Luck has run out for former Adelphia execs John Rigas and his son Timothy. Three years after being found guilty of fraud, they reported today to federal prison in Butner, N.C. to begin serving their 15 and 20 year respective sentences.
While they didn't get their choice of prison locale, they were allowed to serve their sentences at the same institution.
John Rigas is 83 years old and suffers from bladder cancer. It's a death sentence for him, just like it is for Bernie Ebbers who got 25 years.
America. Prison Nation. It's just sick.
On Aug. 6, I posted about a YearlyKos panel during which pollster Stan Greenberg expressed unequivocal optimism about Democrats' chances in 2008. Chris Cillizza was there: "Do not think conservatively," said Greenberg during a panel discussion on the[...]
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Many of you have by now seen yesterday’s discussion on Meet the Press between Markos and Democratic Leadership Council chair and should-have-been-a-Senator Harold Ford. [If you haven’t seen it or don’t know what I’m talking about, go here.] One of the more remarked-upon exchanges was near the end, when should-have-been-a-Senator Ford avoided answering Markos’ request that he stop going on Fox News by trotting out this canard:
But, but, Markos, in all fairness, your site has posted awful things about Jewish-Americans. Your site...You--now you have a site up about...something about Cindy Sheehan, she uses it as a--she has a heavy presence there in talking about her run against...
Um, no. If should-have-been-a-Senator Ford really knew anything about Daily Kos, he’d know that Cindy Sheehan did in fact post an announcement that she was pondering a run against Nancy Pelosi—something that should-have-been-a-Senator Ford shares in common with Cindy Sheehan, since he ran unsuccessfully against the Speaker when she was up for Minority Leader in 2003—and that the reaction was much less positive than she apparently expected. If he was familiar with Daily Kos, he might also know that a few days after that diary, Ms. Sheehan posted this diary, in which she (mistakenly) claimed that she had been prohibited from posting at Daily Kos.
Furthermore, if he were really familiar enough to have found anti-Semitic comments on Daily Kos on his own, he would know that they are extremely rare and almost always rebutted vigorously and usually troll-rated from sight.
What the comments by should-have-been-a-senator Ford indicated to me was that he just hasn’t read Daily Kos.
Now today, mcjoan informs us that New Yorker writer Peter Boyer—one of the few writers at that magazine whose work isn’t consistently outstanding—went on Hardball and used Daily Kos as a pejorative euphemism for something approximating "those crazy lefty whackos who scare the simple people of flyover country." Not only was the crack stupid, Boyer’s claim that Jim Webb is "not exactly a Daily Kos Democrat in Virginia" is factually incorrect, for Jim Webb is a registered user at Daily Kos.
Again, someone spouting off about Daily Kos without, it appears, having first become familiar with the place.
So, what’s going on here? And what do we do about it?
One reason for stupid cracks like those from Boyer is elitism by print journalists who can't imagine the rabble at a blog like Daily Kos could ever be informed, thoughtful, politically sophisticated and pragmatic, and from somewhere else other than San Francisco, Seattle or NYC.
Of course we know that’s stupid, that this site draws active participants from all over the country. In addition to some of the places people might expect we’d draw participants, I know of several Kosmopolitans from the Plains states, we’ve got people who live in the Great Basin, in Oklahoma next to a reservation, in Alaska, Alabama, Buffalo, Detroit, New Orleans, Phoenix...and yes, Virginia. Put up a diary about any state in the country, and you’ll see locals hopping in and talking with great sophistication about their secretary of state or the mayoral race in the state’s third biggest city. We don’t ignore flyover country. Many of us are typing away from flyover country. And we know our towns and cities, our country, we read the same newspapers the "important" people do, we canvass and make phone calls and participate in our local and state party organizations, and some of us, despite writing under a pseudonym, know quite a bit about campaigns and politics. More, I’ll bet in many cases, than Peter Boyer.
With the pols, especially the Dems, there’s another dynamic going on, and it’s related to the centrist v moderate problem. Especially on economic issues, there are quite a few moderates at Daily Kos. They don’t make the mistakes of should-have-been-a-senator Ford; they understand that we kossacks may differ ideologically, but we’re almost all proud partisans. But for the centrists—those whose politics aren’t defined by a strong sense of moderation or commitment, but by determining the ideological location of the middle of the Democratic party, and the ideological middle of the Republican party, and placing themselves roughly equidistant from the two—the perceived "extremes" are something to denounce, and often to fear. Both parties, these folks assume, have accepted extremists in to their ranks, and the extremists have to be denounced, because the American people are in the "middle," and they have to be assured us Democrats (as in the case of the DLC and their ilk) will distance ourselves from the extremists who don’t share heartland values.
We know the extremists who are part of the Republican coalition: the radical religious right, the people who want to undo the New Deal, the people who want to teach creationism, the Citizens Councils of America and the like. But here’s the thing: we don’t have odious or whacko or fringe groups as part of our coalition. Tom Wolfe wrote about radical chic over 30 years ago. Markos may live in Oakland, but it's not 1968, and he's not hanging out with Fred Hampton and Huey P. Newton and there will be no slow motion or still life of Markos Moulitsas Zúniga strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving for just the proper occasion. We're not a fringe group. We're the mainstream. And we’re not going to let some clowns make Daily Kos the progressives' counterpart to White Citizens Councils or Bob Jones University.
So, what do we do? Simple. Contact a pundit or party spokesperson who’s often on television or talking to reporters and ask them about Daily Kos. Ask them if they’ve ever read it. Offer to help them register, and familiarize them with the site. Contact political reporters and hosts of cable and radio political shows, and ask the same question and extend the same offer. Fight the ignorance. And when someone is doing it on purpose, like when BillO went after the Democratic Presidential candidates by trying to discredit Daily Kos and Yearly Kos, do what we did here (with plenty of help all over the place, including the fake news shows)—smack back, and hard. Fight the propaganda.
Some people in the traditional media get it, and should be lauded (and for the good writers like Hertzberg, regularly read). Plenty of pols get it. For those they don’t get it, and clearly haven’t read Daily Kos, lets try to bring them along. Heck, we may even end up converting them.
Remember, the most zealous proselytizers are the converts.
The Government initially alleged he scouted for terror camp locations in Bly, Oregon. He ended up pleading guilty only to providing cash, computers and fighters to the Taliban, in exchange for his cooperation against others. He was sentenced to two years, about one of which had been served in pre-trial detention. He's been on supervised release since 2004.
The Government was counting on Ujaama to testify at the trial of London cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.
Ujaama, it seems, got cold feet and split to Belize using a fake Mexican passport.
On Friday, the Judge in Seattle where he pleaded guilty in 2003 revoked his plea deal. Today, in federal court in Manhattan, he pleaded guilty to the original terrorism charges lodged against him and now faces up to 30 years when sentenced.
On a related note, I still think that Condi Rice confused Ghost detainee Khaled el-Masri (also spelled al-Masri, a German shoe salesman) with the London Cleric and only ordered his release after the cleric al-Masri was arrested. By then, el-Masri had been in jail for five months.
Among the more curious details of the mix-up, if there was one: al-Masri the cleric, has one eye and a hook for hands. You would think someone would have noticed the difference between him and Khaled el-Masri before five months went by.
I’ve been waiting for what seems like ages for Glenn Greenwald to publish the column detailing the results of his interview with feted “war critic” turned Iraq War cheerleader Michael O’Hanlon, and boy howdy, it doesn’t[...]
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Alberto Gonzales, fresh from his trip to Iraq, is headed to....Harbor Springs, MI.
He'll be conducting a press conference and meeting there with "Michigan's Twelve Sovereign Indian Nations Leaders to discuss efforts to combat violent crime in Indian Country."
A skeptic might say they don't want Gonzales in Washington or anywhere near the Justice Department.
I always feel a little guilty dragging people into my decades-ago drug experiences. But Donovan’s music helped me get through the Gates of Perception and I still can’t put on any of the old songs without getting all tingley inside. I love the guitar tones on this. I purposely found a irrelevent video so you [...]
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Last week I noted Rep. Bill Sali's (R-ID) incredibly bigoted remarks about the Hindu prayer offered in the Senate and serving with a Muslim (Keith Ellison, D-MN) in Congress. Long story short, he doesn't like it a bit and says that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."
The statements quickly gained a lot of national and local attention, with a few news outlets in Idaho following up, giving Sali the opportunity to dig that hole just a little bit deeper. Sali being Sali, he of course obliged. Speaking with the Nampa Press Tribune, Sali got on the subject of multiculturalism:
Friday, Sali said multiculturalism is in conflict with the national motto "E Pluribus Unum," or "out of many, one." He said multiculturalism would mean "out of the many, the many."
"The question is, is multiculturalism good or not?" Sali said. "I don’t think the Founding Fathers were multicultural. Multiculturalism is the antithesis of (the motto)." Sali said the United States was founded on principles derived primarily from the Scriptures. And he said drifting away from those principles could put the country in danger.
"If we’re going to move away from those principles ... we better consider the blessings of God that have been bestowed on this country and the protective hand of God that’s been over this country," Sali said.
Oy. At Orcinus, Dave Neiwert discusses:
Actually, E Pluribus Unum is in fact a clear expression of multiculturalism, which is predicated on the idea that our democratic institutions and the values around them are what bind together all Americans from their many diverse walks of life. Simultaneously, it celebrates those differences as part of what makes us great.
More to the point: It's true, in fact, that the system devised by the Founding Fathers was, at its inception, the opposite of multiculturalism. They created a system of rule by white male Christians -- white-supremacist rule, if you will. The country, on the other hand, has been breaking away from that system and replacing it with a multicultural one that is consonant with its democratic and egalitarian values for the better part of a century now.
If Bill Sali is opposed to multiculturalism, he is opposed to citizenship for African Americans, which was not part of the Founders' design. He is opposed to suffrage for women. He's opposed to voting and civil rights for blacks and other minorities. He's opposed to citizenship for Asians and a host of other nonwhites.
That would be nonwhites and non Christians that Sali has a problem with. Which raises a whole separate problem for Sali in the great state of Idaho. See, a large portion of Idaho voters would fall into that non-Christian category, being Mormon. That includes the chair of Idaho's Democratic Party, who was so incensed by Sali's remarks that he has demanded Sali either apologize or resign:
"Religious freedom is a bedrock value of America � it is one of our core tenents. And yet, here we have Bill Sali, a United States congressman, showing his disdain for people who belong to religions other than his own. Today, Bill Sali is belittling Hindus and Muslims. Tomorrow, will he do the same with Roman Catholics and Buddists? Or perhaps Jews and Mormons? Either Sali is too dumb and insentitive to realize that his words are extremely hurtful to others or he really is a religious bigot. Either way, this man does not belong in the United States Congress," Stallings said.
Given Sali's follow-up comments to the Press Tribune, I think fair bet that he's dumb and insensitive and a religious bigot all rolled into one. You might have already guessed that no apology has yet issued forth from Sali. But just to show that Idaho is not a home to only small-minded bigots, Democratic challenger and netroots hero Larry Grant stepped up, and issued an apology on behalf of the state to Rep. Ellison:
"Idaho has been unfairly characterized as being intolerant for too long. Having one of our Congressmen make statements showing his religious and cultural intolerance only makes it more difficult to overcome that false perception."
"It is my hope," Grant said, "that Sali will someday realize how destructive and divisive his remarks were and offer his own apology to Congressman Ellison and the people of Idaho."
The Government gave its closing argument today in the terrorism trial of Jose Padilla. The AP reports intent is key.
Was Padilla the "star recruit" of a terrorism support cell run by Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi whose ultimate goal was violent establishment of fundamentalist Islamic regimes around the world, as prosecutors claim?
Or did Hassoun and Jayyousi intend to provide relief and charity for innocent Muslims suffering in global conflict zones? And was Padilla simply an American who had recently converted to Islam and traveled overseas not for terrorism but to learn Arabic and the Quran?
The lawyer for one of the three defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun, also gave his closing today:
But Hassoun attorney Kenneth Swartz said in the first of three defense closing statements that "this case is all about speculation. It is not about proof of a crime. There is no intent to murder. The only intent is to provide relief."
Lawyers for Kifah Wael Jayyousi and Jose Padilla will close tomorrow.
The Christian Science Monitor takes a long look at the case in tomorrow's paper. It says
Despite warnings, officials used 43 months of severe isolation to force Jose Padilla to tell all he knew about Al Qaeda.