is not going to change; he's going to insist on staying the course," said ret. Gen. John Johns, a counter-insurgency specialist. "What is required is that the Republican leadership in Congress force the president (to change course). I do not see that in the works today, and I don't understand why." Bush's speech, which followed the overnight crash of a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter in which 14 U.S. soldiers were killed -- the worst one-day U.S. death toll in more than a year -- came amid growing speculation about both the fate of al-Maliki's government and the report by Washington's ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, and its military commander there, Gen. David Petraeus, which Congress may receive as early as Sep. 11. The report, which is supposed to be an assessment of the six-month-old surge strategy, is likely to echo what has become a growing consensus here over the past several weeks -- that, while the addition of some 30,000 U.S. troops and the adoption of more-aggressive counter-insurgency tactics have succeeded in reducing sectarian violence in Baghdad, virtually no comparable progress has been made on the political front.
It's sure to be an interesting September!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Down a Dark Tunnel

So often in this life we're confronted with tragedies that are not only predictable, but also preventable. The recent disasters, at the non-union Sago and Crandall Canyon coal mines, did not have to happen. In both cases mine owners put profits before the safety and well-being of their miners. What's worse, the Bush administration Mine Safety officials, paid by American taxpayers to regulate this dirty and dangerous job, have instead chosen to coach mine owners as to how they can evade safety rules. In union mines, the UMWA is at least able to insist that owners follow the law. In non-union mines, like Sago and Crandall Cranyon, flagrant and repeated violations of safety standards are rewarded by MSHA attempts to gently bring them "into compliance," through watering down enforcement and forgiving penalties.

All of the facts surrounding the disaster at Crandall Canyon are still not fully known, yet this report about Sago can give us a preview of some issues likely to emerge:

The UMWA cited several decisions made by mine management and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration that set up the deadly conditions inside the Sago mine. One was MSHA's decision in the 1990's to allow substandard seals-including seals made from foam material called Omega Block-to be built instead of the "bulkhead seals" required by Congress in the 1977 Mine Act. The Omega Block seals installed in the Sago mine were completely inadequate to contain the forces of the blast.
The UMWA report also says that Sago mine management submitted and MSHA approved a ventilation plan just weeks before the explosion. The plan caused fresh air to course past the sealed area. This air was separated from the working section's fresh air supply by just one wall. When the explosion occurred, it blew out that wall, meaning contaminated air containing carbon monoxide and other toxic gases and smoke coming from the sealed area was blown directly onto the trapped miners, hampering their effort to escape and eventually killing all but one of them.
The UMWA also cited the use of the extremely rare practice of "second mining" at the Sago mine as a contributing factor to the extreme force of the explosion. A second seam of coal underneath the original seam was mined in the area that was eventually sealed, creating roof heights of up to 18 feet in some areas. This allowed greater than normal amounts of methane to build up in the sealed area, and also created a "piling" effect as the forces from the explosion were compressed as they traveled towards the seals. The extreme forces of the explosion completely obliterated nine of the ten Omega Block seals.
The report also points out that, despite a clear mandate from Congress dating back to 1969, MSHA failed to push for the development of enhanced two-way communications systems and tracking devices that could locate trapped miners underground. The report also faulted the safety agency for not following Congress' mandate to require operators to install safety chambers in mines, even though it has had the authority to do so since the passage of the 1969 Coal Act.
"The real problem here is that the will and intent of Congress when it passed the Coal Act in 1969 and the Mine Act in 1977 has been diluted, modified and subverted by MSHA and mine operators to the point where some practices and policies in place today offer miners little more protection than they had before those laws were passed," Roberts said.
The UMWA report makes dozens of findings and recommendations in mine safety areas, ranging from seals to ventilation, dealing with methane accumulation, the donning and use of self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) oxygen packs, national mine rescue preparedness, and more.
"We look forward to discussing these recommendations with Congress and MSHA," said UMWA Secretary-Treasurer Daniel J. Kane. "We cannot afford to wait. The sooner we implement these recommendations, either as law or regulations, the more secure miners will be in the knowledge that their jobs are as safe as possible. As this report demonstrates, we've got a long way to go before we get to that point."

Not many of us face the same sort of dangers that coalminers do on a daily basis. Yet most of us who work for a living are vulnerable in many ways. Unions have proven themselves the only reliable protection for workers' health, safety, and economic security. "United we bargain, divided we beg!" Unions can make a comeback in this country, but it's going to take a lot of hard work from all of us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A dose of reality

The Cheney/Bush administration, and its Republican allies in Congress, managed to forestall a cutoff in funding for the Iraqi troop surge by making an unprecedented promise. In September, Gen. Petraeus would present to the American people a full, sober, unvarnished assessment of the stategy's success. The promise bought more time, but also raised expectations that, for the first time, the administration would have to reassess their policy based on an objective assessment of the reality on the ground.

Well, September draws nigh... the situation in Iraq is as bad as ever, and naturally the White House is trying to weasel out of its commitment to the American people. As Julian Barnes and Peter Spiegel reported in last Wednesday's LA Times: "Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government." This is a stunning admission, because it reveals that the White House doesn't feel it can rely on its own hand-picked General to grossly distort the reality on the ground.

So, since General Petraeus' role has been reduced to that of a Faux News broadcaster-- namely reading Cheney/Bush administration talking points out loud-- how can we learn the real situation on the ground in Iraq?

An op.ed. piece in Sunday's New York Times, written by active-duty military officers in Iraq, is very helpful in this regard:

August 19, 2007
New York Times
Op-Ed Contributors
The War as We Saw It
VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)
The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.
A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families….

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.
Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.
Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.
At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.
In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”
In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.
Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.
We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Law of the Jungle

Brent Budowsky had a good post yesterday on the Hill:

These are tough times for the wealthy.
What has happened during the Bush years, with the Bush ethic of “grab all you can” greed, is the stench of a new Gilded Age that is morally disgraceful, economically unsustainable and politically deadly for Republicans if the Democrats speak clearly against this.
Hillary would probably argue that the wealthy, like special-interest lobbyists, are just plan old Americans who never influence government with their money. Some in Congress will have to interrupt their fundraisers and offend their campaign contributors. For most Democrats, this is the issue of a lifetime, the stuff of which landslides are made of.
Is it right that American troops are told we can’t afford to give them body armor and protected vehicles, so they die preventable deaths, while the highest-income 1 percent receive huge tax cuts?
Is it right that the new racket on Wall Street is that banks make bad loans, sell them to hedge funds and private equity firms, many of whom are virtually unregulated and untaxed, who then complain about their pain after they foreclose on average Americans for falling a little behind their payments?
It is good that today the Fed cut the prime by 50 points, but it is bad, and terribly wrong and unjust, that in the last week the Fed has essentially used Americans’ money to bail out the wealthy who made the profits, while doing zero for the foreclosed and homeless.
When the banks, hedge funds and private equity firms make bad deals, they keep the personal profits, while the corporate profits are protected by bailouts. Meanwhile, when the average Americans in the middle class, or the poor, fall a little behind, they get the boot, they lose their jobs, they are thrown into the street without homes and often without food.

Yet those of us who are not wealthy must avoid the trap of thinking that the greedy and heartless behavior of some arrogant plutocrats, pundits, or politicians is the real problem. The basic injustice is the same all over the world. The 1% who control most of the world's capital have learned from generations of experience how to rig the system in their favor against the rest of us. They own the market, we try to rent space from them to hawk our wares. In most cases we desperately try to undercut our rivals and sell our goods or services for the lowest price possible. We "win" this competition by allowing the market owners to derive the highest possible surplus value from our labors.

Whole states in our nation have adopted this race-to-the-bottom approach. South Carolina eagerly adopts a slew of anti-union laws and policies, and "wins" a bunch of non-union Honda or Toyota factory jobs that pay far less than the same jobs in Michigan. Talent, hard-work and adaptability will help some blue-collar and white collar workers advance to the top of their respective heaps. Nonetheless, even decades of superb service and the production of huge profits for the owner won't always result in economic security. Plants, call-centers, software design centers are abruptly closed, papers are shuffled, companies move offshore. A small handful of insiders rake in billions, while highly-skilled workers are cast adrift without pensions, healthcare, or the likelihood of finding another decent job in their field.

Most of us are too busy trying to scrape by in this "land of opportunity" to reflect on why things are the way they are. The privileged few academics, artists, and writers with the free time to dream up constructive criticisms of this harsh reality are prevented by their own success from being taken seriously. And this is only natural. How can a nurse, who saves up three years to take her family to DisneyWorld for a week, not view a prominent scholar at an Ivy League school, who spends a full year of paid time off in London or Rome, as elitist?

I grew up in an academic family in a small college town. My parents, and many of their friends, continue to impress me as the most selfless, compassionate, curious and useful members of society that I know. Indeed the whole Ulyssean theme of this blog is a tribute to the undying love and loyalty I feel to the haven of sanity that is Ithaca, NY. Yet the tremendous good energy that abounds in centers of learning is not easily translated into important real-world actions. Actions that would really improve the lot of those in less favored surroundings.

So listen up, Ithaca, Madison, Cambridge, Ann Arbor, and Palo Alto! Ulysses asks you (at least those of you with tenure) to write one less book review and one more letter to the editor. We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Raising the Minimum Wage

It looks as if the war in Iraq has drained our resources to the point where it's beginning to squeeze the lowly government employees...

From the AP:
Updated: 1:21 p.m. ET Aug 17, 2007

WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Tony Snow said Friday he'll leave sometime before the end of the Bush presidency because of financial pressures.
He declined to say when he would depart, but that, "I'm going to stay as long as I can."
The 52-year-old Snow, the father of three children, earns $168,000 as an assistant to the president but made considerably more as a conservative pundit and syndicated talk-show host on Fox News Radio. He was named press secretary on April 26, 2006.

I know how you feel Tony! I mean who could support three kids on such a pittance, especially if they have braces?! It's time you went out and got yourself a real job that can pay the bills.... I hear Home Depot is hiring down your way. At least you got to go to a few free luncheons and dinners, eh Tony?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Paranoia? I don't think so...

Judges asked to dismiss wiretap suits
AT & T customers seek damages from the firm and an Islamic charity says the spying program is illegal.

By Henry Weinstein, L.A. Times, August 16, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO -- Justice Department attorneys attempted to persuade three federal appeals court judges Wednesday to dismiss two major lawsuits challenging the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.The interest was so high in the unusual joint hearing that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals provided two rooms for overflow spectators.In the first case, lawyers representing millions of AT&T customers are seeking damages from the telecommunications giant for allegedly sharing their private records with the National Security Agency as part of a massive surveillance program.In the second case, an Islamic charity asserts that the organization and two of its attorneys were illegally spied on as part of another NSA spying endeavor, called the Terrorist Surveillance Program.The two cases are among dozens filed across the country after the surveillance program was revealed in a December 2005 news story.The government is attempting to have all the cases dismissed under the "state secrets" privilege, established by the Supreme Court in 1953, that bars presentation in court of evidence that could threaten national security. However, lower court judges in both of these cases rejected the government's initial attempts to get the cases tossed.On Wednesday, Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre said litigating the AT&T action "could result in exceptionally grave harm to national security in the United States."Neither the government nor AT&T has admitted or denied whether the company worked with the government on a massive surveillance program. Indeed, President Bush has denied widespread warrantless domestic wiretapping but acknowledged surveillance in cases in which one of the callers is believed to have ties to Al Qaeda.

In response to a question from Judge M. Margaret McKeown, Garre said the government stands behind Bush's statement. However, Garre also said it was unlikely that a federal official would be willing to sign a sworn court affidavit to that effect. If the government either affirmed or denied that there was a broad surveillance program it would provide valuable information to the country's enemies, Garre suggested. Judge Harry Pregerson, a World War II veteran and the senior member of the panel, questioned whether the Justice Department was asking the judges to "rubber stamp" the Bush administration's claim that state secrets were at risk in the AT&T case. "Who decides whether something is a state secret or not?" Pregerson asked.Garre said that the judges had a role to play but that prior rulings dictate that jurists should accord "ultimate deference" to the executive branch."What does 'ultimate deference' mean? Bow to it?" Pregerson responded.

This situation shows the peril our democracy faces. Our Justice Department, headed by a notorious liar, asks Judges, sworn to uphold the law, to "just trust us on this one." Judge Harry Pregerson fought against fascists more than half a century ago to save the world from bowing down to dictators. He has every right to resist bowing down to Bush.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A billionaire with a conscience?

Maybe there's some hope for America after all...

Robert Frank, Wall Street Journal blog

July 31, 2007, 11:02 am
The Billionaire Class Warrior
There’s a growing chorus of rich people making a surprising demand: “Raise our taxes!”
Warren Buffett sounded off last month at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, saying the rich should pay a more-fair share of taxes. He said that he surveyed his employees at Berkshire headquarters and found that all of them — down to the secretaries — paid a higher share of their income to taxes in 2006 than he did. And Mr. Buffett is the second-richest man in America. He told the group he uses no tax shelters, employs no tax planner and pays a mere 17.7%.

Read the rest of this post here.

Cheney '94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire C-SPAN

So why didn't Dick Cheney listen to himself?!!?

Voodoo Economics

George Bush the Elder was by no means a good President. Yet he at least seemed to be sometimes aware of reality. Before he served as Vice President in Ronald Reagan's administration he accurately labeled as "Voodoo Economics," the notion that massive tax cuts for the wealthy, coupled with huge increases in defense spending would lead to long-term prosperity for the United States. Ironically, a major factor in his loss to Bill Clinton was that the myth of Reagan's success, in performing just this kind of magic, made it politically impossible for a Republican President to do what Clinton accomplished-- balance the budget.

"No nation has ever taxed and spent its way to prosperity." George W.Bush 7/6/2007

Well, O.K., if you don't want to count France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Japan and every other major postwar economic power.

What is undeniably true is that no nation has ever recklessly borrowed its way to prosperity.

When lil'Bush took office in 2001 our national debt stood at $5,728,195,796,181.57 As he tearfully announced Rove's resignation this Monday our national debt had risen to $8,969,936,197,090.19. So what did the U.S. get for the more than $3.2 trillion in new debt, taken on by our government, so far under lil'Bush's watch? Did over a thousand economically depressed areas in the U.S. each receive at least $320 million in development aid? Did every state in the union receive billions for necessary repairs to highway bridges, dams, and other infrastructure? Or, have real wages fallen for the vast majority of U.S. taxpayers? Has a first-class college education become prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthy and superstar athletes? Have we sunk billions into an Iraqi quagmire, gaining nothing but deeper enmity in the Arab world and the death of many thousands of people? What are we getting for our hard-earned money?

My friend Manny possesses a rare skill as a builder of high-quality yachts. The Rhode Island company he works for is one of the few in the nation who can, honestly, say that Bush's redistribution of wealth to the obscenely rich has helped its business. Yet, Manny tells me no one at the yard, including his boss, has anything good to say about lil'Bush. They, like over 70% of their fellow citizens, have recognized the Cheney/Bush administration as a national embarrassment and a fraud.

And so I ask Nancy Pelosi: "Off the table? Are you f#%*ing insane?"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Off to greener pastures...

Well now, here's something to perk up a Monday morning!

BY PAUL A. GIGOT , Wall Street Journal

Monday, August 13, 2007 6:15 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON--These are the days of Republican doubt, with President Bush fighting an unpopular war, Congress in opposition hands, and a 2008 presidential field trailing Democrats in nearly every poll. But don't tell that to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's political alter ego, who even as he prepares to resign from the White House after six and a half years sees recovery ahead….
however, Mr. Rove will have to savor it from somewhere other than his West Wing office. He's resigning effective Aug. 31--14 years after he began working with Mr. Bush on his campaign for Texas governor, 10 years after they began planning a White House run, and after 79 months in the political cockpit of a tumultuous presidency….

Mr. Rove doesn't say, though others do, that this timing also allows him to leave on his own terms. He has survived a probe by a remorseless special counsel, and lately a subpoena barrage from Democrats for whom he is the great white whale. He shows notable forbearance in declining to comment on prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who dragged him through five grand jury appearances. He won't even disclose his legal bills, except to quip that "every one has been paid" and that "it was worth every penny."
What about those who say he's leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? "I know they'll say that," he says, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob." He also knows he'll continue to be a target, even from afar, since belief in his influence over every Administration decision has become, well, faith-based.
"I'm a myth. There's the Mark of Rove," he says, with a bemused air. "I read about some of the things I'm supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh." He says the real target is Mr. Bush, whom many Democrats have never accepted as a legitimate president and "never will."

You can read the rest of Gigot's interview with Rove, here.

There will be a lot of time for analysis of the backstory, consequences, etc. of this particular resignation. For now I would merely point out that I'm a bit jealous I wasn't first out with this bon mot, written by a Post reader in Silver Springs, MD.:

"Karl Rove? Isn't he leaving because he's accomplished all that he set out to accomplish -- a permanent Republican majority and a brief Iraq war -- or did I get that backwards?"

Friday, August 10, 2007

Turn off the money spigot

The whole theory behind giving the "power of the purse" to our elected representatives in the legislative branch is neatly summarized by James Madison:

This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure. (Federalist No. 58)

Democrats on Capitol Hill need to recognize that the people want them to cut off the Cheney/Bush criminal enterprise. Congress is the bartender, and the people are begging that the liquor of their taxes no longer be served to the irresponsible louts bent on destroying our democracy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Give me Liberty

What shall we do now?

Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

There is no more peaceful village on this fair planet than Trumansburg, NY. Overlooking beautiful Cayuga Lake, this tranquil hamlet is a haven for organic farmers, artists, scholars and poets. Yet the revolutionary firebrand Patrick Henry would be proud of the initiative shown by some of Trumansburg's most civic-minded residents.

Allen Carstensen posts this announcement on his blog.

Saturday, August 4, 2007
Village Board Meets to Consider Impeachment
On September 24, 2007 at 7 pm in the Fire Hall there will be a meeting of the Trumansburg Village Board. The public is encouraged to come. The Board will be considering our resolution (see below)....

We therefore submit the following resolution:VILLAGE OF TRUMANSBURG IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY RESOLUTION PETITIONWHEREAS, substantial evidence has been gathered that indicates that President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have committed high crimes and misdemeanors , andWHEREAS, said high crimes and misdemeanors may include, but are not limited to the President and Vice President • Misleading Congress and the American people regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction • Misleading Congress and the nation about ties between Iraq and al Quaeda • Using these falsehoods to lead our nation into a war in contravention of U.S. and international law • Authorizing the unlawful use of torture and extraordinary rendition • Engaging in unlawful spying on American citizens and otherwise violating citizens' right to privacy • Declaring their intention to disregard their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, andWHEREAS, Congress has begun the process of holding hearings to examine several of these charges, andWHEREAS, the Rules of the House of Representatives call for the referral of possible articles of impeachment to the Judiciary Committee for investigation, andWHEREAS, the people of Trumansburg, New York, desire a full and comprehensive review of these charges in an orderly fashion, NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE TRUMANSBURG VILLAGE BOARD That New York State Senator George H. Winner Jr. (53rd Senate District) and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (125th Assembly District), be strongly urged to ensure that the Legislature of the State of New York submit charges to the House of Representatives in accordance with the House Rules, and that U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Michael Arcuri (24th Congressional District), be strongly urged to support the formation of an appropriate sub-committee to investigate and review said charges and that such support be evidenced by a written request to that effect addressed to the Speaker of the House, andBE IT FURTER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be delivered to Congressperson Michael Arcuri, Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, State Senator George H. Winner, Jr., Assemblyperson Barbara Lifton, and the media.

This same spirit can be found in every state of the Union. From the vineyards of Central New York to the computer labs of Silicon Valley, the American people will not be denied the chance to preserve a system of government first fought for by Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and countless other men and women of courage. This August recess is the perfect time for all of us to make sure that our representatives in Washington D.C. know the time has come to do the people's business.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Vox Populi

Mathew Yglesias makes an excellent point in this recent post. By the standards of European politics, even the most progressive proposals of candidates Kucinich and Edwards are squarely within the mainstream. Yet European analysts who scoff at the notion of any true "populist" politicians in today's America are missing

the extent to which populism is a style rather than an ideology. John Edwards doesn't just talk about his policies as good policies, he talks about wresting control over the government from entrenched economic elites and deploying its power on behalf of ordinary people. That is populism and it's different from what a UK Conservative can or would say. Or, rather, a UK Conservative can adopt a populist style or pose, but would need to change the target around to make it something like wresting power from arrogant bureaucrats or public sector unions.
Populism is a real thing, and a quite analytically useful category, but it's not a kind of policy agenda, it's a kind of way of talking about policy.

John Edwards has begun to speak in a populist fashion about his policy proposals, yet he has far to go before he will really rouse the rabble. He cannot miss any opportunity to point out who is rigging the system against working folks, how they are doing it, and why they need to be driven out of town on a rail. Moreover, it isn't just about plutocrats exploiting the poor and middle class. It's entrenched elites rewarding their inept cronies, while ignoring merit and hard work. Even the U.S. Attorneys scandal can be viewed from a populist standpoint. We work hard, pay our taxes, and play by the rules. Why should we be robbed of competent, honest public servants in our Justice Department? So Bushie kids just out of Bible School, who don't know James Madison from James Brown, can administer loyalty oaths to purge the department of distinguished jurists, and replace them with corrupt party hacks?

A true populist spends very little time distinguishing himself, or herself , from others who aspire to be the people's champion. The populist simply rails against the enemies of the people in the people's name.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Taking it to the streets

Monday night saw John Edwards on the Lou Dobbs show, explaining his position on evaluating free trade agreements in light of their impact on working families. Here's the key quotation:

before any trade agreement is presented to the Congress, as president,[sic] we will do, in my administration, evaluation of the impact it's going to have not just on the American economy at large and not statistics, but on communities and jobs. And we will identify where those places are so that everybody who's considering this trade deal, including me as president, will know what impact they're going to have.

Here is where John Edwards shows his very different take on free trade from some of his fellow Democrats. When Bill Clinton pushed so hard for NAFTA, he glibly avoided confronting these concerns that were pressed upon him most forcefully by organized labor. Clinton quite truthfully argued that the agreement's impact on the American economy at large, measured in dollars, would be positive. Yet ever larger profits for a small number of corporations, swallowed up almost entirely by the very wealthy, isn't going to always bring benefits to working Americans.

To give a simple example: Suppose a large automaker closes two plants and outsources 25,000 jobs from Michigan to Mexico. This will have a devastating effect on two small cities, creating a downward cycle of "rust-belt" poverty that will harm the real economic conditions of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet from a purely capitalist standpoint, the "overall impact" might still be positive. Sharply lower labor costs will boost profits and increase shareholder value. A vast new market is now open to a financial services spinoff from the same automaker-- to rip off Mexican credit card consumers in the same way as their gringo neighbors. There's even a large new call center built in Columbus, Ohio where bilingual customer service reps have the opportunity to work for less than a third of the wages once paid by the plant, with little or no benefits. What can you say to the grandchildren of Polish immigrants, who lost their small business in Michigan? "You should be proud of what three generations of your family accomplished, supplying the needs of the high-wage workers in your town. Those customers aren't ever coming back... but if you go back to school and learn Spanish you might find a job for up to $11/hour just a few hundred miles away!"

Neither I nor John Edwards would argue that protectionism is the solution for restoring prosperity to America's working families. Yet with great freedom to trade, comes great responsibilities. It's not unreasonable to demand that any nation granted "most favored" trading status with ours, like China, end the use of forced prison labor in their factories!

The Republicans have striven mightily to drive down the wages and influence of U.S. workers. Edwards calls on corporate interests to recognize the real human costs of unchecked global capitalism. The American people deserve a President who will look a billionaire in the eye, and say "O.K., so you want the government to allow you to throw all these fine people out of work? Don't even dream of getting the agreement you want, before you come up with some serious plans for investing some of the new profits into creating good, new high-paying jobs!"

Edwards and Kucinich seem to be the only two Democratic candidates fully committed to strengthening organized labor. The mainstream media would love to marginalize both of these guys, yet Edwards, at least, seems able to pierce the veil and appeal directly to the voters. I wish him the best of luck!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Time to regroup

This month of August takes its name from a man, Octavian, who elevated himself above all other mortals when he took the title Caesar Augustus, and systematically distorted, redefined, or eviscerated centuries-old Roman Republican institutions. Combining the most powerful patrician and plebeian office-holding authority in his one person, Augustus never eliminated the Senate, he merely transformed that venerable body from a group of stern wielders of power to a silly cluster of snobbish sycophants.

Dick Cheney is no Augustus, nor even a Richard Nixon. George W. Bush has even less cunning. Yet even the most comically inept individual can develop an insatiable greed for unlimited power. We needn't worry that our Commander and Thief's criminal cohort will corrupt the other branches of our federal government with their subtle and ingenious wiles. No, they will continue to grasp for power in a remarkably clumsy fashion, and their despotism won't be at all enlightened.

What is critically important for us to bear in mind is that these clowns are not concerned with impressing voters in the U.S., leaders of foreign nations, or anyone at all. Unrestrained by traditional deference to public opinion, will they show any more respect for the results of an election? Will they ratchet up the fearmongering to the point where "the need for stability" will lead them to dispense with elections altogether? Congress needs to listen to their constituents well during this August recess.

Americans are very unhappy with this administration and its criminal contempt for our democratic institutions. They are unhappy with Congress for not smacking down the crooks and liars in the White House with more speed and force. Nobody, except a tiny right-wing minority, will interpret impeachment as mere partisan payback for the Republican's harassment of Bill Clinton. On the contrary, Americans grow more fearful of a police-state future every day that passes without seeing these tin-horn dictators brought to justice.

Friday, August 3, 2007


It's important to remember that Alberto Gonzales is not being pushed into a new and uncomfortable position as he lies, stonewalls, and obfuscates on behalf of our Commuter and Thief, George W. Bush. Even back in Texas, Gonzales was running interference for Dubya, helping then Governor Bush avoid jury duty. It was Gonzales who put together a b.s. pretext back in 1996 that shielded Gov. Bush from having to fill out a jury questionnaire that would have forced Dubya to reveal his DUI conviction. (For more on this sorry episode, read here.)

Throughout their long relationship, Gonzales has embraced the role that so many of Bush's circle fall into, that of enabler. In both his business and political careers, Bush has tended to screw up, while his family and friends have been forced to clean up. Alberto Gonzales' personal loyalty to Bush is every bit as deep as Bobby Kennedy's was to his brother, Jack. I shouldn't have to point out to my readers that I intend no insult to the memory of JFK and RFK by this unfortunate comparison!

Gonzales is not at all conflicted by the need to abandon his sworn duty to uphold the law as Attorney General. His only sense of obligation is to his patron. The right-wing Republican Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, appealed to Gonzales' sense of patriotism in calling upon the Attorney General to resign. Some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill still cling to the fading hope that Gonzales might be prevailed upon to "do the right thing."

Yet this hope rests on a false premise: that Gonzales' sense of "right" includes any commitment whatsoever to preserving our democracy. Protecting his patron is what he believes to be his highest calling. The preservation of his own integrity was a cause willfully abandoned many years ago.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Real numbers, false impression

Maybe it's just me, but it sure seems like many in the mainstream media are still willing shills for the Republican war machine. Take this story prominently featured in yesterday's New York Times:

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq in July Was the Lowest in ’07

By Stephen Farrell
Published: August 1, 2007
BAGHDAD, Aug. 1 — The deaths, announced today, of four American soldiers in Baghdad on Tuesday brought the total American military death toll in July to 78, the lowest monthly figure so far this year….
On July 26, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, said that the decline in the American death toll was a “positive sign,” but that it was too early to say whether the reduction was a “true trend.”

Finally, some good news! Maybe we should give this "surge" a chance, eh? Well, let's look a little deeper... U.S. and coalition troops have had more than four years to learn how to best protect themselves in the dangerous summer heat of July. Now, with all of the advantages of this recent surge, this ought to be just about the best July our troops have had in Iraq, right?

Let's take a gander at the relevant figures:

U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq

July 2003-- 48

July 2004-- 54

July 2005-- 54

July 2006-- 43

July 2007-- 78

Can you think of a better headline? Maybe...

U.S. troops face worst July ever in Iraq. Death toll 90% higher than last year. ???

BTW, if the NYT needs anyone to help in headline composition... my salary requirements are very reasonable!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... Hendrick Hertzberg has this alarming report on a potential California election scam in the upcoming New Yorker:

Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of California’s electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the rest, one by one, to the winner in each congressional district. Nineteen of the fifty-three districts are represented by Republicans, but Bush carried twenty-two districts in 2004. The bottom line is that the initiative, if passed, would spot the Republican ticket something in the neighborhood of twenty electoral votes—votes that it wouldn’t get under the rules prevailing in every other sizable state in the Union….
It’s serious. Its backers have access to serious money. And it could pass.
Nominally, the sponsor of No. 07-0032 is Californians for Equal Representation. But that’s just a letterhead—there’s no such organization. Its address is the office suite of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, the law firm for the California Republican Party, and its covering letter is signed by Thomas W. Hiltachk, the firm’s managing partner and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal lawyer for election matters. Hiltachk and his firm have been involved in many well-financed ballot initiatives before, including the recall that put Arnold in Sacramento. They specialize in initiatives that are the opposite of what they sound like—the Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act of 2006, for example. It would have raised the state minimum wage slightly—by a lesser amount than it has since been raised—and, in the fine print, would have made it impossible ever to raise it again except by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature, while, for good measure, eliminating overtime for millions of workers….
California Initiative No. 07-0032 is an audacious power play packaged as a step forward for democratic fairness. It’s the lotusland equivalent of Tom DeLay’s 2003 midterm redistricting in Texas, except with a sweeter smell, a better disguise, and larger stakes. And the only way Californians will reject it is if they have a chance to think about it first.

Any of my California Readers who haven't heard about this, please don't let this happen!