Monday, September 29, 2008

The Wheels of Justice Turn Ever So Slowly

From the Star-Trib:
A Justice Department report to be released today offers a blistering critique of the political motivations that led to the firings of a group of U.S. attorneys in late 2006, but it stops short of recommending criminal charges against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or others, officials said.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poli-Talk Tommorow at Four

For those of you craving balanced political coverage, tune your radios/internet streamer to KRLX radio 88.1 at 4:30 central time. Assuming podcasting is working, I will post a link to the show tomorrow. The show is half an hour long and will cover all the latest news. The show is hosted by myself and Ellen Tighe.


What did you all think????

I love Obama, but Hillary Clinton was the best debater this whole campaign. That's not to say Obama wasn't great, but she was exceptional during the primary.

Some highlights:

1. McCain's use of the word festooned. Dictionary definition: A string or garland, as of leaves or flowers, suspended in a loop or curve between two points.
-> I think he used it wrong. But props for using a word I have never heard before in my life.

2. Can YOU say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

3. What do you define as rich? I think the difference in their opinions is pretty striking. Obama: over $250,000 a year. McCain: over $5,000,000 a year.

4. "Horseshit, horseshit."
- McCain under his breath, disagreeing with Obama

5. A smirking Barack Obama. He is a confident little bugger isn't he.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What are you doing Senator McCain?

I was shocked that McCain simply announced that he wasn't going to attend the debate until the financial crisis was solved. It's not that it's just a bad idea, which it is, it is how he did it. If he really cared about the financial crisis and truly believed that Washington needed both him and Senator Obama back to help (without ANY political motives), then he would have called up Obama and together they could have made a joint statement. But what he did was political. He tried to put Obama in a tough spot. If Obama says no, I will continue with the debate, then he might look too political - not concerned enough with the current problems faced by the American people. If he said yes, McCain wouldn't have to debate. He is not particularly known for his oratory skill.

Well we all know how this story turns out. Obama said no. A pretty shocking decision, I think. McCain rushed to Washington to a crisis almost resolved, where his help was even frowned on by Republicans (or as I should say lack of help as CNN recently reported that McCain sat quietly in the meetings and did not contribute to a solution). It is my personal belief that McCain probably thought he was doing the right thing by going to Washington, and that many of his political advisors advised against it. I come to that conclusion as we now see them rushing him out of Washington as fast as they can - WITHOUT a solution to the economic crisis. Tonight, as stated in an e-mail to Obama supporters by Brian Melendez (Chair of the DFL), "the debate is on."

I say, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Posse Comitatus

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has been training for a unique mission. It has been assigned to a mission with Northern Command, a force authorized in 2002 for homeland security efforts, including responding to natural and man-made disasters.

Which sounds all well and good. Except for that policing the citizenry thing:
They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control.
Their training includes use of the first intentionally non-lethal defense package.
The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
Officers are also learning to use Tazers.

Let's take a look back just a month to the complete and dangerous overreaction of the MSP police force during the RNC. We don't need more of the same.

Such an order would have been illegal under the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal military officers from exercising "law and order" powers (such as those of the state police) in non-federal areas. Unfortunately, President Bush isn't really into the Posse Comitatus Act.

Just. Stop. It.

(h/t: my roommate, Nick)

Letterman Mocks McCain

So, as we all know by now John McCain is suspending his campaign to focus on the economy (COUNTRY FIRST!). Apparently, this means that John McCain had to cancel his appearance on David Letterman's show, which apparently made Dave mad. Check out the video of Letterman trashing McCain or read the excerpts below.

From the Horse Race:

David Letterman was none too happy that John McCain cancelled his appearance on the "Late Show" last night and he spent a good deal of the show hammering the Republican candidate for that - and for his decision to suspend his campaign temporarily.

"This doesn"t smell right. . This is not the way a tested hero behaves," Letterman said. The late night host also had some things to say about McCain running mate Sarah Palin. "Let"s say there"s a time of crisis and the poor guy, because he"s a little older," he said. "Then Sarah Palin takes over as president, well she ought to be ready because she"s handled crisis like this in the past. Oh, wait a minute, she really hasn"t handled a crisis like this in the past."

Letterman intimated that there is not a little political calculation involved with the move. "I"m more than a little disappointed by this behavior," he said. " 'We"re suspending the campaign.' Are we suspending it because there"s an economic crisis, or because the poll numbers are sliding?"

More Letterman: "Do you suspend your campaign? No, because that makes me think, well, you know, maybe there will be other things down the road -- if he"s in the White House, he might just suspend being president. I mean, we've got a guy like that now!" Video below:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joe Lieberman is Not a Democrat!

Joseph Lieberman, Senator from Connecticut was elected as the nominee from the Connecticut for Lieberman party. He is a chief surrogate for the McCain campaign, and spoke at the Republican National Convention. In that speech, he lambasted his "own" party and claimed to be a Democrat several times. He may support important liberal issues, but he is no Democrat. He does not support the Democratic party. As if it were not bad enough that he is a McCain supporter, he is now speaking out for Norm Coleman (against Al Franken).

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) issued the following statement today regarding Senator Norm Coleman’s record of aggressive oversight as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

“As Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, I know that during his time as Chair and Ranking Member of our Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Norm Coleman has uncovered over $80 billion of government waste, fraud and abuse. Norm has been aggressive in protecting taxpayers, and rooting out corruption. His leadership is marked by groundbreaking reforms in Medicare, the United Nations and border security.
Compare that statement with the indictment from the Franken campaign:

SAINT PAUL [09/22/08] - The Al Franken for Senate campaign today began a statewide effort to expose Norm Coleman’s failure to perform oversight over Iraq war contracting as chairman of the powerful Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations - a failure that undermined our effort in Iraq and cost taxpayers billions. Al Franken:

“With contractors wasting and stealing from taxpayers, America needed a watchdog in the Senate’s most powerful oversight position. Instead, we had Norm Coleman - a lapdog for George W. Bush and their special interest friends. With our national security at stake, Norm Coleman sold out middle class Minnesotans to protect George Bush and his cronies.”

Franken will be joined today by Army veteran Daryl Bong of Wrenshall, who served in Afghanistan. Daryl Bong:

“I’ve seen the mess these contractors made first-hand. Once, we were hauling wood to the dump and saw all these drills, brand-new drills just out of the package, that had been thrown away for no reason. We found Apache helicopter blades sitting with rebar that had been lost for over two years. We saw water and pop just thrown away. A truck showed up with mattresses for us — but the truck was full of spiders and everything was dumped. All kinds of waste. All kinds of abuse. People should be outraged about all this stuff, and I can’t believe Norm Coleman let them get away with it. And when Al Franken gets to Washington, he won’t let these contractors get away with this anymore.”

During World War II, Senator Harry Truman held over 400 hearings into contract abuse, touring the country in his Dodge to conduct first-hand inspections even before America’s involvement in the war began. His work was continued by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, whose chairman holds more power to conduct oversight than any other member of Congress. Waste, fraud, and corruption in the reconstruction of Iraq has cost American taxpayers more than $15 billion. But Norm Coleman, as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held no hearings on the matter, failing to conduct investigations into no-bid contracts and other abuses. In addition, Coleman voted repeatedly against strengthening protections against, and stiffening penalties for, war profiteering. And he refused requests by Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton to investigate price-gouging by Halliburton, a major Coleman campaign donor.

Today’s event at the State Capitol is the first in a statewide, week-long series designed to spotlight Coleman’s nonexistent record on oversight. Franken and veteran Daryl Bong will travel to Duluth and Rochester today. The Franken for Senate campaign and the DFL will spend all week detailing how at a time of war, our country needed a watchdog and we got a lapdog for George Bush and his special interest friends.

Joe Lieberman needs to check which team he's batting for. I think anyone who has worked on a team before will tell you what happens when a team member begins to consistently, purposefully score for the other team. Sorry Connecticut...

Interesting News; Rick Davis, McCain Debates, Polls

There are slow news days, there are medium news days, and then there are days like today. Good luck digesting all of today's news. On a political front there are several stories that grabbed my attention.

Story 1: McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has been receiving checks from Freddie Mac monthly until at least last month.

Why this matters:

First, it reminds voters that the McCain campaign is run by lobbyists. Second, it shows just the kind of lobbying and ethics those closest to the McCain campaign are participating in read the following paragraph:

They said they did not recall Mr. Davis’s doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than to speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of his close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.

Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis Manafort for the presidential campaign, but as an equity holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac’s behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.

Third, the story contradicts the McCain campaign's statements on this issue. Lastly, it makes the McCain campaign look silly for trying to tie Obama and Frank Raines, the former CEO of Fannie Mae.

Story 2: The McCain campaign plans to suspend campaign and not debate if there is no solution to economic bail-out.

The McCain campaign has finally found a way to shore up its credentials. Reverse Psychology. So John McCain really wants to be president and will do anything to get there, how will convince voters to support him? Tell them "I don't really want to be president, I just want to fix the nation's problems." RIIIIIIIIIGHT. Similar to McCain's gimmick challenging Obama to go abroad, this situation is very much a lose-lose for Obama. If Obama accepts McCain's proposal it'll seem like McCain is a sensible leader. If Obama declines, then it looks like Obama is a partisan who has no desire to fix any problems and solely cares about campaigning.

This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that a new poll in Minnesota reports that 1/4 Minnesotans could be swayed by the debates.

Story 3: Barack Obama comes back in the polls.

On the heels of Jill's announcement about the Rasmussen poll that has Obama up nine in Minnesota, is an ABC-Washington Post poll that has Obama up 52-43 over McCain (also nine points). This is one of the first times a national poll has found Obama at over 50% support.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Minnesota loves voting

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie reports that Minnesota is on track to set a new voter registration record.

Ritchie's goal is to turn out 80% of the state's eligible voters in the general election; in 2004, 77% of Minnesotans voted.
Ritchie's office says about 5,000 voters are being added every two weeks.
Rasmussen's latest poll has Obama up eight. So keep it up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

NRSC releases Worst Ad of the Year

I hope the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) wins the prize for worst negative ad of the year, and if they don't we have a very sad two weeks ahead of us. Below you will see an ad that is so ridiculous, it's almost funny. Unfortunately, it's a real ad and its showing around Minnesota, courtesy of the Senate Republicans. They must getting scared about Al Franken's huge leap in the polls. View the ad below:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

McCain campaign takes over Alaska Gov. Office

The McCain campaign thinks that Sarah Palin can run her own Vice-presidential office and that if necessary she could run this country, but they won't let her run her own Governor's office? While some might disagree, it seems clear to me that choosing a running-mate who you don't trust to handle her own affairs is a perfect example of...BAD JUDGEMENT!

The Alaska Daily News has a scorching editorial about Palin's "abdication":

McCain staff are handling public and press questions about actions she has taken as governor. The governor who said, "Hold me accountable," is hiding behind the hired guns of the McCain campaign to avoid accountability.

Is it too much to ask that Alaska's governor speak for herself, directly to Alaskans, about her actions as Alaska's governor?

A press conference Thursday showed how skewed Alaska's relationship with its own governor has become.

McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan announced that Todd Palin will not comply with a subpoena to testify about his role in Troopergate, the Legislature's investigation into whether Palin abused her power in forcing out former public safety commissioner Walt Monegan.
ABC News reported that Gov. Palin's official press secretary, Bill McAllister, paid by the state of Alaska, didn't even know the McCain staffers were meeting the press to defend his boss.
Is the McCain campaign telling Alaskans that Alaska's governor can't handle her own defense in front of her own Alaska constituents?

Way back when, before John McCain chose Palin as his vice presidential running mate, Palin promised to cooperate with the investigation.

Now she won't utter a peep about it to Alaskans.

We know Sarah Palin isn't qualified, is John McCain? Not with choices like these.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Hard Feelings? Pawlenty Missing McCain Rally

Tim Pawlenty has put on a brave face sense being passed over for an inexperienced neo-con who has now come to dominate the Republican ticket. City Pages has a great article about the snub:

"I'm really excited and pleased with [John McCain's] selection," Pawlenty said to the gathered reporters at the Minnesota State Fair. "Governor Palin is an outstanding, terrific pick for vice president."

But as he grinned wanly before the cameras, Pawlenty could have been forgiven if he felt just a little bitter. Like John McCain's first wife, Carol, who waited faithfully as her husband endured five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, Pawlenty stood by his man. And like Carol, his loyalty was not repaid; he was cast aside for a younger woman.

And of course, it had to sting when the RNC official said that the candidate for VP was Sarah PAWLENTY.

And now the man who "jetted across the country" on McCain's behalf won't even attend a rally in Blaine, Minnesota.

Polinaut reports that Pawlenty won't be anywhere near the Twin Cities's suburb.

Pawlenty's public events schedule for Sept. 19 includes a 12:00 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony for the Minnesota Steel plant in Nashwauk. That's the same time McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are scheduled to appear at the Anoka County Airport.

Palin Needs Learning

Sarah Palin is a reformer, she has GREAT NEW IDEAS she promotes ideas that Barack Obama has already put into law through bi-partisan effort. From CNN:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CNN) – Sarah Palin likes to tell voters around the country about how she “put the government checkbook online” in Alaska. On Thursday, Palin suggested she would take that same proposal to Washington.

“We’re going to do a few new things also,” she said at a rally in Cedar Rapids. “For instance, as Alaska’s governor, I put the government’s checkbook online so that people can see where their money’s going. We’ll bring that kind of transparency, that responsibility, and accountability back. We’re going to bring that back to D.C.”

There’s just one problem with proposing to put the federal checkbook online – somebody’s already done it. His name is Barack Obama.

Check out her awesome idea his law in action here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama lays out Economic Policy

Undoubtedly you're aware that the economy is not very healthy right now (unless you're McCain/Palin). If you are McCain/Palin, or a college student who has had a busy first week of classes you can check out the news here. The McCain campaign has been furiously struggling to have a position, ANY POSITION on the economy:

VIENNA, Ohio — On Monday morning, as the financial system absorbed one of its biggest shocks in generations, Senator John McCain said, as he had many times before, that he believed the fundamentals of the economy were “strong.”

Hours later he backpedaled, explaining that he had meant that American workers, whom he described as the backbone of the economy, were productive and resilient. By Tuesday he was calling the economic situation “a total crisis” and denouncing “greed” on Wall Street and in Washington.

In contrast, the Obama campaign has produced a coherent two minute ad describing his solution to our country's economic problems.

If you have extra time, I also recommend his full economic policy here:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Protesters and Police

Those of you who have been following the RNC, which was held in St. Paul, may have heard about conflicts between police and protesters/demonstrators outside the Xcel center and the surrounding area. Several people from the Northfield community and surrounding area were involved, including Coleen Rowley, who ran for Congress in the 2nd in 2006, and Bill McGrath, who has spoken at Carleton about his experiences in Israel and Palestine.

Now, some of the participants have decided to get together to talk about what happened and share stories about their experiences at the convention. I contacted some of the planners, and they said Carls would be more than welcome.

So, a little short notice, but here's the specs:

5:30 PM
Hobgoblin Music Loft on Hwy 19 (off Hwy 61) in Red Wing

If anyone goes, prepare to compose a guest blog!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Republican Hypocrisy Part Deux

From the crack research team at the Daily Show; view the full episode here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Micheal Barone and the Hypocrisy of the Right

This week,Michael Barone published an article about Sarah Palin's speech under the adoring headline "A Star is Born in the GOP.". He discusses the various strengths of her speech before the GOP and concludes:

Who wants to say Sarah Palin is a lightweight now?

And I answer ME! I want to say Sarah Palin is a lightweight. Also, I want to say...WHAT! Michael Barone and the right wing establishment who have long argued that Obama cannot be taken seriously because he his "only" credit was being a skilled orator are now seeking to make Sarah Palin a heavy weight because she gave a good speech. Spare me.

Two years ago, Sarah Palin was campaigning for the governorship of Alaska, a state drowning in oil money, which she has thus far done a decent job of governing, did I say it's drowning in oil money? Because it is.

From an article in The New Republic:
When it comes down to it, the state of Alaska has received more than $10 billion this year from oil revenue. Thanks to the addition of these new taxes (on top of the taxes already in place), that is double the amount it received the year before. Now the government's biggest problem ... trying to figure out how to spend the money.

Did I mention that these cities are all bigger than the population of the state of Alaska? (which is known in the McCain campaign as "the largest state in the Union")

– New York, NY

– Los Angeles, CA

– Chicago, IL

– Houston, TX

– Phoenix, AZ

– Philadelphia, PA

– San Antonio, TX

– San Diego, CA

– Dallas, TX

– San Jose, CA

– Detroit, MI

– Jacksonville, FL

– Indianapolis, IN

– San Francisco, CA

– Columbus, OH

– Austin, TX

Her significant experience prior to that point was being the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (population 7,025). Which received a deluge of federal dollars, which allowed Sarah Palin to lead that small city town. This type of work has not given Sarah Palin any experience that is useful for being Vice-President.

In between being mayor and being governor, Palin's biggest achievement was resigning 11 months into her time being chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. While the resignation was ethical, and seems to have been the right choice, those 11 months don't seem to fill in her resume very much.

Even the experience she has is not impressive. As I stated before, both of her leadership situations were when the state was flush with cash, a situation that the United States is not experiencing and probably won't experience soon. Further the Detroit Free Press on the various experiences she had while in state and local government. I recommend the full article, but you can check out the highlights here.

As Mayor, Palin sought to censor books in the local library:

Many publications have reported an incident early in her tenure when she asked the library director about censoring books in the library's collection. The town’s Frontiersman newspaper said Palin didn't ask about specific books. "I told her clearly, I will fight anyone who tries to dictate what books can go on the library shelves," library director Mary Ellen Emmons told the paper at the time.

She also sought letters of resignation from all staff as a "loyalty test" and fired many people for "giving their full support":
Palin early in her tenure did fire Wasilla’s police chief, the finance director, city planner and other department heads. "I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the City of Wasilla," the Journal reported that she wrote to Irl Stambaugh, the police chief. Palin told the Anchorage Daily News then that the letters sent to department heads were just a test of loyalty as she took on the mayor’s job.

As Governor (in the past 20 monts), she is being investigated for trying to fire her ex-brother-in-law:
Palin is under investigation by the Legislature over the dismissal of the state’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who alleges he was pressured to fire her ex-brother-in-law from his state trooper job. Palin denies pressuring Monegan. The state police union says it will file a complaint against her regarding the disclosure of the trooper’s private information.

and has taken credit for a series of Democratic ethics reforms:
After Palin’s speech Wednesday, the Anchorage Daily News noted: “She mentioned leading the charge for ethics reform, but didn’t note that Alaska’s new ethics laws drew heavily on work Democrats had done before she took office.”

This is the woman, who you are claiming is a heavy-weight? Ha. Call me when she has more than a good speech.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lindsey Lohan the Pundit

Lindsey Lohan sounds off on the political consequence of Bristol Palin's pregnancy.

From US Magazine, via Mississippifarian.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Protests Day 2

From Minnesota Public Radio:

Jeff Ley, 20, of Roseville, Minn., was among the crowd that had marched to the center. When the crowd was gassed, he began running, but then heeded the advice of other demonstrators who yelled at him to walk with his hands raised. He said a police officer stepped from behind a building pillar and fired pepper spray in his face.

"I put my hands up because I saw everybody else doing it," Ley said. "Then I got hit."

Many got caught in the gas.

"This is the last time I want to be part of history," said Bernie Swafford of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., her eyes streaming from the chemical irritant. She had come with her husband to the Xcel Energy Center to watch the action, not to demonstrate.

More of the same.

Another Day Goes By; Another Mayoral Link

In our continued quest to provide robust local news, we turn once again to Locally Grown, where Bonnie Obremski has posted yet another interview with ANOTHER mayoral candidate, this time Mayoral candidate Mary Rossing. View the video here:

You can access our previous coverage of the Northfield Mayoral Race here:

Girl Gives Police Flowers; Gets Maced

This girl is trying to give police flowers and gets pepper sprayed/maced. I used to be really proud of Minnesota. I guess I still am, but I'm very confused about what's happening in St. Paul (never mind inside the Excel Center).

First Hand Account of Protests; "Riots"

This afternoon I received an email from Carleton Professor and my former astronomy professor Joel Weisberg, who participated in the protests yesterday and was arrested on Sunday.

He provided a note, statement and useful links. I am reproducing the relevant parts here:

You have probably heard of many counter-RNC activities in the last few days. I was one of nine people doing peaceful civil disobedience arrested Sunday. Yesterday (Monday) I took part in a peaceful march with tens of thousand of participants. There were many college-age people (many from Mac - I was sorry Carleton was not yet in session).

Yesterday afternoon there was a police riot with many people your age targeted principally for being . . . your age. Hundreds were arrested. I decided to send you my pick of some of the best alternative media vidoes and accounts, plus my statement of Sunday's activities. By the way Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and two of her producers were arrested, roughed up, and later released for . . . well you watch below.

By the way if you are in the Cities or coming soon, there are still lots of cultural activities. Michael Franti and others will be performing today (Tues) at the Capitol, for example. If you are interested, I can send you a schedule.

Here is his statement about his arrest:

On Sunday, August 31, I participated in the solemn march to honor and remember the Iraqi war dead (soldiers and civilians alike ). Eight other people and I chose to commit civil disobedience by crossing a security fence. Among them were David Harris of Red Wing Vets for Peace, prime organizer of the march, Steve Clemens of St. Martin's Community, Sister Betty McKenzie, Jeanne Hynes, and Mary Vaughan, all of the Twin Cities, two members of the Voices for Creative Nonviolence group that walked from Chicago to St. Paul for the RNC protests, and a student from North Carolina.

Speaking for myself alone, I chose to risk arrest to protest the continuation of a war that has led to immense suffering and death, started on the basis of lies, and continued despite large majorities in Iraq stating that they wish the occupying forces to leave and large majorities in the U.S. wishing also for a speedy end. I have contacted my elected representatives numerous times to call for speedy withdrawal, to no avail, so I decided to escalate my commitment to this process
by risking arrest.

We were immediately surrounded by riot police and eventually arrested,
handcuffed, and booked for trespassing. We were released several hours later and were told that we will hear later about a court date.

Although the riot police refused to talk with us, all subsequent officers were
professional and respectful, and we were able to engage them in dialog.

It was a powerful and good experience, principally because I finally placed my body on the line for what I believe in.

Some great links he provided:

A blog where the writer (a medic) encounters a young woman after she was repeatedly sprayed for trying to hand a flower to the police: "RNC Day One: The girl with glitter on her shoulders"
the original video of a young woman being repeatedly sprayed for trying to hand a flower to the police:"Police Pepperspray Flower Girl"

A blog where the writer (a medic) encounters her *after* she was sprayed: "RNC Day One: The girl with glitter on her shoulders"

Amazing cell phone video/audio from young journalists witnessing and barely avoiding sprays, rubber bullets, arrests yesterday (monday) afternoon across the river from harriet island concert. "UpTake Team Surrounded By Police"

three young men pursued by the police, one whose head is smashed, for refusing consent to have their backpacks searched. Blog entry from Andy Driscoll:

Another statement about the "riots":
I just wanted everybody to hear a first hand account for the Shephard St./Wabasha "riots" The black block left the capitol after the peace rally to go to Harriet Island to watch the show. Myself and some other friends joined them since we were going there as well. Walking from the Capitol on John Ireland, turning onto Kellogg there were about 40-50 riot cops around the corner denying us access to Wabasha. I actually went up to a couple of them trying to get information on a alternative route. No body was from St. Paul let alone Minnesota. My friends and I decided to walk around the block and eventually got to Shephard St. Once there, they would not let anybody across the road to get up on the bridge to get over the island.

There were also Coast Guard in the river with guns attached to the boats pointing at the the people. We tried to cross the road to get up on the bridge. Riot cops would not let us pass. We walked up a little further (past Wabasha) and the black block caught up. They tried to cross the street (on a green light) and the riot cops opened up with tear gas first, smoke bombs second and then they broke out the rubber bullets. We got away, but may people did not. There were many people that were there that weren't even in the black block (sorority types) as well as residents out for a daily jog or bike ride by the river. A protest boat got in between the coast guard and the protesters.

After running from the cops, we went to Harriet Island to tell as many media as possible as well as all of the people watching. We were about to leave, when the coast guard boarded the boat.

I want to be very clear, there was no chanting, signs, or anything else that would be "threatening" going on other than a bunch of people dressed in black (their normal everyday clothing). Most of these people were between 15-25 years old and just wanted to see the concerts at the park.

More on Arrested Journalists

There were four journalists arrested yesterday. They were being held for 'rioting' according to the police. Those arrested included an AP photographer and the host of Pacifica Radio's most popular show, Democracy Now!. This is a problem. I understand that there were violent protesters in St. Paul yesterday. I understand that the police had difficulty with some of them. This is no excuse for going around and arresting people, particularly journalists willy-nilly. What ever the reason for the arrest, arresting journalists smacks of intimidation. In America, I would hope that our officers of the law, could take the time to figure out who they're arresting. This report from the Bemidji Pioneer (emphasis mine).

Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke and Democracy Now! TV and radio show host Amy Goodman were among those arrested Monday at an anti-war march coinciding with the first day of the Republican National Convention.
David Ake, an AP assistant chief of bureau in Washington, said he was concerned by the arrest of Rourke, a Philadelphia-based photographer.

"Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage," Ake said. "Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news

Police had been holding Rourke on a gross misdemeanor riot charge, said Tom Walsh, a St. Paul police spokesman.

Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties, Democracy Now! said in a statement. Ramsey County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Holli Drinkwine said Goodman was arrested on a misdemeanor but she didn't know the charge. She did not immediately have any information about the other three.

Police said late Monday they had arrested 284 people as of 11 p.m.. Most of the estimated 10,000 people in the march were peaceful, but small groups totaling about 200 broke windows, taunted police, slashed tires and harassed delegates.

Rourke took photos throughout the day showing police shooting tear gas at protesters. Evan Vucci, another AP photographer, was with Rourke but did not see him get arrested.

"The police had pushed the protesters into a parking lot where they had police coming from all sides to encircle one area," Vucci said. "Once they got all the protesters into this one parking lot they kind of rushed and arrested all the protesters in there."

Vucci said he was picked up from behind, thrown down, and kicked in the ribs by police before being handcuffed. He said he avoided being arrested after showing an officer his press credentials.

I'm often down on our media, but that's only because I love them so much. A free press is essential to our democracy.

Amy Goodman Update

Here's an update and context for Amy Goodman's arrest, if anything the arrest seems less justified. You decide.

Democracy Now! radio host Amy Goodman and two producers were arrested while covering demonstrations at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn. Goodman was released after being held for over three hours, but is still waiting to hear when Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar would be released.

"I was down on the convention floor interviewing delegates when I heard that two of our producers had been arrested," said Goodman. "I ran down to Jackson and 7th Street, where the police had moved in."

Goodman said that when she ran up to find out what was going on, she was also arrested.

"They seriously manhandled me and handcuffed my hands behind my back. The top ID [at the convention] is to get on the floor and the Secret Service ripped that off me. I had my Democracy Now! ID too. I was clearly a reporter."

Goodman, who was released after being charged with a misdemeanor, said that Salazar had been hurt in the face, while Kouddous had been thrown up against a wall and hurt his elbow.

"Nicole told me that as they moved in on three sides, she asked them 'How do I get away from this?' and they jumped on her."

Both Kouddous and Salazar could be held for up to 36 hours.

"One of the police kept shouting at me 'Shut up, shut up," she said.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Violence in St. Paul

Evan, maybe you can fill us in on this? I know you're in Minneapolis, not St. Paul, but I'm stuck in Oklahoma until Wednesday and as far as I know Jill is in DC. It's hard to figure out what went down up there. I'm getting very different versions of events from trustworty blogs and the main stream press.

Any readers with insight please feel free to comment.

I'm currently following the main stream media (for the police view) and Fire Dog Lake as well as MNIndependent (for the protesters view).

Most interestingly, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (which airs regularly on Carleton Radio station KRLX) arrested for Conspiracy to Riot:
Getting word as it plays -- Amy Goodman and two other crew from DemocracyNow! are being detained by police for "probable cause for riot (?)." Happening now -- just got word. Phoned in to other DN! crew to see what we can do. Waiting to hear if it's an arrest or "detained." Should have a report on the live broadcast later today. Police scene here over the top. We chased the raids all day Saturday and I'll blog about some of that later. Meanwhile, in phone contact with DN! and if any help is needed behind the scenes, we're there.

What happened to Minnesota Nice?

Here's some video from FireDogLake:

Also a report from FDL reporter Siun:

Update 4:07 pacific: Lindsay has just called in about an arrest near the bridge - somebody being arrested here - cops are making racist remarks to the guy they are arresting using fake spanish to him and knocking off a hat he was wearing. Lindsay didn't see a cause for the arrest - just turned around and he was on the ground. As we were talking, she could see them dragging him across the road and a nearby motorcycle cop started taunting Lindsay to "take more pictures - Greetings from the great southwest!" while pointing to his badge.

A picture and story via the AP and Volokh Conspiracy

Protesters smashed windows, punctured car tires and threw bottles Monday during an anti-war march to the site of the Republican National Convention. Police used pepper spray in confrontations with demonstrators and arrested five.

Instead of the single coherent march that organizers had hoped for, fringe groups of anarchists and others wrought havoc along the streets between the state Capitol and the Xcel Energy Center where the convention was taking place.

Police estimates of the crowd shifted during the event before settling on 8,000 to 10,000. The crowd was clearly in the thousands, many of them marching peacefully.

Tucker Bounds: Grasping At Straws

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds refuses to answer questions and embarrasses himself.

Palin Can't Get a Good Minute

Sarah Palin seems like a good woman. I don't agree with her positions, but she seems like a nice woman who has fought corruption, instituted a windfall profits tax on big oil, and is clearly not a career politician. Moreover, she has had the single worst weekend of anyone in this campaign cycle. This from Ben Smith:

I can't remember the last introduction to the national scene this rocky, and it gets worse every hour — and even before the investigative reporters have settled in to Anchorage.

Just got off the flight to St. Paul to find, in my inbox: a second source confirming her past membership in a secession-minded fringe group, her lawyering up in an inquiry the AP slugged "Troopergate," and — insult to injury — another woman claiming she was actually Miss Congeniality in the Miss Wasilla '84 contest.

Follow the link for sources and more analysis. Add to the recent problems listed above, she has been tied to Pat Buchanan and she has had her qualifications contested constantly with McCain advisor saying "She's going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he'll be around at least that long." To top it off she had to announce that her 17 year old unwed daughter is 5 months pregnant. If John McCain really knew all this when he selected her (as his campaign is implying), then I have to question McCain's judgment, not to mention his empathy.

As a side note, tonight at dinner (this is my second to last night at home), my father said "can you imagine being a 17 year old guy and messing things up by getting your girlfriend, then realizing that you might have caused a small state scandal because your girlfriends mom is the governor. THEN, four months later having your girlfriend's mom become a surprise VP nominee and have your story be the news de jour on the first day of the Republican National Convention?" My mom replied, "It's worse for the girl."

While I don't believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be President, and thus not qualified to be a beat away from being president, I do feel for her. Sympathy all around.

This weekend has been somewhat reminiscent of the Harriet Miers nomination (although Miers' attackers are defending Palin). I hope McCain chooses someone else.

Broder is Wrong: The Post Wherein I take on a Pulitzer Prize Winner

David Broder (the conservative Washington Post columnist), is supposed to be very smart. He's known alternatively as the "dean" of the Washington Press Corps, or "chairman of the board." He even won a Pulitzer Prize.

So what's up with this: Small Change From Obama

You can read it there if you like, it's not too long, but I'll go ahead and lay out his argument here.

He had two major points:

First, he didn't like Barack Obama's Speech:

The Democrats had themselves a successful convention -- at the price of appearing quite conventional.

No one is likely to argue that the speech here "changed politics in America." His jibes at John McCain and George Bush were standard-issue Democratic fare, and his recital of a long list of domestic promises could have been delivered by any Democratic nominee from Walter Mondale to John Kerry.

There was no theme music to the speech and really no phrase or sentence that is likely to linger in the memory of any listener. The thing I never expected did in fact occur: Al Gore, the famously wooden former vice president, gave a more lively and convincing speech than Obama did.

Second, he thought that Barack Obama overlooked good young politicians to highlight at at the convention, in favor of old pols.

Obama's disappointing speech also reflected what I had thought was the one conspicuous failure of the convention program -- the missed opportunity to introduce the country to others in the younger generation of Democrats than just Obama and his dazzling wife, Michelle.

The convention hall was full of bright, attractive men and women serving as governors or mayors or in other posts. Obama knows many of them from his campaign travels, and he gave the keynote spot to one of them, Virginia's Mark Warner.

But the prime-time spots on the convention program went to Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and Sen. Joe Biden, the vice presidential nominee. All are comfortably familiar figures to members of my generation, and all are part of a Washington that is hardly the favorite of most voters.

If you don't buy my synopsis, simply click on the above link where you can read all of the above in its original context.

Either way, I don't remember reading an article lately that I disagreed with more strongly (I don't read WSJ very much, and never read the Weekly Standard or Washington Times).

On the first point:

Broder is clearly suffering from short term and long term memory loss. He claims that Barack Obama's first speech changed politics in America. Maybe, but I don't think that was it's intent. The speech was ultimately about how John Kerry should be president and that this country wouldn't and shouldn't be divided by Bush/Rove tactics. Simple as that.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.

John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam, to his years as a prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he's devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available.

His values and his record affirm what is best in us. John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded; so instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.

John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.

John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies, or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

John Kerry believes in the Constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties, nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.

Obama supporters flocked to him after he gave that speech, not because Obama was a messiah, or even because people thought that Obama was going to "change politics" to quote Broder. No, people flocked to him because he put forward a future in which people can find common ground, can disagree without being disagreeable, and he sounded like he would fight for that future. He would fight for the soldiers, for the poor, for those seeking education. That last point was in stark contrast to candidate Kerry, who could have fought harder against both swift-boaters, and the flip flop label. And that is exactly what Obama did in his speech from 2008, fight.

Broder completely ignores the last part of this speech, where after outlining his differences with McCain, he lays out exactly where he is willing to find middle ground.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

Two parting thoughts for Broder on this issue, first yes, any Democratic candidate could have given this address, but none of them did. Barack Obama is different because of the way he approaches politics, because he realizes that for most people politics is about the improvement of people's lives. He is still a member of the Democratic Party, he supports the tenets of the Democratic Party and celebrates the tradition of Democratic politics. Second, Barack Obama has been attacked, for "putting party first," for "being a celebrity," and for a whole variety of other made-up charges. If you, Mr. Broder were hoping that Obama wouldn't use his most viewed speech thus far in the campaign to respond to these accusations, then you do not understand Barack Obama. Obama understands the truth in the critique that words matter less than actions and no matter what he says, he will only be able to make change by getting into the White House. So, while helping McCain get elected would be easier for you if Obama ignored the can do.

On to the second point about Barack Obama embracing people from your generation instead of presenting politicians from a younger generation. A couple responses:

First, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are all important to the younger generations. These are the politicians who have fought for the past 20, 30, 40 years for the rights and privileges we enjoy today and they are the heritage of our party. In an election, when the party is leaping forward it is equally important that we look back and look at experience, success, bravery.

Second, had Barack Obama not given the Clintons prime-time speaking slots it would have been a slap in the face to the half of the party that supported Hillary Clinton in the election. By all accounts, both Clintons gave great speeches and helped assure that Barack Obama would enjoy a united Democratic Party.

Mr. Broder, you give away the weakness of your argument with the final paragraph in your column.

The only time a new president can really change Washington is when he makes it the central message of his campaign, as Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

Reagan's skill was his rhetoric; hence the label "The Great Communicator."

Ronald Reagan changed Washington? Really?

I know we're still paying off his debts...but other than that?

That's what I think

Happy Labor Day: Get Ready for More Labor

Hope everyone has a good Labor Day.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this administration has ruined our economy and has ensured that you will be working for many more years than you planned. From the AP's Dave Carpenter:

Americans are changing the game plan for retirement, with millions laboring right past the traditional retirement age and working into their late 60s and beyond.

While the average retirement age remains 63, that standard may soon be going the way of the gold watch _ a trend expected to accelerate as baby boomers close in on retirement without sufficient savings.