Friday, April 30, 2004

McCain's Pissed, Too.

AZ's Senator John McCain also wrote a letter to Sinclair Broadcasting about their decision not to air tonight's Nightline. They should be afraid. Very afraid.

Bush Needs to be Slapped Silly

Watch George W. Bush (Quicktime stream) cleaning his glasses on a stranger's shirt during a break on the Letterman show. The producer, Maria Pope, came on stage to speak with Dave, and our Village Idiot decided that he would just use her shirt without asking.

Beyond the head rubbing, name-calling, ostracizing, and the annoying and belittling nicknames, apparently, Bush has no respect for anyone's personal space, either. We will just have to learn that all other humans exist for the use and convenience of George W. I can't even watch this without squirming with the need to slap his presumptuous hands away.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Sinclair Broadcast Group Yanking Kopel's Iraq Memorial Nightline

Sinclair Broadcast Group is pulling Friday's Nightline as being "contrary to the public interest". As if they have any right to define what the public interest is. They claim that ABC and Kopel are trying to "undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq". The base their policy on the asserted objection of ONE widow who opposes having her husand's name read on the air. You can read more about the story in the Baltimore Chronicle and on Atrios' Eschaton.

Sinclair owns 8 ABC affiliate stations:


Ask them why they refuse to honor those who have served this country with the last full measure of devotion. Tell them they have no right and no business interfering with a National memorial service for the fallen.

Ask them what evidence they have, except for the claimed anecdotal evidence of 1 window, that this tribute is not wanted by the families of the fallen. Why does one person have a veto over the wishes of the over 600 whom they have not consulted?

Questionable Rhetoric: If you want to really unload on them, tell them that it is un-American to fail to pay respects to fallen soldiers. Ask them if they are ashamed of these soldiers who sacrificed for their nation. If they deny being ashamed of the soldiers, demand that they prove it by celebrating their sacrifice by airing the broadcast. Before rejecting such a rhetorical device, read the story in the Chronicle about the owners of Sinclair. The tactic will seem a lot less objectionable when you understand with whom you are dealing.


Contact the Sinclair Broadcast Group at 410-568-1500, or choose your contact.

Call and/or write both Sinclair and the involved ABC affiliate stations, expecially if you can claim some local affiliation with the region served. Demand that Nightline's Friday broadcast be carried.

Put them on notice as to your intent if you are willing to file a complaint with the stations involved (such complaints must be kept in Local Public Inspection files) and with the FCC regarding their failure to broadcast important issues facing the local communities they serve. Send written complaints to the stations and to:

Federal Communications Commission
Enforcement Bureau
445 12th St., SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

Fax: (202)-418-2810 Telephone number: (202) 418-7450
E-mail address:

You should generally include the following information in your complaint: (1) the call letters of the station; (2) the city and state where the station is located; (3) the name, time, and date of the specific program or advertisement in question, if applicable; (4) the name of anyone contacted at the station, if applicable; and (5) a statement of the problem, as specific as possible, together with an audio or video tape or transcript of the program or advertisement (if possible). Please include your name and address if you would like information on the final disposition of your complaint; however, you may request confidentiality. The FCC prefers that you submit complaints in writing.

Is There a Movement to Un-nominate Kerry?

John Kerry must go. According to James Ridgeway of the Villge Voice there is rumbling in the Democratic establishment that Kerry hasn't the right stuff.

I find this preposterous. Yes, Kerry is not ideal. But Democrats selected him democratically. Now the divines of the Party want another chance to screw up having helped to bring down Dean? How many presumptive nominees to these idiots need to get it right. If Kerry is failing to deliver it is their fault as much as the candidates.

Kerry is a strong candidate. His main problem is his inexperience in a national race, but that is almost always a learning curve, even for the last cycle's victor, because the political landscape changes so rapidly. He is firm in his convictions, and his often shows laudible flashes of spine, such as when he recently said he wasn't going to stand by and take the denigration of his service record. If he can deliver on such moments of strength, and clearly articulate a unifying theme and domestic policy agenda, while distinguishing his foreign policy from Bush's (getting in line with his party, too, by the way), then he stands an excellent chance of beating Bush.

Latest polling is showing Kerry doing well in swing states despite recent set-backs in Red States. But who cares about Red States? We aren't going to win more than a handful, at best. If Kerry is performing well in the swing state under a barrage of Bushit over the airwaves, he is going to hold up for the long haul. The Dem establishment would be fools to try to change horses again at this time. They need to make our dray look and perform like a showhorse, and we can win. All the GOP will have by election day is a pot of glue.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Scandals: On the Horizon, Pouring Cats and Dogs, and Just Starting to Break

Philadelphia Inquirer: Did Chalabi's INC group lobby for war using taxpayer money? Since its inception in 1982, the Iraqi National Congress has recieved over 100 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars. According to Chalabi's own crowing press releases the group's leaks of classified materials and arrangement of meetings between reporters and bogus informers resulted in hundreds of stories about Iraq and WMD and terrorism which were completely untrue. Now Senators Kerry and Levin have asked the GAO of Congress to open an investigation into whether the INC improperly used taxpayer funds to lobby the government. I suspect another serious scandal is about to break.

Los Angles Times: The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation of the computer intrusion into the files of the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats. David N. Kelly, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York will be heading the investigation and hurling kitties and pups from on high. Along with the Valerie Plame affair this is second criminal investigation opened by the Justice Department inspired by the action of GOP operatives in government.

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Ten firms have been awarded billions of dollars in US contracts for Iraq's reconstruction despite paying more than $300 million in penalties since 2000 to resolve allegations of bid-rigging, fraud, delivery of faulty military parts and environmental damage.

This is the ethical and legal equivalent of putting convicted embezzlers in charge of a trust fund. To make matters worse, the Bush Administration's no-bid contracting and poor oversight of the contract work is an invitation to steal to those who have proven they need no invitation. It won't be long before this scandal, now looming on the horizon, begins to douse the Bush Administration, too.

I'm begining to think that the Bush Administration's strategy is to engage in so much corruption, crime, and malfeasance, that voters can't keep track of all the investigations, indictments, and arrests happening in the Beltway.

Bush's Head on a Stick: Now THAT'S Art!

Prosser, WA:A teen's art class notebook drew the attention of the Secret Service. The 15 year old's drawings depicted Bush as Satan with a missile launcher and the caption "End the war -- on terrorism" and a mufti-clad gunman with Bush's oversized head on the end of a stick. Apparently, the boneheaded administrators with their ridiculous zero-tolerance mindsets, reported the child's drawings to the Secret Service, who followed up with an interview of the youth.

Now it is perfectly understandable that the Secret Service take threats to the President's life seriously. In this time of war and terrorism, it is certainly understandable that the Secret Service be on high alert and react to lower probability threats that they might not at other times. A 15 year old child drawing anti-war pictures for an art class in Prosser, Washington being a credible threat to the President, however, seems to stretch credulity. I have said far more threatening things about the Preznit on this blog, and I certainly fit the pattern (194k PDF threat assessment guide) for a person of interest far better than this kid, yet no visits here. One has to wonder what the thought process of the USSS Field Office Director could have been to engender such an seeming over-reaction.

The Secret Service runs a study task group for school threat assessment. The study only gathers and analyzes data to define profiles of school shooters in an effort to separate the many 'false positive' behaviors of adolescent youth (generally teenage boys) and the sorts of behavioral and communicative patterns which presage a genuine threat. School officials intimate that the safety of the school was thier motive in contacting authorities. But why the SS and not the local or State police?

The Secret Service does not do field visits for these sorts of threats. Only as a part of its protected persons operations does it follow up with interviews of suspected threats. Someone must have actually thought this kid posed a credible threat to the President.

When the Secret Service's official release on the incident comes out 30 days from yesterday, you have to wonder what their excuse will be. One would presume that the release will not include an admission that the Secret Service's idea of a legitimate POTUS threat subject now includes 15 year old kids from Prosser wielding #2 pencils and bad attitudes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Richard Clarke: The Wrong Debate on Terrorism

Richard Clarke's 4/25 op-Ed peice in the The New York Times highlights many of the short comings of the Bush Administration's anti-terror policy. It is good reading and poses questions that reflect a fine sensibility of the limits and inherent dangers of using armed force as a response to every security challenge.

Clarke stresses that what we are facing is really a civil war within the Islamic civilization; modern secularism vs. traditional totalism. The most disturbing observation Clarke makes is that many of Bush's policies, especially the invasion of Iraq, have strengthened the hand of the traditionalists in the struggle. Many of us recognize that Bush's policies in the Middle East are counter-productive to the goal of a peaceful region. Most recently, his seemingly incomprehensible endorsement of Sharon's 'peace plan' seems designed to further alienate our remaining Arab allies.

But what if people's reasonable assumption that Bush is simply incompetent or misguided is completely wrong? The people who make up the Bush Administration are a lot of negative things, but stupid isn't one of them. What if Bush's policies are having exactly the effect they are intended to have? That is the truly scary thought of the day.

Incompetence may be a comforting illusion. The reality may be that Bush is pushing the Middle East toward war and the Islamic culture toward radical fundamentalism as a concious policy choice.

To what purpose? Why, the one foretold in the Bible, of course: the end of the world. If Bush thinks himself appointed by God to lead the Nation, is it any buggier for him to think he is leading the nation through the End Times? Is it appreciably more insane for Bush to think that his mission as God's appointed leader is to bring the Appocalypse and the Rapture, than for him to think that God appointed him President with no particular mission in mind? God acts in mysterious ways, but religious radicals never think he acts without a purpose; and they always think they know what it is.

The Bush Administration is clearly fostering strife, war, unrest, and radicalism in the Middle East by its policies. Those who believe in the literal truth of the Bible believe that the End Times will play out in a time of strife in the Middle East when Israel is re-established. What more reasonable way to hasten the coming of the Christian Eschaton that to stir up trouble in the region by starting wars and empowering radicals? What better way to bring prophecy to fruition than to back the Israeli 'peace plan' that will re-establish the 'historical' boundaries of Israel by granting the West Bank to Israel and radicalizing the Arab world in the process? Is there any provocation available that might make a war and a nuclear exchange between Israel and Muslim powers, such as Pakistan or Iran, more likely?

Of course, I could be entirely wrong. The Bush Administration may be just a gaggle of incompetents. But if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, it probably isn't an elephant. It's likely a duck. ::dramatic pause::

A Doomsday Duck.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Divided Government a Conservative Value - Who Knew? presents "A Conservative Case for Voting Democratic"

Send this to all your rich friends, who for some odd reason still support Bush. The basic message is that giving either party complete control of the Federal government and the vaults empty rapidly. It is highly unlikely that the Dems can retake Congress, at least not the House, and given the number of retirements in the Senate, probably not that body either. So to restore any semblence of divided government in order to restrain spending, the Dems must take the White House.

It is rather disturbing that the Federal government is so incapable of restraining itself when not divided by party. It makes one wonder what is wrong with the design of our government or political system that representatives are unable to restrain themselves.

Parlimentary systems are by definition undivided to a large degree, yet they do not have the same problems restraining spending. I think it may have more to do with our districting method than our governmental structure. By making representatives only answerable to local and state electorates, our system fails to make anyone in the Congress responsible to a national electorate. This is a big mistake in a national government. Everyone ends up looking out for their slice of the pie, and no one is watching to make sure that the slices add up to a single pie. If we really wanted fiscal restraint and the efficiency of undivided government, then one or both chambers of Congress must be elected from a national multi-member district.

Such a reform would consquently make all elections for that chamber competitive, rather than the tiny minority of competitive races presently. It would also make party discipline a much more highly valued trait than it is currently. With single member districts, candidates are fairly entrepreneurial, as they can afford to buck the party if they can still win their primary. But in a national multimember district, the voters elect a Party slate, rather than a member. There are not popular primaries. The Party leaders select the party ticket. The result is a much stronger ability to discipline representatives via the Party than in a single member district. Of course, it also allows third parties to compete effectively for seats, so the the system would never be adopted by the current governing bodies.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Will Congress Cave-in and Cede Its Constitutional Authority?

700 million dollars was transferred from operations against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan by the Bush Administration without notification of Congress, according to Woodward's new book, Plan of Attack.

Administration officials do not deny that money was diverted, nor do they provide any proof the President fulfilled his legal obligations. Their only defense is that the transfer was legally justifiable. We shall see, I suppose.

The question remains open whether the Congress will investigate the issue or fold and set a terrible Constitutional precedent. If Presidents can divert money from authorized programs to start their own wars, unauthorized by Congress, the Constitutional order will be overturned disasterously.

The Founders made a very deliberate choice not to vest war powers in the Executive for fear of enabling the sort of tyranny represented by the despots of 18th century Europe. Settling the power of the purse and the power of war in Congress was their answer to the problem of Executive initiative in international and military affairs. The power of war is on the brink of complete capture by our Executive; if the power of the purse is invaded, the Executive will be able to embroil America in aggressive wars without even the pretense of Congressional consent.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Archbishop's attack on Kerry harms Catholics

American Archbishop Charles Chaput has been writing about the gap between personal belief and public policy choices of Catholic politicians. Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, announced on April 23rd that politicians who support abortion must not go to communion, and priests must refuse them the Sacrament. These pronouncements have been received as effectively withholding the Eucharist from John Kerry and other Catholic politicians who are pro-choice. The reasoning is clear enough; those public figures who advocate positions in their public life that are sinful according to the Catholic Church are themselves in a state of sin that precludes their taking Communion. By the same logic, those who advocate equal rights, or marriage, for gays, those who favor stem cell research, or who advocate any position contrary to the moral teachings of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church may likewise imperil their immortal souls.

This decision is based upon recent the Papal Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, or "On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist", of which Cardinal Arinze was one of the authors, and various interpretations of Canon Law. Certainly, one could hardly imagine greater earthly authority for a position regarding Catholicism than the words of the Pope and Prefect Arinze. There are surely those who are already convinced by the authority of these men to a degree of moral certainty. But using nothing but the words of these men, the Pope, and Canon Law, I hope to convince readers that it is in the interest of the Church to denounce, and, indeed, to despise such practices.

The Catholic Church, built upon the Rock that was Simon, relies upon the words and minds of divinely inspired men to create order here on earth. The Catholic Church is far more than the sum of her human members, of course, for if that were the case, the Church would surely have fallen long ago. The most important member of the Church is her head, Christ the Lord. That dichotomy between infallible divinity, and all too fallible humanity, makes the Church fallible too. History confirms it; the Inquisition, the Crusades, the persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages, the persecution of Galileo for promulgation of Helio-centrism, the denouncement of evolutionary theory, the list is long and painful. This latest incident is another example of error by those within the Church.

To the extent that the Church is a human institution, it makes errors. It is prone to the passions and the prejudices of the people who populate it. But that doesn’t mean that God is wrong. God is connected to humanity through the Church. The Church therefore shares in the nature of both man and God, and the nature of man is fallibility. Discipline requires the faithful to accept the guidance of the Church, but God requires more than that. God requires communion with the believer. This rite of Communion is the very heart of the Church, as expressed by Canon 897:

"The most venerable sacrament is the blessed Eucharist, in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered and received, and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the Sacrifice of the cross is forever perpetuated, is the summit and the source of all worship and Christian life. By means of it the unity of God's people is signified and brought about, and the building up of the body of Christ is perfected. The other sacraments and all the apostolic works of Christ are bound up with, and directed to, the blessed Eucharist."

The Church, in its role as intermediary between God and man, sometimes must refuse to be the conduit of the divine Communion because of the state of the believer’s soul. This is the gravest act the Church can take to discipline the faithful, and it is not a power to be used lightly. Canons 915 and 916 explain the circumstances under which the Church must take such a step:

Can. 915 "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion."

Can. 916 "Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible."

Canon law suggests that in order for Communion to be withheld from politicians who advocate against legal bans on actions that constitute sins in the eyes of the Church, they must either be obstinately persisting in grave sin, or they must be conscious of grave sin in themselves that they have failed to confess or Communion could not be withheld.

I could certainly contest the idea that public advocacy of any position in itself is a grave sin, but I will accept as legitimate the idea of advocacy as sin for the sake of disputation. The Pope’s latest Instruction of the matter, Redemptionis Sacramentum, upon which those who advocate withholding communion from John Kerry and others base their assertions, clearly indicates that 916 is the source of concern in Chapter IV, (1)(81):

"The Church’s custom shows that it is necessary for each person to examine himself at depth, and that anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession, except for grave reason when the possibility of confession is lacking; in this case he will remember that he is bound by the obligation of making an act of perfect contrition, which includes the intention to confess as soon as possible."

This means that if confession or contrition were performed before the Communion, there would be no reason to withhold Communion under Church law. But is it acceptable to force John Kerry and other like him to confess to a sin for their advocacy, even under the seal of confession, in order to partake in the deepest ceremony of their religion? Are political advocacy or active tolerance of an activity that the Church considers sin so incompatible with fiath in the Church’s doctrine as to effectively excommunicate him from his Church and cut him off from the society of his deity? The very same Papal Instruction suggests an answer in Chapter III (4)(78):

"It is not permissible to link the celebration of Mass to political or secular events, nor to situations that are not fully consistent with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, it is altogether to be avoided that the celebration of Mass should be carried out merely out of a desire for show, or in the manner of other ceremonies including profane ones, lest the Eucharist should be emptied of its authentic meaning."

The language of this instruction has the purpose to avoid making the Eucharist a political spectacle, a photo op, or the subject of scandal, but isn’t that exactly what denying high-profile public officials Communion based on their beliefs does? It cheapens the touch of the divine, and turns it into mere red meat for the attack dogs of the political arena. Denying Communion specifically to politicians or public figures, but not denying it to all Catholics who believe in and advocate sins, unavoidably, and perhaps purposefully, turns Communion into a political football. It is divisive, crassly political, and it violates the spirit of the Pope’s own Instruction.

Vatican II, specifically the Dignitatis Humanae, many Catholics will know, told Catholics to be loyal to their own conscience. The Council encouraged Catholics to listen to their own souls, wherein they are alone with God, when deciding matters of morality. A man following the deepest dictates of his conscience should not be condemned for exercising one of God's gifts to man - moral choice. Archbishop Chaput defends his politically charged pronouncements on behalf of the Church in his weekly column, saying,

"Vatican II can never be invoked as an alibi for Catholics ignoring grave public evil or failing to act on their faith in the political sphere. That's a distortion of the council's message. It also misreads the U.S. Constitution. America's Founding Fathers did not say, and never intended, that religious faith should be excluded from civic debate. They intended one thing only: to prevent the establishment of an official state church. A purely secular interpretation of the "separation of church and state" would actually result in the "separation of state and morality." And that would be a catastrophe for real pluralism and the democratic process."

The Archbishop is correct that that Vatican II mustn't be read as an albi for ignoring evil is society, such as the Holocaust; ensuring the Church would never again be complicit in such an atrocity was the purpose of Vatican II. But that does not justify Church divines use ecclesiastical powers to condemn political figures who disagree with Church doctrine. The point of Vatican II is not to thrust the Church into the midst of every policy debate which concerns an issue of theology, but to prevent the moral paralysis of the Church when grave evil threatens society. The Church must speak against the evil and contest the morality of policy; but that does not include attacking particular politicians on the basis of thier faith and beliefs.

I actually find the remainder of what the Archbishop says to be completely unobjectionable, but for one word. I would insist that "the separation of church and state" be replaced with "the separation of God and state". His statement then makes sense, but the change makes the whole argument fail. The Catholic Church is not the sole source of morality in the world, and his statement assumes it is. He claims that without using the moral authority of the Catholic Church to punish sinners in the public sphere, that morality will disappear from the State. Such a view is intolerantly sectarian, insulting to every other great religious, moral, and philosophical tradition, and is the same totalizing rationale under which religious regimes such as the Taliban and the Mullahs of Iran operate.

I haven’t any problem with churches participating in civic debate; I encourage and celebrate it. But using the power to withold God from a politician’s soul because you don’t like his policies is not debate; it is coersion. Worse, it is likely to reverse all the gains which Catholics have made in public life over the past 40 years. It was once feared that a Catholic in a position of authority would acceede to the Pope’s authority over that of the Constitutional order. It is this fear exactly that the Cardinal and Archbishop seek to bring to fruition. It is a thin edge of the wedge of churches seeking to directly control politicians and the political process.

Some Conservatives claim that allowing every church into governmental affairs is acceptable to the first amendment, as it does not establish an official church. Wrong. Given opportunity, the strongest church will eagerly establish itself as the official one without any assistance. I reject injecting the doctrines of any church into the affairs of the State. Every man is welcome to let his God guide his conscience and his work in service to the public, but no man is welcome to impose his church’s view on the public and call it a mandate from God. The Archbishop and others who seek to use their religion as a weapon against their political foes should be rejected sharply by Catholics everywhere. They are a danger to our political process, a danger to Catholics seeking to participate in public affairs, and a danger to the mission of the Church itself.

Friday, April 23, 2004

House GOP members violate House Rules by insulting Kerry

House GOP members recently disparaged Senator Kerry on the floor of the House during formal debate. They called him 'Hanoi John', questioned his patriotism, and suggested his conduct upon return the United States from Vietnam lent aid and comfort to the enemy. These people have no shame. These louts should be properly censured lest their horrible example contaminate our political process even further with contumely and personal animus.

The House's Ethics manual provides that:

"A Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Rules of the House of Representatives and to the rules of duly constituted committees thereof."

Violation of House Ethics rules mandates referral and investigation by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. The Committee members should be contacted with a demand that Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), Rep. John Kline (Minn.), Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (Calif.), and any other Members making disparaging remarks about a sitting Senator be investigated for appropriate punishment.

Such direct references to and disparagement of a sitting member of the Senate is a violation of House Rule XVII (2)(A):
"... debate may not include characterizations of Senate action or inaction, references to individual Members of the Senate, or quotations from Senate proceedings."

Such obvious water-bearing for the campaign of the President is itself a misuse and a misappropriation of the People's property; both the public broadcasting service which we provide in the House for House business, and the Hall of House itself. Rule IV 1. provides:
"The Hall of the House shall be used only for the legislative business of the House and for caucus and conference meetings of its Members, except when the House agrees to take part in any ceremonies to be observed therein. The Speaker may not entertain a motion for the suspension of this clause."

The Broadcasting services of the House, covered by Rule RV (2)(c)(1), clearly restricts such partisan use of the system:
"(c) Coverage made available under this clause, including any recording thereof
(1) may not be used for any political purpose"

This sort of campaigning is obnoxious, it alienates voters, fosters disrespect and distain for the organs of government, and simply does not accord with the dignity we must demand our public servants display while in office. The Hall of the House of the People is not a playground from which bullies can launch ad hominem attacks. What is next? Fist flights on the House floor like in the Japanese Diet or the Korean Paliament? Enough is enough. It's time to draw a line.

Hey Ralphy Boy!

Ralph Nader, a man whom I respect deeply, came to Tucson and spoke at the Law School yesterday. As is always the case, every word Ralph spoke, though it might have seemed revolutionary or fringe to some listeners, was simple and unalloyed truth about the state of the American polity, society, and economy. No man sees America more clearly than Ralph Nader.

The central theme of his speech was the role of corporations in our society. Their power and influence are the central fact of political power in our time. The Supreme Court's decision to confer Constitutional protections upon corporations at the end of the 19th century is probably the defining Constitutional event of the 20th. Corporations now have all the same Constitutional rights as real people, save only the 5th Amendment's right against self-incrimination. Yet they are not people; they are immortal, immoral, conscienceless, legal fictions designed only as a mechanism for increasing shareholder weath. They have no alleigence to the community - acting from such motivation invites legal action against the corporation's officers. They have no alleigence to the nation - they have no feelings to stir at the sight of a flag, or the death of our nation's soldiers. They have no pity, no remorse, no conscience, no regrets - clinical diagnosis would classify them as sociopaths. Yet these are the entities to which we have ceeded control of our government, our society, and the fate of humanity.

Corporations are designed to accumulate wealth. When our Constitutional jurisprudence equates money with speech, what hope have real people to make their voices heard? Corporations are designed to reduce and externalize costs in order to maximize profits. The real costs of doing business are transferred whenever possible to taxpayers. Falling wages, the costs associated with "Globalization" (which is really just seeking lower cost structures), social displacement and disintegration, and environmental degradation, are the natural result of allowing corporations to pursue their mandates unchecked. The push for deregulation and tort reform is not to make industry more efficient, it is to allow greater profits by allowing corporations to create more, and larger, externalities to burden the public. While the tax burden grows ever greater for real people who work, the tax burden on wealth and corporate income is being systematically lowered. Corporations paid 35% of all taxes in the 1930s, today that share is down to 7%. The effect of corporations' mindless, yet ingenious, pursuit of return on investment above all else is systematically squeezing the life out of civil society and endangering the sustainability of our culture, our polity, and our world.

We all grow up corporate, Ralph says. Corporate crime and malfeasance, which costs society far more in terms of money, suffering, and lives than street crime, becomes invisible. We don't see the beauty of a person's culture, values, or character; instead we see only physical beauty which can be marketed, enhanced, and profited from. We no longer see politics in terms of the division of power, only as the petty symbolic squabbles and personal traits of candidates. As a result, ever more citizens stop listening, stop voting, and stop expecting things to change. The beneficiaries are corporations, who have trained us not to see that they have all the power, and that we have none when people stop doing the one thing corporations cannot: vote. We are obsessed with material possessions, getting ahead, getting the Benjamins - such values are universally recognized as being difficult to reconcile with valuing community, family, love, ideals, and strong personal values. That materialism can compete so strongly with the natural call of the human heart indicates that the corporation's values have become a part of our socialization.

We are conditioned to view so many of our nation's problems - heathcare, living wages, energy independence, pollution, and public transport - as intractable and nearly insoluble. Yet the conflict is clarified if one simply looks at who does not want these problems solved because the problem is profitable. In each case, corporate power defends a disfunctional status quo - health insurance and drug companies, low wage employers like Walmart and McDonalds, oil companies, industrial polluters, and car makers. Were the power of corporations in our political system reduced, the many solutions to these problems that other nations have already pioneered could be readily applied. Solutions aren't the problem, implementing them over the powerful objections of corporations are.

It is hard to decide to NOT vote for what you know to be true. A person who is clearly articulating the truth deserves your vote over one you know is constrained by long habit and training to say as little as possible. It is hard to vote for a man you know is carefully avoiding certain topics, advocating solutions which treat symptoms while leaving the underlying pathology intact, regardless of his good intentions. It is hard to cast your vote for, as Ralph puts it, the lesser problem. But as Arrianna Huffington said today on the Daily Show, "You don't remodel your house when it's on fire."

As much as I believe that what Ralph is saying is vitally important, and I pray that he gets more media attention and gets into the debates, I will not be voting for Ralph Nader. He may be the best person to lead the Nation. He may be the one wise man in a Nation of fools. But the White House is on fire. Bush will do far more harm to our country than Kerry could ever do, even with some of his more misguided notions.

The likelihood of a harm occuring, as well as its gravity, affects total risk associated with an event. The likelihood of Bush's re-election and the harm it would do are both very great. Even if Kerry does little active good, he has a much greater chance of defeating Bush than Nader. Though Nader might do this nation a world of good by leading it, he can only piss on the Bush fire, while John Kerry has the entire Firefighter's Union at his side. The utility derived from a vote for Kerry is thus much greater, even though he may provide less ultimate benefit himself.

I admire Nader. I fervently wish he could be our President. But I won't vote for him. I did so in 2000, when AZ was not a swing state. But this year, every vote in AZ counts for too much. We are one of the 14 states identified as battleground swing states by both parties. That means that every vote in a swing state is worth at least 3 1/2 times a vote in other states. Add to this the likelihood that few will cross party lines, and if you are an independent voter, regardless of your registration, the power of your vote is ampliflied even more. Given that the state is expected to be very close and might be won by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred votes, your vote becomes awesomely powerful, and greatly privileged over than of many other Americans in terms of it's electoral power. Don't triffle with the power that circumstances and demographics have gifted you.

Harness your vote to Kerry's fire-fighting team, don't piss into the wind with Ralph.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

No Reality But Our Own Allowed

U.S. says Al-Jazeera is putting troops at risk by telling lies. Lies like U.S. forces are terrorizing civilians in Falluja.

So, I guess The UN, Foreign Aid Watch, The UK journalism establishment, The Yellow Times, and a host of others are lying, too? No. They just don't control a satellite news network which can challenge the U.S.'s sanitized and televised Fox News version of reality.

Urban warfare is ugly. Inevitably, civilians die. If you play Nintendo warfare and strike from the air with missiles and heavy guns, you make it much more likely that large numbers of civilians will die so that you can avoid friendly casualties. That is what the Bush Administration is doing.

Perhaps American's would still approve of these tactics if they were reported in the mainstream press as anything more than bloodless descriptions of the tactical situation. But if instead of saying things like, "American C-130 gunships today fired upon buildings from which raids had been launched by insurgents," and instead said, "Spectre gunships mounting dual mini-guns, firing thousands of DU rounds per minute, fired upon occupied civilian structures, killing between 60-70 civilians according to hospital workers inside the beseiged city of Falluja today," perhaps Americans would have a clearer picture of what their forces were doing in Iraq at the moment.

The Bush Administration does not want that clearer picture to emerge, nor do they want mangled Iraqi civilians appearing on television, even if it is just Al Jazeera. When the morality of a military action relies upon obscuring the truth about it, the Administration's claim of the moral high-ground in the conflict becomes dubious indeed.

Effects of Bush's Tax Cuts

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an well-documented study of the distribution and effect of Bush's tax cuts. It provides excellent talking points for fence-sitters, and a laudible source of outrage for those already fallen off. As to its effect on hard-core Conservative Bush supporters, I have to express an honest skepticism. In my experience, they have an uncanny ability to deny all reality except the one between their own ears.

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Gloves Comes Off

The media are finally taking off their kid gloves and treating Iraq as a costly mistake, rather than divine will. This photo appeared in the Seattle Times.

Journalists are awakening to the fact that their duty is to the American people, not the Bush Administration. We deserve to see the costs and the horrors of war, as well as its triumphs. Only with a balanced view can citizens excercise their rights and duty to decide the best course of action. For too long the press hid the ugly aspects of war from us: refusing to show battle casualties, failing to show us the dead and wounded American youth that fuel Bush's war, and allowing the Administration to restrict access to the return and interrment of our honored dead.

The media taboos are falling in the face of an failing policy, and the Resident's fading popularity. Next thing you know CNN and Fox will be accepting Al Jazeera footage of civilian casualties and battle damage. As soon as that occurs, you'll know - the war will be over.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

George Will Presumes to be an International Lawyer

George Will’s column regarding the Occupied Terratories drags out the old canard of "the territories" vs. "territories." He insists that UN Resolution 242's lack of the definite article implies that Israel has no need to withdraw from all the territory they captured in 1967. It is neither an original argument, nor an intellectually honest one. It is meant to mislead the ignorant. Every scholar of this subject knows this argument to be specious (in fact, the French version of the resolution contains the definite article). In addition, it’s completely irrelevant. Resolution 242 is not international law and cannot override international law.

The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 certainly is international law and it precludes acquisition of territory by war and the prohibits the transfer of civilians of the occupying Power to the occupied territory. No territory, regardless of its status as a UN mandate (another Will obsfucation), may be acquired by war nor settled by the people of conquering power. Israel’s annexations and "security" barriers violate the former ban. Israel’s settlement subsidies and tax policies encouraging transfer of population to the West Bank, over 400,000 now, violate the latter. Violations of Geneva constitute war crimes, and there is no way to avoid this fact with ignorant, legally irrelevant blather.

Will’s circular argument about the absence of a suitable negotiating partner for deciding disposition of the land does not hold water either. Israel has by its occupation precluded UN control of the territory and the emergence of a Palestinian state. They have refused to negotiate in good faith for return of all occupied territories to UN or sovereign control with representatives of the UN or the people of Palestine. The belligerents in 1967 were Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon (and by proxy Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq). All of these parties have concluded formal peace treaties with Israel with no disposition regarding the remaining Occupied Territories (Egypt's peace with Israel included the return to Egypt and demilitarization of the Sinai). Yet the West Bank and Gaza remain in Israeli control. Who else but the Palestinian Arabs can negotiate for those lands?

UN Security Council Resolution 1322 (2000) was passed 14-0 with no veto, and thus is mandatory international law. It "Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention..." Israel is in violation of international law by defying this mandatory Security Council resolution. The U.S. went to war with Iraq over a supposed violation of such a Security Council resolution. Were it not for the United States abetting Israeli outlawry and protecting them from the censure of the world, Israel would surely be branded a rogue nation.

The Israeli claims of security concerns as a basis for the continuing occupation are also misleading. Israeli borders are secured by treaty with surrounding nations, guaranteed by its status as a major nuclear power, its superior military, and its security arrangements with the United States. Israeli strategic security is quite well assured without the Occupied Territories. As to the threat of terrorism, that is caused largely by the occupation, not mitigated by it. A just and final settlement of the occupied territories would reduce terrorism against the people of Israel, not increase it.

Israel certainly has a right to exist, a right to self-defense, and a right seek security for its people. It does not have a right to flaunt international law or commit war crimes in the pursuit of illusory security through the annexation of territory not its own. It has no right to hold a people in bondage by violence and threat of violence. It has no right to seek the elimination of the Palestinian Arab people as nation, or as a community. Israel has no right to thwart Palestinians inherent right to self-determination, and no right to demand "regime change" among the representatives of the Palestinian people. Of all the people in the world, Israelis should be the ones most exquisitely aware of what the seeds of genocide look like, and under what conditions they germinate and grow. Israel is flirting with the danger of becoming their own nightmares. It is Ariel Sharon and the Likkud Party who endanger the souls of the Israeli people. Regime change is like charity, it should always begin at home.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Kerry Needs to Step Up

The majority of Americans feel the courty is headed the wrong direction. Ask people about specific topics such as health care, the economy, social security, education, and others, and the majority who feel we're on the wrong track grows even further. By all rights Kerry should be opening up on Bush with full-throated criticism, and reaching people. But he's not. He's become bogged down in minutae of difference, expecially on foriegn policy.

It is not that kerry's values are not much different than those of Bush - they are. It is not that he doesn't coviferously disagree with almost every policy of this Administration - he does. John Kerry's problem and his inability to really excite most voters to this point is also his strength - as a Senator.

Senators seldom have a forceful public personna. They are positively discouraged from it by the institution, which stresses commity, compromise, and a collaborative working enviroment. Kerry may disagree with you, but his instinct after 20 years in the Senate is to say something vaugely complimentary about you and your ideas in public, and then cut you to ribbons in a committee hearing. He would sink your Bill so hard and so deep it would never return, but afterward he would hold a press conference and praise your groundbreaking legislation and say that it has some technical problems which caused it to fail in committee. That's the way most Senators work, and why so few of them become Presidents.

President's need a different skill set, not that of fixer, or insider, but of leader, communicator, lightning rod, bete noir, and the bull in the china shop. John Kerry is not such a person, though he may learn this mode of leadership.

Men who have Presidential leadership qualities, mixed with judgement, experience, and trustworthiness are few and far between. Those qualities are often mutually exclusive, and are fairly rare to find in a man. Bush, for instance, has many of them, but absent the judgement, experience, and trustworthiness needed by a President. That's why he has led Americans very effectively, straight to hell. Dean has these leadership characteristics very strongly, but with a lack of experience with national politics which ultimately proved his undoing.

It is vitally important that a VP balance a candidate's shortcomings. In Kerry's case there will be little policy areas that need shoring up, Kerry is a very well-rounded candidate. What will need shoring up is regional balance, racial balance, ideological balance, and tempermental balance.

Regional balance: Kerry is from MA, and the upper Eastern Seaboard is a lock for Democrats, as is the west coast except perhaps OR. Most people think that the best choice is either a Southerner or someone from the Mississippi basin. The South Kerry has already personally written off as a waste of Democratic resources. We should contest there, but he should not choose a VP from there. It won't help us win. The riverine Mid-west is rich with swing states. A choice from here is a wise electoral move if a VP candidate can be found to deliver a significant number of electoral votes. Sometimes overlooked is a Southwestern option. Choosing a VP from this region could capture need electoral votes in NM, AZ, NV, and even CO and OK.

Racial balance: It is time that the Democrats had a minority candidate on the national ticket. If no other reason than we don't want the Republicans to score propaganda points on us by being first using their tokenism program. There are plenty of qualified minorities out there, but we shouldn't dispose of all other critieria in order to make it happen.

Ideological balance: Often overlooked is the ability of a VP to balance the ideological profile of the Presidential candidate and to make the ticket as exciting as possible across the entire spectrum of the Party coalition. The parties are not homogenous, and there are many in both parties, not to mention independents who can be induced to donate, work, and vote for ticket that reflects their values, even if the Presidential candidate does not. This is why it is usually wise to dangle a few likely cabinet officers prior to the election, as well.

Tempermental balance: Often overlooked is the need to redress any shortcomings in the Presidential candidate's temperment for the job. In my opinion, Bush could not have won the Presidency without Cheney. It was Cheyney who supplied the experience, judgment, if not the trustworthiness that W so obviously lacked. People made jokes about it, but Cheney's presence on the ticket reassured people. He provided no regional balance, being from Texas (or Wyoming for legal purposes), no racial balance, no ideological balance, yet created a "winning" ticket that was able to capture the White House.

I propose that the choice was a wise one politically, even though Cheney has been a disaster as VP. lacking any of the standard indicia of a proper VP choice, Cheyney none-the-less helped to deliver the Presidency.

Why all this exposition to get to the simple point that the most important VP quality is tempermental balance? Because I have come to the conclusion that the most pragmatic choice for VP is a man who has Presidential leadership skills in abundance. A man who has again and again taken on special interests that others either party would not touch. A man deeply concerned about the effect of money in politics. A man completely unaffraid to speak his mind. A man whom both Democrats and Republicans respect and admire. A war hero. John McCain.

McCain is great campaigner. People like his candor. His record on some of the most important chanllenges facing our democracy, media concentration and campaign finance, is one of an innovative leader. Best of all a VP slot would catapault McCain into the de facto leadership of his party. McCain could help cleanse the Republican part of the infuence of the Christian Zionists while in office. A gentleman's agreement not to run for President and to appoint a Democract VP if he should become President could take care most people's major concerns.

The main problems is, of course, that he is a Republican. While it would make it easier to deal with Congress at the begining of a Kerry Administration, it might also legitimate their continued control of Congress. McCain is also pro-life, believing that abortion should only be available for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.

McCain's abortion stance may not be insurmountable. If he can be brought to publically support sex education, and free access to contraception for everyone regardless of age it will go a long way toward a middle ground. If he then promises never to litmus test judges on abortion, may would just as soon leave his personal views to his own conscience.

Abortion is not the only area in which McCain's record and goals would conflict with Kerry's, but a VP implicitly aggrees to follow the President's policy lead. If McCain couldn't live with promoting Kerry's agenda, he would not accept the position. It is quite likely he wouldn't.

But if he did, ideological balance would give the Kerry-McCain ticket conservative Democrats, a great deal of independents, and a number of Republicans. Regional balance would certainly win AZ, where McCain is immensely popular, and likely win the region as well because of McCain's profile in national politics. Two war heroes trump a reserve pilot with a spotty attendance and a man with other priorities than serving his country; the military vote, especially give the abuse of the reserves in Iraq, would be Kerry-McCain's. Several key states such as NH and OH would almost certainly vote to rectify Bush's dirty pool in 2000. There is no racial balance in the ticket, admittedly, but it made up for by the great gain in tempermental balance. McCain would become the ultimate critique of Bush Policies and an unrestrained voice for change. Kerry could indulge his propesity for quieter, more policy-based criticism without losing the necessary element of loud and flamboyant criticism needed to galvanize voters.

My preferred choice would, of course, be Dean for VP, and Dean provides much of the same tempermental balance. Dean does not provide ideological, regional, or racial balance, however, and so from a purely pragmatic standpoint, McCain is the more powerful choice. Maybe Dean for health care czar or HHS?

War Crimes and Truth Commissions

Warcrimes are being committed in Falluja. If what has made it through the media filter doesn't demonstrate it right off - using heavy weaponry in a heavily populated area, the hundreds of civilian deaths - then this account of an international aid worker on the ground in Falluja will leave you in no doubt. Firing on unarmed civilians holding truce flags, firing on marked ambulances; the stress and frustration of our troops seems to have pushed them beyond the limits of "civilized" warfare, as if there could be such a thing.

A major endeavor of our next Administration will be investigating the brutality and crimes of our own forces and commanders in Iraq. We will need a politically powerful War Crimes Investigation here and a Truth Commission in Iraq to begin healing that fractured nation. John Kerry is ideally suited by his experiences in the Senate for overseeing these tasks with honesty, fearlessness, and compassion. It is going to be a painful and politically difficult process.

We currently have 10,000 people interred in concentration camps in Iraq to which the Red Cross and Red Crescent do not have access. We have spread depleted uranium throughout Iraq and will not allow the UN access to heavily contaminated areas to assess them. We have committed an environmental crime on untold generations of Iraqis. We have committed violations of the Geneva Conventions untold numbers of times. Of course, we have also waged an aggressive, unprovoked war upon Iraq. Some even argue that our Oil for Food program and embargo was tantamount to genocide.

People will have to answer for all of this. No American President has been prosecuted for crimes committed while in office; it is imperative that we change that tradition. Responsible parties must be made known and made accountable, including Clinton and the First Bush, and members of their Administrations.

It's uncomfortable and unpleasant to contemplate that these things might have been done in our names, by our supposedly democratic government, by both Democrats and Republicans. As unpleasant as it will be, and as unwelcome the revelations which may emerge could be, we have to do it to stave off the strong likelihood that it will happen again soon if we do not take a clear-eyed look at ourselves and our leadership.

Lacking knowledge among Americans of how distant the reality of Iraq was from the pablum spoon fed to us by the Administration and a cowed and complicit corporate media, there will be no constituency for the sort of changes in our political system we need to make. If America stumbles eyeless through Iraq, we will continue as the targets of a jihad that will last for generations. I do not wish the forcus of our nation's energy and ingenuity to be on fighting and killing Middle Eastern people for the remainder of my life, and the lives of my children. There are only two ways to end terrorism permanently - genocide or justice. Which option would you have us take?

Friday, April 16, 2004

Bush Engaged in Self-Sabotage

U.S.-Israeli link outrages Arabs

Bush's announced his support for Sharon's "peace" plan to swap withdrawl from the Gaza Strip of a few hundred settlers, "in exchange" for keeping the great majority of settlements in the West Bank and incorporating them into Israel. The huge military barriers being erected throughout Palestinian territory will be allowed to remain as "security measures," not "political barriers."

The result is a vast, illicit land grab that violates interational law, and leaves Palestine a dependent, fractured, non-viable state without water or resources or control of its own territory. Of course, the Palestinians roudly reject Sharon's plan for them. But they were not consulted, were not part of any negotiation on the plan, and will not be asked for their approval for its implementation. This plan is intended to be shoved down Palestinian throats; that's why it is so unpallatable.

Bush himself said that the U.S. should not act outside of negotiations between the parties earlier in his Residency. Perhaps the worst part of Bush's hypocrisy in pandering to Sharon on this issue, is the potential damage it does to what American prestige and credibility remains, regarding the occupation of Iraq and Bush's claim that he wishes to reshape the politics of the Middle East in a more democratic direction.

Already the Iraqis are calling us "occupiers," a term once reserved easpecially for Israel. If we cannot be trusted to deal as an honest broker between Israel and Palestine, how can Iraqis be expected to percieve us as fair or just in our dealings with them? By backing a clearly exploitive plan to purloin Palestinian land, we lose any benefit of the doubt about our intentions in Iraq. We desperately need that benefit to prevent needless deaths of our troops and of Iraqi people. If the many moderate and undecided people in Iraq see us backing and promoting a plan which nakedly exploits their neighbors, violence becomes much more likely and common.

Bush's decision to back Sharon is so ill-considered, that one has to assume that it is a deliberate provocation of the Iraqi people. To what possible end, except for extending and deeping resistance in Iraq, I can't imagine. It is as if Bush were trying to make our the exit of our troops from Iraq impossible. The only reason for that I can think of is that it gives us a fine justification for maintaining our basis there long term.

The brutality of our assault on Fallujah is widely noted, well-documented, and roundly condemned in the Arab world. Even moderates like Jordan and Egypt have felt compelled to condemn our actions in Fallujah and send humanitarian relief. The eyes of Iraq are upon the Coalition, and by now, they will only judge us by our actions, not by Bush's empty rhetoric. We may have murdered as many as 700 Iraqi civilians in this heavy week of fighting. Compare that to the 2,200 Palestinians killed in the last 2 1/2 years of struggle in Palestine. The shocking scale of the violence apparent in the comparison is too compelling for Iraqis and the Arab world to ignore. If we galvanize Iraqi resistance, or wide-spread support for the cause of the Iraqi resistance, we will lose far more than we stand to gain by forcing Sadr to back down.

None of this bodes well for a political settlement in Iraq. If this Administration cannot even follow the long tradition of trying to remain somewhat of an even-handed broker, but instead puts our imprimitur on a blatantly explotive unilateral solution, then peace becomes ever more difficult short of capitulation by one side. Peace will never come from perfidity, only more violence. Every people has spirit and pride that will prevent them from accepting injustice quietly. If we really want a protracted Intifada in Iraq, we should endorse everything Bush is doing. His policies seem aimed not as American success and peaceful transistion to a democratic Iraqi government, but at fracturing Iraqi, plunging it into unrest, and ensuring that America is mired in the violence.

I find it remarkable that John Kerry would say that the Sharon plan has merit. The plan has no merit at all; it is not acceptable to the Middle East, Arabs, or Muslims in general. It does not promise peace in the region. Kerry is forgetting his role as opposition leader, and as the principled and honest candidate who must counter Bush's lies and pandering. By triangulating this issue, Kerry may appease hard-line Israeli supporters in the U.S., but he will lose the respect and good-will of the Palestinians and others in the Middle East whose help he will need to end our occupation of Iraq successfully when he's President. Kerry must stand up and speak out against the Sharon Plan and educate people as to why it is a blind alley, not a path to peace.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A Busy Person's Guide to the Bush Press Conference

criticalviewer: A Busy Person's Guide to the Federal Idiot Press Conference A very nice summary of the nothing that the Federal Idiot spewed. It's simply not fair that real people don't get to ask the questions, they would be much more penetrating. Though, I must admit, the press is begining to smell blood in the water and there's nothing more stimulating than that - especially Federal Idiot blood.

The conservative blogspere positively crawls with self-satisfaction. I think the only thing approaching the satisfaction of the defeat of the Idiot, will be the absolute shock of the Idiots-in training who adore him. I gotta say I'm looking forward to laughing my ass off for a solid week or two when the Idiot goes down in flames.

In actuality, I don't think defeat is enough. The amount of blood the Federal Idiot has shed in his mad crusade really must be repaid in kind. I won't be satisfied with Idiot-boy prancing around, serving on boards, giving very expensive speeches, and building his library (which apparently won't contain much that isn't locked up).

No, I'm afraid I won't be satisfied until I see that piece of garbage in the dock, on trial for his life before a war-crimes tribunal. And I won't be truly happy until I see him swing on the 9 o'clock news. It's time we set a limit. A clear warning. Fuck with America as from Office and we'll stretch your worthless neck, not just send you into a dispised, but cushy, retirement.

No, I won't be satisfied with 400K a year and SS detail for the F.I.. His debt to society won't be paid until he's given everything he's ever stolen back, including his worthless life, in return for the thousands of lives he's stolen and ruined. It's time to stop letting Federal Idiots at any level get away with murder just because we call it war, or national security. It's time to stop putting up with politicians selling-out the public welfare to the highest bidder and calling it policy. It's time to stop them murdering our people and calling "Dying for Liberty." It's "Dying for Halliburton," or whichever souless phychopath corporation has its fingers around the right throats. It's treason. We put people to death for treason. I think it's high-time liberals got a great deal more serious about dealing with people who have any ideas about exploiting this nation and its people. The only way to stop these criminals, Savonarolas, and Princelings who think they are above the law, or that they ARE the law, is to disabuse them of the notion- with extreme prejudice. And thereby give warning to all their kind that playtime is OVER.

Perhaps next time we have a vote in Congress to go to war, we should make sure that our "representatives" are really convinced that the nation is in danger. We'll set up the executioner right next to the voting board and snuff every person who votes "yes" on the spot. That way, the ones who had a choice will get the great honor of being the first one's to die for our freedom. No more chickhawk sons-of-bitches sending our sons, daughter, fathers, wives, and husbands off to die, unless they are willing to sacrifice themselves first. I'm guessing we might just have a few less wars.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Time to Impeach Scalia

In a display of hubris and criminality that strains credulity, Associate Injustice Antonin Scalia has broken the law and infringed upon the free speech rights of reporters.

Unlike his disgusting refusal to recuse from his fishin' buddy Dickie Cheney's lil' ol' case involving vital issues of executive privilege, the standards applicable to Scalia's latest anti-constitutional outrage are very clear and not left to the individual judge: in fact, Congress wrote them down for convenience and clarity. It's called the Privacy Protection Act and it forbids the exact behavior Scalia so flagrantly engaged in. Using a Federal Officer to seize documentary materials from a reporter is unlawful. It qualifies as a both behavior unbecoming a public official, and a high crime or misdemeanor, both being grounds for impeachment of a Federal judge.

So where are the Articles of Impeachment? I guess Scalia is right in his implied assertion that he is above the law. In the United States we are no longer a government of laws, we are a government of men. Certain men find it to be in their own interest that Scalia remain in office, and they won't allow something so insubstantial as the law stand in their way.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Things Come Apart

The wires sizzle with fresh news of the worsening strategic position of Centcom and the the Coalition forces in Iraq. The IGC is in revolt, calling for us to pull back from punishing the innocent in Falluja. Thousands of Shi'ites flood into the holy places. Shopkeepers and farmers are taking up arms. Our Iraqi security contingents have melted away, and we hunker down into an enclave strategy hoping to ride out the storm.

It is hard to tell, of course, what is rumour, what is biased, and what is fact in the reportage from Iraq. It is one of the fundamental tactical issues of modern war come to the media; the fog of war is upon us.

There is no telling about how events will unfold, but one thing is certain, our people keep dying, thousands of Iraqi's have died and been wounded and there are more to come. Yet Bush continues to obscure the truth with his assinine, morality play bullshit. Today he announced in a radio address:

"As the June 30th date for Iraqi sovereignty draws near, a small faction is attempting to derail Iraqi democracy and seize power."

You don't use AC-130 Spectre gunships, nicknamed Azrael (for the angel that serarates body from soul), against a small faction of malcontents in a multi-city assault. Imagine the worst hail you conceive coming down on a concentrated area. Now imagine the hail is a killing storm of lead or DU. That is the dual mini-gun configuration that has been deployed on ground targets in Iraq the past few days.

I swear, somebody needs to superglue Bush's damn mouth shut for the rest of his only term. It is begining to look very much like a popular uprising against the occupation is building, and this is all he can find to say? His statement is a string of bald-faced lies that he hopes with sweaty little palms might turn out to be true. This isn't a leader, this a little kid trying to lie his way out of well-deserved punishment.

If we are driven from effective contol of Iraq, and forced into a defensive posture, history indicates that the counter begins to tick until we are ejected entirely. The impact of either occurence on the political position of Bush will be incalcuable. The blood will be in the water, and all the other sharks can't help but respond.

I hope Denny Hastert is dragging his executive skill set out of the closet. He used to be a high-school coach. That has to be better preparation for "Acting President" than cheerleader, don't you think?

Benevolent Oppressor?

Following Violent Crackdown on Protests, Anger Rules Shi'ite Streets

The Bush Administration has tripped on their own hypocrisy, and they very well may be unable to get up. Bush has long insisted that ours is the benign occupation of a liberator, but Iraqis are now rejecting that thin tissue of lies as an unworthy foundation to build a nation on. They seem to have decided instead to pledge together their fate, their lives, and their sacred honor to stand together in defiance of what they see now as oppression and exploitation. I can't honestly say I blame them.

The shut down of Muqtada Al-Sadr's newspaper was the craven act of an oppressor, not the act of a liberator guiding a nation to freedom. We followed this by firing on Iraqi Shi'a protestors staging a sit-in peacfully, and killing several of them deliberately. The troops and commanders involved should be tried for war crimes if there is any factual basis to such serious charges.

So far, it appears we have violated the rights of Iraqis to freedom of the press, the right to peacably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. And that is just this particular instance. I feel sure that there are other instances where the ends were seen to justify impermissable means in this war that should never have been.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Certainly high on the list of any Creator will be found the right to think and to speak. The right to share your thoughts with your fellow men. The right to meet and congregate to excercise your right to express your views in concert with others. Occupation, especially of a people who are ostensably under tutelage to become democrats, must respect such fundamental rights.

We have violated the Iraqi's rights in ways that we ourselves would never tolerate. We would fight and, if need be, kill to preserve such rights for ourselves and our progeny. Clearly the Iraqis will too. Is it moral for us to hope that they be crushed, killed, and defeated for defending the rights given to them by the fact of their humanity? I can't bring myself to condemn their aspiration to control their own destiny, whatever it may be.

Bush has clearly proven that he and his Administration are unworthy and incompetent for the task of rebuilding a nation, or of running this nation. Incapable of the judgement and vision that guiding a people to self-governance demands. Incapable of governing people, only of exploiting them and defrauding them of their futures. Government is not raiding an S&L, or raping an pension plan, or watering a stock offering. Ergo, Bush cannot figure out how to do it.

While Bush remains President, the Iraqi occupation cannot be legitimate. While he is President, it is not possible for American forces to be anything but the tools of oppression. There is no moral justification for our remaining in Iraq if the people rise in rebellion. What sort of hubris lurks in us to suggest that we have any right to control the Iraqis? Even if you accept the lies which formed the premise of this war, we have eliminated the Ba'athist regime, Saddam sits in an American jail, and there are no WMD to be found. We supposedly did not go to war to conquer the Iraqis, we went to war to free them. That deed is done. What justification is there to kill civilians in order to retain our grip on their nation?

We should leave. If the Iraqis wish assistance restoring order and building their nation, let them request it of whomever they will. Let us help and show genuine goodwill. But let's not kill even one more Iraqi person to save them.

Whether we will reach January of 2005 still in de facto possession of Iraq is now an open question. Clearly, Bush will do anything it takes to keep his hold on Iraq. He cannot afford to walk away. Nor can he afford a bloodbath. Just as clearly, the Iraqi people may have already begun to draw a line in the sand, and if a nation rises against our armed forces, it chills me to the bone to contemplate what will happen.

I certainly hope that any crack down will not be tolerated by our own people, and we will finally say, "Enough." Bush and Cheney need to be purged from the Whitehouse. The suffering and death of our own people, and of the Iraqis will not be allowed to end otherwise.

May whatever God they believe in have mercy upon the innocent men and women doing their duty under the command of this monsterous moral cripple. They are dying, suffering, and killing because their duty has been twisted into a grotesque servitude to the will of a man, rather than to the interest of the nation. Their service is being used to weaken and degrade America. There can be no greater betrayal of a President's duty and oath than to lead the armed forces in the mouth of hell as Bush has done. No man or women under uniform of this nation should be forced to choose between their duty to nation and their own honor, possibly their own soul.

A man who really impressed me, an Air Force doctor, resigned his commission at the outset of the Iraq war. He said that he would not allow Bush to make him an example of moral cowardice to his children. It is clear to me, even without his conviction that this war was wrong from the outset, it is now become a personal war. Like Vietnam, it is going to force every man and woman in uniform to choose between obedience to their oath, and service to their conscience. In this way, John McCain is entirely misguided and blind when he says there is no paralell between Iraq and Vietnam. They are the same war. The war for the soul of America.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Bush's Oily Announcement

The other day as I was in my gas-guzzling truck, NPR announced the OPEC Ministers had decided to cut production. Of course, everyone immediately knew that gas prices would be going up. And of course, the bloodsucking oil companies boosted prices almost immediately. How that's not price gouging, I still don't know. But what stuck me was Bush's statement in response to the announcement.

He said, "The price of oil should be dictated by the free market."

What, What, What? What an odd, and deeply stupid thing for the oil man President to say. He knows there is no such thing as a free market in oil. If there were, it would a series of price booms and busts, just as it was before oil exploration and drilling companies invented production cartelization over a century ago. What on earth could he have meant by this cryptic statement?

It seems clear now that he meant the government, specifically, the United States' government, shouldn't be be involved in trying to manipulate, i.e. keep down, the price of oil to the detriment of his Saudi buddies.

Yes, as a candidate he chastised Clinton for not sticking it to OPEC, or even trying to bring down the cost of oil. Yes, he implied that as an oil man he would use his influence to that end.

Now, however, he has different priorities. Higher oil prices help Bush now. Iraqi production will go father in paying for reconstruction, and much will go directly into the pockets of U.S. oil companies (key donors). Political pressure, and the political constituency, for domestic production will grow. He can revisit the ANWR drilling issue, and possibly win even in the face of a study by his own Energy Department concluding that drilling ANWR would have only marginal impact on America's energy picture. And he can strengthen his Saudi allies heading into elections. All positives for Bush, and all good reasons why "the free-market" should be allowed to set the price of oil, despite the hurt it will cause the U.S. consumer and economy.

Why isn't Bush worried about a slow-down in the economy going into the election as a rusult of higher energy prices? The results won't really take effect until after the election. And besides, it is not a consumer led recovery; it is a debt and corporate profit led recovery. That's why it has been jobless - it has been largely led by consumer debt spending (finance is another key Bush donor) and new corporate capital investments stemming from record profits; but the majority of those investments are going overseas. The robust GDP growth reflects profits in the corporate sector and capital gains for stock owners (the ultra rich - another key Bush donor base), lots of debt financing across the board, a large amount of insurance settlements, bad debt and bad investment write-downs by corporate America, and a growing amount of depreciation due to tax changes and the faster pace depreciation for computer investments. GDP does not have to be growth, it just has to be a positive number, and corporate accounting practices are notorious for finding a silver lining in almost any financial transaction. If you factor out these phantom sources of GDP expansion, the American economy has been contracting or growing only very slowly for the entire Bush court-ordered malignancy.

These trends will not be much affected by higher energy prices, and Bush knows it. So, to hell with it, "Let them drink gasoline!"

The Iraqi Intifada

The problem was that we got involved in the mess in the first place, of course. Bush was never credible in his claims about WMD. Many will now claim otherwise to cover their own mistakes in judgment, including, unfortunately, John Kerry. I strongly suspect that if he had just admitted making a mistake early in the primary season, he still would have won the primary, and be in a much stronger position to criticize Bush on Iraq. With Kerry's expertise at investigation, I find it very hard to believe that he truly believed that Iraq posed any threat to U.S. security.

Then there is the Bush Administration continued obdurate resistance to UN control of the occupation. There is really only one reason for this in the eyes of the Iraqi's and the eyes of the world: we intend to take advantage of Iraq. For me, this is point at which any possible support I could give the occupation stops.

Bush obviously wants permanent military bases, a compliant Iraqi government, favorable treatment for U.S. corporate interests, and privatization of a great deal of the Iraqi infrastructure (which U.S. tax-payers are shelling out for). The only way to control these things is to hold on to control of the occupation and shape Iraq's institutions ab initio.

I do not necessarily have a problem with nation-building - and if any nation could use building, it is Iraq. Nation-building requires tough choices, a lot of hard-nosed pragmatism, and even a bit of ruthlessness. But it also requires a bedrock, regularly demonstrated commitment to the long-term welfare of the people who are being directly affected. In Iraq, America has demonstrated exactly the opposite. We have failed to initially convince the Sunni, or anyone else that we were there to help; the Shi'a and the Kurds figured that our presence helped them no matter our intent - as long as Saddam was gone and we would leave, that was fine. But now by the ineptitude and base purposes of this Administration we have made it clear that our intention is exploitation and domination, not reconstruction and freedom. Sadr's faction of Shi'a have taken the hint; how much longer before the rest of the Shi'a decide he's right and join him to speed us to the border?

I could probably support the Iraqi occupation if it were run by an Administration that demonstrated a genuine to commitment to nation-building, and not the hollow "empire on the cheap" to which the Bush Administration has proven itself devoted. It would be a benefit to the middle east, regardless of the poor justification for our presence, to have the sort of transformation we wrought in South Korea take place in Iraq. But South Korea was a basket case for 20 years before we were able to turn it around, and there were no ethic or religious schisms to overcome in Korea. Can we afford the sort of investment which Iraq would require? Not with this President. Unless the Iraqi's truly believe that we are there to help, not to repress them, rebuilding Iraq is a fool's errand. And not unless the world believes we truly are committed to helping, and is willing to help with VERY substantial aid.

All I can foresee under current conditions is a military occupation looking by turns like Vietnam, Israel's occupation of Lebanon, or, God forbid, Palestine. We will not have the political will to sustain an effective occupation of Iraq even now, and that violates our obligation to provide security for a conquered nation under international law, and any concept of decency. But we also cannot leave Iraq for fear of creating a failed state that will become a hotbed of terrorism in our wake. The more the Iraqi Intifada heats up, the less likely we are to get anyone to help us, or bail us out.

Bush's legacy will likely be another generation of instability and terrorism in the middle east. One which endangers strategic partners like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, fails to address the problems of proliferation, exacerbates our problematic relations with Iran and Pakistan, and throws yet more fuel on the fires of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Leaving a great portion of our armed forces sitting in the middle of it all. A Perfect Storm indeed. Bush will have accomplished the diametric opposite of his every stated goal in taking us into Iraq. Except of course, for disposing of the only source of stability in Iraq, the Ba'athist regime headed by Saddam Hussein. As wicked as he was, he may yet prove to have been the lesser of evils.

Bush's Attack of Gas

Bush's Gas Attack: Does Good Policy Make Bad Politics?
A recent Bush attack ad (as if there was another kind, other for the ones which features attacks AND lies, of course) accused Kerry of having promoted the 'wacky' idea of a 50 cent gas tax. You may have seen it: old time footage of transportation contraptions failing humously?

Gasp! Imagine that! A 50 cent tax on gas! People might drive less! We might spend less on roads! There may be an incentive to develop more efficient vehicles and alternative fuels! You would think that, given that a gas tax is inherently regressive, disproportionately impacting those with lower incomes, Bush and his honchos would lap it up.

Well, it turns out the Chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, advocated the same idea in a 1999 article in Fortune magazine. Of course, Mankiw manages to be derogatory at the same time he advocates the idea, but he embraces it as way to address policy goals of a bi-partisan coalition. Now that Republicans have little need of bi-partisanship, the idea's stock has apparently sunk in heavy trading on the "We Don't Need No Steenkin Bi-Partisansheep. We Have All Three Branches!" markets.

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