Sunday, November 04, 2007

VALERIE PLAME LIVE WEDNESDAY

Quote of the Day: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead (US anthropologist, 1901 - 1978)

Today November 7, 2007, VALERIE PLAME is our guest on the Basham and Cornell Radio Show at 8 am Pacific Time on AM 1230 KLAV in Las Vegas (simulcast worldwide on the web.) And we’ll have her for the entire hour.



Valerie Elise Plame Wilson, known as Valerie Plame, is a former United States CIA officer who worked as a classified covert intelligence agent for over twenty years and the wife of 2-time past guest on the show, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson.

On 14 July 2003 Robert Novak identified "Wilson's wife" publicly as "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" named "Valerie Plame" in his syndicated column in The Washington Post. In that column Novak was responding to an "op-ed" entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," written by former Ambassador Wilson and published in the New York Times the previous week, on July 6, 2003.

In his op-ed, former Ambassador Wilson states that the George W. Bush administration exaggerated unreliable claims that Iraq intended to purchase uranium yellowcake to support the administration's arguments that Iraq was proliferating weapons of mass destruction so as to justify its preemptive war in Iraq.

Novak's public disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's then-still-classified covert CIA identity as "Valerie Plame" led to a CIA leak grand jury investigation, resulting in the indictment and successful prosecution of Lewis Libby in United States v. Libby for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal investigators, in the Wilsons' civil lawsuit (Plame v. Cheney) against current and former government officials (dismissed on July 19, 2007 in U.S. District Court in a decision appealed the next day), and in continuing related controversy.

The controversy related to the leak of Plame's identity and subsequent legal and political action is sometimes referred to as the Plame Affair. Her autobiography, “Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House”, was published on October 22, 2007.

The Basham and Cornell Show broadcasts weekday mornings at 8 am Pacific (11 a.m. Eastern). All shows are simulcast on the Internet (and archived) and can be listened to at www.BashamAndCornell.com
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PENCILS DOWN Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors Issues Statement in Support of Writers Guild of America...(more below)

Going on strike is a very sad thing, but the producers won't budge on the hated DVD issue and the new media downloads. I have something important to post later today on this. As members of AFTRA and SAG, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Writers Guild. Let's pray for a swift resolution.

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The National Board of Directors of Screen Actors Guild unanimously approved a statement of support for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) at its plenary meeting in Los Angeles Oct. 27.

Saturday’s resolution, which is included below in full, sounds a resounding note of support for the WGA from the highest elected body of Screen Actors Guild.

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR THE WGA

WHEREAS the advent of digital production and distribution of content through the Internet, cell phones, and other new media platforms has created a moment of historical urgency for the Guilds that represent creative talent;

WHEREAS our employers sought to change the compensation structures fought for by generations of actors, writers and directors by proposing to pay residuals on a profit-only basis across all media;

WHEREAS our employers have thus far been unwilling to counteroffer the reasonable WGA payment proposal for Internet streaming and instead call such use “promotional” even when whole pictures are shown and new revenue is generated;

WHEREAS our employers persist in equating content downloaded over the Internet with the sale of DVDs despite the complete absence of manufacturing costs and the relatively de minimis cost of digital distribution;

WHEREAS our employers have thus far been unwilling to recognize that the wages, working conditions and residuals provided in our basic contracts should govern work made for any platform, new or old;

WHEREAS our employers have had sufficient experience in new media to make confident, public revenue projections to their shareholders, but nevertheless insist that they must study new media for another three years before they can bargain a residuals formula;

WHEREAS any solution devised for payment of residuals in new media must address the problems of monitoring and enforcement;

WHEREAS our employers have been unwilling to improve the unjust home video residuals formula despite record home video revenues they have reaped since convincing the Guilds over 20 years ago to help grown this market by accepting a discounted residual;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Board of Directors of Screen Actors Guild that:

1. The current position of the AMPTP and its members referred to above are unreasonable and would set a dangerous precedent for all creative talent.

2. The Guild supports the WGA and any other Guild or union that seeks to resist the employer positions referred to above and fight for fair compensation and protections for creative talent in the motion picture, television, and new media industries.

Adopted unanimously this 27th day of October 2007 by the National Board of Directors of Screen Actors Guild.

189 comments:

  1. Lydia this seems like a complex issue for discussion, I was discussing this issue briefly Friday evening, maybe you and Carl could shed some more light on the real issues.

    Are you basically saying that the corporate media conglomerates are not sharing any revenue from DVD sales, digital downloads and for movies and songs with the actors, writers and performers that actually created the intellectual property.

    I have to say my rather naive somewhat uninformed initial impression was it could be a win win for both the performers and media companies if the revenue was shared fairly.........I mainly saw this as a vehicle for cell phone use as people could for a small fee download songs to use as ringtones for their cell phones or short clips from movies and that revenue would be shared with the performers, media companies and telecom companies............but i guess that boils down to the contract and who owns the rights and in what percentage,

    Also are you saying the industry is moving towards ONLY paying actors or writers if the project is profitable............if that is the case creativity and diversity will be greatly stifled and we will only see a narrow spectrum of movies that pose little risk as to profitability............it sounds like the corporate media conglomerates want the performers to bear all the risks.

    Another initial impression of mine was that these new downloadable digital forms are to develop a new revenue stream to help compensate for the losses due to pirating?

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  2. For the record I support the actors and writers very strongly, about 1 1/2 years ago I wrote about the the trend i saw in Hollywood where most actors are viewed as disposable and a dime a dozen by the Media conglomerates because they arrogantly think they are powerful enough to keep creating new stars and throwing away the majority of the old when they become established and command higher salaries.

    They insultingly seem to think that Americans have no loyalty because they dont have any.........personally i find it annoying, insulting and disgusting when the corporate owned media conglomerates try to manipulate and control what i think, who i like, and what i find attractive and interesting.

    I dont give a crap about Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Anna Nicole or Jon Benet...........I dont want to constantly hear fearmongering about terrorists or child predators to deceive people into giving up freedoms and rubberstamping wars and unconstitional spying.............I I dont want to women and girls to be intimidated into thinking they need to get surgery to get fake boobs that look like they were pumped with 70 pounds of air to be attractive to men or to be successful......because i for one dont find it attractive at all.............I like the natural look.

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  3. This trend of viewing actors as disposable where esablished ones can be blackballed on a whim and new ones created on a whim is particularly disturbing to me.

    I always viewed Hollywood as a sacred cow.......the last thing truly creasted in America that I thought would NEVER be outsourced or infected by the corporate powers that be.

    Tom cruise was a perfect example..........he kind of lost me recently, I havent liked alot of things he has done and said lately..........BUT i respect the hell out of him because when they tried to blackball him he hit back by buying his own studio.

    Do you guys think you will see more and more actors, musicians and writers forming their own studios and production companies.

    I guess what i'm saying is do you guys think the creative talent will unite to try to shut out the corporate production conglomerates.......do you think they will compromise and work things out or could this be the start of a trend that shifts the power AWAY from the media conglomerates?

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  4. Mike,

    The WGA said in a statement that “After three-and-a-half months of bargaining, the AMPTP still has not responded to a single one of our important proposals. Every issue that matters to writers, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs and jurisdiction, has been ignored. This is completely unacceptable.”

    The AMPTP said in a statement that the “magnitude of that proposal alone is blocking us from making any further progress. We cannot move further as long as that issue remains on the table. In short, the DVD issue is a complete roadblock to any further progress.”

    On Wednesday, IATSE and AFTRA issued instructions to its members on now to conduct themselves during any writer work stoppage. SAG, the DGA and the Teamsters sent out similar messages.

    "IATSE contracts contain provisions that require us to continue to honor our contracts," wrote Thomas Short, international president of the crafts union. "These no-strike provisions require the IATSE to notify our members of their obligation to honor these contracts and continue working. Any individual member who chooses to honor any picket line is subject to permanent replacement."

    The relatively stern tone of the missive is perhaps unsurprising, as Short previously has charged the WGA with taking too militant a posture in the talks.

    "In the event of a WGA strike or lockout by the producers, AFTRA members are instructed that they may not perform duties covered by the WGA contract that have been performed by members of the WGA," the performers union said.

    AFTRA (and SAG) also noted that its current contracts with studios and networks contain no-strike clauses, and members must report to work and perform their jobs.

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  5. Mike, also this:

    The DVD dispute centers on the 1985 formula, under which homevid residuals were paid on the basis of 20% of wholesale revenues -- equating to scribes receiving about 4¢ for each disc sold. The WGA's seeking a doubling of that rate, asserting it agreed to a discounted deal two decades ago to help the fledgling business survive.

    Studios and nets have steadfastly nixed any boost to DVD residuals, contending the revenues are crucial to moving film and TV projects out of deficit amid sharply rising costs.

    The WGA's also seeking to hike electronic sell-through revenue from1.2% of the licensing fee for each downloaded item to 2.5%.


    Over at his blog, The Artful Writer, WGA scribe Craig Mazin pokes a hole (or, er, drives a Mack truck) through the AMPTP argument:

    Electronic sell-through is synonymous with DVD?

    No.

    DVD stands for Digital Video Disc (I think it was originally Digital Versatile Disc, but whatever).

    That’s Digital Video Disc.

    Disc.

    You buy a DISC.

    When you download a movie, you do not buy a disc.

    You do not buy the package for the disc.

    You do not pay for the manufacture of the disc.

    Nor do you own a disc.

    You buy digital information. Ones and zeroes.

    Internet sell-through is NOT DVD, it is NOT home video, and if that’s the game the AMPTP is playing on internet downloads, this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

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  6. I wish this would be the start of a trend to shift power away from the conglomerates. Let's hope.

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  7. The problem with this.......as with MANY things comes back to GWB who stole the presidency and infected the Supreme Court with Conservatives who will blindly side with the corporate powers that be..........he got 2 SCOTUS nominations he NEVER Should have gotten.

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  8. Hundreds Held in Musharraf Crackdown
    By MATTHEW PENNINGTON,

    AP
    Posted: 2007-11-04 23:01:24
    Filed Under: World News
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Nov. 4) - Police and soldiers emboldened by state of emergency powers swept up hundreds of activists and opposition members on Sunday, dragged away protesters shouting "Shame on you!", and turned government buildings into barbed-wire compounds.

    Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government said parliamentary elections could be delayed up to a year as it tries to stamp out a growing Islamic militant threat — effectively linking two of the greatest concerns of Pakistan's biggest international donors: the United States and Britain.

    Increasingly concerned about the unfolding crisis, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington was reviewing billions of dollars in aid to its close terrorism-fighting ally. Britain is also examining its assistance.

    "Some of the aid that goes to Pakistan is directly related to the counterterrorism mission," Rice told reporters traveling with her. "We just have to review the situation."

    But, she said, she did not expect the U.S. "to ignore or set aside our concerns about terrorism."

    Scores of paramilitary troops blocked access to the Supreme Court and parliament. Streets in the capital appeared largely calm, with only a handful of demonstrations. But one, attended by 40 people at the Marriott Hotel, was broken up by baton-wielding police.

    "Shame on you! Go Musharraf go!" the protesters shouted as officers dragged some out of the crowd and forced them to the ground. Eight were taken away in a van.

    Others were apathetic. Standing at on a dusty street corner in Islamabad, Togul Khan, 38, said he didn't care about the emergency declaration.

    "For us, life stays the same, even when politicians throw Pakistan into the sky, spin it around and watch as it crashes back down to earth," the day laborer said as he waited for work.

    In an address to the nation late Saturday, Musharraf said the growth of a militant Islamic movement and a court system that hindered his powers forced him to declare a state of emergency, despite the urging of Western allies against authoritarian measures.

    Less than 24 hours after the order was issued, militants in the Afghan border freed 211 captured Pakistani soldiers in exchange for the army's decision to free 28 insurgents, including some allegedly connected to suicide attacks, officials said.

    Though they gave no explanation for the decision, it appeared to fly in the face of Musharraf's claims that emergency rule was needed to make sure terrorists — dozens of whom he says have been freed by Pakistani courts — stay off the streets.

    Critics say Musharraf, a 1999 coup leader who had promised to give up his army post and become a civilian president this year, imposed emergency rule in a last-ditch attempt to cling to power.

    His leadership is threatened by the Islamic militant movement that has spread from border regions to the capital, the reemergence of political rival and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and an increasingly defiant Supreme Court, which was expected to rule soon on the validity of his recent presidential election win. Hearings scheduled for next week were postponed indefinitely.

    Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum denied claims by Bhutto and others that Musharraf had imposed martial law — direct rule by the army — under the guise of a state of emergency. He noted the prime minister was still in place and that the legislature would complete its term next week.

    Crucial parliamentary elections had been scheduled for January, but Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the polls could be delayed up to a year. He said the extraordinary measures would be in place "as long as it is necessary."

    In Islamabad, phone service that was cut Saturday evening appeared to have been restored by Sunday morning, but television news networks other than state-controlled Pakistan TV remained off the air.

    Aziz said up to 500 people were detained nationwide in 24 hours.

    Among them were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; cricket star-turned politician, Imran Khan; Asma Jehangir, chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and Hamid Gul, former chief of the main intelligence agency and a critic of Musharraf.

    Around 200 police with assault rifles and sticks stormed the rights commission's office in the eastern city of Lahore, breaking up a meeting and arresting about 50 members, said Mehbood Ahmed Khan, legal officer for the activists.

    "They dragged us out, including the women," he said from the police station. "It's inhuman, undemocratic and a violation of human rights to enter a room and arrest people gathering peacefully there."

    Bhutto, who narrowly escaped assassination in an Oct. 18 suicide bombing that killed 145 others, scoffed at claims that Musharraf imposed the emergency measures to fight Islamic militants — even though Muslim insurgents were widely blamed for the attempt on her life.

    "Many people in Pakistan believe that it has nothing to do with stopping terrorism, and it has everything to do with stopping a court verdict that was coming against him," she told the weekend edition of ABC News' "Good Morning America."

    Musharraf replaced the chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who had emerged as the main check on the his power. Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawyer who represented the judge, also was arrested.

    The U.S. has provided about $11 billion to Pakistan since 2001, when Musharraf made a strategic shift to ally with the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice told reporters that Washington would review its aid in light of the new emergency measures, though the Pentagon earlier said the emergency rule would not affect its military support to the Muslim nation.

    Britain also said it was examining if Musharraf's steps would affect the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid it has pledged to the south Asian nation.

    Musharraf's emergency order suspended the 1973 constitution. Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the order, and only five agreed to take the oath of office under the new provisional constitution.

    Musharraf issued two ordinances toughening media laws, including a ban on live broadcasts of "incidents of violence and conflict." Also, TV operators who "ridicule" the president, armed forces, and other powerful state bodies face up to three years in jail.

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  9. You think Presidents DONT use terrorism and martial law to stay in power look at what happened in Pakistan.........Mushareff is using terrorism to remain in power.

    He is putting people in jail who riddicule or oppose the President......lets look at the following paragraphs.

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  10. "For us, life stays the same, even when politicians throw Pakistan into the sky, spin it around and watch as it crashes back down to earth," the day laborer said as he waited for work.

    In an address to the nation late Saturday, Musharraf said the growth of a militant Islamic movement and a court system that hindered his powers forced him to declare a state of emergency, despite the urging of Western allies against authoritarian measures.

    Less than 24 hours after the order was issued, militants in the Afghan border freed 211 captured Pakistani soldiers in exchange for the army's decision to free 28 insurgents, including some allegedly connected to suicide attacks, officials said.

    Though they gave no explanation for the decision, it appeared to fly in the face of Musharraf's claims that emergency rule was needed to make sure terrorists — dozens of whom he says have been freed by Pakistani courts — stay off the streets.

    Critics say Musharraf, a 1999 coup leader who had promised to give up his army post and become a civilian president this year, imposed emergency rule in a last-ditch attempt to cling to power.

    His leadership is threatened by the Islamic militant movement that has spread from border regions to the capital, the reemergence of political rival and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and an increasingly defiant Supreme Court, which was expected to rule soon on the validity of his recent presidential election win. Hearings scheduled for next week were postponed indefinitely.

    Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum denied claims by Bhutto and others that Musharraf had imposed martial law — direct rule by the army — under the guise of a state of emergency. He noted the prime minister was still in place and that the legislature would complete its term next week.

    Crucial parliamentary elections had been scheduled for January, but Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the polls could be delayed up to a year. He said the extraordinary measures would be in place "as long as it is necessary."

    In Islamabad, phone service that was cut Saturday evening appeared to have been restored by Sunday morning, but television news networks other than state-controlled Pakistan TV remained off the air.

    Aziz said up to 500 people were detained nationwide in 24 hours.

    Among them were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; cricket star-turned politician, Imran Khan; Asma Jehangir, chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and Hamid Gul, former chief of the main intelligence agency and a critic of Musharraf.

    Around 200 police with assault rifles and sticks stormed the rights commission's office in the eastern city of Lahore, breaking up a meeting and arresting about 50 members, said Mehbood Ahmed Khan, legal officer for the activists.

    "They dragged us out, including the women," he said from the police station. "It's inhuman, undemocratic and a violation of human rights to enter a room and arrest people gathering peacefully there."

    Bhutto, who narrowly escaped assassination in an Oct. 18 suicide bombing that killed 145 others, scoffed at claims that Musharraf imposed the emergency measures to fight Islamic militants — even though Muslim insurgents were widely blamed for the attempt on her life.

    "Many people in Pakistan believe that it has nothing to do with stopping terrorism, and it has everything to do with stopping a court verdict that was coming against him," she told the weekend edition of ABC News' "Good Morning America."

    Musharraf replaced the chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who had emerged as the main check on the his power. Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawyer who represented the judge, also was arrested.

    The U.S. has provided about $11 billion to Pakistan since 2001, when Musharraf made a strategic shift to ally with the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice told reporters that Washington would review its aid in light of the new emergency measures, though the Pentagon earlier said the emergency rule would not affect its military support to the Muslim nation.

    Britain also said it was examining if Musharraf's steps would affect the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid it has pledged to the south Asian nation.

    Musharraf's emergency order suspended the 1973 constitution. Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the order, and only five agreed to take the oath of office under the new provisional constitution.

    Musharraf issued two ordinances toughening media laws, including a ban on live broadcasts of "incidents of violence and conflict." Also, TV operators who "ridicule" the president, armed forces, and other powerful state bodies face up to three years in jail.

    "Many people in Pakistan believe that it has nothing to do with stopping terrorism, and it has everything to do with stopping a court verdict that was coming against him," she told the weekend edition of ABC News' "Good Morning America."

    Musharraf replaced the chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who had emerged as the main check on the his power. Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawyer who represented the judge, also was arrested.

    Musharraf's emergency order suspended the 1973 constitution. Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the order, and only five agreed to take the oath of office under the new provisional constitution.

    Musharraf issued two ordinances toughening media laws, including a ban on live broadcasts of "incidents of violence and conflict." Also, TV operators who "ridicule" the president, armed forces, and other powerful state bodies face up to three years in jail.

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  11. Bush must have seen a kindred spirit in Musharef

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  12. Film and TV writers prepared to go on strike Monday for the first time in two decades to break what has become a high-stakes stalemate with the world's largest media companies over profits from DVDs and programming on the Internet.

    Writers Guild of America board members voted unanimously Friday to begin the strike at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time (3:01 a.m. EST) unless studios offered a more lucrative deal with a bigger cut from video sales and shows sold or streamed over the Web.

    "The studios made it clear that they would rather shut down this town than reach a fair and reasonable deal," Patric Verrone, president of the western chapter of the guild, said at a news conference.

    The union said it would stage its first pickets in New York and Los Angeles after strike captains meet Saturday to finalize details.

    Both sides agreed late Friday to meet with a federal mediator on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike. The meeting will take place at a neutral location to be determined, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said.

    Earlier in the day, J. Nicholas Counter, president of the producers' group, called the writers' strike "precipitous and irresponsible" in a prepared statement.

    Producers believe progress can be made on other issues but "it makes absolutely no sense to increase the burden of this additional compensation" involving DVDs and the Internet, he said.

    Last year alone, members of the western chapter of the guild were paid $56 million in additional compensation from DVD residuals, he said.

    Counter declined a request by The Associated Press for further comment.

    Among other media giants, the alliance represents CBS Corp.; NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; and The Walt Disney Co., owner of the ABC network.

    The negotiations began in July and were joined this week by a federal mediator.

    "We are committed to seeing this through and are willing to engage in any further discussions if the studios so desire," Verrone said.

    The first casualty of the strike would be late-night talk shows, which are dependent on current events to fuel monologues and other entertainment.

    "The Tonight Show" on NBC will go into reruns starting Monday if last-ditch negotiations fail and a strike begins, according to a network official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person lacked authorization to comment publicly.

    Garth Brooks and Tommy Lee Jones were the scheduled guests.

    Comedy Central has said "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" would likely go into repeats as well.

    A message left seeking CBS comment on plans for "The Late Show with David Letterman" in New York was not immediately returned Friday evening.

    During the 1988 writers strike, Letterman, then host of NBC's "Late Night," and longtime "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson initially went off the air but later returned as the walkout dragged on for 22 weeks and cost the industry about $500 million.

    Daytime TV, including live talk shows such as "The View" and soap operas, which typically tape about a week's worth of shows in advance, would be next to feel the impact.

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  13. This is the third time I've written something that ended up on The Huffington Post. The first time my subject matter concerned cooking chicken when I was twelve years old. My second topic was the important discussion of the merits of Pie vs. Cake. And now, I write about my Guild's (the Writers Guild of America) overwhelming decision to refuse to work without a contract.

    The first thing I want to say, loud and clear (or as loud and clear as you can say with the printed word) is that WE WANT TO WORK. That's actually the biggest single truth about our Guild. We all long to write (preferably about things we care about, but that's not even a prerequisite). We live to tell stories, and we feel incredibly blessed that someone will pay us to do so.

    That having been said, we expect that we will be fairly rewarded for the stories we tell--if they are good enough to attract an audience--or to get some attention. The more attention, the more we believe we should be rewarded.

    If we were cavemen (and cavewomen), we writers would be the people standing behind the people doing the drawings on the walls of the caves and we'd be giving them the ideas. At night, when the fire was lit and we all gathered round, we'd be given some food based on how well the work went over. The shared experiences that were illustrated in the cave paintings would help us as groups understand the past, and they would also help us as a group determine our collective future. And sometimes, they'd just get the group through a hard day.

    But what if, try to stay with me here, all of the Caves were suddenly owned by six EXTREMELY POWERFUL Cavemen. These corporations, I mean Cave People, had developed, in effect, a monopoly. Or at the very least a cartel. All of us storytellers had to go to them to negotiate, and these six powerful Cave People said that we storytellers would get meat when a new story went up on a cave, but not if a story was created and then carved into a block of stone--because the stone was not on a wall. And a stone tablet had no future for storytelling. And even if it did, they owned all of the stone.

    Well of course they owned all of the stone! They owned all of the Caves! And they had the sticks and clubs and things that throw the rocks at people. And who were we to them? We were just the people who didn't want to go outside and hunt and gather. We were the ones who stayed in the caves and made up the stories so when they all came home at night, they could unwind and disappear into another world. A world we helped create.

    And then the six powerful (and did I mention very, very greedy?) Cave People who told everyone how to run the Caves felt that even when everyone was beginning to look at our new stories on the blocks of stone, and no one was as interested in the stories on the walls anymore, that was none of our business. We should accept the meat we'd been given. We should accept their contract.

    And for almost twenty years, we have. But now, we refuse to work without an acknowledgement of a change in the times and a change in the delivery systems for entertainment (I mean wall paintings). We know we aren't the big powerful ones. We know we don't own the Caves. We don't want to. We just want a fair deal. It is a story of David and Goliath.

    The mighty taking from the weak: Corporate Hollywood and Corporate America.

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  14. by Jonathan Tasini

    Any day now, maybe even tomorrow, there could be a strike by thousands of writers who come up with the words that come out of the mouths of the actors and performers who we watch on the big screen, television, DVDs and, increasingly, the Internet, or listen to on the radio. What isn’t always clear, because the traditional media conveniently avoids the topic, is how much this fight is a classic example of unadulterated greed of the few trying to triumph over the very people who made the few fabulously wealthy. Whether you are a member of the Writers Guild of America (west or east) or not, this fight is your fight.

    The writers’ demand is pretty simple: they want to share in the revenue stream coming in from DVDs and other new media uses. Big Media doesn’t want to pay when it profits from Internet downloads, or for original writing in New Media and it refuses to pay more than a pittance for DVD sales. Big Media argues that, poor souls that they are, it can’t afford to pay more because its business models for New Media are uncertain and it needs the increased revenues to offset "other costs."

    I’ve seen this story before. In 1993, I and a group of other writers sued The New York Times—and, by extension, every major publisher—over the illegal use of our work in new media. We won in a 7-2 decision in 2001 in the U.S. Supreme Court (in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that Justices Thomas, Scalia and Rehnquist sided with us, too).

    Though we fought a legal case and the current fight is being waged in collective bargaining, The Times and their cronies tried to make the same lame arguments we hear in the current fight being waged by the WGA: it was too soon to tell whether they would make money on the business.

    For all those folks who aren’t writers and get a regular paycheck, it’s really important to understand the plantation-like economic model that powers—and enriches—Big Media. At any given time, 95 percent of WGA members aren’t being paid a salary by Big Media. Instead, thousands of writers churn out scripts and ideas for content—most of which is never bought. You might sell a script or an idea one year and, then, not sell another product for the next 5 or 7 years. It’s not because of a lack of talent. It is simply because Big Media has set up a brilliant system—it keeps a whole workforce turning out its products and doesn’t have to keep them on any payroll, or pay their health care or pensions if Big Media decides not to buy what they produce.
    And, so, the way writers try to survive is over that stream—in most cases, quite modest stream—of royalties that come every time a DVD is sold which contains their creative output. Remember this: the vast majority of writers do not—do not—live in mansions or fly in private jets. They are mostly trying to live a middle-class life—and that isn’t easy.

    And, as important, Big Media is engaging in the fairly familiar anti-union posture that is in vogue: it is refusing to agree to include writers for reality television in the jurisdiction of the WGA. Translation: Big Media wants to deny people basic rights on the job.

    The truth is that Big Media is a hugely profitable business. The truth is that the top CEOs, while they are demanding that writers suck it up and make a pittance, are raking in obscene astronomical salaries and stock options. Check out these numbers for 2006, which I took directly from Forbes Magazine’s current top ranking of companies:

    More anti-union/anti-worker fleecing from the Corporate Elite.

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  15. Hollywood writers went on strike Monday despite last-minute talks aimed at ending a standoff between studios and wordsmiths demanding a share of cash brought in from DVDs and online distribution of shows.

    "Talks are ongoing but the strike is on," Writers Guild of America spokeswoman Sherry Goldman told AFP.

    The strike deadline was a minute into Monday in each US time zone, meaning writers in New York City were the first to walk off their jobs, according to Goldman.

    Members of the 12,000-strong union plan to begin picketing Monday morning at major studios in the Los Angeles area and outside NBC studio at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

    The first casualties of the walk-out are likely to be talk shows, soap operas, and comedy programs that rely on fresh scripts.

    Major motion picture studios and television programs typically have stockpiles of scripts that can insulate them from feeling the effects of the strike for a year or longer.

    Writers want a greater share of residual profits from television series sold on DVDs as well as percentages of money made from programs shown on the Internet, cellular phones, and other new media outlets.

    Producers acknowledge that online viewing is increasing and promise to study the issue, but argue that it is too early to say how profitable it will be.

    Writers are determined not to repeat a mistake made in 1984, when they underestimated how lucrative home video sales would become and settled for a contract that gives them just three cents of each DVD film sale.

    As if the Corporate Elite didn't make enough.

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  16. The co-owners of a nationwide janitorial service that authorities say provided cleaning crews staffed with illegal immigrants to a northern Michigan resort have pleaded guilty to charges in the case.

    The investigation into Rosenbaum-Cunningham International Inc., or RCI, a Florida-based cleaning contractor, led to the nationwide arrest in February of more than 200 illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican nationals.

    Richard M. Rosenbaum, 61, and Edward S. Cunningham, 44, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government and harboring illegal aliens in plea agreements with federal prosecutors.

    Cunningham, of West Palm Beach, Fla., entered his plea Friday, and Rosenbaum, of Longwood, Fla., entered his plea Oct. 17.

    Rosenbaum faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Cunningham faces a five-year prison term and up to $250,000 in fines. Both face restitution amounts that the government says could exceed $16 million.

    Rosenbaum's sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 4. The electronic record for U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan didn't indicate a sentencing date for Cunningham.

    RCI controller Christina A. Flocken, of Longwood, Fla., also was charged in the case. She has a plea hearing scheduled for Monday.

    The investigation began at Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, in Michigan's northwestern Lower Peninsula.

    The practice of paying cash wages to workers deprived the U.S. government of about $18.6 million in employment taxes, according to the indictment against the three. The government said RCI contracted with the resort between June 1997 and March 2006.

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  17. As the U.S. military budget balloons, so does the Armed Services’ need to train its soldiers. In fact, some military planners foresee a need for 5 million more acres for training facilities by 2011.

    In September, Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) told his fellow Congressmen that “the Army believes it has a current deficit of 2 million acres needed for training, a figure expected to grow by 2011 to 5 million acres.” Five million acres is comprable to 7,812 square miles -- an area about the size of New Jersey.

    Now, Colorado is the site of a contested fight between the U.S. Army and longtime ranchers. The military wants to expand the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, a 1,000-square-mile facility near the New Mexico border, by 418,000 acres, thus tripling its size. This would require land owned by private ranchers.

    The government is appealing to the patriotism of the community, but the landowners are skeptical of the appeals to national security. "It's rude. It ain't right. It's not American," said Stan White, a rancher who could lose more than 6,000 acres in Walsenburg. "We take our military and our country very seriously, but we're up against something we can't get ahold of. If they get this done, it's a national disgrace."

    According to the Washington Post, “Several dozen ranchers and members of 15 county commissions that voted to oppose the project find themselves pitted against the Pentagon and Colorado business interests in a struggle over property rights, personal heritage and the contested priorities of national security.”

    Businesses have joined the military in advocating for the base expansion. Brian A. Binn, president of the military affairs committee of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, said “the benefits to the state economy and national defense are clear. If the ranchers triumph and the training site is not created, he added, other states would be all too willing to accept the troops and the business.”

    A Prime Example of the Corporate Bush Administration taking from the struggling in America.

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  18. Mother Jones:

    Late one afternoon in October 2006, Carolyn and Ghassan Daher took their five-year-old son Brayden to a party near Seattle. Kids got goody bags filled with toys and candy; a favorite were the yo-yo water balls, liquid-filled spheres attached to long, stretchy cords. Brayden and his friends hit the kiddie dance floor, swinging the balls over their heads like lassos. Suddenly Brayden came running to his mother, clutching his neck. "His eyes were watering and bloodshot, and I couldn't see anything because the string was clear," Carolyn recalls. "I couldn't see it was around his neck. The ball was pulling down—it was like a rock with flashing colors." After what seemed like an eternity, she was finally able to break the cord. Brayden suffered no permanent injuries.

    But Carolyn was shaken, and when she got home she searched the Internet for information on yo-yo balls. She found that (like most toys in the United States) they are typically imported from China or Taiwan, and that (also like most toys) they have never been tested for safety by the U.S. government. She read about Lisa Lipin, an Illinois mother whose son had nearly been strangled by a yo-yo ball in July 2003. Lipin begged the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc) to follow the lead of France, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and ban the balls. "But they just wanted me to go away," she says. In September of that year, despite close to 200 near-deadly incidents, the cpsc stated that the balls posed "a low risk of strangulation." The agency's chairman, Harold "Hal" Stratton, even told Good Morning America that he'd forbidden his own children from playing with the balls—but would not take them off the market. By late 2006, the agency had reports on 416 incidents involving yo-yo balls; 290 of them were classified as strangulation/suffocation.

    Ever since Illinois-based rc2 Corp. recalled 1.5 million Thomas the Tank Engine trains in June after they were found to be coated in lead paint, the headlines have been full of reports on the dangers of Chinese imports—lead paint on Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street toys, Barbies with small magnets that came loose, Playskool sippy cups whose spouts broke off, causing toddlers to choke. Most of the stories have focused on the lack of manufacturer oversight in China. But the root of the problem is closer to home: The cpsc, created to prevent hazardous products from winding up in American homes, has been gutted by decades of manufacturer lobbying and White House interference—and the Bush administration has finally paralyzed it to the point that it can barely function. "What's going on there is not benign neglect," says Ann Brown, cpsc chairman under President Clinton. "It's the systematic dismantling of the agency."

    the cpsc was created in 1972 with a broad range of powers. It could impose mandatory safety standards, ban or recall products found to be unsafe and dangerous, and levy fines on companies that hid safety information. Its job was to keep tabs on more than 15,000 types of consumer goods—just about everything you'd find in a Wal-Mart except food and drugs. By 1979, it had a budget of $44 million and a staff of nearly 900, whose investigations resulted in 545 recalls that year alone.

    Then came the Reagan administration. Within months of taking office, Reagan convinced Congress to pass legislation that crippled the commission: Before it could impose mandatory standards on any product, it had to wait for industry to write its own standards, and then prove that they had failed. Recalls plummeted to fewer than 200 a year, and by 1988 the commission's budget was down 22 percent and its staff had been cut almost in half.

    But it was under Hal Stratton, George W. Bush's commission chairman (and former New Mexico attorney general, as well as Lawyers for Bush cochair), that the commission turned from paper tiger to industry lapdog. Stratton cut back on investigations while taking full advantage of the perks of his office—he turned the agency into "a little travel bureau," according to a longtime staffer. When a coalition of doctors and safety advocates asked him to look into the problem of adult-sized all-terrain vehicles marketed to kids, Stratton said he'd do a study. Three years (and more than 400 atv-related deaths of kids under 16) later, he released the results of fact-finding trips to West Virginia, New Mexico, and Alaska, where he'd met with safety advocates as well as various atv enthusiast groups. The upshot: a proposal to let kids ride even bigger, more powerful atvs.

    Stratton's departure in 2006 left the agency with a grim record—product-related deaths were up from 22,000 in 1998 to 27,000—and only two commissioners, one from each side of the aisle. Lacking a quorum, much of the commission's work came to a halt. After waiting more than seven months to pick a new chairman, President Bush nominated a senior lobbyist for the very industry the commission regulates: Michael Baroody, of the National Association of Manufacturers. In May, Bush withdrew the nomination after it was disclosed that the association planned to give Baroody a $150,000 severance package when he took his new job. That left the cpsc's Republican commissioner, Nancy Nord—the former director of consumer affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—in place as acting chairman; she had earlier shown her bona fides by turning down Senate Democrats who wanted to increase the commission's budget. "I'm not trying to fight with you," Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) exasperatedly told her during hearings this spring. "I'm trying to get you more money!"

    Shortly thereafter, the Chicago Tribune reported on a Seattle toddler who had died on Thanksgiving Day, 2005, after swallowing tiny magnets that had spilled from a broken Magnetix building set. The commission had been warned about the hazard of magnetic toys years earlier and failed to act: Just six months before the toddler's death, an Indiana preschool teacher had called to report that one of her students had nearly died when the Magnetix bits he swallowed perforated his bowels.

    It wasn't until the following year that cpsc finally recalled the Magnetix sets; its press release reassured consumers that only old sets were problematic, when in fact the hazardous sets were still being sold (and stayed on shelves for another year). This past April the commission—having now received reports of 29 Magnetix-related injuries, all but one of which had required surgery—expanded the recall to include 4 million more units. (The recall press release, negotiated with the company's lawyers, was so vague, the cpsc had to issue a separate fact sheet later to tell parents which sets were safe to buy and which were not.) Asked by Illinois lawmakers what she planned to do about all this, Nord said her agency needed more money after all.

    Nord was called back to Capitol Hill this summer during the Chinese toy recalls. "What we have here is an agency in distress," Senator Pryor told the press. By September, even the toy industry was pleading for new government standards to help reassure jittery consumers (and, quite possibly, preempt lawsuits). "cpsc got caught with their pants down about China," says former commissioner Ann Brown. "Companies know the agency is toothless, so there's no reason for them to worry about the products that they bring into the country."

    The Bush Policy: Anything For Communist China!

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  19. Reuters) - Film and television writers went on strike on Monday, after last-minute talks aimed at averting the Writers Guild of America's first walkout in almost two decades collapsed.

    The strike is expected to shut down many sitcoms and send popular late-night talk shows such as NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman," immediately into reruns because they rely on a stream of topical jokes.

    The members of the union's East Coast arm went on strike at the designated deadline of 12:01 a.m. EST . Their West Coast counterparts followed them three hours later.

    The East Coast walkout led to the collapse of 10-hour-long talks in Los Angeles between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios.

    A spokesman for the AMPTP said no new talks were scheduled, and both sides are braced for a lengthy strike after labor talks that were marked by intensifying hostility over more than three months.

    The two sides hit an impasse primarily over demands by writers for higher fees, or "residuals," derived from the sale of movies and TV programs on DVDs and the Internet.

    "Notwithstanding the fact that negotiations were ongoing, the WGA decided to start their strike in New York," AMPTP president Nick Counter said in a statement. "When we asked if they would 'stop the clock' for the purpose of delaying the strike to allow negotiations to continue, they refused."

    A prolonged strike could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues and wages.

    Writers make significantly less in comparison to other groups in the industry.

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  20. Michael Mukasey's prospects for confirmation as Attorney General seem to be resuscitated, thanks to the endorsements of two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We suppose this counts as progress -- of a sort.

    Judge Mukasey set off a cascade of Democratic opposition because he declined to make a pre-emptive legal ruling on "waterboarding" before he had the security clearances to review the classified evidence. Our sources confirm press reports that the CIA has only used this interrogation method against three terrorist detainees and not since 2003. Congress could have outlawed the practice at any time, but Democrats conspicuously did not take it up before it became a pretext for capsizing the Mukasey nomination.

    The inquisition attracted the usual antiwar elements but also Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy. And while the political campaign intensified, Chuck Schumer -- who suggested Mr. Mukasey's name for the AG post in the first place -- played Hamlet, refusing for days to say whether the Judge still had his support.

    On Friday the New York Senator ended his indecision, noting that, while Mr. Mukasey was "not my ideal choice," he was "the best we can hope for" from President Bush. California's Dianne Feinstein also came out in favor; she reportedly made up her mind earlier in the week but waited to announce her intentions to give some cover to Mr. Schumer. That's another indication of the leftward pressure on Democrats.

    The two Senators deserve credit for giving Mr. Mukasey the support he needs when the committee votes as early as tomorrow. Still, it's incredible that everyone is breathing a sigh of relief because Mr. Schumer decided to support his own candidate -- especially one who was universally saluted as an independent, consensus choice. The political threshold that Senate Democrats established in this fracas is a measure of how distorted their antiterror priorities have become.

    Recall these two phonies!

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  21. Without the writers, actors have no words to say. Actors don't just get up there and improvise.

    Share the revenue -- just do it.

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  22. Here's some food for thought for the network executives.

    When I was in college, it was almost a graduation requirement that everybody could recite line-for-line the entirety of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Princess Bride." I graduated over 14 years ago and can still do it -- the lines were that classic.

    I haven't the foggiest idea which movie studios own those particular movies.

    Don't underestimate the value of your writers.

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  23. Good for the Actors! I've been keeping up on the writer's situation via Emmy Winning writer, Ken Levine's fine blog.

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  24. As interesting as the write guild strike stuff is, I'm more interested in hearing about Valerie Plame.

    She was just on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, and she was on Jon Stewart earlier in the week.

    Both interviews of course were rushed and only touched on her outing and while I realize she can't say too much about it I'd like to see what she has to say in a more conversational environment.

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  25. I thought it was funny when Bill Maher pointed out that if she thinks Bush is guilty of treason that the penalty for treason was death, to which Valerie Plame just smiled coyly.

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  26. BARTLEBEE said...
    I thought it was funny when Bill Maher pointed out that if she thinks Bush is guilty of treason that the penalty for treason was death, to which Valerie Plame just smiled coyly."

    Something I pointed out as well on several occasions last spring.............Great minds think alike Eh?

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  27. Now, back to my predictions on Bin Laden, Al Quaida and their overthrowing of Musharraf, something Bartlebee has been predicting in here for TWO YEARS.

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  28. BARTLEBEE said...
    As interesting as the write guild strike stuff is, I'm more interested in hearing about Valerie Plame.

    She was just on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, and she was on Jon Stewart earlier in the week.

    Both interviews of course were rushed and only touched on her outing and while I realize she can't say too much about it I'd like to see what she has to say in a more conversational environment."


    I saw her on Jon Stewart as well..........Stewart and Maher are both awesome.

    I am more interested in hearing Plame as well.........however I am VERY interested in this writers guild strike on MANY levels as wel.

    The outcome of this will determine if the corporate media conglomerates grow in power and continue to make good paying jobs expendable.........also make no mistake this is bigger than just the writing guild, i predict this will involve the actors and directors as well and will decide if Hollywood gets outsourced by the corporate powers that be or the unions start to regain power and check the growthof a new Gilded Age, where the powerful few control and exploit the many.

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  29. Thousands face down Pakistani police

    MUNIR AHMAD,
    Associated Press Writer
    23 minutes ago
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -

    Police fired tear gas and clubbed thousands of lawyers protesting President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's decision to impose emergency rule, as Western allies threatened to review aid to the troubled Muslim nation.

    More than 1,500 people have been arrested in 48 hours, and authorities put a stranglehold on independent media.

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  30. 1500 people arrested in Pakistan in 48 hours.

    :|

    And all peace activists and liberals.

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  31. Heres the way I see the Pakistan situation........Musharef is clinging to power because he knows if he gives up the power to protect himself he will be murdered by the extremists.

    I dont think he declared martial law to fight the terrorists, I think he did it to remain in power so he can save his own hide.

    Pakistan will tilt extremist when 80% of the population feels that way the will of the people can only be denied for so long.

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  32. Did you see the article I posted on it last night, its another power play similar to what the DECIDER could well do here.

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  33. The whole "reality tv" genre is an attempt to get something for nothing. And of course, what you really get is NOTHING for nothing, as evidenced by the recent Klannish outbursts of Dog the N***** Hater.

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  34. Did you see the article I posted on it last night, its another power play similar to what the DECIDER could well do here.

    And just watch what happens in Pakistan over the next few months, and know that THAT will also happen here.

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  35. To win any battle you cannot do so by might as your opponent might be wielding a bigger or more dangerous weapon. (like the weapon of words or suicide bombers and nations gathering against you; the war of human opinion too as the dollar declines...)

    The only way you can win is by Love and then you realise that there was never an enemy in the first place nor is there ever a battle to be fought

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  36. "The more laws are posted, the more thieves appear."

    The more weapons you create, the more wars are started (the more your enemies increase.)

    What you focus on, grows.

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  37. One who wins the world does so by not meddling with it. One who meddles with the world loses it.

    ************
    In dwelling, live close to the ground.
    In thinking, keep to the simple.
    In conflict, be fair and generous.
    In governing, don't try to control.
    In work, do what you enjoy.
    In family life, be completely present.

    Learning builds daily accumulation, but the practice of Tao builds daily simplification. Simplify and simplify, until all contamination from relative, contridictory thinking is eliminated. Then one does nothing, yet nothing is left undone. One who wins the world does so by not meddling with it. One who meddles with the world loses it.

    Lao-Tzu (604 BC - 531 BC), Tao Te Ching
    Results from Rand Lindsly's Quotations.

    Tao te Ching, 48. Lao-Tzu

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  38. I have a question;

    If the fiction writers for TV are on strike, does that mean Faux Noise has to go into reruns also?

    Not that they haven't for the last six years anyway ..................


    Or doesn't the spin meisters for the greedy party of pedophile protection count?

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  39. Yea I agree with Lydia's last 3 posts.

    What you focus on grows.

    We make our own enemies.

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  40. Clif - that was very funny!

    Since Fox "News" is all fiction, then the writers have to put their pencils down. There is no reality to Faux News. Good one clif

    And Bartlebee - thank you for getting it.

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  41. Thanks Lydia. That make an issue that has been pretty muddy to me a lot more clear.

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  42. So I'm on strike? Does this mean I have to stop writing my blog???

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  43. Mike,

    This stems from the videocassette debacle. Because the WGA felt that industry would never amount to much, they left a lot of money on the table.

    Right now, when NBC puts up a next-day copy of, say, Heros, they sell ad time specifically for that download.

    But the writers get nothing, despite the fact that they provided the content that NBC is selling.

    Similarly with the DVDs, which were I guess originally covered under the VCR agreement, as Lydia points out.

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  44. Any move that brings more recognition of, and rewards for, writers is something I support. I am always irked by the possessory credit (as it's called) in which a film is labeled with the director's name: "A Film by Joe Director" or "A Joe Director Film." Without the story, there is nothing.

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  45. Simmons Spells it out - but When Will the Ostriches Get Their Heads Out of the Sand?

    "If I was redoing Twilight in the Desert today, I'd sharpen the severity of the warning quite significantly.

    "May, 2005, still stands out as the all-time record high for global crude production - 74.3 million barrels per day, and now we're down 1.2 million barrels per day. The IEA shrug that off, saying that if you look back over the last few years, records have been set several times; a peak followed by a falling off, then another peak, and so forth.

    "That's an interesting thesis. But as we watch Mexico start into its big-time decline and UK and Norway continue their rapid declines, plus Indonesia, Egypt, Argentina and others besides - you can see several years of relentless decline. Add them up and say, find me one area coming on in the next few years that will halt such a collective decline - it's just not there.

    "Major oil companies have quadrupled their spending over the past five years and, other than acquisitions, basically they're in liquidation."

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  46. The republican party culture of corruption continues to get it's just due;

    Breaking: Jury Finds Wilkes Guilty on All Counts

    Reports The San Diego Union-Tribune's News Blog:

    A U.S. District Court jury has convicted Brent Wilkes on all 13 counts in his corruption trial. The Poway defense contractor had been accused by prosecutors of leveraging more than $600,000 in cash bribes and thousands more in gifts to ousted Rep. Randy Duke Cunningham in exchange for Cunningham's influence in securing more than $80 million in government contracts.

    More soon.

    Update: Wilkes faces up to 20 years for his conviction here, but keep in mind that this is just the first of two trials that Wilkes will face. The second deals with Wilkes' alleged bribes of former CIA executive director Dusty Foggo.

    Later Update: Here's more from the AP. Wilkes was shocked!

    His attorney, Mark Geragos, said he and Wilkes were shocked.

    "I don't believe this case was proved beyond a reasonable doubt," Geragos said outside court. "Obviously I'm very disappointed. I think he shares the confidence that we'll get it reversed."


    But the story don't stop there;

    .... Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) doesn't appear to have had much direct involvement in Duke Cunningham's corruption, though he did seem to oversee a lot of the earmarks and favors Cunningham got bribed for. But Wilkes himself is tied to the Lewis investigation through his old mentor, congressman-turned-lobbyist Bill Lowery. And on the stand at trial Wilkes actually said that Lewis was more important for him than Cunningham -- a statement I'm sure Lewis appreciated to no end.

    Hey Jerry, are ya gonna forgo re-election to spend MORE time with your family, before prison, where the culture of corruption reichwingers keep ending up?

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  47. The Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham corruption express fiascos for the reichwing are gonna cost the GOP in 2008 like they did in 2006

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  48. Yes, Carl's right. For example, on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" it's especially annoying because all the actors do improv, essentially writing their own lines.

    Yet it's an AFTRA show, which has the worst re

    It may seem like writers write it, but he only hires actors who can think on their feet and play off each other.

    But we got $4.00 in residuals on the DVD after one million were sold. That's the deal we made.

    xoxo
    me

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  49. Oops got sidetracked. AFTRA and SAG also made the worst possible deals on home video and DVDs so we never see a dime in residuals on these -- and cable residuals are good in the beginning, they really peter out fast.

    Anyway, I have a very funny letter from a redneck to post about all this.

    xoxo

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  50. On network TV, an actor or writer sees his face or words repeated over and over in syndication while advertisers are still paying enormous money for commercials, and networks are reaping huge profits. The actor's face and comic timing is selling the product over and over again. So he is compensated fairly.

    Cable was supposed to be different because there were no commercials. Then commercials came, and nothing changed for the actor.

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  51. Americans may be getting more sleep after Hollywood writers went on strike Monday and forced the nation's late-night talk shows to start airing reruns. NBC said the "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" will immediately air repeats.

    Still, Leno made an appearance at the Burbank studio, arriving on a motorcycle to visit strikers walking a picket line.

    CBS said "The Late Show with David Letterman" will also offer repeats all week. The list of casualties included every other major late-night show.

    The first strike by Hollywood writers in nearly 20 years got under way with noisy pickets on both coasts after last-minute negotiations on Sunday failed to produce a deal on payments to writers from shows offered on the Internet.

    No new negotiations were scheduled, although the Writers Guild of America negotiating committee was set to meet Monday afternoon.

    Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said he expected a long standoff.

    "We're hunkered down for a long one," he said. "From our standpoint, we made every good faith effort to negotiate a deal and they went on strike. At some point, conversations will take place. But not now."

    The strike will not immediately impact production of movies or prime-time TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and TV shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.

    Disruptions by strikers ended filming at a Studio City cafe being used as a location for the CBS show "Cane."

    Tom Hogan, a location manager for the show, said he had hired two off-duty Los Angeles police officers in addition to five private security guards to maintain order during the shoot.

    He said the filming began hours before the 20 picketers arrived and involved a script that was finished several weeks ago.

    No other major problems were reported at studios or filming locations.

    At the CBS lot in Studio City, about 40 people hoisted signs and applauded when picketing began.

    Robert Port, a writer for the TV show "Numb3rs," said he was as ready as possible for what could be a long walkout.

    "We live in Los Angeles, your bank account can never really be ready for this," he said.

    Only about half of the picketers wore their official red strike T-shirts.

    "Writers aren't the easiest cats to corral," said Don McGill, another writer for "Numb3rs."

    The first noisy strikers appeared outside the "Today" show set at Rockefeller Center in New York, where NBC is headquartered. The show is not directly affected by the strike because news writers are part of a different union.

    A giant, inflated rat was displayed, as about 40 people shouted, "No contract, no shows!"

    "They claim that the new media is still too new to structure a model for compensation," said Jose Arroyo, a writer for "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

    "We say give us a percentage so if they make money, we make money," Arroyo said.

    Diana Son, a writer for "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," said she has three children and getting residuals was the only way she could take time off after giving birth.

    "It's an extremely volatile industry," Son said. "There's no job security. Residuals are an important part of our income. There's no cushion."

    Millie Kapzen of Memphis, Tenn., who watched the New York pickets from across the street, said she was "disgusted. ... I really think they should try harder to negotiate."

    Kapzen said she sells advertising for radio stations. "We've already had cancellations of sweeps weeks ads" by the networks, she said.

    Writers have not gone on strike since 1988, when the walkout lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.

    The battle has broad implications for the way Hollywood does business, since whatever deal is struck by writers will likely be used as a template for talks with actors and directors, whose contracts expire next June.

    Talks began in July and continued after the writers contract expired last Wednesday.

    Producers said writers were not willing to compromise on major issues.

    Writers said they withdrew a proposal to increase their share of revenue from the sale of DVDs that had been a stumbling block for producers.

    They also said proposals by producers in the area of Internet reuse of TV episodes and films were unacceptable.

    In Los Angeles, writers planned to picket 14 studio locations in four-hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day until a new deal is reached.

    Networks said other late-night show bound for reruns included "The Daily Show," "Colbert Report," "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and "Last Call with Carson Daly."

    Ellen DeGeneres was a no-show Monday for filming of her daytime talk show on NBC.

    "Ellen did not go to work today in support of her writers," said Kelly Bush, her publicist.

    New episodes of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that were filmed before the strike were set to air Monday and Tuesday. But it was unclear what might happen with the show later in the week, Bush said.

    "Dancing With the Stars," one of the country's highest-rated prime-time shows, would air as planned on Monday, ABC said.

    One key factor that could determine the damage caused by the strike is whether members of a powerful Hollywood Teamsters local honor the picket lines.

    Local 399, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, had told its members that as a union, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts with producers.

    But the clause does not apply to individuals.

    Steve Dayan, business agent of the local, said Monday he had heard of no problems on the picket lines involving his members.

    He did not know if members were honoring the lines or crossing them.

    "Our members have a choice whether they want to honor it or not," Dayan said. "I'm sure there are people honoring and some that are crossing. It's their individual right."

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  52. Huffingtonpost:

    And so, the Writers Guild strike is upon us. Scribes carrying picket signs began marching outside studios and network headquarters on both coasts this morning. To those who don't think the strike involves any sacrifice, I'd like to point out that, for many L.A.-based writers, this is the first time they have walked anywhere in years.

    I hope that these picket lines -- and the absence from work of actors, directors, Teamsters and others who refuse to cross those lines - will cause some sobering realizations in boardrooms from Burbank to Broadway, but the writers' demands have seemed so reasonable to me throughout this process that I frankly don't know what might break the stalemate. The corporations' apparent unwillingness to concede to the WGA on a single major issue reminds me of the way President Bush treats Congress: "I'll be happy to negotiate, just as long as you end up doing exactly what I want."

    The very anonymity of the writer in TV and film does seem to be handicapping how the writers' side is portrayed in the media. When attendees were converging on the Convention Center for last Thursday's closed-door pre-strike rally, one could sense the news cameras scanning the crowd desperately for anyone whom anyone would have any chance of recognizing. Even I had no clue who these people were, until I spotted an LA Times photo featuring household-name Larry Wilmore. The arrival of well-known writer/performers at today's protests helped a bit. "Look, it's Tina Fey! And she's outside 30 Rock! How perfect is that?" But if the spectacularly fortunate few who are familiar to the public at large become the faces of the strike, this creates its own problem, furthering the myth that this is merely a petty spat in which a lot of rich and famous writers are acting spoiled and greedy, trying to shake down the kindly and benevolent multinational mediasaurs.

    Others in this space have written with much greater expertise and detail on the financial realities of the industry's working (and very often non-working) writers. I particularly recommend Howard Rodman's "It's The Money, Stupid" and Chris Kelly's "What Were Residuals, Daddy?" To expand on Mr. Kelly's main points, residuals are not a gratuity that the studios can decide to hand out if they like our service; they're an essential part of the bargain in this showbiz crapshoot. Inherent in their concept is that residuals SAVE money for television networks, since it doesn't cost as much to pay residuals for a rerun as it would to pay talent to create a brand new show.

    True, the rerun market has eroded in recent years, but it's not because people have suddenly decided they never want to see their favorite shows again. It's just that they're frequently choosing to watch those episodes on their own schedule and their preferred platform. They buy deluxe boxed DVD sets, they download from iTunes, they may now even watch advertiser-sponsored "free" streams over network-controlled websites - all the areas where the corporations claim there's not a nickel (or even four cents) of profit to spare for the people who dreamt up those shows in the first place.

    It's a fluke of timing that writers are taking the lead in this battle. If the actors' agreements were expiring first, I feel certain that they would be fighting the conglomerates on precisely the same grounds. By its very nature, the craft of scriptwriting is passive-aggressive -- sitting alone in a room, conjuring up scenarios which prettier people will be forced to enact - so it must be jarring to see these timid scribblers suddenly becoming so aggressive-aggressive. We're not used to standing up and shouting for our rights, when a well-turned quip (or an overwrought blog post) is more in our comfort zone. The fact that we've taken this drastic a step into the glare of national attention and actual sunlight indicates how important these issues are for the future of our profession.

    I've always been dismayed by the mixture of dismissal and contempt which is reserved for screenwriters. Well, at some level I do understand it, because nothing about the job seems all that difficult to the outside observer. "You're just making stuff up! You just write down what people should say and what they should do. Heck, I say and do stuff all day. How hard can it be to write it down" Most people wouldn't have a clue how to direct or edit a movie or operate a Steadicam, and their experience playing a poetry-reciting turnip in their fourth-grade pageant cured them of any desire to act for a living. But writing? Everyone's taught to write. Or, as Prince or anyone under a certain age with opposable thumbs might put it, "evRE1z tOt 2 RYT :)".

    But it is not easy to write. It is particularly hard to write well. And while we've all seen far too many examples where utterly cruddy writing hasn't been an obstacle to ungodly commercial success, the best actors and directors know the value of a great script. Undoubtedly, the best producers and executives do too, even if they still don't want to part with any more of "their" money than they absolutely have to.

    I certainly wouldn't want to be a network or studio executive, nor would I claim to be able to do their jobs. But maybe the Writers Guild should demand that, during the current impasse, each of the members of the AMPTP negotiating committee must write one episode of their favorite TV show or must script the sequel for their studio's biggest tentpole franchise. Maybe then it would be clearer to them how difficult our task is and how important writers' contributions are to that revenue stream which gushes into their office buildings, from which tiny rivulets are allowed to trickle back to WGA members inside precious green envelopes.

    The writers have already given up much of what they needed.

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  53. Spotted at 30 Rock: The hottest T&A duo ever to strut its hallowed halls, aka Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, standing in solidarity against The Man with a scrum of fellow writers, so close to our spy that you might say they were within...striking distance. (See, producers? There's a REASON these people should be paid!). As you by now know, the Writer's Guild of America is officially on strike after last-ditch talks with a federal mediator failed after an eleventh-hour attempt at a save (literally, the talks went for 11 hours). Today is the first day of what is sadly looking like what could be a a long drawn-out fight, and Poehler (who is not on strike, just in solidarity) will feel it first, since the reactive shows like SNL, Letterman, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report work off current events (people keep mentioning The View in here, too, which I find confusing. Sherri Shepherd has a writer?). So far, public sympathy seems to be with the writers — this week's SNL featured a segment wherein Fred Armisen portrayed a greedy studio head insisting that he wasn't making any money off writers — and gray-areas writers-cum-bosses like Fey, standing with their creative brethren (Fey is a hyphenate — a writer-producer-actor, who will finish shooting this week and then go back to the picket lines with writers after; and reputedly but not confirmedly, Jon Stewart is being similarly supportive to the writers). Presidential candidate Barack Obama today released a statement in support of the writers, saying "The Guild's demand is a test of whether corporate media corporations are going to give writers a fair share of the wealth their work creates or continue concentrating profits in the hands of their executives. " Yeah, you know he appreciates that sweet cameo on SNL this week.

    Actors walking the picket lines with the lesser paid writers: That is what unionism is all about.

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  54. In a show of solidarity with his fellow scribes, the Daily Show host has told his writing staff that he will cover all their salaries for the next two weeks, according to a well-placed source. He has also vowed to do the same for writers on The Colbert Report. A Comedy Central spokesman referred my inquiry about this to Stewart's personal publicist, who has yet to respond.

    Stewart's intention, says the source, is to ensure his writers will face no financial hardship should the strike, which kicked off at 3 a.m. local time, conclude within that time frame.

    John Stewart is a true American!

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  55. The AMPTP's position seems to be based on gobbledygook.

    Originally the "CLAIMED they did not know the revenue that would be generated by DVD and Home video.......well they do now and it is certainly a profitable industry and it is utter BS to say that industry and revenue source will be destroyed by digital downloads.

    First of all no one that I know of at least would watch an entire movie or read an entire book on the computer, IPOD or cell phone........those are completely different technologies and sources of revenue that would in general aument rather than compete with DVD sales.

    Second the corporate media conglomerates are fools to argue they dont know if these technologies will be profitable........there are essentially no manufacturing or distribution costs, sure they have to give the pipelines and networks a small cut but many of the Media conglomerates also own the networks and pipelines to distribute this digitally so with out real physical manufacturing and distribution costs their profit margins would be augmented rather than compromised.

    What APPEARS to be going on is the media conglomerates are playing hardball because they have the networks and distribution channels/pipelines to distrubute this and their opponents have no strike contracts.

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  56. Breaking News! Breaking News!

    Keith Olbermann will have a "Special Comment" tonight.

    About Waterboarding

    ReplyDelete
  57. I thinkl the ONLY way to take the power away from the media conglomerates is for all the creative talent the writers, actors, directors to unite and buy a network and content provider to distribute their product and cut the media conglomerates right out of the loop.

    But for that to work EVERYONE, particularly the big names need to committ and pool their resources.

    The Media titans own production and tv networks as well as content and distribution mediums and the actors /writers need to level the playing field by doing likewise.

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  58. The writers make far less, yet provide the words for the actors to display their talent.

    Can't have one without the other, so both are valuable.

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  59. Americans may be getting more sleep after Hollywood writers went on strike Monday and forced the nation’s late-night talk shows to start airing reruns.

    NBC said the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” will immediately air repeats.

    Still, Leno made an appearance at the Burbank studio, arriving on a motorcycle to visit strikers walking a picket line.

    CBS said “The Late Show with David Letterman” will also offer repeats all week. The list of casualties included every other major late-night show.

    The first strike by Hollywood writers in nearly 20 years got under way with noisy pickets on both coasts after last-minute negotiations on Sunday failed to produce a deal on payments to writers from shows offered on the Internet.

    (MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal News.)

    No new negotiations were scheduled, although the Writers Guild of America negotiating committee was set to meet Monday afternoon.

    Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said he expected a long standoff.

    “We’re hunkered down for a long one,” he said. “From our standpoint, we made every good faith effort to negotiate a deal and they went on strike. At some point, conversations will take place. But not now.”

    The strike will not immediately impact production of movies or prime-time TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and TV shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.

    Disruptions by strikers ended filming at a Studio City cafe being used as a location for the CBS show “Cane.”

    Tom Hogan, a location manager for the show, said he had hired two off-duty Los Angeles police officers in addition to five private security guards to maintain order during the shoot.

    He said the filming began hours before the 20 pickets arrived and involved a script that was finished several weeks ago.

    No other major problems were reported at studios or filming locations.

    At the CBS lot in Studio City, about 40 people hoisted signs and applauded when picketing began.

    Robert Port, a writer for the TV show “Numb3rs,” said he was as ready as possible for what could be a long walkout.

    “We live in Los Angeles, your bank account can never really be ready for this,” he said.

    Only about half of the pickets wore their official red strike T-shirts.

    “Writers aren’t the easiest cats to corral,” said Don McGill, another writer for “Numb3rs.”

    The first noisy strikers appeared outside the “Today” show set at Rockefeller Center in New York, where NBC is headquartered. The show is not directly affected by the strike because news writers are part of a different union.

    A giant, inflated rat was displayed, as about 40 people shouted, “No contract, no shows!”

    “They claim that the new media is still too new to structure a model for compensation,” said Jose Arroyo, a writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

    “We say give us a percentage so if they make money, we make money,” Arroyo said.

    Diana Son, a writer for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” said she has three children and getting residuals was the only way she could take time off after giving birth.

    “It’s an extremely volatile industry,” Son said. “There’s no job security. Residuals are an important part of our income. There’s no cushion.”

    Millie Kapzen of Memphis, Tenn., who watched the New York pickets from across the street, said she was “disgusted. ... I really think they should try harder to negotiate.”

    Kapzen said she sells advertising for radio stations. “We’ve already had cancellations of sweeps weeks ads” by the networks, she said.

    Writers have not gone on strike since 1988, when the walkout lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.

    The battle has broad implications for the way Hollywood does business, since whatever deal is struck by writers will likely be used as a template for talks with actors and directors, whose contracts expire next June.


    Talks began in July and continued after the writers contract expired last Wednesday.

    Producers said writers were not willing to compromise on major issues.

    Writers said they withdrew a proposal to increase their share of revenue from the sale of DVDs that had been a stumbling block for producers.


    They also said proposals by producers in the area of Internet reuse of TV episodes and films were unacceptable.

    In Los Angeles, writers planned to picket 14 studio locations in four-hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day until a new deal is reached.

    Networks said other late-night show bound for reruns included “The Daily Show,” “Colbert Report,” “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Last Call with Carson Daly.”

    Ellen DeGeneres was a no-show Monday for filming of her daytime talk show on NBC.

    “Ellen did not go to work today in support of her writers,” said Kelly Bush, her publicist.

    New episodes of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that were filmed before the strike were set to air Monday and Tuesday. But it was unclear what might happen with the show later in the week, Bush said.

    “Dancing With the Stars,” one of the country’s highest-rated prime-time shows, would air as planned on Monday, ABC said.

    One key factor that could determine the damage caused by the strike is whether members of a powerful Hollywood Teamsters local honor the picket lines.

    Local 399, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, had told its members that as a union, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts with producers.

    But the clause does not apply to individuals.

    Steve Dayan, business agent of the local, said Monday he had heard of no problems on the picket lines involving his members.

    He did not know if members were honoring the lines or crossing them.

    “Our members have a choice whether they want to honor it or not,” Dayan said. “I’m sure there are people honoring and some that are crossing. It’s their individual right.”

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  60. Larry the unions for the actors, writers and directors all need to stick together on this one..........I also strongly think they need to start buying up tv, telecom and cable networks whenever possible, to fight the oligopoly of Robber barons that have seized control of our media.

    While we are at it we need the Democrtats to win the Whitehouse and get rid of Kevin Martin and his stooges at the FCC as well as getting rid of the shills at the SEC who NEVER met a merger they didnt like.

    The concentration in the Media NEEDS to be broken up.

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  61. AP:

    Jay Leno rolled up to a picket line on his motorcycle with doughnuts for striking writers at NBC.

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus marched with pickets at Warner Bros. in the shadow of a giant billboard advertising her CBS show, “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

    Even Democratic presidential candidates weighed in Monday, as writers got a little help from their famous friends during the first day of their strike against movie studios and TV networks.

    Barack Obama said he stands with the writers and urged producers to work with them to end the strike.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton called for a contract that recognizes the contributions writers make to the entertainment industry.

    Each candidate has received more than $2 million in campaign contributions from the entertainment industry.

    In Burbank, Louis-Dreyfus wore a cap, sunglasses and Screen Actors Guild T-shirt as she joined strikers chanting, “Hey, hey, pencils down. Hollywood’s a union town.”

    “How this is resolved will directly affect our union, too,” she said, referring to the actors union contract that expires next year.

    In New York, Tina Fey of “30 Rock” joined strikers outside Rockefeller Center, the headquarters of NBC.

    Ellen DeGeneres wasn’t spotted on the picket lines, but her publicist Kelly Bush said she took the day off in support of the writers on her daytime talk show.

    Noise and other disruptions caused by a picket line interfered with filming at a location being used for the CBS show “Cane.”

    About 20 writers chanted, screamed and used a bullhorn outside a cafe near the CBS lot in Studio City, causing the production to move back onto the nearby CBS lot.

    Tom Hogan, a location manager for the show, said filming began hours before the pickets arrived and involved a script that was finished several weeks ago.

    “But you know what? I support them,” said Hogan, a member of Teamsters Local 399, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers.

    Strikers near Universal Studios marched across a freeway bridge and waved signs at passing motorists.

    Outside the landmark gate of Paramount Pictures on Melrose Avenue, drivers honked their horns in solidarity with strikers.

    Despite the support, the financial reality of a work stoppage loomed large for many striking writers.

    Michelle Mulroney, 40, and her husband both write feature films.

    “I’m fortunate. I can strike for a while,” she said. “But most people I know will feel the crunch today.”

    Zoe Green, 26, certainly will. She sold her first pilot, but the strike is preventing her from writing the script.

    “It’s the worst thing ever,” she said. “I’m going to be struggling on $6,000 until this ends.”

    Jay Leno is one of the few Repugs who refuse to cross picket lines.

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  62. Wow, Larry thank you. this is a most important post:

    This fight is as serious as can be, for nothing less than the future of the guild itself...All writing, much sooner than any of us over thirty would like to admit, will be new media writing. The studios are offering zero compensation no matter how much they profit from our writing on the Internet because they realize that in a few years from now that will amount to the eradication of residuals altogether.

    This antagonistic, scorched-earth policy toward writers by management is both stupid and unnecessary. The film and television industry is making record profits. This is not a case of Chrysler, hemorrhaging money, turning to the unions and saying take these rollbacks or we all lose our jobs.

    ... And let us all remember that in the 1950s television was new media.

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  63. I've always liked Tina Fey..........shes a little hottie!

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  64. Look at all the big name celebrities who are supporting the writers, instead of looking out for themselves.

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  65. by Jonathan Tasini


    Members of the Writers Guild of America have walked out, as of midnight. So, it's to the picket lines, my friends--where I am headed in about one hour. If you are in New York City, here's what the Guild sent out yesterday:

    The Writers Guild will go on strike Monday, November 5th at 12:01 AM. As soon as the strike starts at 12:01 a.m. in your home time zone, all Guild-covered work under the MBA must cease.

    Join fellow writers on the picket line this week. On Monday, we will be picketing around Rockefeller Plaza on 49th St. from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    So, get out there. And don't just come out the first day--this could go on for some time and the writers need support. I don't know the deets on the West Coast actions but if you are in Los Angeles, it's likely that the pickets will go up around the studios (say the CBS studio in mid-Fairfax area).

    The issues are pretty clear--and you can read about them here.

    UPDATE: a quick report from the picket line. I was out there for most of the morning and headed back soon. Spirits were high--the picket line was full with WGA members...one dog...and Tina Fey (who, of course, attracted a lot of media attention). The strikers see the issues quite clearly as greed versus fairness. Let's see if the media give this any better coverage...so far, it's been woeful. By the way, one thought occurred to me--the industry is trying to portray the strikers as well-to-do workers who, the industry claims, make an average of $200,000. That's ludicrous. There are a few people who make big salaries which skews the average number. One way of thinking of this is: if you and Bill Gates are in the same room, the average net worth in the room is many billions of dollars. Presto! You are now well off. The true barometer is the MEDIAN wage and, when using that measure, you can more easily see that the large majority of WGA members are just trying to make a middle-class living with health care and a pension.

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  66. by Jonathan Tasini


    Any day now, maybe even tomorrow, there could be a strike by thousands of writers who come up with the words that come out of the mouths of the actors and performers who we watch on the big screen, television, DVDs and, increasingly, the Internet, or listen to on the radio. What isn’t always clear, because the traditional media conveniently avoids the topic, is how much this fight is a classic example of unadulterated greed of the few trying to triumph over the very people who made the few fabulously wealthy. Whether you are a member of the Writers Guild of America (west or east) or not, this fight is your fight.

    The writers’ demand is pretty simple: they want to share in the revenue stream coming in from DVDs and other new media uses. Big Media doesn’t want to pay when it profits from Internet downloads, or for original writing in New Media and it refuses to pay more than a pittance for DVD sales. Big Media argues that, poor souls that they are, it can’t afford to pay more because its business models for New Media are uncertain and it needs the increased revenues to offset "other costs."

    I’ve seen this story before. In 1993, I and a group of other writers sued The New York Times—and, by extension, every major publisher—over the illegal use of our work in new media. We won in a 7-2 decision in 2001 in the U.S. Supreme Court (in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that Justices Thomas, Scalia and Rehnquist sided with us, too).

    Though we fought a legal case and the current fight is being waged in collective bargaining, The Times and their cronies tried to make the same lame arguments we hear in the current fight being waged by the WGA: it was too soon to tell whether they would make money on the business.

    For all those folks who aren’t writers and get a regular paycheck, it’s really important to understand the plantation-like economic model that powers—and enriches—Big Media. At any given time, 95 percent of WGA members aren’t being paid a salary by Big Media. Instead, thousands of writers churn out scripts and ideas for content—most of which is never bought. You might sell a script or an idea one year and, then, not sell another product for the next 5 or 7 years. It’s not because of a lack of talent. It is simply because Big Media has set up a brilliant system—it keeps a whole workforce turning out its products and doesn’t have to keep them on any payroll, or pay their health care or pensions if Big Media decides not to buy what they produce.

    And, so, the way writers try to survive is over that stream—in most cases, quite modest stream—of royalties that come every time a DVD is sold which contains their creative output. Remember this: the vast majority of writers do not—do not—live in mansions or fly in private jets. They are mostly trying to live a middle-class life—and that isn’t easy.

    And, as important, Big Media is engaging in the fairly familiar anti-union posture that is in vogue: it is refusing to agree to include writers for reality television in the jurisdiction of the WGA. Translation: Big Media wants to deny people basic rights on the job.

    The truth is that Big Media is a hugely profitable business. The truth is that the top CEOs, while they are demanding that writers suck it up and make a pittance, are raking in obscene astronomical salaries and stock options. Check out these numbers for 2006, which I took directly from Forbes Magazine’s current top ranking of companies:

    Time Warner:
    Revenues—$44 billion
    Profit—$6.53 billion
    CEO Richard Parsons’ 2006 pay: $12. 95 million. Five-year pay haul: $45.36 million. Stock options value: $14.2 million (at April 2007 prices)

    Disney:
    Revenues—$35 billion
    Profit—$4.34 billion
    CEO Robert Iger’s 2006 pay: $29.93 million plus $8.8 million stock options

    News Corp.:
    Revenues--$26.74 billion
    Profit—$3.34 billion
    Boss Rupert Murdoch’s 2006 pay: $25.91 million. Five-year pay haul: $86.42 million. Stock: since he owns the company, his stock is worth $8.7 billion

    CBS:
    Revenues—$14.32 billion
    Profit—$1.66 billion
    CEO Leslie Moonves 2006 pay: $24.86 million. Five-year pay haul: $63.43 million. Stock options: $30 million.

    The same is true if you go and look at most other major media companies.

    While the media titans like Murdoch and Iger run around crying poverty, out of one side of their mouths, and an inability to pay writers, they run to Wall Street, investors and media analysts and speak a different tone: they claim, individually, that their company is on the leading edge of new media and can be counted on to continue to capitalize on the explosion in new media uses...and, therefore, the Street, investors and analysts should have great faith in their leadership...and value their stocks accordingly. They sell advertising based on flogging their companies as the leaders in the business. So, in one place they cry "uncertainty"—when it comes to paying writers their fair share—and in another forum they cry, "we are future-looking geniuses cashing in on the Internet gold."

    Now, who made this money for Big Media? I’m sorry to break this news: It wasn’t the CEOs. It was the creative minds that produce the content that we all consume. Tell me, when was the last time you watched a movie written by Rupert Murdoch?

    We’ve seen this movie, in real life, played out across America, in industry after industry. The problem is not profitability or ability to pay. It’s greed. A few people are feeding at the company trough (helped by compliant boards of directors), spinning the perception that they are the reason the company is doing. Then, they claim the cupboard is bare when it comes to the people who really make the companies successful. That’s nonsense. Like all stories, we can help change the dialogue and make sure that members of the WGA get their fair share.

    This makes your point Mike!

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  67. The Media is SO DISHONEST..........look at them trying to portray the writers like rich greedy fat cats just like the repug smear machine tried to do to that kid and his family that was on SCHIP.

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  68. Unions typically consist of people with wallets of similar size. The paychecks of auto workers vary depending on seniority and job title but not so much that some drive BMWs and others rusty old Plymouths.

    The Writers Guild of America, which on Monday plans to start picketing television networks and movie studios in Los Angeles and New York, is starkly different.

    Among the Writers Guild’s 12,000 members are television writer-producers like Shonda Rhimes, the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” who take home up to $5 million a year. On the other extreme are junior writers who — if they work at all — make $50,000 or less. About 48 percent of West Coast members are unemployed, according to guild statistics. (No such statistics exist for East Coast members.)

    The economic disparity within the Writers Guild complicates the union’s job as it seeks increases in residual payments for the use of movies and TV shows on DVDs and online, among other issues. Observers say the effectiveness of a strike turns on the union’s ability to keep the haves and have-nots tethered, even though both stand to gain — and lose — in very different ways from walking a picket line.

    “This is already a union where there are people who don’t have that much in common financially,” said Daniel H. Black, a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, a firm with a large television practice. “If the strike goes more than a month, the guild is going to have a colossal mess in terms of members challenging leadership.”

    The Writers Guild disagrees.

    “These issues cut across all income levels,” said Jeff Hermanson, assistant executive director of the West Coast branch, adding, “I’ve never seen such unanimity.”

    Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for East Coast writers, said, “If the question is whether there is any difference in resolve between the upper and lower echelons of writers, the answer is an absolute no.”

    Their resolve may not vary, but the impact of a strike on union members will. Residual payments are not crucial to top writers’ livelihoods; the bulk of their income comes from up-front fees and studio deals. So some Hollywood veterans see this group as having more to lose, while lower-tier and unemployed writers who use quarterly residual payments to pay the mortgage have the most to gain.

    “Working writers are used to steady checks and living a certain lifestyle, and that is going to feel a pinch in a hurry,” said Frank Biondi, the former president and chief executive of Viacom. “It’s less of a big deal for out-of-work writers to picket. Not working is what they’re doing already.”

    Under the previous contract, which expired Wednesday night, the six major studios must pay a minimum of $106,000 for an original screenplay, while networks must pay at least $20,956 for a teleplay for a prime-time comedy and $30,823 for a prime-time drama.

    Many working writers earn much more. The writer of a major studio release can expect a paycheck of at least $1 million, according to union members, while “name” screenwriters might earn in the $4 million range per picture.

    That is a lot of money compared with the average earnings of people in Los Angeles County and typical Americans. The average worker in Los Angeles County earned $52,572 last year, according to government statistics, while the per capita income of the overall population is about $25,000.

    But everything is relative. Writers compare their paychecks with those of many actors, directors and studio executives and see a need for a major re-alignment. According to the Writers Guild, guild-covered writer earnings have risen at less than half the rate of entertainment industry profits.

    Many writers complain that studios view them as disposable. “That’s how the movers and shakers really feel, and how, for the most part, the writers are treated,” James A. Owen, a screenwriter, wrote on an industry blog last week. “There to be used. Powerless. Generally unnecessary.”

    Moreover, guild writers at all levels are angry about the increasing use of nonunion labor in Hollywood. In the mid-1980s, according to the guild, about 95 percent of industry writing jobs in both television and feature films were covered by the guild. That share, the guild maintains, has dropped to about 55 percent as entertainment companies use divisions outside the guild to produce an array of animated, reality and other shows.

    As a result, writers at all income levels are feeling pressure.

    “The majority of writers are barely making a living, and the majority of writers’ careers are very short-lived,” said Chris Albers, a writer for “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and a past president of the East Coast branch of the Writers Guild. “So we feel that if these companies are going to be making a lot of money off of what we create, and we only have a few years to be in the game, then it’s fair to compensate us so that we can support our families.”

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  69. Breaking News! Breaking News!

    Keith Olbermann will have a "Special Comment" tonight.

    About Waterboarding

    ReplyDelete
  70. Great article Larry!

    Like I said The Democrats need to clean house at the FCC and SEC and break up these media oligopolies and WHEN they do the writers and actors need to pool their resources and buy these divested assets so they have content and distribution capabilities to negate the the all powerful media conglomerates who think they hold all the cards just like the robber barons did in the guilded age.

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  71. If the Democrats fail/refuse to stop this mess now, we will never get control of the airwaves, or what propaganda is shown on a daily basis.

    ReplyDelete
  72. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2007
    WRITERS GUILD STRIKE - NEW YORK PICKET PLAN

    WHAT:

    The first day of the Writers Guild of America Strike. Hundreds of Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) members will be on the picket lines instead of at work, writing sitcoms, primetime dramas, daytime soap operas, late night television shows, entertainment/talk shows, reality shows, movies, and more. The Writers Guild went on strike at 12:01 AM.

    WHERE:

    Rockefeller Plaza, 49th Street

    WHEN:

    9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

    INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES:

    Some of the industry’s leading screen and TV writers will be among the striking writers on the picket line and available for interviews. In addition, WGAE President Michael Winship, a TV writer and producer, and WGAE Assistant Executive Director Ann Toback will be available.

    WHY:

    The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America (West) are ON STRIKE effective Monday morning, November 5th at 12:01 AM. Approximately 12,000 Writers Guild members work under the MBA Contract (Minimum Basic Agreement) with the studios and networks, which expired at midnight October 31st. No new contract was negotiated and the talks broke down. Members voted 90.3% to authorize a strike, which was called by the Guilds on Friday, November 2.

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

    The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, broadcast, cable, new, and news media. The WGAE has approximately 4,000 members, of which about 2,500 work under this contract and are on strike. The key issue in the negotiations is new media. Writers want compensation for work used and/or written for new media, such as the Internet, downloads, webisodes and mobisodes. Writers are also looking for increased jurisdiction in the areas of new media, animation and reality. The AMPTP, negotiating on behalf of the companies and networks, refuses to offer counterproposals to the WGA’s serious proposals.

    Action plans are growing all over the country to support the writers.

    ReplyDelete
  73. On his daily radio talk show, Glenn Beck portrays himself as an average guy, a recovering alcoholic and a comedian who regularly injects humor into his conservative politics.

    This week he can add another description: very wealthy.

    Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, is expected to announce today that it is extending Mr. Beck’s contract. Two sources with knowledge of the deal said it was valued at $50 million over five years, through a combination of salary and profit-sharing from syndication.

    Here is a result of "Corporate Media" dictating what is covering our airwaves.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Glenn Beck is a moron every once in a while i'll watch a few minutes of his show and i cant believe what a moron he is.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Lets see if the "Hollywood heavy weights are willing to follow Jon Stewart's lead, and PAY his writers for the Daily Show and Colbert show's writers for two weeks WHILE THEY Strike for better pay.

    He is willing to do a little more then walk a line he is willing to reach into his own pockets and support the writers.

    If some of the people who make millions from the writers in their own careers are willing to shell out a few dollars to support the writers until they can get an adequate deal the bosses might have to cave in much sooner.

    Of course that would show who is willing to put their own money where the writers usually put their words.

    ReplyDelete
  76. If John Stewart can pay his writers out of his own pocket, then even more so can Letterman and the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  77. (Reuters) - Hollywood screenwriters went on strike against major film and television studios on Monday, knocking some of America's favorite TV shows out of production in a dispute that hinges on how the Internet is changing the face of show business.

    Some 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America walked off the job starting at 12:01 a.m. EST (0501 GMT) after last-ditch talks with a federal mediator collapsed, setting the stage for the first major Hollywood work stoppage in nearly 20 years.

    The talks foundered on the inability of the two sides to come to terms on how writers should be compensated in an era of burgeoning digital technologies, such as broadband Internet and hand-held wireless devices, that are reshaping entertainment.

    The greatest initial impact of a strike will be felt on television, as prime-time comedies and late-night talk shows such as NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," are forced into immediate reruns.

    "There will be no 'Tonight Show' tonight," declared one of Leno's head writers, Joe Medeiros, as he walked a picket line outside NBC in Burbank. "None of us wanted a strike. We were driven to this. I'm fighting for the future of every writer."

    Leno himself showed up to hand out doughnuts to striking writers on the first day of what some experts predicted would be a prolonged and costly dispute.

    "My expectation is that we're in for a long strike, and it will end up in a Pyrrhic victory," said Howard Suber, professor emeritus at University of California Los Angeles and author of the book "Power of Film."

    While the late-night talk show circuit relies on a steady supply of topical jokes and sketches, many sitcoms also took a quick hit because they depend on a substantial amount of last-minute script rewrites.

    NO LAUGHING MATTER

    "We stopped production as of today. All of our writers are here," said former "Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose latest show, CBS sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine," was one of the first casualties of the walkout.

    She joined striking writers outside Warner Bros. television studio, one of 14 Los Angeles-area sites picketed by the union, including studios owned by Walt Disney Co, Time Warner Inc, Viacom Inc and News Corp.

    The first picket lines went up outside NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, where "Saturday Night Live" veteran Tina Fey, who currently stars on, writes and produces the NBC sitcom "30 Rock," was on hand.

    "This strike affects the show in which I work," she said. "We put our pens down yesterday, and we will not write until negotiations resume."

    No further negotiations were scheduled.

    Producers of some prime-time series, especially dramas, have worked feverishly for months stockpiling episodes in hopes of riding out a strike until January or even February. Once those shows run dry, networks will be forced to air repeats or "strike-proof" programming not covered by the WGA contract, such as reality shows, news and sports.

    The effect on movies will be less obvious since the major studios' screenplay pipeline is well-stocked through 2008.

    The last major Hollywood strike, a Writers Guild walkout in 1988, ran for 22 weeks, delayed the start of the fall TV season and cost the industry an estimated $500 million. Los Angeles economist Jack Kyser said a similar strike now could result in losses of at least $1 billion.

    Negotiations, which began in July, deadlocked over writers' demands for an increase in "residual" fees they earn when their film and TV work gets reused in DVDs and Internet downloads. They also sought new fees on original material written for the Internet, cell phones and other digital formats.

    The union said it ultimately withdrew its demand for higher DVD residuals, an issue that studios last week described as a "complete roadblock to any further progress." But producers have refused to budge on Internet compensation.

    ReplyDelete
  78. (Reuters) - Hollywood screenwriters went on strike against major film and television studios on Monday, knocking some of America's favorite TV shows out of production in a dispute that hinges on how the Internet is changing the face of show business.

    Some 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America walked off the job starting at 12:01 a.m. EST (0501 GMT) after last-ditch talks with a federal mediator collapsed, setting the stage for the first major Hollywood work stoppage in nearly 20 years.

    The talks foundered on the inability of the two sides to come to terms on how writers should be compensated in an era of burgeoning digital technologies, such as broadband Internet and hand-held wireless devices, that are reshaping entertainment.

    The greatest initial impact of a strike will be felt on television, as prime-time comedies and late-night talk shows such as NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," are forced into immediate reruns.

    "There will be no 'Tonight Show' tonight," declared one of Leno's head writers, Joe Medeiros, as he walked a picket line outside NBC in Burbank. "None of us wanted a strike. We were driven to this. I'm fighting for the future of every writer."

    Leno himself showed up to hand out doughnuts to striking writers on the first day of what some experts predicted would be a prolonged and costly dispute.

    "My expectation is that we're in for a long strike, and it will end up in a Pyrrhic victory," said Howard Suber, professor emeritus at University of California Los Angeles and author of the book "Power of Film."

    While the late-night talk show circuit relies on a steady supply of topical jokes and sketches, many sitcoms also took a quick hit because they depend on a substantial amount of last-minute script rewrites.

    NO LAUGHING MATTER

    "We stopped production as of today. All of our writers are here," said former "Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose latest show, CBS sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine," was one of the first casualties of the walkout.

    She joined striking writers outside Warner Bros. television studio, one of 14 Los Angeles-area sites picketed by the union, including studios owned by Walt Disney Co, Time Warner Inc, Viacom Inc and News Corp.

    The first picket lines went up outside NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, where "Saturday Night Live" veteran Tina Fey, who currently stars on, writes and produces the NBC sitcom "30 Rock," was on hand.

    "This strike affects the show in which I work," she said. "We put our pens down yesterday, and we will not write until negotiations resume."

    No further negotiations were scheduled.

    Producers of some prime-time series, especially dramas, have worked feverishly for months stockpiling episodes in hopes of riding out a strike until January or even February. Once those shows run dry, networks will be forced to air repeats or "strike-proof" programming not covered by the WGA contract, such as reality shows, news and sports.

    The effect on movies will be less obvious since the major studios' screenplay pipeline is well-stocked through 2008.

    The last major Hollywood strike, a Writers Guild walkout in 1988, ran for 22 weeks, delayed the start of the fall TV season and cost the industry an estimated $500 million. Los Angeles economist Jack Kyser said a similar strike now could result in losses of at least $1 billion.

    Negotiations, which began in July, deadlocked over writers' demands for an increase in "residual" fees they earn when their film and TV work gets reused in DVDs and Internet downloads. They also sought new fees on original material written for the Internet, cell phones and other digital formats.

    The union said it ultimately withdrew its demand for higher DVD residuals, an issue that studios last week described as a "complete roadblock to any further progress." But producers have refused to budge on Internet compensation.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Trey Ellis:

    Having just returned from the picket lines down at 30 Rockefeller Plaza I am thrilled to report a tremendous turnout of A, B and C list writers. Sure there was a certain degree of ironic fist shaking and maybe less than enthusiastic chanting ("Hey, hey, ho, ho, management can't write the show") but we're writers not auto workers. For many of us this was our first strike and I am extraordinarily proud of how it began.

    Yes, there was a carnival atmosphere as foreign tourists kept asking, as best they could, to take pictures with our placards while a brass band, members of the local musicians union, wandered among the hundred or so of us, belting out the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    That said, this fight is as serious as can be, for nothing less than the future of the guild itself. The writers who don't think the fight over new media compensation is worth striking over cannot be planning on writing anything for compensation in the very near future. All writing, much sooner than any of us over thirty would like to admit, will be new media writing. The studios are offering zero compensation no matter how much they profit from our writing on the Internet because they realize that in a few years from now that will amount to the eradication of residuals altogether.

    This antagonistic, scorched-earth policy toward writers by management is both stupid and unnecessary. The film and television industry is making record profits. This is not a case of Chrysler, hemorrhaging money, turning to the unions and saying take these rollbacks or we all lose our jobs.

    Though in the long run those extra monies from new media compensation will greatly benefit especially the thousands of middle-class writers, the overall compensation talked about to every member of the guild still does not equal what the major studio chiefs are awarded as bonuses every year.

    My guild has been extraordinarily cooperative and even just pulled the demand for sensible DVD compensation off the table. Management's response? More stonewalling.

    Finally, as primarily a feature writer I take off my hat to all the striking TV writers. We feature writers get paydays a few times a year, if we're lucky, while most TV writers live paycheck to paycheck. If it were not for your sacrifices in this important fight a writers' strike would be nearly impossible to put into action.

    And let us all remember that in the 1950s television was new media

    ReplyDelete
  80. Hey, Keith Olbermann stole my joke .....

    In his defense, it is a very apparent joke when you think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Nothing on TV is better than Olbermann.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Larry, it is not CAN THEY, it is ARE THEY willing to help the people who actually help them seem funny, smart, witty, sometimes brilliant ETC.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Olbermann is telling Schumer anhd Feinstein how worthless they are in helping Bush.

    ReplyDelete
  84. WOW!! THIS IS THE BEST KEITH OLBERMANN SPECIAL COMMENT EVER!!

    You have to hear this, I will post it soon. It is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Feinstein and Schumer are enablers of the war criminal Bush.

    All of them must go.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Lydia Cornell said...
    Keith Olbermann stated clearly that Bush is a despicable war criminal.

    This is the most correct and most powerful special comment ever."


    WOW......thats saying alot because he's had some amazing ones.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Larry said...
    Feinstein and Schumer are enablers of the war criminal Bush.

    All of them must go."


    They sure look like enablers of evil to me.........that said I dont know what kind of game they are playing because I honestly liked the way Schumer went after Gonzalez and the way Feinstein handled the California Power Crisis.

    But I guess its what have you donr for me lately and on that regard OI think those two along with Pelosi and Reed are enablers of evil and dont deserve to hold leadership positions representing the people.

    ReplyDelete
  88. If you didn't see it, look it up tonight Mike, it was great.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Hollywood's film and television writers fanned out across Los Angeles early this morning, setting up picket lines outside the industry's major studios -- Warner Bros., Fox and Disney among them -- and said they were prepared to settle in for what could be a long and costly strike.

    The striking began in earnest at 9 a.m. local time in New York, with "30 Rock" writer and star Tina Fey and others picketing outside Rockefeller Center on a frigid morning. A few hours later, at 9 a.m. West Coast time, hundreds of writers took to picket lines throughout the area: More than a hundred gathered outside Disney in Burbank, many dressed in red Writers Guild T-shirts. The writers were handed lyrics to several pro-union chants, including, "Network bosses, rich and rude, We don't like your attitude!"

    While many of the picket lines conjured up a jovial, party atmosphere as writers let loose their frustrations with negotiations that broke down at the eleventh-hour on Sunday night, there were smatterings of ugliness: A picketing writer was struck and injured by a car outside the Sunset-Gower Studios parking lot, allegedly by a driver who witnesses said threatened to run over the strikers if they didn't move out of his way.

    There was plenty of star power to go around. Late night talk show host Jay Leno, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Oscar-winning "Terms of Endearment" writer-director James L. Brooks were among thoselending their support on the picket lines early today.

    In Leno's case, he also brought along several boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the strikers outside NBC offices in Burbank.

    "I've been working with these people for 20 years," Leno said of the writers he relies upon. "Without them I'm not funny. I'm a dead man without them. There are a lot of misconceptions about how much these people make. Most of them are not highly paid. Some are, but the average make about 30 grand a year. I'm out here to support the writers. I'm on the writers' side."

    The strike became inevitable late Sunday night, when, despite the aid of a federal mediator and back-channel talks between top writers and studio executives, the sides found themselves unable to bridge the gap between them. The two parties -- the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers -- could not come to terms on such key issues as how much writers are paid when their shows are shown online.

    The question now is how long a walkout will last and how much pain it will inflict.

    Both sides are girding for what many believe will be a long and debilitating strike, potentially more disruptive than the 22-week walkout by writers in 1988, which cost the entertainment industry an estimated $500 million.

    Many of the strikers today said that they were prepared to keep this strike going for as long as necessary.

    "I have a feeling it will be one long one," said Russ Woody, 51, who also struck in 1988 and now writes for the ABC series "Notes From the Underbelly." "We learned a lesson from that one. We let some things go that we shouldn't have," he said outside Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.

    The writers said they were buoyed by the reactions from passers-by to the picket lines: Many cars honked their horns in approval, or clapped and waved at the protesters.

    In New York City, a 10-year-old boy walking by the Rockefeller Center strikers yelled out in support: "Don't let the man bring you down."

    The fight for rights never ends.

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  90. I adore Keith Olbermann!

    He just gets better and better: smart, witty and terribly sexy in that devilish way, truly confident men can be.

    He's a national treasure.

    ReplyDelete
  91. Keith Olbermann has more guts than the entire Congress.

    At least Olbermann calls Bush what he is.

    ReplyDelete
  92. In the world of labor negotiations today, the writer of a hot TV show has more power than an auto assembly worker with a rivet gun.

    It’s all about supply and demand.

    Manufacturing jobs easily can be exported to countries outside the United States, but jobs writing shows like “CSI” or “24” are unlikely to be outsourced to places like India or Mexico in the foreseeable future.

    As the members of the Writers Guild of America, representing Hollywood TV and film writers, went out on the picket line Monday, they definitely find themselves in a better bargaining position than many lower-skilled workers throughout the country.

    Why? Because they hold “knowledge based” jobs.

    You can’t just put an ad in a Hollywood trade paper and get 10,000 applicants who can do the job, says Marick Masters, a professor of business administration and director of the Center on Conflict Resolution and Negotiation at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

    “They are in a special situation and can exert considerable leverage given their talent,” he adds.

    When you take the talent and the fact that they’re not readily replaceable, these unionized workers have more power at the bargaining table.

    There are other jobs and professions that fit this category, Masters points out, including nursing, physicians, aeronautical and construction engineers, patent attorneys and educators, and jobs you might not think of, such as casino dealers.

    Unionization among many of these professions has seen gains in recent years, including significant increases among casino workers, Masters says. But, he adds, it’s been hard for traditional unions such as the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters to make significant inroads among these knowledge-based jobs.

    Worker bargaining power also comes from being able to make a quick and decisive impact to a company’s bottom line as a result of a job action or threat to strike, especially if the firm is publicly traded. If the workers go on strike, will a company’s stock take a hit? That’s a key question.

    In the past few weeks, the UAW held short strikes at both General Motors and Chrysler, but the work stoppages did little to rattle Wall Street. (Workers at both automakers made significant concessions and were promised little in job security. Just last week Chrysler announced it was cutting up to 12,000 jobs.)

    It’s the difference between a business that makes money from “intellectual capital” and one that makes money from manufacturing prowess, says Peter Cohan, a management consultant and venture capitalist.

    “People will stop watching Jon Stewart if he stops being funny. And the writers come up with the jokes, a form of intellectual capital,” explains Cohan, who is also a management teacher at Babson College. “So I suppose without the writers, Jon Stewart loses his audience, which can only watch so many reruns. With a smaller audience, Viacom can’t charge as much to advertisers.”

    By contrast, he continues, “a car company depends on people, to be sure, but I guess there are more people in the world that can make cars if the UAW goes on strike than there are writers who can make Jon Stewart’s audience laugh. I would think it less likely that Viacom could find a lower-paid joke writer in China who could develop timely and funny material for Jon Stewart.”

    But even having that kind of specialized talent doesn’t mean workers will have the upper hand forever.

    The writers’ situation points to a larger transition in the labor movement.

    “We had the industrial revolution, then the technology revolution. Now we’re stepping into the next level,” says Tom Mobley, a professor at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business.

    Technology programmers had a lot of power in the 1990s because they could make or break business, but engineers in other countries figured out how to do the work, and now a lot of the jobs have been outsourced to places like India. “They were able to do it a lot cheaper,” Mobley adds.


    Even in the case of the Hollywood writers, companies are trying to mitigate their reliance on these workers by turning to reality shows, which require little or no writing.

    Of course, one big power drain for all unionized workers is that employers are allowed to replace striking workers, says Josiah Bartlett Lambert, author of "If the Workers Took a Notion" and associate professor of political science at St. Bonaventure University.

    “The U.S. is the only advanced industrial democracy that allows employers to hire permanent striker replacement,” Lambert explains. “The current legal framework isn’t real supported and I don’t see labor law reform happening.”

    While there are some bright spots for unionization in the United States, union membership is near an all-time low of 8 percent of the work force, compared with 35 percent 50 years ago. Without that strength in numbers, workers' bargaining power will suffer, even for knowledge-based workers, Lambert says.

    Will unions ever re-emerge? “The American labor movement’s obituary has been written many times before,” Lambert says. “In the early 1930s, the president of the American Economic Association proclaimed the labor movement was dead. That was just before the creation of the CIO, the UAW, the steel workers union, and a five-fold increase in labor movement membership.”

    Lambert believes it won’t be labor law reform that could eventually spark a labor movement renaissance — “it will come from the workers themselves.”

    ReplyDelete
  93. I agree.

    Bush is a criminal thug, who belong in a Federal prison.

    Grab him quickly before he escapes for the new 100,000 acre ranch in Paraguay.

    Once there, Bush will be out of reach.

    ReplyDelete
  94. David Feige

    Maybe it's just the east coast, but I have to say that 30 Rock didn't feel like a hotbed of labor activity this afternoon. There were a lot of writers--actually too many for the small "pen" erected by the NYPD. There was also an excellent band, a fine snare drummer, and the omnipresent inflatable rat. But somehow the rabble rousing confrontational part of striking for decent pay didn't really take off (at least not compared to the last strike I was in--a 1993 action by a bunch of pissed off Legal Aid lawyers). Admittedly, this was the sort of strike in which a disproportionate number of people carry iphones, and at least one had a croque Monsieur on the way to the picket line.

    Still, starting tomorrow, we need to do a better job of being strikers. First, we were confined on a side street far from any of the entrances to the building. It didn't have to be that way--the NYPD pen was not our only option. (I confirmed this with the nearby cop who monitored us with a lethargy bordering on somnolence). We are allowed (in small groups) to march around with our signs so long as we don't impede traffic (including pedestrian traffic) we are also allowed to leaflet along the streets including at the entrances that border on the public rather than the private street. Next time let's try some of that.

    Next, what's with our signage? a number of pedestrians I spoke to made the not unreasonable point that for a bunch of writers, our signs were awfully boring. And they were. Almost all the photos I've seen of the protests today show someone holding a sign that says "On Strike." C'mon we can do better than that. I saw a few decent slogans ("The rest is silence" "We want our word's worth") but far too few. Also, it's critical to remember that much of the public really likes what we do. When passersby found out that lolling around in the cold were writers for Colbert, The Daily Show or for Late Night, they responded with real support and genuine enthusiasm. The truth is that what we do is really cool and people like it and will support it. But it's up to us to make clear to everyone what they'll be missing. What we should be doing is writing the names of the shows we work on our signs. That way there's a parade of things people can relate to and will actually miss.

    This strike is important and our position is righteous. Walking the picket lines with lots of talented impressive people is a hell of a way to spend an afternoon or many. Still, since we're going to strike, let's at least maximize our effectiveness.

    We may be in for many weeks of strike activity, but with the actors by our side, we will prevail.

    ReplyDelete
  95. In an often spirited display of protest playing out on both sides of the country, more than 1,000 screenwriters -- representing "Lost," "The Young and the Restless," "Chinatown" and everything in between -- hoisted picket signs and chanted labor songs as a long-feared show business strike became a potentially crippling reality Monday.

    In their first full day away from their computer keyboards, the Writers Guild of America members scored several important victories. And those who are not on the picket lines -- primarily television's so-called show runners -- found themselves figuratively on the line, wrestling over whether to return to work.

    The makers of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "Late Show With David Letterman" said they were suspending production of new episodes. Steve Carell, the star of NBC's hit "The Office," refused to cross WGA picket lines, and Ellen DeGeneres, the host of the syndicated talk show "Ellen," decided against taping her show in a gesture of solidarity.

    CBS said production on its comedy "The New Adventures of Old Christine" was halted, and ABC said it was delaying the premiere of the series "Cashmere Mafia." At the risk of losing their jobs, some members of Teamsters Local 399 decided not to cross the picket lines, and that action might have shut down a small number of shows, union officers said.

    More ominous, perhaps, was the sudden suspension of special deals that studios extend to star writers. Fox and CBS began notifying some of their top talent that they would stop paying for staff and development, a tactic other studios were considering.

    Less than 12 hours after negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers collapsed in a West Hollywood hotel meeting room Sunday night, WGA members launched boisterous demonstrations against the major movie and TV studios in Los Angeles and New York, with several top performers visiting the front lines to lend support.

    The suddenly out-of-work Leno handed out doughnuts to writers picketing NBC's Burbank studio. "I don't know what we're going to do. I don't know how long it is going to last," Leno said as he distributed boxes of Krispy Kremes. "I've been working with these people for 20 years. Without them I'm not funny. I'm a dead man."

    The daylong rallies, scheduled to run until further notice, appeared designed to galvanize the union's resolve -- the last WGA strike in 1988 lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry an estimated $500 million -- and rally support for the WGA's bargaining position.

    "You want people to be aware of what's at stake," Carlton Cuse, a writer and executive producer on ABC's "Lost" and a member of the WGA's negotiating committee, said as he took up a picket sign in front of the gates of his employer, Walt Disney Co. "We are the primary creative artists in this medium."

    Regular viewers of late-night television will immediately notice the disappearance of their favorite shows, but television dramas and comedies, whose scripts are written well in advance, will continue to appear as programmed for weeks if not months to come. Movies, which often take two years to produce, will arrive in the multiplex as scheduled for at least the next year.

    Several issues divide the 10,000-member WGA and the producers, but the most contentious point is supplemental payments, or residuals, for TV series and movies shown on computers and new-media devices such as cellphones and video iPods. No contract talks are scheduled between the sides.

    "If you look at iTunes, 'Hannah Montana' and several other Disney shows are among the most avidly downloaded shows -- they are hugely successful on the Internet," Steven Peterman, an Emmy-winning "Murphy Brown" writer and "Hannah Montana" executive producer said as he picketed Disney. "And we make no money from that -- zero."

    Nick Counter, the president of the producers alliance, said he was disappointed that the WGA had gone on strike. "A strike is obviously painful for all involved. It costs the companies money and it costs the writers money."

    If screenwriters feel they receive scant appreciation from the networks and studios, the people uttering their lines in front of the cameras were openly supportive. In apparent violation of Screen Actors Guild rules saying actors are obligated to show up to work during a writers strike, Carell refused to cross picket lines to work on "The Office," according to an NBC source.

    In front of Paramount Pictures, "Dirty Sexy Money" actor William Baldwin served coffee and joined the picket lines. In New York, "Saturday Night Live" comedian Amy Poehler joined a large contingent of writers and actors from the show on the picket line in front of the Rockefeller Center offices of NBC, a subsidiary of General Electric Co.

    "All the writers are asking for is to be fairly compensated for all this new media," she said, noting that the strike may force the cancellation of this coming week's show with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Poehler, like many "SNL" cast members, contributes material for the program but is not listed as a writer. She said actors felt torn about the labor impasse. "I think a lot of actors are being made to make some really hard choices," she said.

    ReplyDelete
  96. WASHINGTON - President Bush enters a new phase of government-by-minority this month, issuing a veto certain to draw the first override of his presidency, and testing even his most loyal allies' limits on spending issues that will dominate the fall agenda.

    The strategy allows Bush to employ every ounce of his presidential powers, imposing his will so long as he is backed by one-third of either house in Congress — the minimum to sustain a presidential veto. But it could strain his relations with GOP lawmakers as he pushes his tax-and-spending dogma beyond points that even a third of the House or Senate can accept.

    Bush's growing use of the veto, combined with his continued embrace of executive orders and "signing statements," signal his willingness to defy large portions of Congress and the public to shape policies in his final year in office.

    In the kingdom of Bush, there are no allies, only mere subjects.

    ReplyDelete
  97. President Bush’s coddling of Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf suddenly risks being exposed as another case of White House anti-terror policies going spectacularly bad.

    The ultimate anti-terror backfire, of course, is the war in Iraq, which U.S. intelligence shows has helped al Qaeda much more than it’s hurt it.

    But now, with Musharraf declaring emergency rule over the weekend, the country that Bush considers a bulwark against terror may gain infamy as a crucible for terror instead.

    Michael Hirsh writes for Newsweek: “After six years of propping up and making excuses for Pervez Musharraf . . . Washington doesn’t have many friends left to call on in Pakistan — perhaps the No. 1 generator of anti-U.S. terrorism in the world today. That’s the dilemma that democracy crusader George W. Bush faces after Musharraf, one of his firmest allies, took the dictator’s path and declared martial law on Saturday. . . .

    “Some U.S. officials now fear that that this nuclear-armed nation is teetering on the verge of chaos, and the result could be every American’s worst nightmare: that nuclear material or knowhow, or God forbid, a bomb, falls into the hands of terrorists. ‘If you were to look around the world for where Al Qaeda is going to find its bomb, it’s right in their backyard,’ says Bruce Riedel, the former senior director for South Asia on the National Security Council.”

    Either Bush ordered his puppet to install Martial Law(like he plans on doing here) or the Bushter has bullied one too many times and now we face reprisal.

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  98. CHECK OUT THE "SPECIAL COMMENT" FROM KEITH OLBERMANN LAST NIGHT.

    THE BEST ONE YET!

    Blue Herald

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  99. Reuters) - Iraqi soldiers uncovered two mass graves containing at least 30 bodies of men and women in a former al Qaeda stronghold northwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi and U.S. military said on Tuesday.

    The graves were uncovered on Saturday during a joint operation by U.S. and Iraqi forces against al Qaeda in Iraq cells operating in the Lake Tharthar region, about 80 km (50 miles) northwest of the capital.

    An Iraqi army lieutenant-colonel, who asked not to be named, said several large holes dug by mechanical excavators and left uncovered had been found in a remote area about 25 km (15 miles) north of the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi.

    "We found in one of them 22 partially decomposed corpses," he said.

    I thought Bush claimed he is winning this war. Again!

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  100. The multiple articles on Pakistan all fail to mention that the Taliban is largely a PAKISTANI group, and always was. I wonder why that is?

    There's a pretty good chance that we'll soon see a nuked-up Taliban.

    Chimpy's sure kept us all safe, hasn't he?

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  101. Everyone seems to have forgotten Larry but I've been screaming about Pakistan for a over a year now and how Al Quaida could underwrite an Islamic uprising and overthrow Musharraf.

    I talked more about Bin Laden walking in from Kashmir and leading an army as he went, which of course is not exactly whats happening but its damn close.

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  102. BARTLEBEE said...
    Everyone seems to have forgotten Larry but I've been screaming about Pakistan for a over a year now and how Al Quaida could underwrite an Islamic uprising and overthrow Musharraf.

    I talked more about Bin Laden walking in from Kashmir and leading an army as he went, which of course is not exactly whats happening but its damn close."

    I always pictured Bin Laden and/or the Taliban stirring the pot and fomenting unrest from the shadows much as the Dulles Brothers and the CIA did to destabilize both Vietnam and Iran.

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  103. But I have and still do agree whole heartedly that Pakistan AND Afghanistan will be a BIG problem and THAT is where the war on Terrorism SHOULD HAVE BEEN FOUGHT!

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  104. Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday, the U.S. military said, making 2007 the deadliest year for U.S. forces in the country.

    The deaths, one of the highest daily tolls in weeks, took the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq this year to 853. The worst previous year was 2004, when 849 deaths were recorded.

    In total, 3,856 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    "We lost five soldiers yesterday in two unfortunate incidents, both involving IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)," U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith told reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday.

    The military said both attacks took place in Kirkuk province near the volatile oil-refining city of Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad. In the worst incident, four soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle.

    A sixth soldier was killed in western Anbar province, once one of the most dangerous places in Iraq for U.S. troops but now seen as a success story for U.S. President George W. Bush's new Iraq strategy since Sunni tribes there turned against al Qaeda.

    A sailor was also killed on Monday in an explosion during operations in Salahuddin province, the military said.

    U.S. forces in Iraq say a major build-up of troops since February has helped stem sectarian violence and reduced the number of insurgent attacks on coalition forces.

    Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, told a Pentagon briefing last week there had been a five-month decline in combat deaths.

    Odierno said insurgent attacks had been on a steady downward trend since June, with roadside bomb blasts in particular sharply down in the last four months.

    Independent Web site icasualties.org, which monitors U.S. troop deaths, said 38 U.S. soldiers were killed in October, the lowest death toll since March 2006.

    The deadliest month so far in 2007 was May, when 126 U.S. soldiers were killed, and the deadliest quarter was April to June, when 331 died.

    It's been a banner year of blood and death for George W Bush.

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  105. In the telephone survey of 1,024 adults Friday through Sunday:

    Meanwhile, Bush reached an unwelcome record. By 64%-31%, Americans disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.

    These figures see, far too low for the war criminal.

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  106. Authorities have reported a decline in violence in October. Nonetheless, 2007 has been the deadliest year overall for U.S. military forces in Iraq. Sixty percent favor withdrawing U.S. forces, a new high (by a scant 2 points from September), while just 9 percent favor increasing troop levels, matching the low set in December 2005. At the same time, relatively few, 17 percent, favor an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces, matching its average in polls since 2006.

    All told, 63 percent say the war was not worth fighting, almost exactly its average this year, and a majority, steadily since December 2004. Intensity against the war continues to run high, with 51 percent saying they feel "strongly" that it was not worth fighting, more than double its strong supporters.

    ISSUE  Discontent with the war has hammered the president's approval rating, his party's, and now the Democrats' in Congress, as well. As reported Sunday, 45 percent name it as the first or second most important issue in their vote for president next year, well ahead of the economy and health care, next at 29 and 27 percent, respectively.

    It works to the Democrats' advantage; they hold a 16-point lead over the Republicans, 50 percent to 34 percent, in trust to handle the situation in Iraq, the largest Democratic advantage on the war since it began. That's despite a sharp drop in congressional Democrats' overall approval rating, from 54 percent in April to 36 percent now.

    Views on Iraq directly inform preferences on the country's direction after the Bush presidency. Among people who think the war was worth fighting, 49 percent say the next president should follow the same direction as Bush; but among the more than six in 10 who are war opponents, 91 percent want the next president to take new direction.

    GROUPS  Partisanship fuels views on the war, with Democrats overwhelmingly holding negative views, Republicans more positive ones. Most political independents are critical of the war, though they fall precisely between Democrats and Republicans on the question of decreasing the deployment of U.S. forces. (Fifty-eight percent of independents favor cutting the deployment, compared with 82 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Republicans.)

    Core Democratic constituencies  single women, blacks and liberals  are among the most anti-war. Ninety-one percent of liberal Democrats, 85 percent of blacks, and 76 percent of single women say the war was not worth fighting; similarly high levels in each group don't see progress restoring order.

    Core Republican groups are much more apt to support the war  but in smaller numbers than their opposites oppose it. Seventy-three percent of conservative Republicans see progress restoring order in Iraq, as do 51 percent of evangelical white Protestants.

    Americans are sick of war: Sick of Bush!

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  107. The Ministry of Interior said at least 28 people were killed, one of the deadliest attacks of the year. But Fayez said more bodies may have been collected from the site by families and not counted in the official toll. Earlier, a government official said 64 people had died.

    At least 42 of the 81 wounded were schoolchildren, Fayez said. It was unknown how many children were among the dead.

    Shukria Barakzai, a lawmaker, said 18 of the 249 members of Afghanistan's lower house of parliament had traveled to Baghlan, and that 13 were dead or "in danger."

    President Hamid Karzai confirmed the deaths of five lawmakers. Police officers and officials from the Department of Agriculture were also among the dead.

    "This heinous act of terrorism is against Islam and humanity and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms," Karzai said in a statement. "It is the work of the enemies of peace and security in Afghanistan."

    Didn't Bush claim he had already won this war?

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  108. A wave of foreclosures and evictions is about to sweep the United States in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage lending crisis. This could destabilise the US housing market and may also lead to further turmoil in financial institutions, who collectively own $1 trillion (£480.6bn) worth of sub-prime debt.

    Cleveland, Ohio, is an industrial city on the banks of Lake Erie in the US “rust belt”.

    It is the sub-prime capital of the United States. One in ten homes in the city is now vacant, and whole neighbourhoods have been blighted by foreclosed, vandalized and boarded-up homes.

    Families all over the country continue to lose homes in record numbers, stripping families of their wealth and destroying entire neighbourhoods

    Many of these homes are now owned by the banks and investment pools owning the mortgages, and the company making the most foreclosures in Cleveland is Deutsche Bank Trust, which acts on behalf of such investment pools.

    Cleveland is facing a rising crime wave, and the cost of demolishing the vacant houses alone will cost the city $100m of its tax base.

    According to Jim Rokakis, the County Treasurer for Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, “Wall Street strategies that made the cycle of no-money-down, no-questions-asked lending possible have sucked the life out of my city”.

    Sub-prime crisis growing

    Sub-prime lending is spreading across the United States, especially in the booming housing markets of Southern California, Florida, Washington, DC, and New York City.

    One in five US mortgages now falls in this category. As the credit crunch continues to bite “families all over the country continue to lose homes in record numbers, stripping families of their wealth and destroying entire neighbourhoods,” says Michael Calhoun of the Center for Responsible Lending, which tracks these issues. Sub-prime mortgages carry a much higher risk of default by the borrower than other kinds of mortgage lending.

    That is because most of them are “balloon” mortgages (technically known as hybrid-adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs), which offer the borrower a fixed-rate loan for two or three years, and then switch to a much higher adjustable rate after that.

    Everyone is going to feel this credit crunch to some extent
    Turned Worm

    Many of them are set to switch in the next two years, leaving borrowers unable to afford the higher payments.

    There have already been 1.7 million foreclosure proceedings in the US in the first eight months of 2007, and up to 2 million families are expected to lose their homes over the next two years, according to estimates by the US Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.

    The Worst Is Yet To Come From The Bush Economy!

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  109. As we’re told over and over how the surge is working and Iraqi and U.S. deaths are down, which is great, let’s look at some facts. 2007 has been the deadliest year for our troops. 11 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq already this month, with 5 of the deaths occuring yesterday. 34 journalists have been killed in Iraq this year. Nearly 2.3 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes and are trapped in Iraq. And is the reason for the drop in deaths because of the massive ethnic cleansing that has occured?

    And Bush says things are going beautifully.

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  110. In Robert Stone's majestic, Conradian novel about Americans screwing around with Central America in 1980, A Flag for Sunrise, there is an hallucinatory riff about dread. It popped into my head this morning, after a bad nights' sleep. In the passage, the protagonist, an American anthropologist finds himself over his head, way south of the border. He goes diving some 120 feet off a coral reef, and down there, in the dark, he becomes preternaturally frightened, struck by an unnamed dread, and feels himself to be close to an abyss, and closer still to something terrible. A "Shadow within a shadow, a silence within a silence." In Stone's utterly black inoculation, the solitary diver ponders what it was; shark, bottomless bottom, the end of all light, desolation.

    Today, I feel that we writers are on the edge of just such an abyss; a sudden drop-off that can not be seen but can sure be felt. I have only my gut and my instincts to guide me, and I pray I am wrong. However, if indeed, 'character is fate', then the actions of the studios' negotiators are very telling. They want more than just this strike. They want to break the guild. To entirely dictate the terms of remuneration to artists in all the emerging electronic and new media markets.

    If that is the case, the fight and the strike is going to be long and bloody, and at the end, the CEOs of the big media companies will be left with no way to justify their hallucinatory pay-packages. Or will they? Yes. Because the write-offs in deals they can trash, in a lackluster TV season will probably more than make up for the losses from the strike. The lawyers will pick up the pieces, and maybe the collateral damage for them will be some jobless creative executives, sacrificed by over-paid bosses, whose hubris has gored an entire industry.

    The studios want the strike. They are clear-eyed and mercenary about it. The hard-core realpolitik equation in the boardrooms has got to be that the numbers will work out. So what if the industry is shut down for four or six or nine weeks. Or more.

    And the guild members who are striking -- we have got to insist and pray that our leaders negotiate responsibly, wisely, and bravely. And insist that they do so without blinking, now that the trigger has been pulled. And insist on cunning and resourcefulness and stamina. (Not having been in the room, I cannot account for the DVD fracas of this weekend, which seems, on the face of it, to have possibly left the writers slightly less well armed for the siege I am worried we're headed into).

    The studios probably have already noted the less than sympathetic reactions from the viewers. In fact, you would not be wrong to guess that the studio folk are enjoying the spectacle of watching the writers dance around to sell the idea of unfair wages to an unimpressed populace. An unimpressed populace who are only too happy, at this point, to say "who cares" to the writers responsible for the nightly, woozy miasma of lame jokes and mewling, sentimental crap that makes up a percentage of prime-time. (By this logic, the studios are simply blameless lending libraries that innocently stock porn on the shelves of the kiddie section.)

    This fight with giant corporatism is the canary-in-the-coal mine of how labor deal with big business in this country. And with each day that passes, the actors and the directors and all other interested parties are getting closer to their own show-down over the same issues with the same negotiators for the same studios and networks. Careers are about to suffer. For those of us who are not rich -- the majority of guild members, that is -- the strains will be cruel and maybe even tragic, if the thing goes on and on and on. The ripples will get bigger, and other boats will get swamped. Crews and their families. The economy that depends on the industry. And frankly, it in this hubris-laden equation that the cold-eyed calculations of the studio heads begins to corrode.

    And it begins to backfire. A smart strategy can turn into a bitter mistake very quickly. As the generals will remind you, once a war starts, the only thing you can count on is being surprised by what happens next. Wars get expensive and when people lose their livelihoods, you lose their hearts and minds. An industry is shut down not by the writers (the workers), but by the men who own it and run it. Why? Because it is in their interest to clear the slate of bad and costly bets.

    That decision results in people who have nothing to do with the movies and TV, other than the fact that they live in LA, to lose what they have worked a lifetime for. People who are already trying to keep ahead of a faltering economy and sub-prime lenders (more corporate greed and hubris at work). Because the studios' negotiator would not discuss a deal over paying for downloads and on-line viewings with the people who created their product.

    As the days pass, the indifference on the part of the public starts to shift. The attitudes about the fat-cat rich writers starts to shift. Because the message gets through. No matter how much the Reagan revolution transformed Americans into accepting the notion that "greed is good", and that unions can be broken without consequences, there will come a point at which the worm will turn. This thing will end. The writers will be weakened, but standing. They will be more unified than ever. They will get a piece of the pie they are asking for. Some piece. Something.

    And somewhere, some CEO of one of these huge companies will start to wonder if it was all worth it. All the destruction. The rancor. The mistrust. The ill-will that will develop. The lost viewers, the lost audience. All of it. The ruined relationships with the people who create the product they need. Is it worth it? Was it worth it? Did we put our best man, and our best strategy in play?

    May that epiphany happen sooner rather than later. It is my sense that in this stand-off the writers are not going to budge. Too much is at stake. The writers will not budge. How can you when you are being offered nothing, not even words? Even as we head towards a shadow within a shadow and silence within a silence, circled by sharks. The writers will prevail.

    The Writers know no fear from Corporate America.

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  111. The Hollywood writers strike may prompt television advertisers to cancel purchases or demand additional spots to compensate for declining ratings, Standard & Poor's said in a report.

    A prolonged strike is likely to damage ratings as networks substitute reruns and reality programs for popular shows, driving down the value of commercial time, S&P credit analyst Heather Goodchild in New York wrote yesterday.

    The strike, the first in almost two decades, forced CBS to air repeats of ``Late Night With David Letterman,'' and NBC's ``The Tonight Show With Jay Leno'' did the same. Prime-time dramas and comedies will be affected if the strike that began yesterday continues past the holidays, when networks start to run out of scripts, Goodchild said.

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  112. The reportedly extravagant lifestyles of six television evangelists are raising some eyebrows at the Senate Finance Committee, which wants to know if the popular preachers are paying their fair share in taxes.

    Sen. Charles Grassley, the committee's ranking Republican, has written letters to the evangelists, asking that they "disclose their assets, spending practices, compensation plans and business arrangements," according the Wall Street Journal's Suzanne Sataline. "The letters aren't formal subpoenas, and the six aren't required to reply."

    Although religious organizations themselves are not required to pay federal taxes, any for-profit ventures a church may engage in are not similarly exempt.

    "Mr. Grassley said his investigation was prompted by complaints from watchdog groups and others that the ministers live in multimillion-dollar homes, travel on private jets and engage in profit-making ventures from their ministries," reports the Journal, adding that the senator said he would withhold judgment until he got "the story from the ministries."

    Evangelists receiving letters from Grassley were Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Paula White. Spokespersons for Dollar, Hinn and Meyer all denied any wrongdoing in statements to CBS News.

    CBS also reports that Sen. Grassley's letters were prompted in part by Ole Anthony, an investigator with the Trinity Foundation, a religious watchdog group that probes potential fraud among religious groups.

    "We've been working with them for two years," Anthony told CBS. "We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen."

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the ministers under scrutiny are all "prosperity theology adherents who preach that wealth is a sign of God's favor."

    "Ministers who espouse prosperity theology promote themselves as conduits for God's blessings, saying that believers will reap benefits as long as they give generously to the ministries," continued the Journal."Most evangelical ministers urge believers to donate, but don't link donations to earthly wealth."

    They must not be part of the government protected "Religious Right."

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  113. Writer’s Strike Is About Much More Than How TV Viewers Will be Affected - 11/06/07
    What does it take to get a labor strike covered across the field of mainstream media? A Hollywood strike. Jesse Russell reports:

    Production of television shows from New York City to LA is slowly shutting down, but why are the writers on the picket lines?

    Michael Winship is President of the Writers Guild of America East and he is walking the picket lines with members outside of studios in New York. He says the big issue is new media – the writers want to see residuals when their shows appear on emerging technology like the Internet or cell phones.

    [Winship]: "Our primary focus is internet and new media. We want to get a fair deal on that. We aren’t getting any deal at the moment and we need to get a part of that action."

    Kit Boss, who has written for shows like “King of the Hill” and is a producer and writer for “Carpoolers” utilized YouTube to explain why he is standing by the decision to strike:

    [Boss]: "The residuals I was getting from “King of the Hill” in a given year made the difference to me between keeping my house and being able to keep writing, even if only writing on spec. So I could not turn my back on the union."

    Patti Carr is a writer on the FOX show "‘til Death::

    [Carr]: "No one else is going to do this. This is my career, this is my contract, I’ve been in the guild for 12 years. If I want to be in it for another 12, this is when I’m going to define what those 12 years are going to be."

    This strike is much larger than just the writers.

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  114. (AP) - Production of the hit show "Desperate Housewives" and at least six sitcoms filmed before live audiences will be halted as a result of the writers strike - developments that raised the stakes Tuesday in the walkout targeting movie studios and TV networks.

    Producer Alexandra Cunningham said "Desperate Housewives" will stop production on Wednesday after running out of scripts. Shows that have already been completed won't last until Christmas, she said.

    "It's unfortunate. We want to get back to work," Cunningham said.

    Sitcoms that will stop the cameras include "Back to You," starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, which will not return from a planned hiatus, said Chris Alexander, a spokesman for 20th Century Fox Television.


    (AP) Picketers temporarily block cars from leaving a parking garage outside Twentieth Century-Fox...
    Full Image


    Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus said production also stopped on her CBS show, "The New Adventures of Old Christine."

    In addition, "Til Death," which airs on Fox, and "Rules of Engagement,""Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," all on CBS, will also end filming, according to people familiar with production of the shows who were not authorized to be quoted and requested anonymity.

    Network officials referred calls to the individual companies producing each show.

    It was not immediately clear how many of the programs might already be finished.

    The sitcoms are typically written the same week they are filmed, with jokes being sharpened by writers even on the day of production.


    (AP) A driver waves in support of pickets marching outside a parking garage at Twentieth Century-Fox...
    Full Image


    The disclosures came during the second day of the strike by the Writers Guild of America against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Pickets returned to studios in Los Angeles and New York.

    In Toluca Lake, near Warner Bros. studio, writers converged on a house serving as a location shoot for "Desperate Housewives."

    "We write the story-a, Eva Longoria," about 30 strikers chanted, referring to a star of the hit ABC show.

    "It is a very serious business," said Larry Wilmore, a writer on "The Daily Show," explaining that protesters were marching "so we can get back to being funny."

    (AP) Striking writers walk under the gates of The Walt Disney Co. studios building in Burbank, Calif.

    Marc Cherry, executive producer and creator of the show, said the writers had his blessing to picket as long as they were respectful to the actors.

    Actress Louis-Dreyfus joined the protesters.

    "I'm really here because I'm a union member," she said, explaining she belongs to the Screen Actors Guild and her husband is a member of the writers guild.

    "If we prevent them from working today, that's a small victory," she said.

    Longoria left the house and handed out pizza to strikers.

    "We are done, and we'll be on the lines supporting you," she told them.

    "I have a whole crew that will have a terrible holiday season because there's no resolution," she said. "I care about people losing their homes, I care about my hair and makeup artists who can't make ends meet."

    In New York, strikers picketed outside Silver Cup Studios in Queens, the site of shooting for "30 Rock" and "Gossip Girl."

    The strike began Monday after last-minute negotiations failed to produce a deal on how much writers are paid when shows are offered on the Internet.

    No new negotiations were scheduled.

    Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the producers union, has said he expected a long standoff. Writers said the next move was up to the studios.

    The walkout immediately sent late-night comedy shows into reruns.

    It was not expected to have an immediate impact on production of movies or most prime-time TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and many TV shows have scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.

    While scripted shows suffer from the strike, reality shows could flourish because they don't use union writers, despite an aggressive attempt by the writers guild to organize the staffers on the programs.

    Viewers could also check out more entertainment on the Internet, ranging from user-generated fare on YouTube to professionally produced shows such as "Quarterlife."

    Writers have not gone on strike since 1988, when the walkout lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.

    If the corporations can profit from these many new venues, why shouldn't the writers!

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  115. Things don't look too good for the party of criminally organized corruption here in Kentucky, as the voters of the state gave the corrupt lapdog to Mitch McConnell the boot today evicting him 59% to 41%, hopefully the people of Kentucky will hand ole' Mitch the same walking papers next year.

    Welcome Steve Beshear as the next governor of Kentucky and good bye to I'll take the fifth and pardon 29 members of my staff, even before the trials start Ernie, maybe Sesame Street will take you back. (maybe Bert can show you how to actually tell the truth, and be honest. Mitch and Georgie haven't done so good in that respect at all, either in their own spin, or what they taught you to do, have they Ernie?).

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  116. Maybe big Bird can teach Ernie what the words of the oath he took four years ago really mean, Ernie is gonna have a lotta free time on his hands real soon.

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  117. Kucinich and his CHENEY IMPEACHMENT RESOLUTION: does anyone know why the Republicans switched their votes to let this go to the floor/

    Is it DIVINE INTERVENTION? Finally some hope. Maybe the Republicans also realize Cheney is a noose around their necks and must be removed from office.

    What is really happening? And why is Pelosi so against impeachment?

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  118. Lydia the brain dead reichwing thinks they could get some sympathy for dead eye cause Dennis Kucinich was picking on him for all the crimes he has committed.

    That is how clueless they really, really are.

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  119. The gutless do-nothing-crats, who lead the democratic caucus in the house are just that, GUTLESS, to make a stand for the country or constitution.

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  120. On Nov. 6, 1860, former Illinois congressman Abraham Lincoln defeated three other candidates for the U.S. presidency.

    Oh how far the republican party has fallen, Lincoln would be ASHAMED the GOP today.

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  121. Lydia&larry and others:
    thank you and the others here for explaining more about the writers strike. I really wish the MSM would explain it better, because writers really are the Backbone...the lifeblood of what we watch everyday...and sadly I don't think people appreicate that enough...and also that they are not financially set up to absorb a longterm strike...I was moved to see that John Stewart was trying to take care of his writers...I hope others are too..so sad...that the Scribes that feed our souls and speak such truth have to strike to show us their worth....

    I thank you for your wonderful post...and I look forward to your interview with Valerie Plame...she has been doing such wonderful interviews...

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  122. The dollar hit another new all time low today against the euro. The euro rose as high as $1.4571 against the dollar, according to Reuters data, its highest level since its 1999 launch. It was last trading at $1.4556, up 0.7 percent on the day.

    Gisele Bündchen, the 27-year-old Brazilian supermodel, has demanded to be paid in euros.

    Oil prices have risen to a record high above $97 a barrel, amid concerns over tight fuel stocks and a weak US dollar. US crude oil rose $3 to a high of $97.10 before closing at $96.70, while the price of London Brent crude climbed to a record level of $93.26 a barrel. We’re paying 3.10 a gallon for regular in South Florida. Not pretty.

    Federal Reserve Board Governor Randall Kroszner said today the subprime mortgage meltdown is going to get worse. Alan Greenspan stated today “The critical issue on the whole sub-prime, and by extension the whole financial system, rests very narrowly on getting rid of 200,000 to 300,000 excess units in the United States.” What…..do we start burning them down or what? George Soros warns that the US is on the brink of a slowdown far more serious than the Federal Reserve is expecting.

    And the Bush economy continues to crumble.

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  123. CBS/AP) Oil prices soared nearly $2 a barrel Tuesday on expectations of further declines in U.S. crude oil stocks, fueling concerns that supplies may be inadequate heading into winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Light, sweet crude for December delivery rose $1.77 to $95.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Europe.

    December Brent crude added $1.80 to $92.29 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

    Market participants expect the U.S. Energy Department to report Wednesday that oil inventories fell last week, in part because of a suspension of output at Mexico's state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, a major crude exporter to the United States.

    Rising oil inventories and rising oil prices: The Bush economy continues to crumble!

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  124. By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

    I’ve been privileged, if that’s the right word, to live through the tenures of two of the worst presidents in American history: Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign after his felonious crimes were revealed against the Constitution and the American people, and G.W. Bush, who likely will leave to a rousing citizen chorus of “here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

    In both cases, covering up their lies and crimes associated with reckless wars (Vietnam then, Iraq now) led Nixon and Bush further down the road to authoritarian misrule. Nixon claimed that the Chief Executive cannot violate the law because when a president acts, ipso facto what he’s doing cannot be illegal. Bush claims that whenever he says he’s acting in the national-security interests of the American people, he can violate whatever law or Constitutional protection he so desires. Furthermore, Bush asserts, the Judicial Branch should not restrain him and the Legislative Branch has no jurisdiction either. The courts, which he’s packed with his ideological cronies, tend to uphold his “Commander-in-Chief” ukases, and the Democratic majority in the Congress tends to roll over and whimper whenever he (or The Cheney) raises his voice.

    Now, of course, Vietnam and Iraq are not exact copies of each other, but there are disquieting similarities worth re-examining. In both cases, the military and diplomatic experts warned the president that the war against nationalist guerrillas could not be “won,” that the best-case scenario would be endless stalemate — the Q-word (one that rhymes with magmire) comes into play here. In both cases, few in the government understood the deep cultural complexity of the countries they were invading and occupying. In both cases, the local governments, which the Americans helped install, were corrupt, ineffective and lacking in moral authority among their peoples. In both cases, there was collusion on a grand scale between the U.S. government and greedy corporations in the occupied country.

    What got me thinking once again about the parallels between ‘Nam/Iraq and Nixon/Bush was engendered by my having been laid low by the ‘flu bug last week. After getting fed up watching crappy TV and surfing the internet, I spent a few hours cleaning up my office, and in the course of this rare activity, discovered some old letters of mine to friends and fellow activists during “The Sixties.” Those reflections of the time are depressing in a certain way since they indicate how far we’ve backtracked from the socio-political gains of that idealistic, convulsive era, but they also provide more hope and justification for our current activism. So, here goes:

    TIDAL WAVES = CHANGE & FEAR

    In a March 1972 letter to a radical colleague, I talked first about how to speed the end of the Vietnam War, and then moved to broader issues:

    “You ask, in effect, whether our tiny tokens of political activity can be cashed in — or, in other words, what the hell are we really doing, and is it worth it? I don’t know. It seems as if in the mid- and late-’60s that we (”we!!!”) created a tidal wave of new consciousness that socked the solar plexus of Middle America into a state of change but also fear. After a while, the huge waves receded and we found the traditional breakwaters (plus that fear) had done their job well, since the foundations of the structures were only weakened, not destroyed. Now we must pick up from where we left off; some of us will gnaw away at the rotten wood, others will meet with carpenters to design some of the new projects when the old structures fall away, others will talk to those with boats for the flood, others will spread the new gospel (the good news), others will rap with middle-class residents in a desire to alleviate their anxieties and show them how they will participate in the new order, and so on.

    “In other words, we do what we can, while there are relatively quiet eddies in the whirlpool, to rebuild our strength, get our own heads together after the delicious ecstasy of riding the lip of the wave of the future. Our separate efforts, no doubt, seem small — and they are small — but combined perhaps they can create enough sucking power and momentum to generate the next wave of consciousness.

    “Our victories must be appreciated in small doses, and we must learn not to allow our frustrations to drag us down into the pits of despondency and inertia. We hack away with our home-made chisels, and someday perhaps our sculpture will begin to emerge more clearly. It would be easier, perhaps, to simply blow it all up and try to pick up the pieces after it’s over — but what would have changed, really? Certainly not ‘us’.”

    THE APPRECIATION OF SMALL VICTORIES

    One could offer much the same advice today. We may not be able to push all our ideas to fruition each time, or in the ways that are so necessary for significant social advances. This being so, we have to celebrate our rare victories and appreciate our incremental advances, knowing that getting to the “tipping point” will require constant progressive effort and will include innumerable disappointments and failures.

    While we are working like crazy to change the Democratic Party from within, defeat bad Dems, get more good candidates to run, start the ball rolling about a possible third party, agitate for impeachment and a quick end to the war, etc. — while we’re doing all that necessary work, we need to keep in mind what William Rivers Pitt wrote recently about his frustrations with, and ultimate acceptance of, the Democratic Party:

    “The Dems will do what the current system requires, and that won’t change anytime soon, and it no longer staggers me. The bear’s gonna shit in the woods, it says so right here in the guide, so … I don’t care all that much about who the Dems nominate next year, because all of them are beholden to the same system…

    “My job is to get these rubes elected, again and again and again, and to be patient. Every time we increase our majority, we will increase our ability to pass good laws and appoint good judges, which will slowly bring the country back from the far-right mentality that has dominated for years, which will make it possible and then probable to elect better Dems, and better Dems again. It’ll take 10-15 years just to get the national head out of the national ass, which is precisely where the GOP has been shoving it since ’81, but that’s cool, because I’m patient. Like a stone.

    “I don’t matter. The idea that is, was and can again be America is all that matters. I’m not supposed to be happy, or pleased, or self-satisfied, or anything other than quietly and patiently horrified. My job is to cope, to work each day on this, and to play for the long term, ten elections minimum, and maybe there’ll be a bit of progress…

    “It won’t change tomorrow, or after the next election. No candidate of this moment will change it in any measurable sense. But it can be done. It must be done. We are Americans, children of a crazy dream, always striving to make that more perfect union, so that we will be a little more free tomorrow than we were yesterday.”

    THE POWER OF MARSHMALLOWS

    From a 1968 letter to a dear friend about to go on trial for his Draft Resistance work:

    “Would it sound patronizing, Bob, if I said I’m proud of you and what you’ve been doing these past few years? You’ve got more guts than I, that’s obvious; I hope your payoff is worth it all. I think it probably is.

    “I’ve always used the image of a marshmallow to characterize American society: it is so flabbily strong, it can take any punch thrown at it, usually absorbing the puncher in the process. What it can’t absorb, it disciplines, harshly or softly, depending upon the mood of the time. In my more pessimistic moments, I believe the U.S. mottleclass society can absorb anything the left can present; Chicago is a good demonstration of that. It absorbed the Gene McCarthy thrust, then disciplined the radicals — and, of course, the great American public supports the cops, who are now a political power all their own to be reckoned with…

    “So you see, despite all our agitations and hard slogging labors, the ‘objective conditions’ are not present for a massive social revolution, and will not be present in the foreseeable future. The underlying structure is simply too strong, too well-entrenched for anything other than occasional reform.

    “In my more optimistic moments, I see the crumbling pillars of the superstructure about ready for the historical shove, and the merging of the youth/hip/black/student movements — if they ever could do it — would serve as that shove, as they are attempting to do (and sometimes even manage to do) from Belgrade to Bratislava to Berkeley to Beijing. Oversimplified, I admit, but enough of ’something happening,’ of generational gaps, to justify the analogy.

    “I feel torn — intellectually and tactically schizoid — when listening to the current movement debates. Is this the year? Is now the time? Perhaps I’ve answered that for myself: I’m going down to Seattle next Tuesday to join in the founding convention of the New Party in Washington State.”

    THOSE PESKY “OBJECTIVE CONDITIONS”

    If the “revolution” couldn’t come in The Sixties when tectonic social plates seemed to be shifting every day, then it probably wasn’t coming at all. (By “the revolution,” I think we activists meant a “revolution” in consciousness throughout the land that would lead to imminent major changes and shifts in everything from politics to foreign policy to economics to education to child-rearing, etc. etc.) “We want the world, and we want it NOW,” to quote Jim Morrison, but, alas, it wasn’t going to be that easy.

    The giant American “marshmallow” absorbed that social dynamic, deflected it, attacked it, altered it, and the “New Left/hippie” alliance began splitting apart (with a little help from J. Edgar Hoover & Friends) as factions and ideological sects emerged to battle for the future direction of “the movement.”

    It turned out that the “objective conditions” were really not there in “The Sixties” (roughly mid-’60s to the mid-’70s) for the kind of changes we desired. And that could be said, in spades, for our current situation in 2007, though we must continue to do everything we can to help create those “objective conditions.”

    True, anger and resentment and frustration are building and gaining momentum in the body politic, enough so that there is at least talk about the formation of progressive alternatives to the calcifying Democratic Party leadership. But it’s all amorphous, scattered energy, with few if any leaders or factions emerging to help guide its birthpangs. At least not yet.

    AMALGAMS & ALLIANCES

    I suspect that it may be too late to do anything significant along these lines for the 2008 election, though certainly it’s imperative that we keep fighting for those changes now. This at the same time we’re loosening the soil and planting seeds that will grow and send out deep roots, and hopefully yield a bountiful harvest of grassroots alliances somewhere down the line, perhaps even as early as the midterm election of 2010 and the presidential campaign of 2012.

    Perhaps there will be an amalgam, a fast-building “Movement,” of Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, Democracy for America, the Greens, disaffected mainstream Republican conservatives, et al., led by such dynamic activists and thinkers as David Swanson and Medea Benjamin and Robert Kennedy Jr. and John W. Dean and Paul Craig Roberts and Paul Krugman and Jesse Jackson and Mark Crispin Miller and Arianna Huffington and Bill Moyers and Rev. Lennox Yearwood and Cindy Sheehan and Dahr Jamail and Bruce Fein and Ehren Watada and others you can think of as well.

    Or, more likely, new, often-younger leaders will emerge from the growing grassroots to provide the energy, innovations and solid ideas to take us further along this path to peace and justice in our time.

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  125. In essays over the past two weeks, I’ve speculated about the reasons for the dangerous timidity of our Democratic Party leaders, and came up with quite a number of possibilities. But, as many letter-writers reminded me, I might have left out the main one:

    It’s not that Dem leaders are conned or frightened by the Republicans, they say. No, the Dems act they way they do because they actually believe much of what the Republicans believe, and/or are beholden to the same corporate lobbie$ and media giant$ that get them elected and re-elected.

    The essence of the argument is this: There is actually only one party in America — with a Republican head and a Democratic head — controlled by the political/economic elite that really runs things. (Sometimes this elite is termed “the oligarchy,” or “the plutocrats,” or, simply, “the Establishment.”)

    No wonder there is such frustration and anger in the Democratic and Republican bases: The national elections, to many, are meaningless. It doesn’t matter which party is in the White House or which controls Congress, this argument goes, since the outcomes will be more or less the same, arranged by the same power forces that control the political and economic realities.

    Given this belief, it’s no wonder so many citizens don’t vote or are so cynical about their elected officials and the possibility of real change. America needs a seismic political shakeup, but how can major change occur when the system is rigged in support of the ongoing status quo?

    So let’s take some time to explore these arguments and see where they lead us. No doubt, we will return to this issue as we get closer to the presidential election of November 2008 — especially if citizens have to decide whether the “lesser of two evils” yet again should get their vote — but let’s at least plant some seeds of thought now and see what grows.


    TAKING THE LONNNNGGGG VIEW

    If one were to take a really long-range view of American politics, one could ascribe a certain truth to the argument above. America for centuries has been dominated by parties that hover around the center, the parameters of which are set by the “powers that be” in American life.

    Sometimes that center is more left-oriented (during FDR’s administration in the ’30s and ’40s, for example, or in the years following Nixon’s disgraceful, lawless presidency); sometimes it’s more right-oriented (during the term, say, of Reagan). Rarely have we seen such a lying, rampaging, corrupt, take-no-prisoners element in charge, as we have today with the CheneyBush extremists.

    But Americans in general, and American corporations in particular, desire stability and predictability. And for that reason, the action invariably returns to the (shifting) center, even if there was a temporary visitation to the outskirts of the party in charge.

    Since it costs so much money to finance a viable run for state, Congressional and national office, it follows that most candidates have to get the required cash from somewhere other than their own bank accounts. Who has that kind of money or can raise it fast? The usual suspects: the wealthy, the organized interest groups, the corporations, the lobbyists, et al. Which translates to: Candidates, beholden to these supporters, tend to stay within the ideological/political parameters set by their major donors.

    In addition, elected officials and the major candidates generally come from the same wealthy economic/ideological class as their large donors.

    LEASHED (OR LEASED) CANDIDATES

    The long and short of this situation is that American voters tend to have a severely limited pallet of candidates with which to paint their votes. These candidates more or less agree with one another but hype relatively insignificant differences in order to make the choices seem more dramatic and meaningful than they really are.

    When a rare candidate comes along who catches fire with the public but doesn’t necessarily want to draw within the lines prescribed by the elite who control things — some even going so far as to cut themselves off from the traditional financial-support teats (such as Paul Wellstone, Dennis Kucinich) — he or she is marginalized, rendered ineffective, and effectively is “disappeared” from the political scene.

    As Howard Dean’s ‘04 campaign was the first to demonstrate, the rise of the internet as a fundraising mechanism, going directly to individuals for small-donation support, has started to alter the math (and thus politics) of this equation. But, unfortunately, for most major campaigns large donors are still required, given the humongous cost of running for national office.

    The obvious solution, of course, would be government-mandated, public-financed campaigns where the legalized influence-peddling known as campaign contributions would be rendered unimportant. But, in addition to running headlong into the First Amendment by restricting the “private speech” represented by political donations, public financing (surprise!) does not seem to attract a great many elected officials.

    Dems and Reps alike benefit from the status quo, both from their incumbency, which attracts large donors, and from their proximity to the powerful forces behind the curtain of electoral politics. (Many of the most popular candidates also obtain a side-benefit: They often rake in more money than they can reasonably spend on their campaigns, which means they now have funds to dole out to their favorite officials and candidates — in other words, an effective means of building a controllable power-base.)

    THE POWER OF A THIN DIME

    There’s the “long” view, as described above. But most of us live in the here-and-now, where government policies have major repercussions in our lives. Which leads us to the ten-cents thesis.

    We’ve often heard the complaint that “There isn’t but a dime’s worth of difference” between the two major parties. I don’t argue that the complaint is unjustified, but that in the politics of capturing-the-center, and in the real world in which most of us live, a dime can make a mighty big difference.

    This “dime’s worth of difference” argument achieved much currency during Ralph Nader’s Green Party run for the presidency in 2000. One could at least understand the naive rationale behind that argument seven years ago. But, as the CheneyBush Administration has demonstrated, that dime, in the here-and-now, can buy an awful lot of misery and chaos and repression and death.

    That “inconsequential” dime meant a war of choice, one based on outright lies and clever deceptions, that has led to the deaths and maimings of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians, with no end in sight, and a war on Iran just around the corner, one most leading Democrats are choosing to ignore. (By the way, Bush has quietly lowered the bar to justify an attack on Iran; the former probable casus belli, — coming close to having a nuclear weapon — has now been replaced by having “knowledge” of how to build a bomb. Anyone can obtain that “knowledge” on the internet or by reading scientific papers. Short version: the U.S. will attack.)

    That “inconsequential” dime meant the shifting of the ideological makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court and the lower appelate courts for the next several decades, thanks to Bush’s ability to nominate young HardRight jurists (and the Democrats’ shameful decision not to go to the mat to defeat those appointments).

    That “inconsequential” dime meant the twisting and shredding of the Constitution, thus robbing American citizens of the protection of their liberties as mandated by the Bill of Rights; in so doing, we’ve come close to unrestricted dictatorial rule in the United States. We no longer even enjoy the protections of the 800-year-old legal tradition of habeas corpus, where a court has to rule whether an arrest is justified. Under Bush, we’ve crossed the border into an incipient police state.

    That “inconsequential” dime meant that reality and science were denigrated in favor of decisions based on religious faith or pure, partisan politics, often a combination of the two. Most obvious consequence of such thinking: We’ve lost seven years of potential government leadership on the global-warming issue, with devastating consequences. (Most recent demonstration: the Bush Administration censored more than half the testimony to Congress by Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the public-health consequences of increased global warming.)

    FACED WITH A DECISION IN ‘08?

    Well, I could go on and on listing how a thin dime was too high a price to pay for those interested in good government, rational government, reason-based diplomacy rather than idelogically-based wars of choice, protection of our natural environment, etc. etc. Despite what you might think of them as leaders, it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking that our country would be in our current catastrophic mess if Gore or Kerry were President.

    As I say, we all may be revisiting the “dime’s worth of difference” argument as we approach Election 2008 and have to decide whether there is enough of a difference between the parties to warrant holding one’s nose and voting for the “lesser of two evils” yet again, or whether it’s time to say “a pox on both your parties” and sit out the election in hope that a newer, better model for leadership will emerge to save our beloved Republic.

    And, let’s face it: If a viable third-party movement was in the cards for ‘08, we would have seen at least its outlines by now, and “name” candidates (Gore? Hagel? Hightower?) would be vying to lead it. No, I’m afraid that it’s probably too late to create an electable populist movement that might lure disenchanted anti-war liberals, progressives, and angry, centrist Republicans appalled by the ideological hijacking of their party by HardRight elements.

    In any case, as history has demonstrated, it’s always easier (not easy, but easier) to take over an existing party rather than try to build a new one from the ground up. It may not be too late for disaffected Democrats in the next twelve months to make that kind of concentrated effort within the party, but it’s still somewhat late.

    But whatever our goals might be, certainly it would be advisable to start serious discussions about the electoral predicament we’re in and how best to get out of it. Fast.

    Doesn't this say it all.

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  126. A majority of House Republicans joined Democrats this evening in escalating a confrontation with President Bush over federal spending as the House overrode Mr. Bush’s veto of a popular water projects measure.

    House Democrats also readied a $215 billion bill to pay for health, education, labor and veterans programs despite a veto threat.

    If the Senate follows suit, it would mark the first time Mr. Bush has had a veto overturned, setting the stage for the biggest clash between Congress and the White House over spending since Mr. Bush took office.

    The dispute over a dozen annual spending bills is being fueled in part by 2008 political considerations. Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans are trying to re-establish the party’s faded reputation for fiscal responsibility, while Democrats are working to portray Republicans as being out of touch with the priorities of ordinary Americans.

    Mr. Bush has threatened to reject several of the already-overdue spending bills, and the Office of Management and Budget today renewed its opposition to the health and veterans package, saying it includes an “irresponsible and excessive level of spending” and improperly ties disputed domestic dollars for health, education and labor initiatives to veterans money.

    Make Georgie mad and he cuts funding to the Veterans.

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  127. Faced with higher recruiting goals, the Pentagon is quietly looking for ways to make it easier for people with minor criminal records to join the military, The Associated Press has learned.

    The review, in its early stages, comes as the number of Army recruits needing waivers for bad behavior _ such as trying drugs, stealing, carrying weapons on school grounds and fighting _ rose from 15 percent in 2006 to 18 percent this year. And it reflects the services' growing use of criminal, health and other waivers to build their ranks.

    Overall, about three in every 10 recruits must get a waiver, according to Pentagon statistics obtained by AP, and about two-thirds of those approved in recent years have been for criminal behavior. Some recruits must get more than one waiver to cover things ranging from any criminal record, to health problems such as asthma or flat feet, to low aptitude scores _ and even for some tattoos.

    The goal of the review is to make cumbersome waiver requirements consistent across the services _ the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force _ and reduce the number of petty crimes that now trigger the process. Still, some Army officers worry that disciplinary problems will grow as more soldiers with records, past drug use and behavior problems are brought in.

    The Bush Philosophy: A crime ridden administration using criminals as war bait.

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  128. Viewers didn’t exactly flock to this lineup. There’s already a Republican news network; no one needed a pale imitation. But with Keith Olbermann’s ratings continuing to blossom, MSNBC seems to have come to a realization: maybe there’s an audience for those who aren’t sympathetic to the Republican agenda.

    Riding a ratings wave from “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” a program that takes strong issue with the Bush administration, MSNBC is increasingly seeking to showcase its nighttime lineup as a welcome haven for viewers of a similar mind.

    Lest there be any doubt that the cable channel believes there is ratings gold in shows that criticize the administration with the same vigor with which Fox News’s hosts often champion it, two NBC executives acknowledged yesterday that they were talking to Rosie O’Donnell about a prime-time show on MSNBC.

    And what about self-described “right-winger” Tucker Carlson? An NBC executive told the NYT he’s “in real danger of being canceled

    It's about time they got rid of Creeper Carlson.

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  129. It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

    All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists...

    All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.

    "Waterboarding is torture," Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protester. He was no troublemaking politician. He was no table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American and a brave man.

    Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off.

    Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday, with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora's box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism "Enhanced Interrogation," Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them ... was to have them enacted upon himself.

    Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

    Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

    Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen?

    Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own generals, or Max Cleland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or Daniel Levin?

    Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

    Instead, he was forced out as acting assistant attorney general nearly three years ago because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn't do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right.

    And they waterboarded him. And he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning.

    Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.

    Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country's 43rd president: "The United States of America ... does not torture."

    Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

    Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

    Waterboarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple of other men none of us really care about except for the one detail you'd forgotten — that there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we're Americans and we're better than that.

    We're better than you.

    And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not waterboarding was torture had decided, and not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight suit and helmet.

    He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

    So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn't black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines.

    And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded "too independent" and "someone who could (not) be counted on."

    In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn't count on to lie for you.

    So, Levin was fired.

    Because if it ever got out what he'd concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would have been screwed.

    And screwed you are.

    It can't be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest attorney general nominee.

    Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he'd never heard of waterboarding and refused to answer in words … that which Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia three years ago.

    And this someone also heard George Bush say, "The United States of America does not torture," and realized either he was lying or this wasn't the United States of America anymore, and either way, he needed to do something about it.

    Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way nonetheless.

    We have U.S. senators who need to do something about it, too.

    Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and said "enough."

    Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and he has failed.

    What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

    It is obvious that both those senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey's confirmation.

    And they should look into their own committee's history and recall that in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon a guarantee of a special prosecutor (ultimately a special prosecutor of Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new attorney general, Elliott Richardson.

    If they could get that out of Nixon, before you confirm the president's latest human echo on Tuesday, you had better be able to get a "yes" or a "no" out of Michael Mukasey.

    Ideally you should lock this government down financially until a special prosecutor is appointed, or 50 of them, but I'm not holding my breath. The "yes" or the "no" on waterboarding will have to suffice.

    Because, remember, if you can't get it, or you won't with the time between tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

    Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn't who approved the waterboarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

    It is: Why were they waterboarded?

    Study after study for generation after generation has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

    Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn't a problem if you don't care if the terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them.

    If, say, a president simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep a country scared.

    If, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the threat he didn't interrupt.

    If, say, he realized that even terrorized people still need good ghost stories before they will let a president pillage the Constitution,

    Well, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you than an actual terrorist?

    He'll tell you everything he ever fantasized doing in his most horrific of daydreams, his equivalent of the day you "flew" onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you'd won in Iraq.

    Now if that's what this is all about, you tortured not because you're so stupid you think torture produces confession but you tortured because you're smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction — well, then, you're going to need all the lawyers you can find … because that crime wouldn't just mean impeachment, would it?

    That crime would mean George W. Bush is going to prison.

    Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived, in their exact proportions, in their exact progressions.

    Daniel Levin's eminently practical, eminently logical, eminently patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding has to vanish, and him with it.

    Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government.

    Thus Dick Cheney has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique would somehow help the terrorists.

    Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the high priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, nor even hint that he has thought about a question, which merely concerns the theoretical definition of waterboarding as torture.

    Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed.

    From its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and safety of the American people ... into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country's history ... and, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism would be nearly invisible.

    But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

    And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.

    Keith Olbermann

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  130. The GOP "switched" and supported the Kucinich impeachment resolution of Dick Cheney because they think the House, under the leadership of the Bush-worshipping Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, won't have the votes to sustain an impeachment effort and thus, the Republican minority will hand the Speaker yet another failure and embarrass her badly.

    It's called Hardball Politics 101.

    A concept this braindead excuse for a House Speaker can't wrap her tiny brain around.

    Pelosi needs to resign. She belongs back in San Francisco hosting teas with the society ladies in Pacific Heights.

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  131. Hi Lydia,

    I enjoyed checking out your blog. I'm a recent grad in Silicon Valley, and I've just started a company that is mapping the blogosphere to our world. I noticed that your blog has great content and a good-sized readership, and it would be great to have you on the map. Here is an example of a blogger in Georgia who's plugged in: http://www.verveearth.com/landing/#type=user&id=772. It can be fun to explore different localities.

    It's an easy process to get on board, and I can be reached at clayton@verveearth.com for questions or feedback. If you resonate with the vision of painting a global canvas of voices, please give VerveEarth a mention.

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  132. Christopher, I agree. Pelosi was not ready for this and I've never seen Steny Hoyer with his panties in such a bunch.

    Henry Waxman for Speaker!

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  133. Topping Nixon, Bush disapproval soars to highest level ever recorded in Gallup poll

    For the first time, George W. Bush has surpassed Richard M. Nixon in unpopularity in the Gallup Poll, receiving the highest "strongly disapprove" rating for a president in Gallup's history.

    The little noticed statistic -- publicly noted on Gallup's poll writeup -- made a single headline in Google News. The story, at Editor and Publisher, was titled "GALLUP: Bush Finally Tops Nixon -- In Unpopularity -- As Call for Iraq Pullout Hits New Peak."


    so along with worst pResident ever, georgie has captured the most disliked president ever,

    50% strongly disapprove, which means the 24%ers are getting to be smaller and smaller in their screeching and squawking fur their hero.

    heck of a job georgie;


    No wonder why so many reichwingers have so little to say any more.

    I still wonder why the reichwingers in the party of criminally organized corruption and pedophile protection, want to emulate this moron, but they do.

    Good luck next November guys, hope you do as well as you did in November 2006 losing 30 house seats and 6 senate seats, and of course the white house for a long, long time .....

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  134. The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) but with without protections for trans-workers after more than five hours of debate, wrangling, maneuvering and lobbying.

    In the end the House voted 235 - 185, mostly along party lines.

    The Human Rights Campaign - proving its uselessness, issued an open letter to members of Congress urging the House to pass ENDA even if it did not include protections for transgendered workers.

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  135. Lydia Cornell said...

    does anyone know why the Republicans switched their votes to let this go to the floor/


    Well they didn't do it because of divine intervention.

    They did it because they wanted to force a debate on the subject and an up or down vote. Why? Because they smelled fear in the demoRats who were afraid to debate the issue openly, and who knew they'd lose the up or down vote because the party is not cohesive enough.

    So the Repugs smelling blood turned and said, ok, go ahead and debate the issue.

    The demoRats, too afraid to debate the issue and afraid of the vote, backed down and voted to send the bill to House Judiciary Committee for a "Study", which is how you kill a bill in DC.

    They killed their own guys bill because they're wimps.

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  136. Lydia,

    The impeachment process was stymied because, as Larry (I think) pointed out, the Democrats in the HOuse are fractured pretty badly: the newer ones, from red states, know this would be a re-election issue: how do you impeach an elected official at a time of war?

    They'd get hammered over it.

    The Republicans knew this. They knew a floor vote would force the Democrats to lose seats they might hold onto next year.

    The Republicans are truly desperate in terms of seats for next year. By my count, I see ten Senate seats up for grabs (7 retireds, of which 6 are toss-ups) and roughly 20 Reps. The Dems losses might be single digits, unless the Republicans can stick a knife in.

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  137. Oh...I'm going to whore:

    My blog is locked in a neck and neck battle with a troll who's been proxying votes for Whiskeyfire, despite the fact that blog's owner doesn't even want to win and has endorsed me (and Field Negro).

    Please vote tonight here

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  138. How True

    They wish they could do the exact same thing here.

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  139. Mission Accomplished Carl, I'm voter #781 right now, Whiskey fire has 775 votes right now also.

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  140. I'm 791........Good Luck Carl!!!!

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  141. Wanna know why RUDY is really leading in the race for the pick of the party of criminally organized corruption and pedophile protection right now to use the white house to further destroy the US constitution and undermine America and sell it to the highest bidder, even if that is the Chinese at the moment? (because thanks to Reagan, Bush and the GOPers in congress we owe then SOOOOO much money)

    Well there is this list, (h/t carpetbagger report);

    Let’s take a look at the big board:

    * Giuliani exaggerated prostate cancer survival-rates in order to make a dishonest ad about healthcare.

    * He exaggerated how much time he spent at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11, claiming to be an actual recovery worker.

    * He exaggerated the responsibilities of the mayor of NYC, claiming to have the security of 8 million people “on his shoulders,” basically characterizing himself as the commander-in-chief of some kind of city-state.

    * He exaggerated his 9/11 record in a variety of breathtaking ways.

    * He exaggerated his background in counter-terrorism, claiming to have been “studying Islamic terrorism for 30 years,” a claim which quickly fell apart.

    * He exaggerated his record of reducing abortions and increasing adoptions in New York City during his tenure.

    * He exaggerated his record of tax cuts as mayor, including tax cuts that passed over his opposition (and counting one cut twice).

    * He exaggerated his budget accomplishments, claiming to have created huge surpluses, when in fact he left Bloomberg with massive deficits.

    * He exaggerated how many cops he added to the NYPD.

    * He exaggerated Hillary Clinton’s comments about economics.

    * He even exaggerated his list of congressional endorsements he’s received for his presidential campaign.

    And now he’s an expert on torture, because, well, he says so.

    The latest is Giuliani’s attempt to characterize himself as an expert on “intensive” interrogation techniques, which makes the former mayor qualified to comment on torture policy. As Giuliani told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, “[I]ntensive questioning works. If I didn’t use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of mafia guys running around New York right now and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is. Intensive question has to be used. Torture should not be used. The line between the two is a difficult one.”

    Giuliani’s former director of emergency management thinks the former mayor doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    As for the notion that Giuliani, as a U.S. Attorney, had direct involvement in aggressive interrogation, that too is a wild exaggeration. As Wayne Barrett told the Huffington Post, FBI officials question suspects, not prosecutors. “[T]he notion that he personally questioned any of the key individuals is baffling,” Barrett said.


    So Rudy is willing to lie like KKKarl Rove did (while stealing a few elections) and the trolls did here daily (and fuax noise still does). He is starting to sound batsh*t crazy just like St Johnny the delusional (the former supposed front runner). But Rudy can't claim PTSD for any of his insanity, or inability to tell fact from fiction.

    Nor is Rudy as lazy as freddy the fraud (the supposed savior of the reichwing, this summer). Other wise Rudy would not have had the ability to spend so much energy running around the country talking about threats to the USA (and raking in the BIG Bucks) while on the ISG group of James Baker. Rudy did this while never actually attending any of their meetings (didn't pay enough to actually show up.

    He had other priorities just like dead eye did during Vietnam so he never showed up to the meetings, just like dead eye never suited up or showed up in Vietnam), looking into what was happening in Iraq, where the liars of the GOP tried to make it the central front against those who attacked the US on 9-11 .... you know the people who actually live in Pakistan at the moment (Talk about gettin' the facts all wrong), where there is a severe break down in civil authority, and possibly the beginnings of a coup if not a civil war. (Did I mention they do have real physical nuucular weapons, not the imaginary ones in Bush, Cheney and the reichwing's best wet-dreams who wanna attack Iran while Pakistan burns) However he is as wrong in his facts as the lying fraud is, Rudy just can't use the too damn lazy to check the facts excuse.

    No Rudy is in a class by himself, lying to get elected so he can continue in the criminally organized corruption tradition of the GOP, even if Bernie Keric (rudy's mobbed up BFF) ain't with him any more, (sorta like Bush threw Ken Lay under the bus when he didn't need him anymore) because Bernie (one of Rudy's mobbed up BFF's)is under federal investigations and pending indictment,

    No Rudy wants to be the next Out-standing Liar of the Decadefor the party of criminally organized corruption and pedophile protection.

    Which might explain why serial liar and batsh*t crazy reichwinger Pat Robertson just endorsed him.

    Given the last three decades of history of the GOP (hint lies , lies and more lies, and I ain't just speaking of the fat drug addicted lying gas bag either), Rudy fits right in the moldy forms they use to pick their head liars.

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  142. I voted for you Carl.

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  143. U.S. military worried about Pakistan nuclear weapons

    By Kristin Roberts
    24 minutes ago
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

    The U.S. military is worried about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule, prompting protests and arrests, a senior Pentagon general said on Wednesday.

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  144. We are at a crucial time that calls for amazing diploamcy, grace and skill.

    Unfortunately none of those words describe Bush.

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  145. See the problem is, you can only threaten people so long, until some of them start to call your bluff.

    Then they all do, and then you have no credibility left.

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  146. The international community will only put up with so much. We can't act unilaterally all the time.

    Regardless of what the idiot right wing morons in here and elsewhere say, Bill Clinton was one of the best diplomats around, and we could sure use someone with his ability to win over people right about now.

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  147. Ok, this is my week for being vindicated I guess. Unfortunately.

    Did ANYONE see Keith Olberman tonight? Keith is pushing a story supported by his guess, who just said what I have been SCREAMING ABOUT for 2 solid years.

    Remember me saying over and over and over and over that they're not listening to "some calls".

    They're listening to ALL calls.

    Remember me saying that?

    Well Mark Klien and Keith Olberman broke the story that AT&T copied ALL TRAFFIC coming into their phone switching centers, to their top secret room that only NSA cleared people could access.

    Mark Klien was a wiring tech and his job was to install the splitters that allowed the traffic to be copied.

    Klien pointed out that these splitters were "dumb" devices that were not selective, so that all traffic, internet, calls, everything, was sent to the "secret room" where it could be stored.

    A lot of you doubted me on this one and I wish you had been right, but it looks like I was again, dammit.

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  148. Chances are every email, phone call, fax, etc you ever sent, is stored safely away on NSA SAN's networks.

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  149. Bartlebee we can try to explain why the Bush administration is the worst the US has ever seen, why the illegal spying is a real problem, but the dumb enablers for the reichwing will just shove their fingers in their ears and screech la la la la la .... Until the cows come home.

    But this little factoid is gonna bite the voters, they lie to every election to dupe them to vote GOPer again, in the a$$ when they stumble into Wally-World to buy the Chinese junk because the reichwing pushed the out sourcing of US manufacturing;

    Dollar Woes

    The US dollar has now lost more than a third of its value (-35%) against a basket of major currencies since Feb 2002.


    The decline is accelerating. The USD has shed 2.5% of its value in the last year, 3.5% in the last month, and 1.5% in the last week alone.


    Let’s see, Bush was the pResident in 2002 ignoring Osama bin Forgotten and not thinkin' 'bout him none too much. AS THE DOLLAR BEGAN IT'S SLIDE INTO THE BASEMENT. And Bush has done basically Nothing about either very real problem for the US, however he has attacked a country which had nothing to do with 9-11, and wasted over half a trillion dollars there which he had to borrow from China.

    The stupid trolls who used to infect the blog were screeching about how well the economy was doin', well they were as wrong about this one as they were about the illegal spying the worst president ever was engaged in.
    Bush has presided over both fiasco's but I think the dollar slide and higher prices at Wally-World will mean more to them in the end, however it will take a good house cleaning at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue before the American people get both a government in their interests and the truth.

    The crash of the US dollar and fallout from it will haunt Bush like the Great Depression haunted Hoover. (And the economic impacts of the failure which has resulted from Bush's insane economic policies might just eclipse the Great Depression.)

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  150. Mom Demands Answers From Blackwater
    By Wayne Drash,

    CNN
    Posted: 2007-11-07 20:11:17
    Filed Under: Iraq News
    RITTMAN, Ohio (Nov. 7) - Donna Zovko walks to her son's grave. Tears stream down her face and she begins trembling amid a steady rain. She kisses her right hand and with it strokes her boy's headstone.

    Three and a half years ago, she watched on TV as the bodies of her oldest son, Jerry Zovko, and three of his Blackwater colleagues were dragged through the streets of the Iraqi city of Falluja, burned and mutilated.

    Photo Gallery: A Gruesome Death
    Courtesy of the Zovko family / AP
    Donna Zovko, left, says she still hasn't received answers from the private security company Blackwater about how and why her son Jerry Zovko, right, was brutally killed while working in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004.
    1 of 10
    As horrifying as the pictures are, Donna Zovko -- a Catholic -- finds comfort in an image of her son's body before the mobs got to him. His eyes were closed, his mouth open, as if he were calling God "to take his soul."

    "I just hope that he was referring to the Holy Mother or calling God to help him," she says, just steps from where her son is buried.

    Donna Zovko also hopes that she will get some answers as to how -- and why -- her son died. Blackwater officials have not been forthcoming, she says.

    After seeing Donna Zovko's story on CNN, Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said of her: "I would be willing to meet with her without media present, out of fear of it becoming a media circus."

    Donna Zovko would welcome such a meeting.

    "I would like that. It would be one of my prayers answered. Maybe he'll tell me the truth," she says.

    Then, she adds: "Why does it have to be 44 months before they tell us anything?"

    Two weeks ago, on October 26, Donna Zovko was at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery to celebrate her son's birthday. A wreath adorned with 36 white roses -- 32 for his years alive and four for the birthdays he's missed -- stood next to the grave. Three yellow roses sat next to the headstone with a hand-written note: "Happy Birthday Jerry."

    "I miss him more today than yesterday. But I love being here," his mother said.

    Jerry Zovko, a former Army Ranger, had gone to Iraq as a security contractor to train Iraqi soldiers. When that contract ended in late 2003, he signed on with a different company, Blackwater, according to his mother.

    On the mission in Falluja, he and his comrades Scott Helvenston, Mike Teague and Wesley Batalona were killed when they were ambushed in their two vehicles as they escorted three empty flatbed trucks.

    It was the death of Zovko and his comrades that led to the first major U.S. offensive in Falluja, lasting three weeks, and killing 36 U.S. servicemen.

    Donna Zovko, a Croatian immigrant whose original name is Danica, told CNN.com that Blackwater chief Prince paid a personal visit to her to inform her of her son's death. He also attended the funeral, and the company held a memorial service for her son and the other slain guards. After that ceremony, she said, she and her family were taken to a private room where they pressed for more details about the events surrounding her son's death.

    She said she didn't get answers.

    A congressional committee had a similar complaint about Blackwater not being forthcoming. In late September, the House Oversight Committee released a report on the deaths of Zovko and his three colleagues, saying Blackwater had "delayed and impeded" its investigation of the killings.

    "Blackwater agreed to the Falluja mission before its contract officially began, ignored multiple warnings about the risks involved and did not provide its team with adequate equipment, intelligence or directions," the report said. "Mistake apparently compounded mistake."

    Blackwater has taken issue with the House report. The incident in Falluja "was a tragedy in which no one -- but the terrorists -- are to blame," the company said in a recent statement.

    Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Donna Zovko is "a grieving mother, understandably so, and our thoughts remain with her and her entire family."

    Today, Blackwater's Prince added this: "I was communicating with her all the way up until the time the lawsuit was filed." The Zovko family disputes that claim.

    The company, which provides security across the globe, has come under intense scrutiny since its employees were accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding 27 others on September 16 of this year in a hail of gunfire in Baghdad.

    Donna Zovko and the three other families who lost their relatives in the Falluja ambush have sued Blackwater, alleging the company failed to provide their loved ones with adequate gear, weaponry and support. Blackwater has denied the allegations and argued the men agreed to assume the risks of working in a war zone.

    As for those who murdered her son, Donna Zovko said: "It's not mine to judge and I don't want to judge them. But it would be nice to know what happened to those people that celebrated the deaths of my son, Mike, Wes and Scotty. It would be nice to know if they had to answer to anyone besides God."

    One day, she hopes to visit that site on Highway 10 in Falluja where the killings occurred to build a monument to those who died. "They can knock it down and I'll just build it back up," she said.

    This mother -- who arrived in the United States when she was 15, three years to the day before her son was born -- then walked over to Jerry's grave and said the Lord's Prayer.

    "I'll see you Sunday," she said, rubbing the headstone.

    She met Pope John Paul II in August 2004 after her son was killed and he told her "God has accepted Jerry's soul" -- comforting words that still give her peace.

    "It was a big gift for me to see the Holy Father and to meet the Holy Father, but for the truth of my Jerry's death, I'd give it back," she said, choking back tears.

    "I'd say, 'No, I want Blackwater to tell me everything.'"

    Later that day, the tight-knit family gathered at a Croatian community center for dinner. Afterward, Jerry Zovko's brother, Tommy, watched his mom and dad walk through the darkness to their car as rain poured down.

    "We try to live a normal life," he said. "But it's anything but normal."

    2007-11-07 19:43:27

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  151. Whats sad is that as Bush wastes resources spying on AMERICAN citizens ans wastes a trillion dollars waging war on a country that had NOTHING to do with attacking us and is fighting a propaganda war to attack another that does not even have nuclear weapons.................Pakistan a country that is 80% extremist and hates America and actually DOES have nukes destabilizes before our eyes while oil hits almost $100 a barrel and the dollar is plummeting and the yield curve has been inverted for a substantial amount of time...............YET the trolls and Reich Wing talking heads and cheerleaders on tv STILL defend Bush and say the Fundamentals are great and the economy is strong while using the same rhetoric and propaganda they used to attack Iraq to justify attacking Iran.

    WHY anyone still listens to this pack of fools and moons and gives them a shred of credibility when they have been dead wrong about EVERYTHING is beyond me................these people should be laughing stocks that the networks should be ASHAMED to put on the air because doing so will infect THEIR credibility...............oh silly me FAUX News has NO CREDIBILITY to lose!

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  152. Leno, Letterman and at least 8 network shows are closing due to the Writer's Strike.

    I was disappointed to see Ellen be a scab and cross the picketlines to tape new shows.

    Her bizarre reason, "A lot of my fans have arranged their schedule a year in advance and flown to LA to see a taping. I can't disappont them."

    We will remember, Ellen.

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  153. Did you guys hear what I said?

    Remember how I've been arguing for the last 2 years how they're not spying on "some of us" but they're spying on ALL of us?

    Remember me asking this question over and over and over- "If they can START recording when you say certain keywords, how did they KNOW you said those words in the first place?".

    Remember that?

    Well last night on Countdown Keith Olberman reported that I was right, and that they ARE listening to ALL calls, ALL internet, etc.

    This is a big story. Real big.

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  154. The senate just over-rode Bush's veto of the water developement bill, 79-13 the house did several days ago 361-54.

    Bush sufferes his first veto over-ride of more to come, even the republicans no longer are willing to don their knee pads for the idiot who wants to be a dictator.

    Bsh needs aclue, but his booze-coke destroyed brain will probaly miss that one also.

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  155. Its all smoke and mirrors Clif.

    Who cares a about a freaking water bill? Now if it was to stop water-boarding, then ok, I'd say they did something.

    But they've done nothing.

    Just smoke and mirrors to keep the masses guessing.

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  156. Look people....look at the pretty domestic legislation.

    But pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

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  157. It's not too late to vote for Simply Left Behind in the 2007 Weblog Awards! You have another 90 minutes, so please don't forget!

    ReplyDelete
  158. Bart,

    That shit was pretty scary.

    I don't think the Democrats care, either. And THAT scares me worse than what AT&T has done.

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  159. Carl, looks like you won!

    ReplyDelete
  160. BARTLEBEE said...
    Did you guys hear what I said?

    Remember how I've been arguing for the last 2 years how they're not spying on "some of us" but they're spying on ALL of us?

    Remember me asking this question over and over and over- "If they can START recording when you say certain keywords, how did they KNOW you said those words in the first place?".

    Remember that?

    Well last night on Countdown Keith Olberman reported that I was right, and that they ARE listening to ALL calls, ALL internet, etc.

    This is a big story. Real big."


    I remember you making that point and just like with Pakistan your preaching to the choir as far as i'm concerned.

    Now I DO think it is a great thing that Olberman is focusing on this issue NOW that Bush is TRYING to get the telecom companies that enabled this unconstitutional Orwellian act of treason retroactive immunity for their poor judgement rather than having them take responsibility for the actions and decisions like the repugs say the poor who entered into predatory lending contracts SHOULD...........theres that double standard and hippocrissy AGAIN.

    But to make this story BIG like it truly SHOULD BE, we need the entire MSM to start covering it as well as the public to not only become fully aware of whats going on but to be outraged at the lies, treasonous violations of the Constitution and personal privacy and emormous waste of resources for partisan and self serving purposes and want to hold Bush and his cronnies accountable.

    ReplyDelete
  161. BUT Olberman covering it is a great and neccessary start!

    ReplyDelete
  162. BARTLEBEE said...
    Its all smoke and mirrors Clif.

    Who cares a about a freaking water bill? Now if it was to stop water-boarding, then ok, I'd say they did something.

    But they've done nothing.

    Just smoke and mirrors to keep the masses guessing."

    They Dont challenge these repug jackasses on anything..............I dont think they had the votes to impeach Cheney anyway.........BUT they didnt even try the repugs called them out and they caved like a bunch of spineless cowards.

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  163. I was seriously thinking of registering as a Demorat so i could vote for Edwards in the Primaries..............BUT I think i'll have to wait to see how they handle this retroactive immunity for the Unconstitutional illegal spying the telecom companies enabled...........if they cave and DONT take a stand on this one I dont think I can bring myself to register as a Demorat........I couldnt live with being associated with those spineless gutless wimps.

    ReplyDelete
  164. Looks like Carl won his slot in the weblog awards.

    How come Lydia's blog wasn't on there?

    ReplyDelete
  165. Congratulations Carl.

    ReplyDelete
  166. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote as early as Friday on legislation that would spend $50 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but require that President Bush start bringing troops home.

    The money is about a quarter of the $196 billion requested by Bush. It would finance about four months of combat in Iraq, Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.

    "This is not a blank check for the president," she said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

    More fluff no substance.

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  167. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday that economic growth will slow noticeably in coming months while surging oil costs will raise inflation pressures. But he said the economy is nowhere close to the stagflation nightmare of the 1970s and he predicted an economic rebound by mid-2008.

    Doesn't he know it is at a crawl now.

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  168. Opposition to the war in Iraq has reached an all-time high, according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Thursday morning.

    Support for the war in Iraq has dropped to 31 percent and the 68 percent who oppose the war is a new record.

    Despite the drop in violence in Iraq, only one quarter of Americans believes the U.S. is winning the war. There has been virtually no change in the past month in the number of Americans who believe that things are going badly for the U.S. in the war in Iraq.

    The public also opposes U.S. military action against Iran. Sixty-three percent oppose air strikes on Iran, while 73 percent oppose using ground troops as well as air strikes in that country.

    Overall, 56 percent, of Americans are dissatisfied with progress in the war on terrorism.

    The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation telephone poll of 1,024 American adults was carried out over the weekend. The sampling error for the full sample was plus-or-minus 3 percentage points; some questions were asked of a half sample of approximately 500 respondents and carry a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage point.

    Can you hear America Pelosi?

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  169. So ... let's see if I have all of this straight.

    Rudy Giuliani says he is the candidate most capable of preventing future terrorist attacks ...

    In supporting him, Pat Robertson has said that Rudy Giuliani is the candidate most capable of preventing future terrorist attacks ...

    Rudy Giuliani was the mayor when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center ...

    Pat Robertson agreed with Jerry Falwell when Falwell said that our country's acceptance of homosexuality and abortion was one of the reasons we were attacked ...

    Rudy Giuliani has been on the record as being pro-choice and in favor of gay rights ...

    So to sum up -- Robertson feels that the person who couldnt stop the terrorist attacks last time and was partially at fault for those terrorist attacks because he's pro-choice and pro-gay rights is the most qualified person to prevent future terrorist attacks.


    And they are saying the Hillary is a flip-flopper????

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  170. A federal grand jury has voted to indict former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on charges stemming from the acceptance of free rent and apartment renovations, tax evasion and lying on his application for the job as head of the Department of Homeland Security, two federal sources and a source involved in the defense told ABC News.

    As news of the indictment spread, police in suburban White Plains, N.Y., prepared for an expected onslaught of media by setting up police barricades in front of the courthouse and a parking area for television trucks directly across from it, police officials said. And several of Kerik's closest supporters planned to spend the evening with their friend before he turned himself into the government, sources said.

    The indictment caps a wide-ranging federal probe into Kerik's affairs that has spanned about a year. While it was not immediately clear what the specific charges were, the government's case as it has been presented to the grand jury has multiple components that would be reflected in a multiple count indictment.

    One component stems from $165,000 worth of renovations to an apartment he owned in an upscale section of the Bronx from a contractor who had sought business with New York City.

    He was convicted on charges stemming from those same renovations in a state of New York case brought by a prosecutor in the Bronx.

    Another component of the case, according to federal sources and sources involved in the defense, stems from a second apartment Kerik used on East 79th Street in Manhattan's posh Upper East Side. In that instance, the rent -- for approximately two years -- was paid by a third party, Steve Witkoff, a commercial real estate developer. Witkoff is in no way implicated in any wrongdoing.

    A third part of the case stems from the failure to pay taxes on imputed income stemming from the value of the rent and the renovations -- an amount estimated to be in excess of $300,000. According to sources familiar with the case, at least part of that failure to pay taxes component is linked to Kerik's 2000 federal tax return .

    The government is also expected to charge that Kerik lied on a mortgage application and on his application for the job as head of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Kerik's reputation took on heroic proportions in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Side by side with "America's Mayor" Rudolph Giuliani, Kerik was seen as part of the glue that held the city together and soon, owing to the support of Giuliani and a bond he had developed with President George Bush, Kerik was nominated to be "America's Police Commissioner" -- the head of the Department of Homeland Security.

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  171. When I look back on the years I have worked in the film and television business, since beginning in 1980, there have been many obvious changes. Most of those are technological ones and those technological developments have profoundly altered the soul and the math of the business. Cable TV and then satellite, VHS and then DVD and then DVR, and now MP3. Three networks dominating everything and then those three networks dominating nothing. HBO producing original broadcasting that competed with the Big Three for audience share. David Chase giving everyone a reason to stay home on Sunday to watch TV. Who'd a thought?

    In the movie business, among the biggest changes is the background, personality and capabilities of your average head of the studio, head of production and their marketing departments. I recall, through the admittedly distorted prism of time, that Mike Medavoy was the kind of old school studio boss who looked at his release schedule and decided to burn one on "the side of the angels." He had a movie and a filmmaker that he truly believed in and, inside of a slate of 20 or 15 or even 12 movies, Medavoy made one with little regard for the box office prognosis. He wanted to make a good film and believed that audiences would follow the filmmaker, and him, to the theatre.

    There are no Mike Medavoys running the studios today. There are no Fred Silvermans running the networks, either, Silverman being the television-savant-as-executive, a breed that seems to have all but vanished, save for Garth Ancier, who apprenticed under Silverman. The studios are run by men and women who know very little, if anything, about how to make a good film. That is why so many studio films are so shamefully (or shamelessly) bad. These are men and women who simply do not have the recipe, although each fancies himself as a modern day Cohn, Warner or Zanuck. From what I read of Hollywood history, Zanuck had more talent for how to fit the disparate elements of filmmaking together in one finger than most of today's crowd has in their whole production department. Make no mistake, there are extraordinarily talented and capable people at the studios and networks. Ron Meyer, once the greatest talent agent of them all (he was mine, and I mean every word of that) and Brad Grey are two smart men who have had remarkable careers and yet run major studios that answer to demanding corporate parents.

    The writers' strike is upon us because the writers want more of the back end and the studios claim they don't have it. If the studios don't have it, it's more their own fault than anyone else's. We are now in the fully realized age of the modern entertainment corporation, with lawyers and accountants calling nearly all of the shots. Some say the old studio system was bad. However they look more and more like the Medicis compared to what exists today. Even in independent film, so much of the product seems tired. (If I see one more Indie Icon Guy and Indie Icon Gal put one of their parents into a nursing home, while the lighting is dialed down real low to hide the cheap set design, I might cry.)

    Many contributors disparaged the striking WGA on this site. I was dismayed by this. Do you honestly believe that most writers are ultimately responsible for what goes on screen, even if their name is on it? That's like saying a plumber is responsible for your taste in fixtures. Sometimes a writer is like a plumber: he installs what he is paid to install. Most writers I know have a great script in one file and a commercial one in the other. They have BILLY BUDD and PORKYS all in the same computer. Don't ever judge a writer by any screenplay that gets made. Unless you're saying something admiring about a real giant, with real power, from another time. Like Welles or Mankiewicz or Robert Towne.

    Everyone in the film industry seems to be searching for the risk-free project. There is no such project. Movie-making, music, theatre and TV, even publishing...all creative enterprises that struggle to discern the taste of a mass audience are in a risky business. We need more risk-takers to make movies and produce TV. We need more Mike Medavoys. And let's hope the strike ends soon

    Alec Baldwin

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  172. I just returned from the picket lines today in front of the Time-Warner center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Since I had dragged along my kids we only marched for about an hour. Somehow Ava and Chet, 9 and 6, already understood the concept of the strike as civil disobedience. Just last week when I told them that it was too late for more Halloween candy they started chanting in unison, "We want dessert! We want dessert! We want dessert!"

    I thought, therefore, that they would be more enthusiastic about marching with me. They were not. Fortunately some angel had baked piles of homemade brownies for us marchers and when my back was turned my son inhaled half a pan's worth. It was also cold today, upper 40s, but everyone in the line (except my whining kids) seemed to be in good spirits.

    Finally I bribed my kids with the promise of presents from FAO Schwartz just down 59th Street if they let us protest for a few more laps.

    Again today I was very proud of not only my union but the many SAG members that marched with us. I missed seeing Julianne Moore chatting with our own Nora Ephron, or Robin Williams, David Duchovny, Richard Belzer and Tamara Tunie of Law & Order SVU. However I did run into two of the actors in my play currently up at the Lincoln Center Institute there on the picket line in between performances.

    Tomorrow we strike at another of the beast's bloated bellies, this time Fox. From 9-5 we're picketing News Corp. headquarters.

    If you'd like to join us it's at 1211 Avenue of the Americas between 47th and 48th Streets.

    Trey Ellis

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  173. I never really had to fight for anything resembling a noble cause or suffer under a particularly oppressive authority (unless you count my summer as a pimply stockboy stacking cases of tuna fish and soda at a supermarket. I was like Solzenitzen with a price gun).

    I am a male, so I am automatically keyed into the dominant patriarchal social mechanism; I am white, so I am the beneficiary of centuries of European aggression and xenophobic imperialism; I am a Jew in America who has never encountered anti-Semitism; I make a living in my chosen field and occasionally soak my aching ego in the intoxicating, highly addictive broth of celebrity. I have known some tragedy, some difficulty. But I have a great, loving, growing family and I am, for all practical purposes, healthy.

    In short, I got it good.

    But it doesn't mean I can't recognize injustice when I see it. My being a lucky bastard doesn't mean I am not qualified to despise tyranny, brutality or just plain assholery. It's all around, it's societally endemic and has been for years. It started in earnest when air traffic controllers had their solar plexuses kicked in and it's continued steadily since, whittling down the little guy to krill proportions, eroding the middle class to a virtual shrivel and carving a widening chasm between those that work like dogs and those that live like kings.

    And along the way, instilling the idea into new, impressionable generations that it's bloody okay. As the kids like to text: WTF???

    Intelligent Design aside, our highly evolved senses can still detect danger and deception despite attempts to distract and dissuade us from trusting our guts. And those guts should be thrumming with the realization that the real war going on isn't in Eye-Rack, it's not between the East and the West or bellicose political parties or creaky religions. The real war is ultimately one of character and the difference described by those who rally round a "One for all and all for one!" banner and those who intone "Winning isn't everything---it's the only thing" while genuflecting in front of a bust of Ronald Reagan. Two arguably simplistic and divergent philosophies that function beautifully when used in appropriate circumstances.

    This strike is not about elitist wannabe Shakespeares who've never worked a decent day in their lives demanding free money for sitting in front of a computer, as any silver-tongued opponent would have you think. It is about people -- artisans -- being rightfully compensated for their product, pure and simple. And the way of world, thanks to the unrepentant capitalistaholics, is to spit on that idea, to deride anything that impedes the flow of profit, that slows the rush they get when the low class, grubby resistance is crushed. It's that blatant. And it's present everywhere, not just in the writers' struggle. It's present in the auto workers' struggle in the teachers' struggle in the emergency responders' struggle in the soldiers' struggle in the taxpayers' struggle in the voters' struggle.

    The struggle of the simple character of the common citizen to make a decent wage versus the dissipated character of the controller who sits in the corporate headquarters and who's forgotten the taste of the loam that forms its foundation.

    It's the shiftiness of the lobbyist, whoring out his services for a hunk of the corporate pie versus the decent toiler who has to make do with the crumbs.

    It's the politicians who, from on high, survey the citizenry as pitiless courtiers, survey their degraded minions.

    And you know and I know the writer's strike is not about four more cents. It's about character.

    And if this strike is broken, so breaks the character of a nation.

    Steven Weber

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  174. I was having an email exchange yesterday with a dear friend and successful producer who describes herself as "very anti-strike-of course as a middle child and producer, my job has always been mediator."

    I'm a middle child myself, and I, too, am a pacifist-mediator at heart. So I told her "trust me when I say, no one likes or wanted a strike that I know of...except maybe one person I know who's an exec at Sony." But he's not a big fan of writers, anyway. A strike is always the last resort.

    Anyway, my producer/friend's feeling was that "they should be forced to work it out -- compromise and settle the thing so people can get back to work." I couldn't agree with her more, but I kept wondering who she meant by "they?"

    I hated to dash her hopes as I think this could be a long work stoppage, because I believe the studios have wanted this strike for some time now. Case in point, check out yesterday's LA Times' cover story, "Strike About to Cost Jobs," about how the studios are cleaning house of many of their TV production/development deals. "My friend," the executive at Sony I referred to, told me at a dinner party at his house in June that the studios wanted a strike, "if only to get out of many of their development deals, because it's cheaper than paying to get out of some of these expensive arrangements." The employment contract that studios have with talent has a provision (or an escape clause) known as force majeure that allows them in a crisis such as a strike to suspend and terminate deals. So they could potentially shut down a good portion of the town, where an estimated 1.3 million jobs are connected to the film industry, because it's cheaper for them than paying out their expensive production deals? My question is if these deals were so bad, why'd they make them on in the first place?

    The WGA and AMPTP have been meeting since July, and the networks/studios (represented by Nick Counter of the AMPTP) have not given an inch on any of the WGA's real demands unless you count a fraction of a centimeter last weekend, days before the announced strike on Monday, Nov. 5th. To the writer's credit, their proposals are the basis of the WGA's negotiations, not the AMPTP's. Contrary to all of the hype in the media....and not to be conspiratorial, but let's face it the WGA doesn't own NBC, GE does, so if the facts aren't exactly trickling down in the fairest or most impartial light towards the writers, do you really have to wonder why?

    I was heading out to a picket line when my friend and I began our exchange so I didn't have time to get into all the issues. So I did my best to address one point, specifically about the DVD/download situation. In 1985, the writers made a really bad deal with regards to video cassettes. I know we're talking DVDs now, but it's all relative. Remember 1985? Cable was in its infancy, and everyone watched 13 channels because that's really all there were to watch, and all of those channels were free! Now, I realize this shows a lack of vision on all of our parts (both writers and actors), but as everything was free and plentiful, the idea of paying to watch a video/re-run of your TV old show was not really a concept the WGA and SAG thought would take off, and then of course, movies followed suit. Clearly, we were all naive.

    The deal that the writers made in 1985 meant they would get four cents for every video cassette sold. How'd they come up with four cents when the writers were getting two-and-a-half cents (out of every dollar) per airing on network TV? Well, the studios asked the writers to take a pay cut in order to grow this fledgling market. The writers as they were eager to help to expand the home video business agreed to cut their residuals on video sales by 80 percent. They agreed to this with the understanding that once home video was a thriving, profitable market, the studios would then give back what the writers had given up. Hmm...kind of remind you of the cable deal we made in the '80s?

    Well, that was 22 years ago, VHS cassettes have long since given way to DVDs, and sales have soared, but the 80 percent pay cut is still in place. A DVD on average costs about $19.99, and in 2007, the writers still only get four cents. Keep in mind there wouldn't even be any DVD' to sell, be it Seinfeld or Shakespeare in Love if not for writers, and they haven't gotten a pay increase in 22 years!? What are they, teachers?

    But wait the absurdity doesn't end there...let's talk about the internet, and iTunes and any download service provider that have allowed studios to digitally distribute their products more efficiently than ever (and it's easy to track too!), no manufacturing costs, no shipping costs, no need to warehouse anything (sorry, I still miss Tower Records...records, that says it all!), no physical product what so ever! And the studios want to pay the writers the same rate for these downloads as they pay for DVD residuals? That's right, a whopping four cents....despite this huge cost savings!

    And the fun just doesn't stop, websites like NBC.com that I mentioned yesterday, and I've since learned about Hula's website, well, you can go on to either of them right now, and watch entire episodes of your favorite TV shows for free! (But please, don't log-on until this is all resolved. Thanks!) Even though the studios sell ads on these websites and thus, earn money off of these shows still.....they're estimated to bring in 4.6 billion dollars over the next three years, they are refusing to pay the writers any residuals at all. Now, that's fair negotiating.

    And why? How can they possibly get away with this? Well, they claim that it's for promotional purposes only. Promos used to be considered a 15 or 30 second commercial to get the audience "to stay tuned for next week's exciting episode"....not next week's ENTIRE episode! And if studios have their way the 80 percent pay cut will not only apply to downloads, a 100 percent pay cut will apply to streaming video, too! And it's not only writers that are affected, but actors, directors, and anyone who relies on residuals to pay their bills, and to fund their pension and health, we're all affected. And can you imagine what will happen when TV and the internet merge and become one? Hmmm...do you think studios will be magnanimous and pay residuals based upon the current established TV rate when they can pay you the bargain basement internet rate? Come on, is that a trick question?

    The deal that was made in 1985 meant that the studios would retain more than 80 percent of all gross sales of video cassettes/DVDs, and that's still the way it is! All writers, actors, directors (unless they as "stars" and can negotiate an additional percentage upfront) collectively share the remaining 20 percent and have for 22 years.

    Tell me, that's fair negotiating?! I know I explained yesterday about using the word "fair" and how inappropriate of a word it is to use in the corporate world. But maybe the question, we should all ask ourselves, is any of this right? Would you ask a teacher, a bus driver or even your plumber, to live on wages based upon a pay scale established in 1985 in 2007? No, you wouldn't, and besides your plumber would walk, so why would you ask that of writers?

    In solidarity and hope... still,

    Susan Savage

    Actress,

    Screen Actors Guild

    National Board member

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  175. MCH said...
    So ... let's see if I have all of this straight.

    Rudy Giuliani says he is the candidate most capable of preventing future terrorist attacks ...

    In supporting him, Pat Robertson has said that Rudy Giuliani is the candidate most capable of preventing future terrorist attacks ...

    Rudy Giuliani was the mayor when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center ...

    Pat Robertson agreed with Jerry Falwell when Falwell said that our country's acceptance of homosexuality and abortion was one of the reasons we were attacked ...

    Rudy Giuliani has been on the record as being pro-choice and in favor of gay rights ...

    So to sum up -- Robertson feels that the person who couldnt stop the terrorist attacks last time and was partially at fault for those terrorist attacks because he's pro-choice and pro-gay rights is the most qualified person to prevent future terrorist attacks.


    And they are saying the Hillary is a flip-flopper????"




    Great post man!!!!

    LOL.........that sounds like something I could have written!

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  176. It seems the pen is really mighter then the sword, (or what ever torture device "Jack Bowers" has at his deposal at the moment), .....

    the writers strike,

    well it has sidelined ole Jacky boy until it is settled,

    no amnount of torture by him can do anything about it at all.

    That about says it all.

    I wonder what the fat lying drug addicted gas bag thinks about that one ........

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  177. Poll Results
    Do you think his history with Bernard Kerik reflects badly on Rudy Giuliani?
    Yes
    75% 1,114
    No
    25%

    ReplyDelete
  178. Source Says Ex-Giuliani Ally Is Indicted
    By PAT MILTON,

    AP
    Posted: 2007-11-08 22:13:21
    Filed Under: Elections News, Politics News
    NEW YORK (Nov. 8) - A federal grand jury has indicted Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, on corruption charges, a person close to the investigation said Thursday.

    Photo Gallery: A Politician and His Protege
    Rick Maiman, AP
    Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and former Rudy Giuliani protege, was indicted by a federal grand jury on a host of corruption charges, said a source close to the investigation.


    The charges include mail and wire fraud, tax fraud, making false statements on a bank application, making false statements for a U.S. government position and theft of honest services, the person said.

    The theft charge essentially accuses a government employee of abusing his position and defrauding the public.

    The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment was sealed and wasn't expected to be unsealed until Kerik's arraignment on Friday.

    Several calls to Kerik's lawyer, Kenneth Breen, were not immediately returned.

    Authorities have alleged that Kerik took tens of thousands of dollars in services from benefactors and never reported it as income. Earlier this year, he rejected a plea deal, and his attorney insisted he had done nothing wrong.

    An indictment is the latest chapter of a downfall that began within days of Kerik's nomination in 2004 to head the Department of Homeland Security. At the time, he was billed by the former mayor as a no-nonsense, self-made lawman who helped restore calm following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    A federal indictment of Kerik could complicate matters for Giuliani as the first presidential primaries draw near.

    The ex-mayor frequently says that he made a mistake in recommending Kerik to be Homeland Security chief, but that might not be enough to avoid the political damage of a drawn-out criminal case involving his one-time protege.

    During a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa, on Thursday, Giuliani was asked whether he still stands by Kerik. He sidestepped that question and said the issue has to be decided by the courts.

    "A lot of public comment about it is inconsistent with its getting resolved in the right way in the courts," Giuliani said.

    A former undercover police officer with a bodybuilder's physique and a knack for charming people in high places, Kerik has since been hit with a string of revelations about personal and professional improprieties.

    His nomination was confronted with news reports about stock-option windfalls, his connections with people suspected of doing business with the mob and overlapping extramarital affairs with two women: Judith Regan, the publisher of his memoir, and a city correction officer. The liaisons reportedly occurred in an apartment near ground zero that had been set aside for rescue workers.

    Kerik, 51, who married his current wife in 1998 and has two children with her, apparently became close with Regan while writing "The Lost Son," in which he described being abandoned by his prostitute mother.

    Kerik rose from cop to Giuliani's correction commissioner in the late 1990s. From there, he became police commissioner and later went to work in Iraq rebuilding the country's police force.

    Then came the failed Homeland Security nomination. Democrats who opposed the nomination focused on Kerik's recent windfall from exercising stock options in a stun-gun company that did business with the department. His take: $6.2 million.

    Days after President Bush introduced Kerik as his nominee, Kerik announced he was withdrawing his name because of tax issues involving his former nanny. But by then, state investigators were already aware of the expensive renovations done to his Bronx apartment in 1999, including built-in cabinets and a rotunda with a marble entryway. They alleged the work was paid for by Mafia-connected builders who sought his help winning city contracts.

    Giuliani was forced to testify before a state grand jury in a case that resulted in Kerik pleading guilty last year to accepting illegal gifts while on the city payroll. The plea spared Kerik jail time and preserved his new career as a security consultant, but his name was quietly removed from a downtown jail named in his honor.

    The state case isn't over: Two brothers who run the construction firm have pleaded not guilty to charges they lied to the grand jury about their relationship with Kerik.

    In the past 18 months, a federal grand jury took up the tax case, quizzing another parade of witnesses. They included a commercial real estate developer who picked up the $9,000-a-month tab for a luxury Upper East Side apartment that Kerik lived in around the time he left the police department in 2001.

    The federal case also involved allegations that former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro tried to recruit Kerik to eavesdrop on her husband, whom she suspected of having an affair, in 2005. But authorities have indicated that no charges would arise from the encounter.

    Earlier this year, Kerik had committed to work as a national security adviser in Guyana and Trinidad, but had to pull out. The president of Guyana said he did not want either country "tainted" by the corruption allegations in the U.S.

    Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

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  179. Giuliani is a wannabe tough guy who is really a hippocritical lying doubletalking Orwellian throwback Reich Wing fascist who wants to continue GWB's treasonous war crimes as well as his unconstitutional trasformation of our country into a fascist police state.

    ReplyDelete
  180. GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC REPORTS: THINGS YOU'VE SUSPECTED BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!"

    A Series Authored by Walter J. "John" Williams

    "The Consumer Price Index" (Part Four in a Series of Five)

    October 1, 2006 Update

    (September 22, 2004 Original)

    _____

    Foreword

    This installment has been updated from the original 2004 version to incorporate additional research on earlier changes to the CPI. The source for most of the information in this installment is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which generally has been very open about its methodologies and changes to same. The BLS Web site: www.bls.gov contains descriptions of the CPI and its related methodologies. Other sources include my own analyses of the CPI data and methodological changes over the last 30 years as well as interviews with individuals involved in inflation reporting. ______

    Payments to Social Security Recipients Should be Double Current Levels

    Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year. This is due to recent redefinitions of the series as well as to flawed methodologies, particularly adjustments to price measures for quality changes. The concentration of this installment on the quality of government economic reports will be first on CPI series redefinition and the damages done to those dependent on accurate cost-of-living estimates, and on pending further redefinition and economic damage.

    The CPI was designed to help businesses, individuals and the government adjust their financial planning and considerations for the impact of inflation. The CPI worked reasonably well for those purposes into the early-1980s. In recent decades, however, the reporting system increasingly succumbed to pressures from miscreant politicians, who were and are intent upon stealing income from social security recipients, without ever taking the issue of reduced entitlement payments before the public or Congress for approval.

    In particular, changes made in CPI methodology during the Clinton Administration understated inflation significantly, and, through a cumulative effect with earlier changes that began in the late-Carter and early Reagan Administrations have reduced current social security payments by roughly half from where they would have been otherwise. That means Social Security checks today would be about double had the various changes not been made. In like manner, anyone involved in commerce, who relies on receiving payments adjusted for the CPI, has been similarly damaged. On the other side, if you are making payments based on the CPI (i.e., the federal government), you are making out like a bandit.

    In the original version of this background article, I noted that Social Security payments should 43% higher, but that was back in September 2004 and only adjusted for CPI changes that took place after 1993. The current estimate adjusts for methodology gimmicks introduced since 1980.

    Elements of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) had their roots in the mid-1880s, when the Bureau of Labor, later known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was asked by Congress to measure the impact of new tariffs on prices. It was another three decades, however, before price indices would be combined into something resembling today's CPI, a measure used then for setting wage increases for World War I shipbuilders. Although published regularly since 1921, the CPI did not come into broad acceptance and use until after World War II, when it was included in auto union contracts as a cost-of-living adjustment for wages.

    The CPI found its way not only into other union agreements, but also into most commercial contracts that required consideration of cost/price changes or inflation. The CPI also was used to adjust Social Security payments annually for changes in the cost of living, and therein lay the eventual downfall to the credibility of CPI reporting.

    Let Them Eat Hamburger

    In the early 1990s, press reports began surfacing as to how the CPI really was significantly overstating inflation. If only the CPI inflation rate could be reduced, it was argued, then entitlements, such as social security, would not increase as much each year, and that would help to bring the budget deficit under control. Behind this movement were financial luminaries Michael Boskin, then chief economist to the first Bush Administration, and Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    Although the ensuing political furor killed consideration of Congressionally mandated changes in the CPI, the BLS quietly stepped forward and began changing the system, anyway, early in the Clinton Administration.

    Up until the Boskin/Greenspan agendum surfaced, the CPI was measured using the costs of a fixed basket of goods, a fairly simple and straightforward concept. The identical basket of goods would be priced at prevailing market costs for each period, and the period-to-period change in the cost of that market basket represented the rate of inflation in terms of maintaining a constant standard of living.

    The Boskin/Greenspan argument was that when steak got too expensive, the consumer would substitute hamburger for the steak, and that the inflation measure should reflect the costs tied to buying hamburger versus steak, instead of steak versus steak. Of course, replacing hamburger for steak in the calculations would reduce the inflation rate, but it represented the rate of inflation in terms of maintaining a declining standard of living. Cost of living was being replaced by the cost of survival. The old system told you how much you had to increase your income in order to keep buying steak. The new system promised you hamburger, and then dog food, perhaps, after that.

    The Boskin/Greenspan concept violated the intent and common usage of the inflation index. The CPI was considered sacrosanct within the Department of Labor, given the number of contractual relationships that were anchored to it. The CPI was one number that never was to be revised, given its widespread usage.

    Shortly after Clinton took control of the White House, however, attitudes changed. The BLS initially did not institute a new CPI measurement using a variable-basket of goods that allowed substitution of hamburger for steak, but rather tried to approximate the effect by changing the weighting of goods in the CPI fixed basket. Over a period of several years, straight arithmetic weighting of the CPI components was shifted to a geometric weighting. The Boskin/Greenspan benefit of a geometric weighting was that it automatically gave a lower weighting to CPI components that were rising in price, and a higher weighting to those items dropping in price.

    Once the system had been shifted fully to geometric weighting, the net effect was to reduce reported CPI on an annual, or year-over-year basis, by 2.7% from what it would have been based on the traditional weighting methodology. The results have been dramatic. The compounding effect since the early-1990s has reduced annual cost of living adjustments in social security by more than a third.

    The BLS publishes estimates of the effects of major methodological changes over time on the reported inflation rate (see the "Reporting Focus" section of the October 2005 Shadow Government Statistics newsletter -- available to the public in the Archives of www.shadowstats.com). Changes estimated by the BLS show roughly a 4% understatement in current annual CPI inflation versus what would have been reported using the original methodology. Adding the roughly 3% lost to geometric weighting -- most of which not included in the BLS estimates -- takes the current total CPI understatement to roughly 7%.

    There now are three major CPI measures published by the BLS, CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) and the Chained CPI-U (C-CPI-U). The CPI-U is the popularly followed inflation measure reported in the financial media. It was introduced in 1978 as a more-broadly-based version of the then existing CPI, which was renamed CPI-W. The CPI-W is used in calculating Social Security benefits. These two series tend to move together and are based on frequent price sampling, which is supposed to yield something close to an average monthly price measure by component.

    The C-CPI-U was introduced during the second Bush Administration as an alternate CPI measure. Unlike the theoretical approximation of geometric weighting to a variable, substitution-prone market basket, the C-CPI-U is a direct measure of the substitution effect. The difference in reporting is that August 2006 year-to-year inflation rates for the CPI-U and the C-CPI-U were 3.8% and 3.4%, respectively. Hence current inflation still has a 0.4% notch to be taken out of it through methodological manipulation. The C-CPI-U would not have been introduced unless there were plans to replace the current series, eventually.

    Traditional inflation rates can be estimated by adding 7.0% to the CPI-U annual growth rate (3.8% +7.0% = 10.8% as of August 2006) or by adding 7.4% to the C-CPI-U rate (3.4% + 7.4% = 10.8% as of August 2006). Graphs of alternate CPI measures can be found as follows. The CPI adjusted solely for the impact of the shift to geometric weighting is shown in the graph on the home page of www.shadowstats.com. The CPI adjusted for both the geometric weighting and earlier methodological changes is shown on the Alternate Data page, which is available as a tab at the top of the home page.

    Hedonic Thrills of Using Federally Mandated Gasoline Additives

    Aside from the changed weighting, the average person also tends to sense higher inflation than is reported by the BLS, because of hedonics, as in hedonism. Hedonics adjusts the prices of goods for the increased pleasure the consumer derives from them. That new washing machine you bought did not cost you 20% more than it would have cost you last year, because you got an offsetting 20% increase in the pleasure you derive from pushing its new electronic control buttons instead of turning that old noisy dial, according to the BLS.

    When gasoline rises 10 cents per gallon because of a federally mandated gasoline additive, the increased gasoline cost does not contribute to inflation. Instead, the 10 cents is eliminated from the CPI because of the offsetting hedonic thrills the consumer gets from breathing cleaner air. The same principle applies to federally mandated safety features in automobiles. I have not attempted to quantify the effects of questionable quality adjustments to the CPI, but they are substantial.

    Then there is "intervention analysis" in the seasonal adjustment process, when a commodity, like gasoline, goes through violent price swings. Intervention analysis is done to tone down the volatility. As a result, somehow, rising gasoline prices never seem to get fully reflected in the CPI, but the declining prices sure do.

    How Can So Many Financial Pundits Live Without Consuming Food and Energy?

    The Pollyannas on Wall Street like to play games with the CPI, too. The concept of looking at the "core" rate of inflation-net of food and energy-was developed as a way of removing short-term (as in a month or two) volatility from inflation when energy and/or food prices turned volatile. Since food and energy account for about 23% of consumer spending (as weighted in the CPI), however, related inflation cannot be ignored for long. Nonetheless, it is common to hear financial pundits cite annual "core" inflation as a way of showing how contained inflation is. Such comments are moronic and such commentators are due the appropriate respect.

    Too-Low Inflation Reporting Yields Too-High GDP Growth

    As is discussed in the final installment on GDP, part of the problem with GDP reporting is the way inflation is handled. Although the CPI is not used in the GDP calculation, there are relationships with the price deflators used in converting GDP data and growth to inflation-adjusted numbers. The more inflation is understated, the higher the inflation-adjusted rate of GDP growth that gets reported.

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  181. Traitors?
    You bet...

    by Cindy Sheehan / November 8th, 2007

    “America is a nation without a distinct criminal class; with the possible exception of Congress.”
    Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens

    On November 6th, Dennis Kucinich exercised a Congressional privilege and introduced his bill, H Res 333 on the House floor to impeach Vice-Criminal Richard V. Cheney. Some people question the timing of introducing the resolution on that day. Was it just motivated by the proximity to the Iowa Caucuses? Is Dennis actually concerned with our Constitution and preventing a seeming impending attack on Iran? Either way, a resolution to impeach any, or all, of BushCo has been long overdue and was supported by many of the progressive base which is clamoring for peace and accountability.

    As soon as the resolution was introduced, House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer (D-Md) made a motion to “table” or kill the resolution. The vote to do so was supposed to last for fifteen minutes, but lasted for over an hour as the vote, which was at first 3 to 1 to kill the resolution, started tipping the other direction as repugs started to switch their votes from the “yea” to the “nay” column (not because they are finally growing some true patriotism, but because they almost always cynically use political manipulation). From the first, the Democrats overwhelmingly voted to kill the resolution, following their treasonous leadership who are boldly asserting that parts of our Constitution dealing with impeachment; spying on Americans without warrants; and incarcerating Americans without due process or torturing human beings are no longer valid. BushCo and Pelosi/Hoyer’s Congress, Inc have rewritten the Constitution with the blood of almost 4,000 Americans and over one million innocent Iraqis.

    After Hoyer’s obedient move to kill the resolution was unsuccessful, he immediately made a motion to send the bill to Congressman John Conyers’ (D-Mi) House Judiciary Committee. That motion passed with most Democrats voting “yea.” So more than likely, Dennis’ motion of today can languish in committee along with the one that he introduced straight to committee seven months ago. Yesterday Rep. Conyers’ defended the Speaker’s traitorous demolishing of the Constitution by saying: “If she (Pelosi) were to let this thing (Justice, maybe?) out of the box, considering the number of legislative issues we have pending…it could create a split that could affect our productivity for the rest of the 110th Congress.” Well, with the 110th Congress’ past “production” of pissing off Turkey and giving George billions of more dollars to continue the deadly (2007 worst year for deaths in Iraq) occupations while legitimizing George’s crimes, affecting their “productivity” might be a good thing.

    Deposed House Majority Leader, Tom Delay is a criminal that used his position as Leader as a personal financial windfall for his family and his contributors. Tom Delay was forced to step down as Majority Leader as a slew of scandals rocked his office and the affects are still being felt in other members of Congress. Nancy Pelosi’s selection as Speaker was groundbreaking, and way past time, as the first female Speaker, but she has been, not only a failure but a disaster to democracy. She admitted it herself last week when she said she would give Congress low ratings, too. She acts like she is a helpless player in this national order of things. If only the world wasn’t filled with “Senators and Republicans,” then she would be able to do her job! If the world wasn’t filled with Senators, House Reps, Dems and Repugs, my son would still be alive and I would still be a working Mom in Vacaville, Ca. We often have to work or make do with a set of circumstances that are not ideal, but that should not prevent us from doing our jobs with integrity and courage. It shouldn’t prevent us from being effective, but when it comes to Congress, Inc, it mostly always does.

    Even though I am once again disappointed (but not surprised) by the antics of the House of Representatives today, I have never been in favor of impeaching Darth Cheney, only. In fact, Dennis told me a few days before he introduced H Res 333 that he was going to do so. Dennis and others have argued that if we impeach George first, then Dick will be president. Well, who doesn’t believe that Dick hasn’t been president for the last nearly seven years anyway? If Dick is impeached first, then George will appoint a new V.P. that could be just as bad, if not worse, and we all know that Congress will immediately roll over and approve George’s choice (with a few token “grumbles”). I have always been in favor of impeaching them both, simultaneously, but I am not so sure anymore. If George and Dick are impeached, then someone who is as much of a tool of the corporate establishment, Nancy Pelosi would become our president for the final months of an already catastrophic failure.

    The entire bunch of co-conspirators with BushCo, that some people call the “Democratic Leadership” need to be removed from their positions of power in the House. Particularly, Nancy and Steny need to make way for some leaders who will represent the progressive base and not abuse our commitment, passion, and organizations any longer.

    There are a few things that we can attempt to keep Dennis’ dream (and ours) alive:

    Contribute to Dennis’ presidential campaign. Yesterday, Republican candidate, Ron Paul raised over four million in one day: giving his candidacy a profound shot in the arm. Show Dennis some support and love by donating to him. He put himself in front of both sides of the aisle and that takes a certain amount of integrity and courage.

    Contact Congressman John Conyers to urge him to now do his duty to investigate the charges in H Res 333 by holding hearings and actually enforcing subpoenas.

    Call other members of the House Judiciary Committee.

    Call Congressman Jerry Nadler whose sub-committee has been using H Res 333 as seat cushions for seven months.

    Support my candidacy and other independent, progressive candidacies. If there is no good candidate in your district, run yourself, or search for one to encourage and support.

    No matter how corrupt, calculating, callous and contrary Congress seems, never give up! The establishment would love for us to go away and be silent so it can continue its raping and pillaging of everything that is important to us.

    We are awake now, and we must never go to sleep again.

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  182. The Senate confirmed retired judge Michael Mukasey as attorney general Thursday night to replace Alberto Gonzales, who was forced from office in a scandal over his handling of the Justice Department.

    Mukasey was confirmed as the nation's 81st attorney general after a sharp debate over his refusal to say whether the waterboarding interrogation technique is torture.

    If you think Gonzo was bad:You Aint Seen Nothing Yet.

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  183. Hillary Clinton had a chance to do one of two things on the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

    She could announce her opposition to the proposal and score the remarkable political coup of trumping both Barack Obama and John Edwards of an important issue for grassroots Democrats -- thus all but assuring her front-runner status as the race toward the first presidential caucuses and primaries accelerates.

    Or she could do what Wall Street demanded.

    Clinton went with Wall Street. On the same day that a majority of House Democrats voted against the Peru FTA, the senator from New York endorsed the current economic-policy priority of the Bush administration.

    In so doing, Clinton confirmed that the only thing more important to her than securing her lead in the race for the Democratic nod is keeping the likely financiers of her fall campaign happy.

    In so doing, Clinton joined Illinois Senator Obama in supporting the trade deal.

    That means that, among the top contenders in the Democratic contest, only former North Carolina John Edwards is standing with the majority of congressional Democrats in opposition to the Bush administration's free-trade agenda.

    Had Clinton joined Edwards in opposing the Peru FTA, she would have stolen the spotlight from the candidate with whom she is competing for labor support while at the same time identifying herself as more attuned to the concerns of working Americans than Obama.

    It would have been a political masterstroke.

    But Clinton's far enough ahead in the polls so that she feels she can dismiss Democratic voters. And, of course, she's betting that she'll collect enough campaign money from investment bankers and multinational corporation CEOs to buy the advertising that will allow her to buy down the concerns of soon-to-be-unemployed factory workers and soon-to-be-landless farmers.

    Hillary and Obama: Trading U.S Jobs To A Foreign Country.

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  184. U.S. defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran's nuclear aims, although no strike appears imminent.



    The Army and Marine Corps are under enormous strain from years of heavy ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran if President Bush decided to target nuclear sites or to retaliate for alleged Iranian meddling in neighboring Iraq.

    Among the possible targets, in addition to nuclear installations like the centrifuge plant at Natanz: Iran's ballistic missile sites, Republican Guard bases, and naval warfare assets that Tehran could use in a retaliatory closure of the Straits of Hormuz, a vital artery for the flow of Gulf oil.

    The Navy has an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf area with about 60 fighters and other aircraft that likely would feature prominently in a bombing campaign. And a contingent of about 2,200 Marines are on a standard deployment to the Gulf region aboard ships led by the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship. Air Force fighters and bombers are available elsewhere in the Gulf area, including a variety of warplanes in Iraq and at a regional air operations center in Qatar.

    But there has been no new buildup of U.S. firepower in the region. In fact there has been some shrinkage in recent months. After adding a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf early this year — a move that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said was designed to underscore U.S. long-term stakes in the region — the Navy has quietly returned to a one-carrier presence.

    Talk of a possible U.S. attack on Iran has surfaced frequently this year, prompted in some cases by hard-line statements by White House officials. Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, stated on Oct. 21 that the United States would "not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," and that Iran would face "serious consequences" if it continued in that direction. Gates, on the other hand, has emphasized diplomacy.

    Bush suggested on Oct. 17 that Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear arms could lead to "World War III." Yet on Wednesday, in discussing Iran at a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Bush made no reference to the military option.

    "The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous, and, therefore, now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem," Bush said, adding that Sarkozy also wants a peaceful solution.

    Iran's conventional military forces are generally viewed as limited, not among the strongest in the Middle East. But a leading expert on the subject, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it would be a mistake to view the Islamic republic as a military weakling.

    "Its strengths in overt conflict are more defensive than offensive, but Iran has already shown it has great capability to resist outside pressure and any form of invasion and done so under far more adverse and divisive conditions than exist in Iran today," Cordesman wrote earlier this year.

    Cordesman estimates that Iran's army has an active strength of around 350,000 men.

    At the moment, there are few indications of U.S. military leaders either advising offensive action against Iran or taking new steps to prepare for that possibility. Gates has repeatedly emphasized that while military action cannot be ruled out, the focus is on diplomacy and tougher economic sanctions.

    Asked in late October whether war planning had been ramped up or was simply undergoing routine updates, Gates replied, "I would characterize it as routine." His description of new U.S. sanctions announced on Oct. 25 suggested they are not a harbinger of war, but an alternative.

    A long-standing responsibility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is to maintain and update what are called contingency plans for potential military action that a president might order against any conceivable foe. The secret plans, with a range of timelines and troop numbers, are based on a variety of potential scenarios — from an all-out invasion like the March 2003 march on Baghdad to less demanding missions.

    Another military option for Washington would be limited, clandestine action by U.S. special operations commandos, such as Delta Force soldiers, against a small number of key nuclear installations.

    The man whose responsibility it would be to design any conventional military action against Iran — and execute it if ordered by Bush — is Adm. William Fallon, the Central Command chief. He is playing down prospects of conflict, saying in a late September interview that there is too much talk of war.

    "This constant drumbeat of conflict is what strikes me, which is not helpful and not useful," Fallon told Al-Jazeera television, adding that he does not expect a war against Iran. During a recent tour of the Gulf region, Fallon made a point of telling U.S. allies that Iran is not as strong as it portrays itself.

    "Not militarily, economically or politically," he said.

    World War III is on the Way:Courtesy of Emperor Bush.

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  185. A U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, the military said Thursday.

    The soldier, assigned to Multi-National Division-Center, died as a result of wounds suffered Wednesday, the U.S. military said in a statement. The soldier was dismounted, walking outside a military vehicle at the time of the blast, it said.

    The victim's name was withheld pending family notification.

    At least 3,859 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes eight civilians working for the military civilians.

    Are you happy now Bush?

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  186. Strained by extended tours in Iraq, growing numbers of military reservists say the government is providing little help to soldiers who are denied their old jobs when they return home, Defense Department data shows.

    The Pentagon survey of reservists in 2005-2006, obtained by The Associated Press, details increasing discontent among returning troops in protecting their legal rights after taking leave from work to fight for their country.

    It found that 44 percent of the reservists polled said they were dissatisfied with how the Labor Department handled their complaint of employment discrimination based on their military status, up from 27 percent from 2004.

    Nearly one-third, or 29 percent, said they had difficulty getting the information they needed from government agencies charged with protecting their rights, while 77 percent reported they didn't even bother trying to get assistance in part because they didn't think it would make a difference.

    "This is shameful because Iraqi bullets and bombs don't discriminate. Yet reservists face job discrimination here in America after serving in war," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.

    Legal experts say the findings might represent the tip of the iceberg. Formal complaints to the Labor Department by reservists hit nearly 1,600 in 2005 — the highest number since 1991 — not counting the thousands more cases reported each year to the Pentagon for resolution by mediation.

    And a bump in complaints is likely once the Iraq war winds down and more people come home after an extended period in which employers were forced to restructure or hire new workers to cope with those on military leave, they said.

    Among the survey's findings:

    �About 23 percent of reservists reported they did not return to their old jobs in part because their employer did not give them prompt re-employment or their job situation changed in some way while they were on military leave.

    �Twenty-nine percent of those choosing not to seek help to get their job back said it was because it was "not worth the fight." Another 23 percent said they were unsure of how to file a complaint. Others cited a lack of confidence that they could win (14 percent); fear of employer reprisal (13 percent), or other reasons (21 percent).

    �Reservists reported receiving an average of 1.8 briefings about their job rights and what government resources were available. This is down slightly from the 2.0 briefings they reported getting in 2004.

    "Most of the government investigators are too willing to accept the employer's explanation for a worker's dismissal," said Sam Wright, a former Labor Department attorney who helped write the 1994 discrimination law protecting reservists.

    "Some of it is indifference, some of them don't understand the laws involved," Wright said. "But the investigators establish for themselves this impossibly hard standard to win a case. As a result, reservists lose out."

    Does this make you feel good Bush?

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  187. New thread is up.

    We are picketing FOX STUDIOS today.

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  188. Thanks, Bart, I did, after the judges certified the vote.

    I'm lucky they werent Republicans...

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