Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why does the FDA refuse to name the company that imported the tainted wheat from China?

"Why does the FDA refuse to name the company that imported the tainted wheat from China?"
I wondered: Was it ADM?

He linked to Pet Connection. They are tracking the story and counting the numbers of about dogs and cats who are dying from eating tainted pet food. The comments section will break your heart hearts.

As I followed the story I saw some of the bloggers and commentors digging into this story and trying to get answer to some basic questions.

If tainted wheat is being imported from China, why don't they say WHO imported it? One of the Pet Connection readers suspect ADM.

I know I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, but I will be shocked if it is not ADM. They will not comment on this when reporters call them. Why would that be!? The other 2 US wheat gluten suppliers came out right away and said they did NOT supply Menu with wheat gluten. Midwest said they had, but that ended 18 months ago if you go read their site. When you read this article, focus on this part “The only other major U.S. producer of gluten is Archer- Daniels-Midland Co., Steve Pickman, MGP Ingredients vice president for corporate relations, said in a telephone interview.” Seems Midwest wanted to make sure the media knew about ADM. Midwest probably knows who they lost the Menu Foods grain contract to.

There would be incentives for these large pet food manufacturers to contract with 1 company for all their grain needs. The more you buy from one company, the larger the discount. Now, if it is ADM, I would like to know if Menu started using their grains and wheat 18 months ago, or was there someone in between and this new supplier is actually NEW as they say? If fertilizer is one of the issue’s with this food, it should be an issue with all wheat products coming from China. ADM set up shop in the Asia Pacific years ago. I should also mention that China imports US wheat. It was on hold for a long time due to something in our wheat, which was found to be safe. I don’t believe we are importing any wheat from China for human foods. . .BUT, it is probably in other animal feeds. Go read ADM’s site.

We need reporters to pounce on workers at Menu, Purina and Hills. There has to be a lot of people who know where this gluten is coming from. This also has to be the talk amongst employees at these plants. I can’t believe no one can crack this secret!

Comment by Jackie — March 31, 2007 @ 11:09 am

When I was following the Mad Cow story I read about the deals that the USDA cut with some major food manufacturers that prevents health officials from telling consumers which stores and and restaurants sold meat and poultry that was recalled by distributors. Did you know that federal law prohibits the release of such information without permission from businesses?

Here a bit of history about that deal the government cut with food manufacturers from the author of Fast Food Nation. (link)

Do I think that maybe a major corporation like ADM might exert some power over the FDA in revealing their role in this deal? I don't know. I'm sure some smart reporter will follow up on this thread. You've got some bloggers helping you on this one folks. Their cats and dogs are dying and they are PISSED. They are highly motivated to find the truth, let them help you!

When Bloggers Attack! (Houses, that is)

So the First Draft Krewe is in New Orleans Gutting a house that was destroyed during the flooding.

Krewe: Ray in New Orleans, Tom, June, Athenae, Mr. A, Sinfonian, Cynthia, Mike Danablog, Cheri and Harry (archeop). Spork_incident took the picture. This is the picture while we're all still clean and shiny.

Thanks for Scout and Athenae for organizing it.
With blogs we connect with words, this was a connection with actions. I'm proud to be a part of this group of lefty bloggers.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

The Big 8 Peace Firms vs. The AEI and the Heritage Foundation

Have you noticed that none of the Big 8 peace firms are funding the push for a diplomatic solution in Iran through their multi-billion dollar infrastructure. Why?

Because their are no Big 8 peace firms! There is no multi-billion dollar infrastructure pushing peace.

You have a billion dollar think tank industry hammering the media and co-opting an entire broadcast medium because it is seen as a profitable way to keep their business growing. And EVEN if it turns out that MILLIONS of people are damaged by their views and policies, they are still seen as a success by the people funding them because their donor foundations and corporations are doing better. The funders of AEI and the Heritage Foundation are getting more money and since they are the ones paying for things, life is lush.

War. Pushing it. Big Time.

Check out this AEI and Heritage Foundation info from the good people at Sourcewatch.
Donate to the Center for Media and Democracy or join them. I've been a member for years and I love Stauber's and Sheldon Rampton's books.

AEI Funding

Between 1985 and 2001, AEI received $29,653,933 from the following funding sources:

Amounts contributed by the Coors Foundation are not included.

Funding has come from many other sources, such as Amoco, the Kraft Foundation, and the Procter & Gamble Fund. AEI, unlike some think tanks, has no endowment - something which has led the organization into financial embarrassment in 1985 when its operating budget outstripped its donations by 25 percent (Newsweek, 1984).

Corporate donations are not public, but it is known that during 1997, Philip Morris contributed $100,000 to the Institute [90]; and during 2005, ExxonMobil contributed $252,500 (including an estimated 50% of ExxonMobil's donation to the AEI Brookings "Joint Center".) [91].

Heritage Foundation Funding

The Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation. In its annual report it states that "we rely on the financial contributions of the gemeral public: individuals, foundations and corporations. We accept no government funds and perform no contract work." [2]

2004 Budget

In calendar year 2004 the Heritage Foundation spent over $36.3 million on its operations. That year the foundation raised over $21.3million from individual contributors and $8.46 million from foundations. [3]

While corporations provided only $1.98 million - 6% of Heritage’s contributions in 2004 - they none the less have significant interest in the foundations policy output. There's defence contractor Lockheed Martin, finance companies such as the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America and Merrill Lynch, auto companies including Honda and Ford, drug and medical companies Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Pfizer, PhRMA, the oil company ChevronTexaco, United Parcel Service and, chipping in over $100,000 each, Talk Radio Network and Microsoft. [4]

Historical Funding

Between 1985 and 2003, Media Transparency reports that the following funders provided $57,497,537 (unadjusted for inflation) to the Heritage Foundation [5]:

Right Web says of the Heritage Foundation:

"The foundation received $2. 2 million from the Federation of Korean Industries in the early 1980s. Initially it was believed this donation came from the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (which would make the Heritage Foundation a foreign agent of Korea), but the Federation later stated that the donation came at the encouragement of the KCIA."
"The Heritage Foundation's income has increased every year since 1981. The progression has been: 1981--$7. 1 million; 1982-$8. 6 million; 1983--$10. 6 million; 1984--$10. 7 million; 1985-$11. 6 million; 1986--$14. 0 million; 1987--$14. 3 million; and 1988--$14. 6 million. In 1988, foundations provided 38 percent of Heritage's income, individuals provided 34 percent, and corporations gave 17 percent; the remainder came from investments and sales of materials."[6]

Case studies

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Remember Bush's Plan to Create an Excuse to Attack Iraq?

I'm reading Joe Conason's brilliant new book "It Can Happen Here" and he points out that in 2003 Bush wanted a war so much that he concocted a plan to give him an excuse to attack.

The notes of a secret meeting between the president and British prime minister Tony Blair on January 31, 2003, show that Bush wanted to lure the Iraq dictator into a fatal error with a simple trick. Concerned that the U.N. weapons inspectors who ad returned to Iraq were failing to find any hidden weapons that would justify the invasion schedule for March, he told Blair that the United States might send "U-2 reconnaissance planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colors..If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of U.N. resolutions]" And despite the absence of any forbidden weapons, the Anglo-American coalition would seize the excuse to invade.

Three years later, Bush's scheme to lure Iraq into an armed provocation was revealed on the front page of the New York Times. Neither the British nor the American government denied the story.

One of the things that you learn from reading about these people is that they keep using the same tricks over and over again. And part of the trick is setting up a world view that gives them "permission" to do what they want. Then what they want to do is seen as "inevitable." Blair can say, "We HAD to do it. We REALLY want peace, but they hit our guys first, we just HAD to attack."

Will this be the Media's "Remember the Maine" Moment?
Remember the Maine! (But what about the Maine? The part were it was blown up because of an internal coal bunker fire (as the 1976 Rickover investigation believed) or the part where Hearst and the media wanted the American people to believe that the Spanish blew it up? Different investigations in 1898, 1911 and 1999 have lead to different conclusions. (link)

People who attack because they don't want to be seen as weak ARE the weak ones. What kind of man is more afraid of some name callers than taking effective action that will save lives and won't lead to a huge unneccessary conflict?

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Blair has an Excuse to Attack Iran, Neocons Rejoice.

The neocons want an excuse to attack Iran.

The can create one or use what exists as an excuse. I think the excuse will be the 15 British Royal Navy personnel who were seized while searching a merchant ship in the approaches to the Shatt al-Arab waterway that divides Iraq and Iran.

Right Wing Media Attacks "The Wimps in the UK"
Now the job of the right wing media is to call everyone who doesn't attack a wimp and question their "manhood". They will question "the manhood" of an entire nation. That will surely get them to enter into a messy multi-generational conflict that they will cost billions and thousands of lives. (Hey, don't laugh, it worked before.)

But the neocons and talk radio hosts don't give a damn about the lives of the 15 British Royal Navy personnel. They just want more war and damn the consequences. Why? Because as far as they are concerned war is a GOOD thing! Higher ratings! They don't really feel it. Are their kids enlisting? No. Hell No. (With the exception of Dr. Laura. It's good to hear her son is a deployed Marine.) And besides, the military industrial entertainment complex makes lots of money for all their rich friends. What's not to love?

They really don't want the British to be wimpy. "Hey Britain, look tough! Blow 'em up! Screw diplomatic solutions. If you are really "manly" we radio hosts will respect you. And if you do act in a stupid violent way, maybe our neocon women will sleep you!" (Shutter)

THEIR idea of Masculinity, the hyper violent male, is great. Is this effective? No. But it's better than being seen as "weak". It's not about the lives of the navy personnel, it's about your image. Because to bring up a hoary old quote from marketing, "perception is reality" and who creates reality? They do! Why do they do it? For the money dummy! The market for crazy neocons and their war jones is still huge.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lack of Empathy is a Symptom of Brain Damage.

Did you read this story?

Empathy is hard-wired into the mind, study finds
People with a certain type of brain damage showed less aversion to hurting others.

By Denise Gellene, LA Times Staff Writer.

My take away on the article? People with healthy brains have empathy. Empathy is the normal response in certain moral situations that involving others.

Let that sink in.

So if you have NO empathy or little empathy you are not normal. In fact, it could be a sign of brain damage.

I read a story in one of the lad mags a while ago about the methods they use to turn people into fighting machines and killers. They found that they had to work very hard and had to redesign their training to defeat the NORMAL human empathy in someone's brain before they would consistently kill someone. In computer terms, they had to erase the normal empathy program and put a new killing program in place. There are only a tiny percentage of people who they didn't have to work with to overcome their aversion to killing others.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and private sources, suggests that an aversion to hurting others is hard-wired into the brain.

I'll repeat it again: The default normal health brain is the one with empathy. The brain that lacks empathy for others is the sick brain.

"It's a hell of a thing, killing a man."
--Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) The Unforgiven

Seven Questions About Empathy To Ask Yourself

  • Which political party represents a lack of empathy for others?

  • Which group of people in public promote their lack of empathy for others?

  • Who mocks empathy?

  • Who sees empathy as a "weakness" instead of the normal state of a healthy brain?

  • Which people not only don't have an aversion to hurting others, but encourage hurting people and joke about people who are hurt?

Now think about these people who demonstrate, through their words and actions, this profound lack of empathy for other humans.

How have we been convinced that these people are normal?

Who's job is it to train the public to overcome their aversion to killing others?

Maybe some people are overdue for brain scans.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Talk Radio Wants War in Iran

When I talk about inciting violence on the radio it was often focused on individuals as well as groups. Stories about individuals as targets of violence was something that people could grasp as just plain wrong. But equally disturbing is the constant drum beat to use violence as the first and ONLY option in dealing with all foreign policy issues. Violence is THE knee jerk reaction of neocons and talk radio hosts. It makes them feel "manly".

Do they not feel the impact of this war? They must not.

Why else would they want to whip up the people for yet another war?

I'm getting really sick of this "who is a real man?" question. Calling Edwards "The Breck" girl as a slur. (I wonder how many overweight balding pundits would love to have Edward's good hair and looks?) And how would a "real man" respond to a hostage crisis?

They will bring up Jimmy Carter and misrepresent what happened and HOW it happened and WHO did what when. They will forget the REAL role their god Ronnie played in that affair.

It really is all about THEIR "masculinity" or their idea of what it takes to be a man. People who think that bombing people is the right response to any situation are not strong.

Do you care more about getting the 15 people out of harms way or do you care more about "looking weak"? Do they care more about "sending a message" than saving the messenger?

What if you knew that you had a solution that would make you look weak to the pundits but would definitely guarantee that those people would live AND you wouldn't have to deal with all the mess that a bombing run would start? Would you take it?

And WHO are you afraid of calling you a coward? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? People who have never served, who have to use chemicals to get it up and get off?

You want to prove you are strong and SMART? Figure out a way to get them out without getting into another war. That is what a real man does.

A real man worries less about what Chris Matthews thinks of him and more about the lives of his troops. A real man cares more about effective action that being called weak by some entertainer.

Only the people who are REALLY insecure care more about the opinions of some chattering class than real lives.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

What NTodd said

"The big problem is that our myths have made it seem as though only Great Men can force change. Seems pretty damned undemocratic, doesn't it? Really, those Great Men are just as flawed as the rest of us and, conversely we all have power and the attendant moral responsibility of conscience."
--NTodd on March, 19, 2007

Read the whole post, it's classic NTodd: smart, funny, well-linked and thought provoking.

(Also read his myths of war post I linked to above).

I sometimes wonder about all the people who are pro-killing others who call themselves Christians. I've noticed that they reject most other methods of dealing with conflict other than the violent straw men arguments thrown up by the neo-con pundits (most of whom have never served.)

This war, from a Christian point of view, is morally wrong – and was from the very start. It cannot be justified with either the teaching of Jesus Christ or the criteria of St. Augustine’s just war. It simply doesn’t pass either test, and did not from its beginning.
- Jim Wallis, at the Washington National Cathedral service of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq,

And who is NTodd?: From his blog, Dohiyimir (which I think is Hawaiian for "No Pants")
"A freshly-divorced, vulgar, non-violent, independent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, not entirely insufferable, non-obnoxious, Tom Green-esque, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker who is rather full of himself shares his take on politics, bicycling, volleyball, and other esoterica."

He is also a great guy and one of the true big hearts and "connectors" in the liberal blogosphere.
Be sure to read his blog, we like to joke he doesn't have a blog, but it's just a joke folks!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Newt Hates Bureaucracy! Stop the Presses!

So the day after I write a love note to the GAO, Newt Gingrich asks the musical question, "Could our bureaucracy be our own worse enemy in the war on terrorism?"

Newt's opinion piece is a load of sehlat droppings. The answer to your question Newt? OUR Bureaucracy is not the problem --it's YOUR bureaucracy that stinks. I'll call it The Newtocracy.

Newt isn't stupid, he knows that when most Americans hear the word "bureaucracy" they instantly think of their most negative experience with a bureaucracy and think, "Yep, they are ALL terrible, that's the problem." I'm sure Newt and Frank Luntz focus tested this idea and word, "What do Americans hate Frank? Can I associate myself with fighting it?"

Frank and Newt know that people won't think about the GOOD experiences they have had with bureaucracies, like checks arriving on time month after month, year after year, or the folks that keep the first responders responding or, the good watchdog groups like the GAO who are doing kick-ass work busting political cronies who ARE the problem.

Why do I care about the good, hard-working government organizations? Because dedicated public servants are NOT partisan workers. Often they are the only ones really tasked with protecting the taxpayers from PEOPLE LIKE NEWT. It is people like NEWT who set the policies, that spend the money, that destroy the infrastructure in the countries that Bush attacks.

Neocons like Newt, when given a chance, avoid official bureaucracies.Why? Because they will get caught with their hand in the money drawer if the government watchdogs are still in place. Newt knows that seeing these people as financial heroes is bad for him and the neocons, so he sets them up as the dreaded "bureaucracies".

Newt (and the Bush administration) want incompetent political cronies in charge. They want Newtocracies.
Want an excellent example? Read this story about the 20-somethings from the hard right group, the Heritage Foundation, who were put in charge of the CPA's budget office in Iraq. (WaPo Link)

But none had ever worked in the Middle East, none spoke Arabic, and few could tell a balance sheet from an accounts receivable statement.
They were "put in positions of authority that they had no clue about".
That is a Newtocracy. To envision one, associate your worst experience with a bureaucracy and then combine it with incompetent political cronies.

Newt's opinion piece contains the kind of reasoning and linguistic tricks that Rush Limbaugh uses every day. It is both powerful and subtle. But I'm sick of people praising the right for, "how good they are at this stuff." It's pretty transparent when you examine it. "Your seams are showing Frank and Newt!"

The only people who are still buying what you are selling Frank and Newt, are the talk radio hosts. They are the highly paid, highly-placed folks in the Newtocracies. The Democratic party has subpoena power now. And WHO will be doing the work to reveal the evidence to convict the incompetent political cronies that Bush installed? The bureaucrats in the bureaucracies you hate so much.

Newtocracies? Hate 'em.

Hard working people in government, watching my money and helping me out (sometimes called bureaucrats)? Love 'em.

Keep up your good work folks. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Heroes in the Government Accountability Office (GAO)

In San Francisco we have a budget analyst by the name of Harvey Rose (I'd refer to him as "the beloved" Harvey Rose, but that probably would embarrasses him). Harvey digs up stuff for the public in the SF Budget that looks wrong and points it out. I'm always in awe of his work and I hope we get someone as brilliant as him in the future.

Scout Prime over at First Draft loves the folks at the GAO because they are doing the thankless task of keeping an eye on government spending in multiple places (Hey, it occurred to me that I should thank them! Thank-you GAO folks! We love your work. It matters.)

I believe that there is good government spending and bad government spending.

The GAO helps spot the bad government spending. Of course the Bush White House hates them. When the White House sneers and spits out the word bureaucrats about the good folks at the GAO, it's because they want the public to hate them as much as they do. But Scout and I LOVE them. Why? Because these are the kind hard working public servants who hold people in power accountable. Their work is at the heart of the watchdog function of Congress. It might not be glamorous, but it's INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.

They spot stuff and say, "Is this the best use of our taxpayer's money? Is there something fishy here?"

They pay attention to money and the people who spend it and get it. I'm proud of the work they do for me, the taxpayer. So besides thanking them I'll tell the rest of you what they are looking for now (I'm sure they've already found it. I'd LOVE to see a copy of it when they do, maybe they will provide it.)

If you are new to this story, Louisiana Sen. Landrieu called for an investigation of the flood control pumps involving Moving Water Industries and US Army Corps of Engineers. One important document will be the actual MWI contract with all the details. It's a starting point for them, they'll dig deeper. Good luck GAO, and thanks!

Project Title: Emergency Procurement - Purchase of Temporary (Interim) Pumps for three outfall canals in New Orleans, LA

Solicitation Number: W912P8-06-R-0089

Contract Number: W912P8-06-C-0089

Type of Award: Firm Fixed Price

Name/Address of Contractor: MWI Corporation, 201 N. Federal HWY, Deerfield Beach, Florida 334441-3625

Contractor's Phone #: 954-426-1500

DUNS #: 004131512

Contract Amount*: $26,606,383.01 * total base and all options

Contract Award Amount: $26,606,383.01

Contract Award Date: 27 January 2006

Contracting Officer: Cynthia A. Nicholas

Contracting POC/Phone: Gayle Rose 504-862-1547

Dear David M. Walker:

Comptroller General of the United States

Tell your people thank you for your work on this project from Spocko, Scout and my New Orleans blogger friends.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Your date's over, mister," SF's latest Women Heroes

You are looking at two heroes. They took action that prevented a stranger from being raped.

They were paying attention, they knew what to look for and they took action.

A trauma was adverted, because someone didn't just look away when something bad was happening-even when at first glance it all looked fine. They saw through the happy surface to see the reprehensible actions of the player.

Read the whole story here.

Then note: You can be this kind of hero too.

I was going to send this to Echidne of Snakes, one of my favorite writers and someone whose community I feel honored to be a part of, but she is busy CLEANING today and I don't want to interrupt her when she is on a roll. We all have our cleaning and organizing projects we are avoiding and I don't want to tempt her (although how you tempt a goddess without chocolate is beyond me.)

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Iron Rings, Faulty Pumps, and Order of the Engineer

One evening about 17 years ago, over a glass of Romulan Ale, I noticed a small ring on the little finger of the right hand of a friend of mine, who is a registered professional engineer, a graduate from an engineering program at a Canadian University. I was used to seeing wedding rings on humans, but the location, shape and material stood out. I was told it was an iron ring from, "The Order of the Engineer."

I don't remember all the details, but the story as I remember it had to do with a huge bridge in Canada that collapsed due to poor planning and design. It also was a deeply moving story about engineers who didn't share information and didn't put the safety of people first over their employer or client. Additionally, it served as a reminder that their specialized knowledge brings with it an obligation to the public that transcends making money.

That story has always stuck with me. We always think that when it comes down to it we will "do the right thing" on the tough choices in life, but most people are good at making rationalizations for our own questionable actions. Or the questionable actions of our leaders.

Many people internalize the spin and excuses given us by our gifted entertainers or leaders who don't have the same ethical obligations as good engineers.

And by gifted entertainers who don't have the same ethical obligations as engineers,-I mean people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O' Reilly, Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan and Brian Susman.

Who are the people who put politics and allegiance to an authority figure above the lives of their other humans? Of course these people try and show how it is all in service of some greater good, like their understanding of what national security requires.

People who demonstrate their obligation to their client first, before the safety of people, will tell us that we should trust them and everything will be fine. But we have been shown time and time again that when people have a history of violating the public trust, they need to have solid oversight. It's an obvious, logical thing to do. Even the right-wing's god, Ronald Reagan, said "Trust, yet verify."

It is HARD to do the right thing when you have people telling you every day that the right thing is really NOT following the guidelines your profession tells you are there for a reason.

That is why I always thought the story of the Iron Ring and the accompanying ceremony was brilliant. It was a reminder that real lives are in the balance from your words and actions. It also helped to bind together new engineers and experienced engineers, connecting them to a history that means something in a fashion they can remember forever and can remind them about your obligations every day.

I am in awe of the technical marvels that engineers can create and build. An iron ring might remind you of your responsibility to others, but it won't force you to take action. Especially if you have convinced yourself that "Those other people are worse!" or "It's not that big a deal, everything will be fine." or "Something that doesn't really work is better than nothing."

Rolling the dice with people's lives is something that politicians do all the time. They have no obligation to tell the truth if they think that it isn't necessary. That is who THEY are.
Who are you? What are YOUR obligation to others?


This post is dedicated to all the people who died in the flooding in New Orleans and the 86 bridgeworkers who died in the construction of the Quebec Bridge. With a hope that no more lives will be lost because of engineers who didn't share information or put the safety of people over their employer or client.

A body floats outside the Superdome in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
(James Nielsen AFP/Getty Images)
September 2, 2005

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Friday, March 16, 2007

How are J. David Eller, William R. Scherer Jr., and Jeb Bush connected?

Via Gentilly Girl (who's a brilliant woman) I'm led to this fascinating story about Moving Water Industries (MWI) by Sue Sturgis at Facing South ("Blogging for a Progressive South ")

Remember how I said earlier to day to follow the money and "pay attention to the people?" Read this story and notice the roles played by:
J. David Eller, CEO, MWI
William R. Scherer Jr., MWI lawyer and spokesman
Jeb Bush, Governor and brother of W.

Remember how the MWI lawyer,William R. Scherer Jr., was the one who was quoted in the MWI release about the faulty pumps, and not the CEO, J. David Eller? I thought it was a bit strange, but I figured they had a reason. It turns out that Mr. Scherer has a track record of speaking for Mr. Eller when the heat is on.

Like this time from the amended DOJ lawsuit against MWI:

Between 1985 and 1993, the government says, Eller flew on his company plane to the Bahamas and to Grand Cayman, once with a "large suitcase filled with currency" and once with a "large duffel bag or suitcase filled with currency." At both places, a chauffeured limousine whisked him and the money away. Eller told his pilot he was "moving his assets out of the United States," the lawsuit contends, calling it an effort to shield the money from creditors.
Eller's lawyer, William Scherer, said the flights never occurred and neither Eller nor MWI has accounts in either country.

Mr. Scherer, no doubt a brilliant lawyer, didn't have to answer unasked questions if he gave a plausible answer. So neither Eller nor MWI has accounts in either country. Fine, but does that mean that there is NO third party company, person or entity that has the money? And what if it isn't in an account but a locked room in a hotel (hey I saw the Firm too!)

I like how he said the flights never occurred. I wonder how that was parsed? Especially since the pilot was the one who flew the plane? I'm sure there was some SUPER clever word use going on there. Something like, "They weren't flights. They were jet plane trips, flights means "commercial flights" jet plane trips are different and not considered "flights."

(Like when Rummy answered his own questions to get himself off the hook with the press. It made him seem like he was being open, but he was really controlling the situation.)

If you haven't read Sue's story yet, this is the other thing that jumped out at me:

Scherer, it should be noted, is a member of the Bush Rangers, a group of the president's biggest campaign fundraisers; he also led the team of attorneys that helped litigate Bush into the White House following the contested 2000 election, according to
Can you imagine that?

Sue ends with these question:

This begs a couple of questions: Why was a company under DOJ investigation for such serious charges given a major federal contract for New Orleans reconstruction in the first place? And why is the DOJ suit against MWI still unresolved after so many years?

Why indeed? Is Jeb Bush going to get out of this story with no taint? Probably. Like Baker, Bott, the lawyers for the Bushes are some of the most brilliant in the world, the best money can buy.

McCain Brand Slippage on "Straight Talk Express"

A good friend of my bragged about how the ties he bought were all silk but he only paid 2 dollars a piece for them. They looked 100% polyester to me and I wondered how they could be all silk at that low price. He flipped the tie over and showed me the brand name label on the tie.
"All Silk"®

Of course the tie was made out of polyester, but the large brand name label said "All Silk"®

I think about that story and the John McCain Straight Talk Express.®

How do you know that he's giving you the straight talk? Well, you are ON the Straight Talk Express®, so you must be getting straight talk!

Media Matters shows ABC's Tapper gushing
about McCain as a straight talker because he's back on the Straight Talk Express® Bus.

And as worrierking from the Media Matters comments section points out:

Straight Talk My Ass.

[link to]

Just because you name your bus the Straight Talk Express"® doesn't mean anything, except to people who are easily lead by apperances. You need to ask "Is the outside appearance consistent with inside?" If it isn't, stop referring to the outside as if it reflects the inside, unless you are being sarcastic.

If you call your self a Pro-Troop group but you really are the, "Get Cindy Sheehan, Stalking Tour" then the media should ask you, "Why the anger at Cindy Sheehan. Did she kill your son? Why the promoting of potential conflict with Code Pink? Are you really more concerned with supporting the troops or making Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink look like criminals?" I hope the media asks THESE questions of the Move America Forward "pro-troop" rally on Saturday.

And if they don't ask those questions maybe they should check their ties, they are probably "All Silk"®

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Landrieu Wants Flood Control Pumps Investigation

Louisiana Sen. Landrieu Wants Flood Control Pumps Investigation, Casts Votes on Iraq

Written by: BayouBuzz Staff

United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., on Thursday sent a letter to the Comptroller General of the United States, David M. Walker, requesting an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on a recent news report that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers knowingly installed defective flood-control pumps in Louisiana drainage canals.

“According to press accounts based on internal memoranda and eye witness testimony, the Army Corps of Engineers installed defective flood control pumps around the levee system that protects the New Orleans Metropolitan region,” Sen. Landrieu wrote. “Reportedly, despite awareness within the Army Corps of Engineers about the mechanical problems of the pumps provided by Moving Water Industries (MWI), installation continued.”

In addition to calling for an investigation into whether the Corps installed pumps they knew to be defective, Sen. Landrieu requested that the GAO determine if the pump design and installation contracts were given for any reason other than merit.

“The investigation should examine the contract arrangements with the company in question and should determine whether or not any improprieties exist in the award or fulfillment of these contracts,” Sen. Landrieu wrote.

Sen. Landrieu also requested that the investigation be completed within 60 days.

Earlier Thursday, Sen. Landrieu sought a full explanation on the issue from Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works John Woodley and the Corps Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Carl Strock. At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee hearing, Sen. Landrieu expressed her concern regarding the Corps’ budget, its projects in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Crops’ overall management.


Emphasis mine, hotlink to internal memo mine.
--From the

Now what is Landrieu alluding to regarding " any improprieties exist in the award or fulfillment of these contracts," ? Most likely that MWI has a documented history of improprieties in awards and fulfillment of government contracts. (Link to Saint Petersburg Times 2002 story) And who is DEEPLY connected to MWI? Jeb Bush.

St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida

U.S. fraud suit targets ex-partner of Jeb Bush

The Justice Department says a water pump company fraudulently helped Nigeria obtain $74-million in taxpayer-backed loans.

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 2002

The Justice Department says a water pump company fraudulently helped Nigeria obtain $74-million in taxpayer-backed loans.

Gov. Jeb Bush's former business partner in a venture to sell water pumps abroad defrauded the U.S. government of more than $74-million, federal authorities contend in a lawsuit.

The Justice Department alleges that MWI Corp. of Deerfield Beach, a water pump company whose equipment Bush marketed to foreign countries, fraudulently helped Nigeria obtain U.S. taxpayer-backed loans during his father's administration.

Much of the loan money went for secret payoffs to Nigerian officials and equipment that was vastly overpriced and unneeded, the lawsuit says.

The company denies the allegations, many of which surfaced four years ago when a former MWI employee sued the company.

Bush, campaigning for governor at the time, shrugged off questions about the deal as little more than complaints from a disgruntled former staffer.

Now the Justice Department is making many of the same charges.

The pump deals occurred years before Bush became governor, and the lawsuit neither mentions him by name nor accuses him of wrongdoing.

But it suggests MWI used its political influence in the Republican Party to win the U.S. loans, and notes that MWI president J. David Eller went into business with "a member of a prominent national political family in an attempt to bolster MWI's sales abroad."

That's a reference to Jeb Bush.

In 1989, Eller, a major Republican contributor, formed a company with Bush, Bush-El, to market MWI's industrial water pumps abroad. Bush has described Eller as a "person of integrity."

Twice while his father was in the White House, Bush visited Nigeria as a water pump representative. He visited Nigerian dignitaries and was showered with attention, including a parade for him in 1989 with 1,300 horses.

Jeb Bush sold his share in Bush-El in 1994, and has said he earned about $648,000 from the company. [Spocko note: Compared to Cheney he's a piker! Where are the Whitewater screamers demanding we looking this deal?]

He has insisted that he received no money on the Nigerian deals, saying he took no commissions on sales backed by U.S. loans to avoid a potential conflict of interest. He said his earnings came from his work in other countries, including Mexico, Indonesia and Malaysia, but in 1998 declined to detail that work.

"You either trust me or you don't," he told the Miami Herald in 1998.

Emphasis mine.
[Snip] read the rest at the St Petersburg Times, including the methods and MWIs response.

According to the AP this Nigerian case hasn't been resolved. But you know something I noticed? Look at how people tiptoe around Jeb Bush's connection to this. Now why is that? Because if you EVER bring up a SPECIFIC and documented connection of wrong doings and the Bushes you get howls of "partisian attacks!" and "Politically motivated attacks!" by the right-wing enablers in the media.

But this tiptoeing around Jeb Bush's involvement ALREADY IS a partisan activity.
They have convinced the media, and maybe the DOJ, that you can't come out and SAY JEB BUSH IS CONNECTED TO MWI, even when their is documented proof.

They say, "Follow the money." they also say "connect the dots", I'd like to add, "pay attention to the people ".

[edited to add Spocko note and fix spelling errors]

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bush Crony Gets New Orleans Pump Contract (Jeb not George)

Graphic from Michael at the 2millionth weblog (Wow, he got in early!)
I'm not surprised: Jeb Bush is closely connected with the company that supplied the Army Corps of Engineers with pumps that the Corps knew were defective. (link to Matt McBride Fix the Pumps). The defective pumps and drive units were installed in New Orleans last year.

Right now NOLA bloggers are checking into the contract details and memo details about Moving Water Industries (MWI). They might help the press answer some questions raised by MWI's comment in their press release put out by their lawyer.

The allegations in the memo were all dismissed by other inspectors on site, and also by three additional inspectors and five separate independent consultants that were brought in to re-inspect the pumps following the memo.

MWI was chosen in a competitive bid process and because of its world- leading expertise in designing and manufacturing pumps of the size, capacity and durability needed.

I think that people might like to see the memos where the "allegations" were dismissed (wow, lawyer speak much?). And what did the three additional inspectors find? Can we see that report? How about the independent consultants, who are they? Who paid them to re-inspect? What did they re-inspect? Could we see that report? Could you show it to Matt McBride?

Matt has already looked at some of their claims and blew holes in them. Again check out his
Calling BS post.

Here's the part that got me.

So to make this as clear as possible... Not only did the Corps install pumps they knew wouldn't work, not only did they simply give up throughout the entire year of 2006 on repairing the canal walls, they also recommended doubling the order of the known-to-them-to-be-defective pumps and drive units, assumedly with the same manufacturer - MWI.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Money Flows. The Water Doesn't. MWI, New Orleans Pump Maker's Faulty Pumps


CAIN BURDEAU, an Associated Press Writer, did a story that is getting lots of play. Good. But as my friend Loki at Humid City points out, This section in the AP story is the "the money quote" It answers the question: Who made these defective water pumps? Moving Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla. or MWI. Who is MWI?

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved. [Spocko. Note Maybe they were trying to get some money back after they fell for one of those email scams.]

Because of the trouble with the New Orleans pumps, the Corps has withheld 20 percent of the MWI contract, including an incentive of up to $4 million that the company could have collected if it delivered the equipment in time for the 2006 hurricane season.

Misgivings about the pumps were chronicled in a May 2006 memo provided to the AP by Matt McBride, a mechanical engineer and flooded-out Katrina victim who, like many in New Orleans, has been closely watching the rebuilding of the city's flood defenses.

The memo was written by Maria Garzino, a Corps mechanical engineer overseeing quality assurance at an MWI test site in Florida. The Corps confirmed the authenticity of the 72-page memo, which details many of the mechanical problems and criticizes the testing procedures used.

Loki also pointed out that Matt McBride at Fix the Pumps is the blogger that worked with the AP reporter to get this story out to a wider audience.

Check this out from the memo Matt McBride dug up. It's not "required reading at the academy" but maybe it should be (link)

1) Cause of the voluminous failures of the hydraulic pumps on the drive units is still unknown at this time - the manufacturer of the hydraulic pumps (Denison) has not yet provided any official input as to the failures being caused by a plethora of "bad" pumps, or, point to an as yet unknown design deficiency with the hydraulic system. This situation would provide for the possibility of future failures of the drive units at 100% until a design deficiency can be ruled out - in addition, there is the very likely possibility, more probable actually, that damaged hydraulic pumps starting the failure process have "passed" testing and are currently slated to be, or have been, installed.

2) The original contract specifications required 100% load testing of all pump assemblies - this requirement has subsequently been eliminated, and to date, less than 25% of all pump assemblies have been load tested (leaving potentially 75% not load tested), and, of the eight (8) pump assemblies that have been load tested, one has only been run for a few minutes at best and one other was run at 1/3 operating pressure (the hydraulic oil barely got warm enough to register). Of the remaining six (6) pump assemblies actually undergoing load testing (actually pumping water), three (3) - 50% - have experienced catastrophic failure. Of note, these three failed pump assemblies have also been the pump assemblies that have the most run time on them - leading me to the logical conclusion that, barring some extraordinary anomaly, the more you run them, the more likely catastrophic failures will occur.

For these reasons, and because I am fully aware the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to proceed with the utmost care and diligence in all tasks associated with Task Force Guardian, I am writing this memorandum for record to ensure this situation is communicated as best as I can to the ultimate responsible authority.

Respectfully submitted,

Maria Garzino
USACE, Mechanical Engineer
Task Force Guardian
So WMI responds to the article (link) Then be sure to read Matt McBride's response below.

MWI Responds to Media Reports on New Orleans Pumps

LD BEACH, Fla., March 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from MWI attorney William R. Scherer Jr. regarding media reports on MWI pumps in New Orleans:

The MWI pumps in New Orleans definitely would have done their job if needed during last year's hurricane season.

And they will do their job in the coming storm season, if needed.

The pumps were tested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers again just this last weekend and they performed above required capacity.

We are proud of the lives our pumps have improved all over the world, saving people from life-threatening floods and bringing drinking water to people who need it.

Our pumps did, do and will work.

This was a pumping project of a scope and design that was never done before, accomplished under severe time constraints.

There have been problems along the way, but that is to be expected on an unprecedented project like this.

However, for every problem we have found a solution and we will continue to do that until everything works perfectly under the most strenuous and adverse conditions imaginable.

MWI will spend whatever it takes to make absolutely certain our pumps are operating properly when they are most needed.

We take our reputation -- and more importantly the lives and property of the people of New Orleans -- very seriously and will do whatever it takes to make absolutely certain our pumps do their job.

The allegations in the memo were all dismissed by other inspectors on site, and also by three additional inspectors and five separate independent consultants that were brought in to re-inspect the pumps following the memo.

MWI was chosen in a competitive bid process and because of its world- leading expertise in designing and manufacturing pumps of the size, capacity and durability needed.

MWI and all of our employees are proud to work with the Corps to ensure the safety of the people of New Orleans.

And Matt McBride points out some important info that is missing

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Calling BS

Now that the news about Maria Garzino's memo has broken all over the place, I thought a few points needed to be made.

Yesterday, the Corps flew Colonel Bedey, the head of the Hurricane Protection Office, back from Washington so he could be there when two local TV affiliates (Fox 8 and ABC 26) filmed four of the 17th Street pumps being run. The Corps pointed to this demonstration as proof that everything's just A-OK.

1) The Corps already ran these pumps last Saturday. The Times-Picayune buried a tiny article about it on page B-3 in Sunday's local section. Here's the article:

Corps pump tests get thumbs up

This article (and possibly the Corps' alerting the media about the test) was also a bid by the Corps to get out ahead of the news that broke yesterday. They obviously failed in that bid.

2) Those four pumps were ordered long after Maria's memo and after the other 34 pumps started failing last summer. They were part of an order of six extra pumps to MWI (total charge, about $4 million for all six). These four were actually the last pumps installed - they went just a couple of months ago (they weren't fully hooked up as of January 26, 2007) and are not the subject of Ms. Garzino's memo. That is, they were not in the original order of 34. Using these pumps as a demonstration to show that the other 34 are working is pure lying. The Corps is probably going to turn on those pumps again tomorrow for the Mayor. They represent about 800 cubic feet per second of capacity (theoretically). Pre-Katrina, over 10,000 cfs flowed down the 17th Street canal.

3) The test last Saturday, like the one last night, only went for about an hour. That was not mentioned in the Times-Picayune article. But ALL the floodgate pumps (there are no spares in case one or more fails during a storm) will have to run for 12 or maybe 24 hours during a tropical storm or hurricane. Why isn't the Corps running tests for the media that last that long? Because they know the pumps and their drive units probably can't hold out for that long.

Don't buy what the Corps is selling.
(Spocko Note: Bold mine)

So to make this as clear as possible... Not only did the Corps install pumps they knew wouldn't work, not only did they simply give up throughout the entire year of 2006 on repairing the canal walls, they also recommended doubling the order of the known-to-them-to-be-defective pumps and drive units, assumedly with the same manufacturer - MWI.
Matt McBride
More at Fix The Pumps

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How do insider Journalists cover stories?

I of course assume everyone reads Hullabaloo by Digby, Tristero, and poputonian, but it is always good to point out a few posts that resonate: This one on conventions of modern journalism:

One of the silliest conventions of modern journalism is that the press can't tell a story if "the other side" isn't screaming about it. Republicans are always screaming (and often are the ones feeding the scandal to the press in the first place) so it's very easy to find that hook. Democrats don't have the institutional infrastructure to successfully manufacture scandals and are often slow off the mark in seeing real ones, so the press doesn't feel they have any reason to pursue them. (And I guess stories about crass political patronage, even in the justice department, just aren't considered news anymore. That's a sad comment all by itself.)

In the case of the US Attorney purge, it was left to the victim to be brave enough to come forward before the mainstream press saw a story --- and likely it was mostly because the man who did it was an evangelical Christian and a Republican that made them take notice.

The problem here is that many in the press seem to see their role as some sort of referee and conduit for the two parties instead of independent fact finders and purveyors of truth.

And also check out a post that has stayed with me for weeks.
The Incompetence Dodge

Digby should really get a Pulitzer for the consistent brilliant insight and excellent writing. What's that phrase that Mike Meyer's used, "We're not worthy!" As BBB always says, "Just go read Digby" (BBB is the new nickname for Atrios, which is in response to calling Kos "The Great Orange Satan". Just so you know.)

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Monday, March 12, 2007

"Drive by media" is what Rush calls 'em

What does he mean when he says "Drive by media"?

What is Rush saying with that phrase? Simple: the media are criminals. They will shoot you and run away. They are killers and cowards and they are to be caught and prosecuted.

Also, who are the typical drive-by shooters in our current world? Are they 1930's white gangsters? No. When you answer that question you see yet another Rush Limbaugh bias come out. 15 million Rush listeners are now calling people (including excellent journalists like Dana Priest) the "drive by media". Are they really criminals, cowards and murderers who shoot people with automatic machine guns and drive away? No. But that is the association Rush wants people to have.

When you look at how the right looks at and works with the MSM and the left does, you can see a difference.

They want them hanged, we want them to do their jobs. They view them as the enemy and use analogies of killers and thugs to describe them.

The role of journalist is important. Dana Priest, who is one of my new favorites, was quickly attacked by talk radio. Think about what she (and the Salon editors two years before) did on that Walter Reed story. That is important work that will help make changes that will positively impact a lot of lives. (It also negatively impacted a few, but sadly, not the people who continued to let it happen while they were saying, "We support our troops!")

But as Jane Hamsher mentioned, the right wing half wits like to attack the media especially when they are picking on their authoritarian Daddy.

Note: Update for minor spelling edit by Interrobang.

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Jane Hamsher Live From SXSW with Dan Rather!

The folks at Firedoglake have been so very good during the Libby trial, but before that the have taken the blogs into excellent areas like author chats (this Sunday 2 PM PDT the brilliant Joe Conason!). I'm especially fond of Trex late night. And of course when my friend Eli of Multi-Media posts there it is really cool. (That's

Jane wraps up a lot of things in this paragraph

We spoke a lot about the different factors that have led to the current crisis in journalism, where the fourth estate has largely fallen down on their responsibility as watchdogs to power. Dan is pretty feisty, and though we didn't get into it I'm sure his willingness to be candid about the problems plaguing his profession (which he is always quick to admit applies to himself as well) come from the mauling he got from right wing half wits. We didn't get into that but the specter of what happened to Rather at the hands of a bunch of GOP political operatives as they laundered their bullshit through clueless tools like Charles Johnson and John Hinderaker has probably urged many journalists into what Rather refers to as the attitude of "go along, get along." The politics of access, the "clubiness" of the beltway set, journalists who fall in love with their sources and stop putting pressure on them, an administration that actively punishes anyone who doesn't toe the party line, the consolidation of major media into the hands of a few and he death of the fairness doctrine — all bear some responsibility for the failure of journalists to ask the tough questions until somebody answers them. It may have created a vacuum for the blogosphere to fill, but I don't think anyone who cares about the future of the country can see much good in it.

There are a LOT of reasons that the tough questions don't get asked. One of the reasons is the multiple bullies using multiple methods to intimidate, marginalize and demonize the media.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I become a Verb. "Spockoed"


This week, two of the right wing's most extreme voices are learning the hard way that eliminationism no longer pays nearly as well as it used to. And the left wing is proving its skill with a new tactic in the war against eliminationist pundits. To coin a phrase, we might call it "getting Spockoed."

Sara Robinson, Orcinus

And here I am without a merchandising line. Damn. I told ¡El Gato Negro! that they totally had the hat concession but I see no hats! Come on, I'm a fraking VERB now.
You must cash in on this!

-Update. Alert Reader (and one of the original 19, Ellroon points out it's "Spockoed" not "Spocked". I was just so shocked I couldn't spell! Plus, "Spockoed" isn't in my spell check yet. I'll add it.

-Update II 200 quatloos to Eli
Eli said...

"I am become verb, destroyer of words..."

1) He gets the joke/reference and b) He adds to it. Of course I was thinking "I am become verb, destroy of trademarks" but what the heck, didn't seem to hurt Google too much. Think about that next time you google yourself. Gotta jet, have to xerox some copies.

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Fox cancels Democratic Presidental Debate!

The Fox News sponsored Democratic presidential debate in Nevada has been cancelled.

Some say that this is actually GOOD for Fox (The Sean Hannity Network) because it will show real American's just how UN-American the Democrats are and that they are cowards who are afraid of the very professional news anchors who have always been more fair and balanced than the liberal media. (HAHAHAHAAH! I learned that "Some say, bs debating trick from the great movie Outfoxed." It's a wonderful propaganda gambit to make your point without owning up to your partisan hackery.

Here's the letter from Robert Greenwald.

Dear activists, colleagues and friends,

We have a terrific victory to enjoy today. The Fox News sponsored Democratic presidential debate in Nevada has been cancelled. Activists all over the country came together -- from the netroots to grassroots to MoveOn to bloggers to the film we at Brave New Films created -- in a stunning and powerful rejection of the myth that Fox is a news station.

For those of you who have helped spread the word by spreading our Fox Atacks: Obama video far and wide. Thanks for amazing work. If you missed it, check it out here:
Watch Fox Attacks Obama

We want to continue the work of calling attention to the distortions, lies and propaganda that is Fox News. Please help support our continuing efforts:
1. Donate to Fox Attacks.
2. Watch Fox News and identify local advertisers.
3. Subscribe to the News Hounds weekly newsletter. They watch Fox so you don't have to!

Enjoy this important step in making very clear we will not accept propaganda as news any more.

Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Films team

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Melanie Morgan of ABC Disney Radio Uses Parent's Grief to Sell Mattresses

Yesterday Melanie Morgan and ABC Disney Radio station cynically used the anger and grief of a dead soldier's parent to sell more Sleep Train mattresses, mortgages, carpet from Home Depot, cars from Mercedes Benz, pick-ups from Dodge, and fast food from Burger King and McDonald's (all current KSFO advertisers).

How? By using the TV media's need for visual conflict narratives about the war and the personal cost to people and twisting it to show anger at peace activists who created a memorial in Lafayette to the dead soldiers in Iraq. I have to hand it to them, it was perfect for TV. ( If only that burly activist had smacked down that gray haired senior citizen! BTW, I wonder what Yellow Elephant unit he serves with?)

The TV media lapped it up. Link to ABC coverage of the "Cindy Sheehan Stalking Posse"
Kind of sick eh?

You can really hear the smugness in the KSFO ABC/Disney employee's voices over their media "coup" this morning.

They are SO PROUD of themselves. You see folks, when the right uses the anger and grief of parents over the death of a son to attractive media attention they MAKE MONEY ON IT! They really showed Cindy Sheehan how it was done! Way to go ABC/Disney!
NOTE: ABC/Disney is neck deep in this stunt, the rally was at the ABC studios, it's all over KSFO's website and Morgan promoted it in her dual role as ABC Disney radio employee "talent" as well as Move America Forward's Chairwoman.
  • I wonder if Morgan's constant begging for donations for MAF during the show counts as a trade-out? Did the "charity" MAF pay for that air time? Or since this is clearly sponsored by ABC/Disney and Morgan is both the MAF chairwoman and an ABC employee, is the promise that revenue will be realized after the promotion results in media coverage which will supposedly lead to hirer ratings? I'm sure the financial wizards will figure it out.

This morning Lee, Mel and OV were simply GIDDY over how they pulled one over on the TV media coverage of the "Cindy Sheehan Stalking Posse". Of course two seconds later they showed their contempt for TV media. (Note to TV news directors: they only say they will respect you in the next day, but they DON'T. Remember this the next time they call to use you. Have some self respect. )

Why so GIDDY at ABC/Disney station KSFO? Well in January they were finally called on their YEARS of violent rhetoric and anti-Muslim talk in a way that DIDN'T lead to positive PR or ratings. For once they paid a financial price for their extremist, violent views. They were revealed as unsafe for decent advertisers and sponsors. And this made them angry. ("You wouldn't like me when I'm angry"- Bruce Banner)

How DARE anyone challenge their control of the nation's media! With this story they wanted to show those nasty bloggers how to do it, OLD SCHOOL!

They sure showed us!

How did they do it? That's a good question for ABC7 KGO News Director Kevin Keeshan. I'm a only half human, so maybe I'm missing something, but I'll provide brief guide for the kids in school who are joining us:

1) Get yourself an AM radio station license. Use resources of your corporate parent (Disney) to promote your violent rhetoric and fool advertisers into thinking you are family friendly radio.

2) Create a "non-profit, non-partisan" group for quick cash to pay your PR firm. IMPORTANT TIP, call it a charity so the suckers members can get a tax deduction (don't tell them it won't be used just for cookies for soldiers but also for endorsing an independent Kurdistan, endorsing Republican candidates and attacking their critics) If necessary, do trade out ads with tax attorneys to make sure it's legal.

3) Create a conflict. The more visual the better. Use lots of ACTUAL emotional words like "conflict" and "desecration" so that listeners will get angry and be ready to rumble.

4) Get help from the right-wing bloggers. Go to the ALWAYS reliable hater, Michelle Malkin, for unconfirmed rumors of upcoming potential desecration to justify your OUTRAGE. Malkin is the preferred inciter these days since Ann Coulter is out of favor.

5) Get your "charity" PR firm to promise the TV media, "There's going to be trouble! There will be lots of flags and parents of dead soldiers to interview." Promise a couple of parents who are in FAVOR of the war, to "balance" the hundreds who are against it who WON'T be available for interviews.) Get the NRA involved, hint about violence. Be sure to remind the ONE TV station that accurately covered your suppression of a blogger critic, over a bogus copyright claim, that "YOU OWE US! YOU have to be BALANCED!" Use their feelings of guilt to get them to cover the story. Play on their desire to watch a peace activist get beat up by an angry grieving parent.

6) Place flags in hands of parents of dead soldiers. (Kudos to MAF for use of Mom, kid and flag!)

7) Invite media to the spot on slow news mid-morning, provide "in your face" action you promised/threatened

8) Media covers "event" positions it as pro-troop not as "Cindy Sheehan Stalking Posse"

9) Sell mattresses! Sell Hamburgers!

10) Profit!

Rinse and repeat in 25 cities! WHEEEE!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Melanie Morgan Launches Cindy Sheehan Stalking Tour

So Melanie Morgan the chairwoman of Move America Forward is getting people together at KSFO at the ABC Disney broadcast center in San Francisco tomorrow for a HUGE kick off of their 25 city "Wrap Yourself in a Flag" tour.

They will end up in DC on Friday and Saturday March 16-17, 2007 where they will confront the anti-war left (aka Code Pink and Cindy Sheehan)"

After this rally at the ABC/Disney studios, they are going to Lafayette where they are clearly spoiling for a fight. (I'd make a sly reference to "Lafayette, I am here!" thereby recognizing the debt to be repaid to Lafayette and France for our independence, but I think the reference would be lost on Morgan...)

Morgan says, that there will be a ton of media in Lafayette and "A potential for some not to pleasant things to happen. So I want to warn everybody about it because the so called peace crowd, the anti-war crowd will be there and so are we."
WE MIGHT HAVE A SHOVING MATCH! (Would it be cynical of me to think that the TV people were promised juicy visuals? And remember on TV "If it bleeds it leads!")

Then she tells people to go to Move America Forward's website or Melanie Morgan's website. Good coordination, Move America Forward's website, Melanie Morgan's website, KSFO website, meeting at ABC broadcast studios. All lead by Morgan. A very tightly integrated campaign for ABC/Disney.

For ABC/Disney's sake I really HOPE that "nothing unpleasant" happens during this tour. In Lafayette or in DC. I mean when the NRA supports you and a bevy of radio hosts at KSFO who love to talk about guns and shooting people, you just have to hope that the people on this trip won't do something stupid. But if they do, remember who is giving her lots of air time. Why am I posting this? Because *I* want to warn everybody. Listen to their words. Note their actions. It's not a mystery how the world works.

But what do I know? I'm just a brain in a box.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Libby Found Guilty on 4 of 5 Counts

Guilty of 3 of the 4 4 of 5 charges.
Rule of Law. RULE of LAW! Because it's not about the sex identity of Valerie Plame, but the lying. Rule of Law. Right?

(thanks to Alert Reader Sewmouse for the correction.)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal jury Tuesday found I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, guilty on four of five counts in his perjury and obstruction of justice trial.

Libby was convicted of:

# obstruction of justice when he intentionally deceived a grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame;

# making a false statement by intentionally lying to FBI agents about a conversation with NBC newsman Tim Russert;

# perjury when he lied in court about his conversation with Russert;

# a second count of perjury when he lied in court about conversations with other reporters.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

"Funny" Ann Coulter Audio Quotes

Spocko knows funny.

It was DATA in Star Trek: The Next Generation, who didn't understand funny.

I also know the difference between "gallows", insult, and "ranking" humor. I understand ironic, sick and dirty jokes. I can spot something that is NOT a joke but people laugh at it because if they didn't laugh it would destroy the conceit developed for people like Coulter that EVERYTHING repugnant or offensive is simply A JOKE. Because if the comment is seen as WHAT it really is, the serious views of the commenter, decent humans the world over would find the views disgusting and shun the people who trade in those comments.

You learn something about the PEOPLE who laugh at disgusting things as much as the people who tell the "jokes." And I'm not talking about people laughing at black or gallows humor. *I*, and most humans, know the difference.

These are NOT "A duck Walks Into A Bar", Jokes, Folks

Context and venue are also important. If you're at the late great Bill Hicks concert laughing at something you hear there is not the same as what you laugh at in the audience at the Conservative Political Action Committee event. Professional comedians have always know that what plays in a comedy club to a bunch of people who have downed their two drink minimum is different than to an audience at some corporate gig. There are judgment calls to be made. And if you know your audience, you know what will work with them.

Something Disgusting Said by Ann Coulter, Disguised as a Joke.

On ABC Radio/Disney station KSFO 560 AM in SF on July 27th 2006 Ann Coulter was talking to Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan and Tom Benner (whose pseudonym is "Officer Vic") about the bombing in Southern Lebanon. The first person talking is Lee Rodgers.

Ann Coulter: "On the bright side we hit a couple of UN peacekeepers."
Melanie Morgan: laughs
Officer Vic: "Look at those blue helmets go flyin'"
Coulter: "Somebody has to tell Israel about the installation on 42nd street."

Please LISTEN to the actual audio.
(WMA Audio link 1.01 clip, comment at 45 sec)

It is widely agreed that Ann Coulter says things that are repellent to decent humans. But when you LAUGH at her obnoxious comments, what does that say about YOUR character?
As Glenn Greenwald points out in his brilliant Salon column today, Ann Coulter is "very popular among conservatives."

If you were an advertiser would you really want to be associated with someone who says things like this or laughs at the deaths of Peacekeepers?

And as Matt Yglesias writes:
Obviously, I'd forgotten the Conservative Rule of Decency which is that calling, explicitly or implicitly, for one's political rivals to be killed and/or imprisoned is fine, but using naughty language is not.

I wrote about this first here, then wrote to the Governor General of Canada (whose UN Peacekeeper was killed in the bombing Coulter "jokes" about) to apologize for Coulter's remarks which the radio hosts thought was so funny.

Here is the response from the office of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. (link).

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spocko to Disney: You Never Call. You Never Write.

March 4, 2007

It's been 39 days since my attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Matt Zimmerman, sent the lawyer for Disney owned ABC Radio station KSFO a letter demanding they retract their legally baseless threats that lead to my blog being shut down.

I just checked with Matt and he hasn't gotten a letter, email, phone call or even an instant message from them. In case they misplaced it, all his info is in the letter he sent them on January 25, 2007.

If you are just joining us, Matt requested ABC/Disney retract their threats immediately. Now I'm not a lawyer, but on this planet my understanding is that "immediately" is usually sooner than 39 days. Now maybe they are planning on traveling back in time to address Matt's letter immediately which will causing this time line to be nullified. I don't recommend time travel, I've had some bad experiences with it, but that's me.

When ABC/Disney sent their Cease and Desist letter to 1&1 Hosting demanding I "remove the content immediately" (right before the Christmas holiday I might add) they gave 1&1 Hosting 10 days to get me to comply. In turn 1&1 gave me 24 hours to remove the material. I immediately complied with the request from 1&1. And I did it within 6 hours (compare my understanding of " immediate" to theirs). I'd show everyone the proof, but alas I can't access my 1&1 logs to prove it because it's still shut down.

Their intimidation tactics worked on 1&1 Hosting, one of the largest hosting companies in the world. It appeared 1&1 didn't bother to check that I removed everything in time and just shut down my entire blog, words and all. Although my new blog host, Computer Tyme Hosting, is smaller my understanding is that a C&D letter sent to them regarding my posting of audio clips from KSFO will get ABC/Disney a very different response.

But I still don't understand why ABC/Disney hasn't responded to the letter from the EFF.

I thought they clearly pointed out that my use of KSFO's audio clips qualifies as noninfringing fair use. I would expect them to at least acknowledge that the EFF proved the case.

I think that it was rather rude of them to ignore the letter.

It can be inferred from their silence that even they agree that my use of KSFO's audio clips qualifies as noninfringing fair use. The hosts of KSFO objected that the clips were too short and didn't have enough context (even though we have demonstrated here and here that more context doesn't exculpate them, but actually reveals more of their depravity. But since they want more context, I'll just post longer clips. However, unlike some people I won't put up the ENTIRE show.

BTW, did you know that Melanie Morgan is rebroadcasting the entire three hour January 12, 2007 show on her website? Did ABC Radio authorize that? Did the Disney boss of ABC Radio? Was Morgan acting as an ABC or Disney employee when she posted that? Was she acting as Melanie Morgan, the chairwoman of Move America Forward or Melanie Morgan an individual who is hosting San Francisco Radio Assets' content on her personal website?

It says on her website where the content is hosted: Copyright © 2006 Melanie Morgan. All Rights Reserved. Is she an individual infringing on ABC or Disney's copyright? Will she be getting a C&D letter from ABC or Disney?

What's the Hold Up? Everyone Must be Briefed by Now
I know that big corporations move slowly, but given the impact this story had on the Disney brand I would think that they would treat the EFF letter with a little more urgency.

I know that the people in charge of the Disney brand probably ignore the blogs who wrote about this even the big ones like DailyKos with 500,000 readers a day.
But maybe they caught the story in:

It was even on TV! (For the millions who get their news from TV, check out the Crooks and Liars Link since the CBS video is gone now.)

Even if the brand managers didn't read or watch ANY of those stories, I'm fairly confident that lots of ABC/Disney executives made sure that they listened into the VERY SPECIAL PROGRAM that KSFO held on January 12, 2007. Why? Because that was the show where they kicked Dr. Laura off the air for three hours trying to convince advertisers that what the advertisers heard wasn't really what they heard (by the way, I wonder which division will be charged for that little stunt. Does Dr. Laura get paid syndication fees if she wasn't broadcast? Who pays her? Does ABC Radio legal cover it? Disney PR? Disney HR? ABC Sales? Probably an accounting nightmare.)

Maybe ABC/Disney didn't respond because they think we are unserious people who use pseudonyms (something no RADIO person cough* Officer Vic * cough ever uses). I will point out that Mr. Zimmerman gave them very specific, serious contact information. Still, they ignored his letter.

Maybe they didn't respond because they wanted to just keep the threat hanging out there.
And they continue to let the people at KSFO look for methods to stifle and/or smear their critics. But pretending that they didn't get the letter doesn't really give the Disney executives plausible deniability in the public eye.

Why is the continued clear awareness about what is going on at KSFO--by multiple executives from ABC and Disney-- important? Because when the next atrocity is spewed by Rodgers, Morgan, Sussman or "Officer Vic" they can not say, "We had NO idea those kind of things were being said on a Disney station!" Multiple executives from ABC and Disney knew what was going on at KSFO months before that 1/12/2007 show. I'm fairly confident that many listened in that day (or they can still listen to the whole three hour rebroadcast on Melanie Morgan's personal website.) There really is no excuse for anyone's lack of awareness at this point. And that should mean a real responsibility on their part to ensure that hosts stay within their corporate guidelines. Have the hosts conducted themselves as professionals on a commercially-supported broadcast radio network that was granted a license by the public via the FCC?

But Didn't KSFO Hosts Already Address All the Issues Raised by "Crackpots with Keyboards"?

Some violent rhetoric was NEVER addressed on their Very Special Program (did they cherry pick which clips to address? You bet.) Other comments were even embraced. When some of those comments become relevant yet again (say for example because of current news items) will management continue to accept the word games and bluster of the hosts?

Lee Rodgers Strikes Back, at KSFO's Own Advertisers!

Did you read in MediaNewsDaily about how Lee Rodgers threatened to boycott the KSFO advertisers who left? Wow. Attacking their own previous sponsors. I'm sure their competitors would really be happy to inform sponsors how they will be treated if they dare choose to leave. As my friend over at Backseatdriving said:

Tomorrow’s threatened former advertiser is a potential advertiser today, deciding whether they want to buy air time. Rogers is saying to them that starting ads on KSFO carries a downside risk the buyer won’t find anywhere else: if you ever stop advertising for any reason, Rogers or his fans may try to harm your company’s brand and image.

I thought that actively damaging a former advertiser's brand and image was just more bizarre, un-profitable blather from Rodgers, but then I heard something from on KSFO that convinced me that hosts from KSFO WILL attack former advertisers!

I'll be posting that in the next week or so (which, by the way is NOT immediately, just in case you wondered what MY definition of immediately was.)


Mr. Spocko

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Orleans to Bush: "We Rebuke You!"

New Orleans Needs Federal Aid, Not Presidential Photo-Ops.

Mr. President: Katrina Survivors Do Not Welcome You, We Rebuke You!

We live in a devastated city and you are a big part of the reason why it sill sits in ruins. Your administration has abandoned our children by savaging their public schools. Your administration has tortured our working class people by refusing to reopen the city’s public housing developments. And your administration is fully complicit in placing our uninsured in harms way by ruthlessly pursuing the privatization of local public healthcare in the aftermath of Katrina. And, finally your administration is guilty of sending our sons and daughters of to war for oil and empire just when we need them most to help us rebuild our community.

Mr. President, we, Katrina Survivors all, do not welcome you to our city, we rebuke you!

Sponsored by Survivors Village, United Front For Affordable Housing.

(504) 587-0080

If you have a blog please consider posting this today.

via Scout Prime at First Draft and via Humid City

BTW, even if you are a 5th tier blogger with 2 readers still post this. Why? Because the main stream press look at stuff in aggregate. As in "200,000 blogs wrote about New Orleans rebuking the President." It's a simple step. Do it. Don't cost ya nuthing.

For me this stuff is personal. Two relatives were directly impacted by the flooding.
I'm not forgetting about this, neither should you.

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