Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Let Freedom Reign

The note from Rice to Bush announcing Iraqi 'sovereignty' is a brilliant piece of manufactured history. Unfortunately, it is too clever by half, and thus tips the Administration's hand. There is simply no way that Bush would write these words without the coaching a speech writer before-hand. The words are simply too well chosen, too redolent of the history of liberation in the 20th century for them to be the spontaneous reaction of a man of Bush's limited intellectual scope.

I might be able to accept the phrase that some suspect Bush actually meant, "Let freedom ring," from the 19th century spiritual by Samuel Smith. Everyone knows the first verse, though few know any more of it.

1. My country,' ‘tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!

This would be an appropriate sentiment for the Resident. Schmaltzy, rooted in ecumenical cant, and accidentally chauvinistic, referring as it does to America's own unique acoustical properties, the sentiment would be a perfectly natural response to the news by Bush.

But "let freedom reign," is a horse of a different color. It's origin is a poem entitled 'African Rain' by the obscure Sherol Northover.

Oh Africa, let freedom reign
Oh Africa, let freedom reign.
Rain down a storm on the white man's home.
Let him see that God is watching over all.
Let the thunder clap its hands
Together we will stand
Hand in hand
One and all

Steeped in the decolonization movement of the 50s and 60s, it strikes exactly the right note for the 'transfer of sovereignty' if one wished to make a adroit statement about imperialism and colonial power. In addition, the phase was borrowed by MLK Jr. in his speech hailing the passage of the Civil Rights Act. "Let freedom reign! Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last." As such, it deftly adds an overtone of securing civil rights and freedom after a long bondage.

Finally, it was also used in the first inaugural address by Nelson Mandela following his election to the Presidency of that nation upon the demise of apartheid. The phrase thus delicately directs attention to the freedom of a nation from the internal oppressions of an unjust and tyrannical order.

In short, it would take a mind steeped in the historical and literary dimensions of language to select such a lyrical and appropriate phrase for the occasion. Ergo, Bush did not select it; he's simply too thick. One of his speech writers selected the phrase in advance for him to pen in 'spontaneous' response to the joyous news. He was probably even coached in the proper spelling. Once he dashed off the note, an image of it was oh-so-conveniently released to the press by an Administration normally so secretive that not even an act of Congress makes them cough up documents. This was a plant; an effort to manipulate the historical record and make Bush's tawdry little sovereignty shell game seem a integral part of a historical march toward freedom and democracy.

The most appropriate missive would have acknowledged Bush's honest intent in Iraq, saying instead, "Let Terror Reign!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Supreme Court Avoids Destruction of the Constitution

Two cases regarding 'enemy combatants', Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, No. 03-6696(PDF) and Rumsfeld v. Padilla, No. 03-1027 (PDF), were decided yesterday. Both cases upheld the habeas right for 'enemy combatants', indeed for all persons detained for any reason, at any location, by the U.S. government to contest the evidentiary basis for the detention, at minimum.

Rejecting unchallengable detentions by the Executive, even when such open-ended and poorly defined detentions are authorized by Congress, preserves the essential Constitutional order of our nation. The court, though at times venally activist and partisan of late, clearly recognized the danger of allowing the Executive to escape the essential check upon its discretion of habeas corpus and the jurisdictional authority of the Federal Courts. Under the guise of national security and the fiction of war (there being no declared state of war between the U.S. and any foreign power at this time), and under the dubious authorization of the September 18, 2001 joint resolution, Authorization for Use of Military Force, the Administration sought unlimited discretion in the disposition of persons taken in combat zones, regardless of the applicability of the Geneva Conventions. The Court's opinions recognize that allowing so much unaccountable power to the Executive is fundamentally incompatible with limited government. Underlying their recent opinion is a conviction that such coercive power, completely unchecked, would eventually swallow the Constitution whole.

In the past, the Court allowed the Executive to temporarily intrude upon civil liberties in time of war to a greater or lesser extent. Chief Justice Rhenquist wrote a book on the subject, in fact. But the Administration claimed that its actions were not only due deference, but are permanently beyond any judicial review or oversight by Congress. Obviously, such completely unconstrained power over the freedom and lives of any person, even foreigners, is not compatible with human rights or with our Constitutional order of limited government maintained by internal checks and balances.

Justice O'Connor, writing for the Majority, states:

"[We] reject the Government’s assertion that separation of powers principles mandate a heavily circumscribed role for the courts in [times of war]. Indeed, the position that the courts must forgo any examination of the individual case and focus exclusively on the legality of the broader detention scheme cannot be mandated by any reasonable view of separation of powers, as this approach serves only to condense power into a single branch of government. We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens." (parentheticals added by author)

The Majority remanded the cases for a determination if there is a factual basis for the detentions.

Scalia would go further and reject the whole idea of holding Americans as 'enemy combatants, instead trying them for treason. In his dissent, he opines: "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive." Scalia is convinced that indefinite detention can only be justified upon a Congressional suspension of habeas corpus.

It is heartening that of the Justices, only Thomas was convinced by the Administration's case. All the rest find the Administration's theory of Executive authority in war disturbing and unacceptable. That in itself is cause for celebration. June 28, 2004, American democracy dodged a bullet.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11

Michael Moore proves once again that a documentarian is not just a reporter. As Moore is hypo-criticized by the Right for not adhering to journalistic standards, we must recall that a documentary is a story ABOUT reality, not just reality. It is art; it is not the news. The artist’s views SHOULD color the telling. The artist SHOULD tell the story so as to invest the pedestrian facts of small ‘t’ truth with emotional significance. By so doing, the film artist provides the audience with what life too often lacks - genuinely meaningful emotional experiences. When we suddenly know the facts, and care about them deeply because of their emotional impact on us, we see the large ‘T’ Truth that lives behind the bare facts. Providing an emotional relationship to Truth is what all art strives for, and what Moore’s F911 delivers.

The audience applauded, shouted with joy, laughed, cried, and seethed with a steely resolve to take back our country from the cretins who have wormed their way into power. I have never seen a theatre crowd so charged with emotion and moving through catharsis in such unity. It was a beautiful thing, and the Right are properly afraid of it. It is powerful. It is subversive. It is dangerous. It is ours. And it is unstoppable. Moore’s film will be a factor in November, perhaps THE factor- no doubt about it. I recommend that people pay for their conservative friends and relatives to go. Start funds for free tickets for registered Republicans. Rent a whole theater and invite the VFW, DAV, active duty military personnel. Get Bush’s base to this film. Show them their betrayal.

Using images of real events and real people, Moore tells us the story of what has happened to America over that past 4 years. Moore exposes relationships among the elites of America and Saudi Arabia that provide possible improper motives for Administration policy choices. Moore’s critics claim that Moore charges conspiracy; he does not. He suggests an open confluence of financial interests which may have caused the national interest to be subordinated to the private interests of those in power. Moore examines the Republican Party’s use of fear against Americans as tool of political manipulation and repression. He points out the hollowness and absurdity of this Administration’s "homeland security" policy. He deconstructs the manipulation of perceptions which led us into war in Iraq. And more than anything else, Moore humanizes the costs of the war for both Iraqis and Americans in a way that even the hardest heart cannot ignore. It is impressive that he was able to accomplish so much in such a short time.

F911 an uncomfortable story to watch if you are not already familiar with the facts and allegations contained in the film. The extent of the Administration’s perfidy is shocking. Where the subject of the film a Democratic Administration, I would be likely to reject the charges as mere propaganda. Perhaps some of the charges Moore repeats - not invents, repeats - will be taken seriously by Republicans of good will and sound ethics, but I doubt it. This is a story for the Democratic base. It is also an incomplete story. The film ends with the manufactured irony of Bush telling us not to be fooled again. But the real resolution of Moore’s tale falls outside the film’s scope. Moore allows us, the audience, to determine together how the movie will end when we go to the polls in November. By the time Moore’s film is released on DVD, the ending will have been determined. I hope Moore includes a special feature of the ending we contribute to his film.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

MoveOn PAC Endorses Paul Babbitt

Recognizing the importance of the race in CD1, MoveOn PAC has endorsed Paul Babbitt and setup a method for MoveOn members to contribute to the campaign.

Turn out your pockets. Which do you need more? A half-caf double mocha latte with a hummus sandwich, or real democracy from a candidate with some principles, right here where we live? Encourage your friends and associates to donate to the Babbitt campaign. We can erase Paul's funding disadvantage if we want it badly enough. How much would you pay for another Democratic Congressman in Arizona? 20 bucks? 100? 2000? Spend it! Pony up, or say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss. You know that Renzi is pond scum; the only way to get rid of him is to feel the very temporary pain to throwing down 50 bones to clorinate his butt.

Then go to a local meetup and see what you can do to help the Babbitt campaign.

Initiatives for America Proposal

This is a proposal for a new secretariat under the Democracy For America umbrella. As many readers are former and current Deaniacs, I am hoping for some constructive feedback on this idea.

Initiatives for America (IFA)

Description: In conjuction with the DFA legislative and candidate endorsement agenda, IFA will use the initiative and referedum processes in 24 states, DC and hundreds of munipalities and local governments, to place progressive reforms directly before voters, by-passing legislative and special interest deadlocks where they exist.

To coordinate initiative and referendum activity for the national grassroots progessive movement. IFA would provide: a database of active citizens (the DFA db); an instantly credible political brand; a database of activists and likely supporters to accelerate the pace and reduce the cost of signature gathering; expertise and legal talent in managing petition challenges; training for volunteers year-round to build a cadre of citizen experts; fund-raising expertise from the national DFA network will allow IFA to concentrate national resources on key state ballot initiatives.

Competitive advantage:
DFA has emerged as one of the premier national grassroots progressive political advocacy and direct action organizations. That political efficacy could be infused into IFA to work for change using one of the great direct democracy tools available to Americans.

Grassroots initiative efforts universally suffer from lack of resources and the difficulty of building a grassroots movement to provide volunteer manpower and funding. These movements tend not to be persistant or sustained, and thus must repeatedly expend the costs of starting up a campaign oganization. IFA can keep intact the organizational and IT resources needed to successfully pass direct democracy initiatives between elections instead of having to rebuild repeatedly for ad hoc efforts.

IFA will allow competence to be built within the management and field teams to a degree not possible during a campaign in a single state for a single issue; IFA will result in a growing grassroots cadre of direct democracy activists and professionals. Its persistent organizational structure will allow the employment of in-house or contracted political and legal talent able to build superior expertise to counter challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and formulate superior strategic insights.

DFA’s national focus and ongoing strategic vision will allow IFA to employ the initiatve/ referendum tool as a part of a national grassroots strategy in a fashion not seen in American politics for almost a century. The progressive reforms needed to fix the American political and economic system will require the wise and strategic use of this powerful political tool for by-passing an entrenched and dysfunctional status quo left to us by the last generation of Progressive reformers.

Operations: Suggestions

Initiative selection:
A multi-track process is preferable to ensure a diversity of ideas and the greatest extent of democratic participation.

Track 1:Non-DFA citizens sponsoring initiatives can submit an application for support from the IFA in the form of access to a state volunteer and DFA membership databases for signature gathering, assistance with fundraising, and assignment of field operatives for expertise.

Track 2: IFA can act as an initiative think-tank, generating solid initiative proposals for multiple states, or a particular state. IFA could then hire or place volunteer project coordinators on the ground in the target state for the initiative effort.

Track 3: the DFA membership could submit ideas for initiatives online which could be rated by the membership on an ongoing basis. This take advantage of the phenominon of collective intelligence which is often superior to the judgment of experts. The most promising of which could enter track 2.

All initiatives should be democratically validated by a DFA membership vote to proceed once the IFA secretariat has decided that initiative is an appropriate and neccessary method of achieving the policy's goals.

Management and Control:
As the initiative process can be considered the grassroots’ constitutional mandate to legislate, a multistate effort to coordinate initiative activity should have the legitimacy of democratic participation. A formal democratic structure can be a key point of differentiation between IFA and the sort of shadowy alliances which tend to bring special interest initiatives to the ballot. In major contrast, IFA’s representative body of citizens should deliberate openly and publish their transcripts and minutes. IFA can claim the democratic legitimacy of open membership, certified elections, and transparency. Our opponent’s secretive practices can become a powerful tool against them.

IFA could found a new inter- and intrastate representative body to approve initiative efforts and allocate resources to those efforts as submitted by IFA’s professional directors. This confers a legitimacy of a participatory political party to IFA’s process which will tend to neutralize anticipated critiques from the right.

State Representatives, who must be DFA members, can be elected by Instant Runoff Voting by the DFA membership from each participating state. Elections should be internet based and fully certified by independent auditing.

The State Representatives of each state form an advisory board for any active professional or volunteer State Directors. Initiatives proposed by DFA for a state and/or a State Director, and money expenditures in the state must be approved by the State Representatives.

The committee of all State Representatives form the Grassroots Legislature which approves all initiatives and expenditures. State Representative would be a part-tiime, unpaid volunteer position with reimbursement for qualified expenses. Elected State Representatives would also provide IFA/DFA with a training ground for future elective office- holders from the grassroots, trained in public-interest policy making and the use of proceedural rules, both online and off.

State Directors are selected by IFA on a merit basis, subject to confirmation by a majority of the State’s Representatives. State Directors implement IFA strategy and run day-to-day volunteer and publicity efforts. State directors cultivate local donors, advise on advertising buys, perform background checks on circulators, and shepard the ballot qualification process. State Directorships are a full-time paid professional staff positions.

IFA Director is appointed by DFA, and subject to confirmation by the Grassroots Legislature. The Director sets natinal budget priorities, raises funds, administers IT and training programs nationally, formulates legislative/initiative strategy nationally, and for each state in conjunction with that state’s Director and/or Representatives.

The system of representation is suggested for when the organization is ready to operate full-time and nation-wide. IFA could ramp up begining by targeting especially important initiatives for defeat or passage to begin with, and gradually expanding operations into formulation and sponsorship of IFA generated initiatives. As the organization grows, methods of democratic participation in decisionmaking could be phased in as needed.

Political State Report: Graf's Briar Patch

Mike blogged atPolitical State Report again today. Please visit and read about how the Graf-Kolbe primary could affect Arizona and Presidential politics.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Political State Report: Mad Elephant! No Tusks?

Mike blogged onPolitical State Report today. Read about the seeming lack of payback from Conservative Republicans on wayward Moderates. What does it portend for Arizona and the nation?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Ryan Goes Down... Literally?

Jack Ryan's done for, and we are going to have a new Democratic seat in the Senate occupied by Barak Obama of Illinois. The race way probably a foregone conclusion anyhow, Ryan was flailing at 20 points behind Obama, but the unsealing of Ryan's divorce records and the rather unseemly revelations within have put the final nails in the GOPs chances.

Clifford D. May: Right Wing Propagandist

The Arizona Daily Star published an opinion column by Clifford D. May on the group Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change who signed a statement arguing that Bush has harmed American security and should be replaced. Many of these public servants are Republicans and served in Republican Administrations. The Right is rightfully panicked about the harm this could do Bush.

May's response was a weak, purely rhetorical, and highly misleading attempt to discredit the group. Here is the letter to the editor I sumbitted fisking the peice:

Clifford May’s June 20th opinion piece attempting to discredit the Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change (DMCC) is a rhetorical hatchet job lacking substance and intellectual honesty.

Mr. May claims the DMCC’s name is misleading because the majority of the signatories are career foreign service officers, and not military men. Military Commanders comes second in their name because four of the signatories are senior military officers; there is nothing misleading about it. His charge is an empty slur.

Mr. May claims the DMCC ‘seem furious that President Bush decided, following 9/11, to change U.S. policy.’ The DMCC’s critique is not that Bush has changed U.S. foreign policy priorities; it is that those changes abrogate international law and make America less secure. Mr. May, unable to address the real premise of DMCC’s criticism, just makes up his own and characterizes that premise as nothing more than sour grapes.

Mr. May implies that the public servants of the DMCC were responsible in some way for the decisions which led to the foreign policy failures he cites, but he does not demonstrate that any member of DMCC is actually responsible for the policies he derides. In fact, the members of DMCC might well have denounced the policies Mr. May criticizes. Mr. May is striking a straw man of his own creation, not the DMCC.

With a final attempt at misdirection, Mr. May actually calls the major policy failures of the last 20 years ‘their past efforts,’ with no proof or factual support whatever that the DMCC signatories were involved in any way.

Mr. May’s article is little more than a nakedly partisan defense of the President using spurious rhetorical devices in place of facts. It is propaganda, nothing more.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Big Money Special Interests Amendment

This is almost sure to make you sick to your stomach. This video captures a paid petition circulator bald-facedly lying to a 'voter,' who is wearing a wire, about what the "No Taxpayer Money for Politicians Act" is all about. He represents it as favoring "100% Clean Elections" and simply ensuring that no taxpayer money should be spent on political campaigns, as it would be "better used for education and health care for the elderly". As if.

Contrary to what initiative backers are simplistically claiming, that taxes are being used for campaigns, the Clean Elections law receives no appropriated tax dollars. The initiative was written to include its own funding mechanisms. The primary sources of funds are:

  1. a 10% surcharge on civil and criminal fines and penalties,
  2. a voluntary $5 check off on your income tax return, and
  3. voluntary tax credit contributions, just like many other tax credit contributions such as those to schools.

Additional funds come from the voluntary $5 qualifying contributions given by voters to Clean candidates (reaching a record 90,000 $5 contributions in 2002), and fines levied on candidates for violations of election laws. The combination of all of these sources has actually returned money to taxpayers, as the Clean Elections Commission transferred more than $5.5 million to the state General Fund during 2003. Clean elections is actually profitable.

After you are sufficiently sickened, go to Keep It Clean and do what you must. Keep in mind that the Arizona system is being viewed as a model for state-based reform nation-wide. If you want Clean Elections in your state, it first has to survive and thrive in Arizona.

The initiative doesn't have a public website or easily available contacts. They prefer to remain in the shadows. These developers and lobbyists have chosen to hide their identities and the true impact of their measure because Clean Elections is very popular with Arizona voters. According to a 2001 Behavior Research poll, 84% of Arizona voters believe campaign contributions affect votes on public policy, and 64% of voters say Clean Elections is good for the state. ( Arizona Republic poll, November 2002) The only way to get the ballot measure passed is by a massive misinformation and scare campaign.

From mandatory disclosures we do know who the sponsors and the major backers of the initiative are. Feel free to give this person a piece of your mind:

Lisa A. James, Applicant/Chairman
4715 North 32nd Street, Suite 107
Phoenix, AZ 85018

And don't forget to contact major backers, such as:

Eric Crown, Ross Farnsworth, and Ken Kendrick
Homebuilders Association of Central Arizona
4715 N. 32nd St. STE 107
Phoenix, AZ 85018
office fax 602-955-2385

Local Flavor: Kathy's Doggie Park

Sometimes public officials get the luxury of putting aside partisan bickering and just doing the right thing. Unfortunately, that seldom happens on a scale much greater than the new midtown dog park which Kathleen Dunbar has done so much to open. Mrs. Dunbar is, of course, the Republican Tucson city council member for Ward III. I do not make a habit of praising Republicans, so you know she must deserve this,

"Good job, Kathleen."

It just goes to show that a dog can bring out the best in people. Kathleen's six dogs inspired her to do something wonderful and useful for the city. Most of the other Council persons are not dog owners, and do not see the need for such latte-sipping, Volvo-driving non-sense as dog parks. But the mayor, also a Republican, is and does. He was instrumental in getting Kathleen the money she needed to make the park happen. So I find myself again praising a Republican,

"Good job, Bob."

Excuse me while a mash my fingers into a pulp with a hammer in contrition.

The result of all this doggish good-will, and the generous private and corporate donations which made completion of the park possible, was today's ribbon cutting ceremony inaugurating the new off-leash park on 6th just below Grant.

It just goes to show that a dog can bring out the best in a person. Of course, how then do we explain this?

All I can conclude is that like a mother's love, a dog's is independent of merit. And even though dogs can often inspire their guardians to do wonderful and kind things for them, some people just cannot be made to treat the poor, the disenfranchised, the weak and the vulnerable, better than they would... a dog. Well, so much for putting aside partisan bickering. I do have a tone to maintain, you know...

Cheney's Remaining Threads Cover Only His Willful Dupes

Vice Regent Cheney continues to maintain his assertion regarding the connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In light of the fidings of the 9/11 commission he has been pushed into a corner to clearly articulate those links. CNBC's Gloria Borger of 'Capital Report' interveiwed the VR and got him to do just that. The result leaves no doubt that Administration claims of a connection justifying war were far too broad and unqualified. In short, those claims where hot air and little else. The American public has been mislead into belief in a connection that does not exist, and Cheney's interview with Borger proves it. He leaves himself a fig leaf of uncertainty, but the the operational connection between Saddam and al Qaeda is debunked. The VR's case consists of nothing but ambiguity distilled into doubt, spun into supposition, then frozen into certainty. They lied and it is only a matter of time before the final tenuous threads of uncertainty from which the Administration is hanging are snipped by determined investigations both inside and outside the beltway.

I hope.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript [Ed note: there is a persistent error in the transcript; the Vice Regent is consistently refered to as the Vice President for some reason.]:

Vice Pres. CHENEY: Gloria, the notion that there is no relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida just simply is not true. I'm going to read this material here. Your show isn't long enough for me to read all the pieces...

BORGER: Sure it is.

Vice Pres. CHENEY: ...but in the fall of '95 and again in the summer of '96, bin Laden met with Iraqi intelligence service representatives at his farm in Sudan. Bin Laden asked for terror training from Iraq. The Iraqi intelligence service responded. It deployed a bomb-making expert, a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence.

BORGER: OK, but now just let me stop you there, because what this report says is that he was not given the support that he had asked for from Iraq, that he had requested all of these things but, in fact, did not get them.

Vice Pres. CHENEY: He got this. We know for a fact. This is from George Tenet's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 12th, 2003, etc. I mean, it's there. It's ...(unintelligible).

Unfortunately, we'll have to take the VR's word for it regarding this damning testimony by Tenet. The testimony to which Cheney refers was, and remains, classified - given to Congress in a closed session. The VR can hardly expect us to simply accept his word for it at this point. He flatly contradicts the Commission's findings. The Commission had access to Tenet's testimony, and likely the underlying data supporting Tenet's testimony, too, and they found the information not to be credible. Yet Cheney would have us accept his bare word and buy his pig in a poke against the Commission's advice. The Commission's political uglies aren't sitting on the block and they have inspected the VR's pig. They are much more likely to be unbiased and objective. Only the most brainless, ditto-headed, flag- humping Bushie would accept Cheney's assertion without any specific proofs. No doubt that is exactly what they'll do, and hound anyone who refuses to be a Willful Dupe.

If this investigation is no longer active, requiring limited access, he should attempt to have the testimony declassified and THEN refer to it. If he's not willing to give us the proof, he should shut up. The way the VP tosses off classified information as authority for his assertion is suspicious at best. "Oh, here's the proof... wait, you don't have a skull and bones ring, do you? Oh, sorry. If only you could see this wonderful cloth... er, evidence, you would know that I'm telling you the truth." Poppycock.

BORGER: Let me just ask you, bottom line, though, on 9/11...

Vice Pres. CHENEY: On 9/11...

BORGER: ...Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11?

Vice Pres. CHENEY: We have never been able to prove that there was a connection there on 9/11. The one thing we have is the Czech intelligence service report saying that Mohammad Atta had met with the senior Iraqi intelligence official at the embassy on April 9th, 2001. That's never been proven. It's never been refuted.

In other words, it is useless. Cheney has been flogging this horse for years now. And now he simply comes out and admits there is no proof except for this? The gall is unbearable.

Information you can't confirm or deny from a foriegn intelligence service, with no context or specifics, is quite simply useless. At best, it is the basis for an independent investigation, which apparently is what we did. Finding no supporting evidence means that the info is a bogey, not that it can be presumed to be true until 'knocked down' or refuted. Refutation implies that there is a presumption of credibility. There is no credibility to refute here. This sort of thin reed should never have been used to undergird the sort of statements Cheney has made on the subject.

In any rational world, Cheney just admitted he was lying through his teeth. In Bush world, Cheney will be seen as having successfully defended his statements. And in the Pentagon world, absence of evidence doesn't imply evidence of absence. But it sure does to the real world. Our intel people followed up and were unable to confirm the Czech report. Responsible people would stop using rumors as the basis for the foriegn policy of a great nation. Responsible people would stop feeding those rumors to the public from the authority of the Vice Regency. But people like the VR and his regime see the lack of facts as simply an opportunity to make up their own.

Our intel services were unable to confirm or deny. You have to wonder if that is even true. What if they never had any real incentive to pull on this string very hard? If it were known to someone in a position of authority that this report was a bogey, it would be impolitic indeed to unravel the cloth it's attached to, especially if that cloth were someone's last scrap of cover... their fig leaf, as it were. In any case, as this spectral thread is last remaining connection the Administration can produce proving a connection between Saddam and 9/11, they owe the nation a sincere appology for thier deception. But this Administration always plays it's bluffs out all the way, just in case something breaks their way unexpected. They never try to get out cheap once we're on to them - and why should they? They aren't playing with their own money - or thier own lives.

I hope some enterprising members of the Czech intelligence service speak up regarding this 'report', or an intrepid investigative reporter gets us some solid information about it. I hope a certain February, 2003 transcript is leaked or declassified. I hope a lot. But the simple fact is, I shouldn't have to hope for access to the truth.

We don't seem to be able to count on our own media, or even Congress, to ask the right questions or to press an inquiry until it strikes the boney facts. Too many backs are itch-free around Washington. The minimum a democratic government owes the electorate is the facts. Without facts a democratic system is not a mechanism for making decisions, it is system for measuring faith. Now that it is apparent that only a only a bit of classified testimony by George Tenet and an elusive and unconfirmed report by Czech intelligence stand between the us and the truth about the Adminsitration's assertions about Iraq and al Qaeda, I hope that the facts we need to evaluate those claims emerge into the public sphere. I trust the decisions of my fellow citizens will be wise when informed by the facts, but I have no desire to live under the tyranny of their faith.

CPD Announces Presidential Debates

Th Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the dates, locations, and terms of the debates. Nothing surprising, they will be held in FL, OH, MO, and AZ. Oh, and Nader is not welcome... again.

The qualifications for debate participation exclude him, and likely any third party candidate. You have to get 15 % or greater popular support before you can sit at the table or stand at a podium sponsored by CPD.

As much as I do not want people to vote for Nader in preference to Kerry, I think that the things Nader would say, the issues he's raise, and challenge he would pose to both Kerry and Bush would be a valuable education for American voters. Nader has earned his place on the stage by qualifying is the number of states he has. His portion of popular support prior to the debates is irrelevant - getting people's support when they are listening is the whole point. The cut-off should be 1%, exluding the nuts, but allowing in marginalized candidates.

This move to exclude all but those who are already having their voices heard is obnoxious, and treats American's as if they were morons. By claiming to exclude 'fringe' views, the CPD are in fact only reinforcing CW and recieved opinion at the expense of the new ideas American political parties must face and struggle with to grow. If the major parties need never defend themselves against 'maginal' views, they will ossify, stagnate, and die. The GOP and the Democrats are doing themselves no favors by this rule - they are hastening the day of thier irrelevance.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Republicans like War-Profiteering

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization for FY 2005, proposed by Sen. Leahy, was rejected on a mostly party-line vote on Wednesday. This Amendment would have made it crime punishable by fines, disgorgement, and up to 20 years in jail for any entity to defraud or misrepresent facts in relation to a government contract in a country in which US forces where active.

Apparently, those Republicans just love those war-profiteers and want to shelter them from criminal liability for their criminal acts. I agree. Let's just tar a feather the bastards instead. BTW, our own Arizona Senators, law and order Kyl and McCain, both voted against the amendment. I guess crime only interests them when poor people commit it.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Kimble Skeptical of the DFA Dozen

Mark Kimble, columnist for the Tucson Citizen and commentator on "Arizona Illustrated" Friday roundtable, questions Dean's chops in local Arizona elections. Kimble doesn't see that Dean, who came in 3rd in the Arizona Presidential Preference Primary after 'screaming his way out of the Democratic presidential race,' can deliver the kind of votes needed to usher his picks into office.

What Mark doesn't take account of is how helpful to a candidate early money and volunteer help can be, especially the experienced volunteer help unlocked by Dean's endorsement. He notes in his column that the day the announcement went out, Nina Trasoff had 60 people volunteering for her campaign - a campaign for Corporation Commission! That is unprecedented. Corporation Commission races don't get that sort of attention except from utility lobbyists. That attention is what is important and powerful about DFA's endorsements of state and local candidates. It demonstrates that there is power in those offices and citizens need to participate in deciding who holds them, as well as more high-profile offices. Of course, Dean's endorsement also shows candidates to the gates of the Dean grassroots fundraising garden and teaches them how to hoe the rows. Access to Dean's fundraising network is tremendously valuable in raising serious money early without having to kowtow to same large contributors on whom both parties have come to over-rely.

I don't know why Kimble, an experienced political animal himself, would discount such advantages. Dean's endorsement is not solely, or even primarily, to garner votes in the general electon on the strength of Dean's personal influence with the electorate, yet that is what Kimble implies is its only value. Ultimately, endorsements don't matter that much in any race, they can lend credibility, but candidates rise and fall primarily on their own merit and skills. Undoubtedly, Dean's endorsement will bring races and candidates to people's attention who might other not been paying attention, and if they like Dean, they may be inclined to vote for that candidate; but that's not the point. The money, the volunteers, the exposure, and the timing of all of it early in the campaign is why the Dean endorsements are useful to these local candidates, not people thinking WWDD (what would Dean do?) in the voting booth.

T.I.A. Lives!

Is Big Brother watching, listening to and misusing information about you? Yes. He's probably even reading this blog. The Strangelovian Total Information Awareness program, brainchild of convicted Iran-Contra criminal Admiral Poindexter, is alive and thriving in the black bag budget of the Pentagon. You know, the billions of dollars that get spent without any democratic controls because of 'National Security' concerns? Well, congratulations, your phone calls, plane trips, television viewing habits, credit card transactions, and just about any other electronic records you produce in your daily life are now the focus of a massive, off-the-books, Congressionally unauthorized, boondoggle of data mining and counter-terror focused on American citizens that could cause you to be harrassed or arrested at any moment because of a stupid mistake or misunderstanding. Who do we have to thank for this Orwellian nightmare? Do you really have to ask?

Kerry/Dean 2004?

Zogby phone polls in battleground states are showing a Kerry/Dean ticket having a definitive edge with key Democratic constituencies over a Kerry/Gephardt ticket. There are rumours, and rumours of rumours, that Kerry's recent campaign sweep in the Northwest with Dean did very well financially and saw the emergence of a new-found respect and friendship between the two men. Of course, Dean wouldn't be much help to Kerry in taking a Southern state or two from Bush, or in delivering the Midwest or Southwest vote like some others might, but he is a passionate and talented campaigner who has learned his lessons through hard knocks and commands the respect of many to the Left of the party. With Nader on the hustings positioned to play spoiler in our wonky electoral system, that could be an even more critical issue to Kerry than regional balance, or pleasing the DLC.

At last, Dean is in play. The 'sphere is no longer smirking at the idea of Dean as VP, even if CW still is, and the Edwards juggernaut looks a tad less inevitable. Don't get too excited though, although it is a trailing indicator and not a predictor, the market for Dean VP futures is still in the basement.

Iraq's New President Named?

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - "Iraq's interim president urged firebrand Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday to lay down his arms and enter politics, a prospect which President Bush said he would not oppose."

Bush must be getting pretty desperate about Sadr's street gangs if he is now willing to accept the political mainstreaming of the man whose head he wanted on a plate just a month ago. With the latest polling in Iraq showing that Sadr has a popular approval rating of over 90%, Ghazi al-Yawer [Iyad Allawi is interim President- 6/18/04] may have just named his successor.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Arizona's Reserves and Guard Units

UPDATE: The latest deployment information as of November, 2005 has been posted anew. The information in this post is now outdated.

The Bush Administration has instituted particularly underhanded policies to maintain troop strength. The Pentagon has issued what is known as a "stop-loss" orders, under which soldiers whose units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan must serve the entire 12 months overseas, plus an additional 90 days, regardless of when their term of enlistment ends. In some cases, soldiers have been notified of their new deployments as little as two days before they were to have left the military. This is conscription without a draft; soldiers are performing active duty they never volunteered to serve.

The stop-loss orders attempt to make up for a lack of planning, foresight, and judgment by both the Pentagon and the White House in asking those already sacrificing in the line of volunteer duty to carry more of the load. Their disregard for the men and women in uniform will only compound those errors and problems -- a volunteer army pushed too far will simply walk away. In the interest of short-term, and politically motivated objectives, this Administration is destroying the trust between citizen and government which is the foundation of the volunteer army.

As of today, the total National Guard and Reserve personnel on active duty is 160,956, including both units and individual augmentees. The Arizona units on active duty, from a military file release listing all active reserve units, includes the following units (individual augmentees are not listed) which total 1,401 of our fellow citizens:

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

0285 AV BN 01 HHC FWD
Army National Guard

Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

Army National Guard

160 FI DET
Army National Guard

180 FA BN 02 FA BN 155M FWD
Army National Guard

Army National Guard

258 EN CO
Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army National Guard

Army National Guard

Army National Guard

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

Army Reserve

When it comes to the lives and safety of our fellow citizens, there are no factions and no politics. We wish them safety, health, and quick return to their civilian lives and families. We pray they are not forced to choose between conscience and duty. Godspeed, brothers and sisters.

Arizona Daily Sun

Rick Renzi recently started running ads in District 1. The ad is called the "Renzi workhorse", believe it or not. The Arizona Daily Sun reports: "The campaign for [Paul] Babbitt, the Democrat who is challenging the incumbent Republican, responded with a series of detailed criticisms of Renzi's record.

The campaign contends that Renzi voted to 'underfund' education by more than $9 billion next year by supporting the Leave No Child Behind legislation, voted against a one-time $1,500 bonus for military personnel sent to Iraq and Afghanistan and lent his vote to 'a sham drug plan that hurts seniors.'

The Babbitt camp criticizes the drug plan for prohibiting Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices, pushing more seniors into health maintenance organizations, and nearly doubling the annual deductible within seven years.

Moyer dismissed the criticisms as 'Democratic Party rhetoric.'"

What? What? What?! So now a politician's voting record and non-partisan fiscal analysis of major legislation presented in a fact-based, specific critique of a poltician's record is just partisan rheotric? The arrogance and distain for the intelligence of the average person of the Renzi campaign has just been revealed. Only someone with absolute contempt for the voters would dismiss such criticism so flippantly. Renzi deserves to go go down in flames. With a death grip on W's coat tails, and lacking any personal merit, that is exactly where Renzi is headed.

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Just click here! Control a 13 billion dollar budget, no prior experience needed!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Provocative Question

I love a good provocative question, and I ran across one: Do we need a military? The question prompted some interesting discussion on Kos, but I wanted to add my 2 cents... well, OK more like a buck fifty, but well, here's my thoughts on the matter.

The central argument of this diary has great merit, but it asks the wrong question. The question should be, 'why do we need a standing army?'

Even if we did not have an standing army, airforce, or marine corps, or even a coast guard (which I would argue for keeping in any case), America still has two devastating weapons to keep any enemies in check. Our nuclear missile fleet, deliverable anywhere in the world, is the ultimate deterent. Second is our military CAPACITY due to our economic might. By increasing the size and efficiency of our economy in ridding ourselves of the inefficient military-industrial complex, that capacity for military action might even be enhanced. I would thus argue that scrapping our standing army could enhance our military power in the long run, especially if the redirected revenues allowed us to improve our trade position and free ourselves from dependence on petroleum.

When we entered the penultimate military struggle of the last century, WWII, we had only a bare remnant of the military machine we built for WWI. We had to rebuild the military from the ground up in order to enter that war. In many ways that process helped us. Our opponents, having recently built up their own militaries, were using the latest technology. If we had been fighting from stocks from the last war, we would have been slaughtered. Our industrialists, weapons labs, and commanders had to build from the ground up to meet the particular threat and create new ways of war-fighting as they went.

Now, there is a good argument that the professionalization of the officer corps and the stability of demand for weaponry created by a standing army has pushed our military tech and tactics far beyond our competition, but that ever-widening advantage must be balanced against the 50% of Federal revenues devoted to the project. Is complete dominance worth the costs? Perhaps we can find good ways to maintain dominance without the standing army? Computer modelling? Limited production proto-typing? Redoubling research and bypassing production cycles entirely? Who knows what might be accomplished with 100 billion a year of pure defense research?

I believe that we must retain a professional corps of officers to seed needed force expansions in a crisis, and that we should continue to spend substantially on defense-related research, but I think that people would not politically tolerate the abscence of a ready reserve of troops. Even if it were only a reasonably sized militia and not a volunteer professional standing army people have to feel protected. National service with non-military options would spread the burden and eliminate the unhealthy insulation of our professional soldiery. You can reduce the army to a nub if people feel secure, but you can never eliminate it. Many of the resources and personnel used for a standing army which does not actually meet the current crop of realistic security threats, most notably terrorism, could be redirected into programs of homeland security which are actually well-funded and properly designed, rather than purely political ass-coverage.

To accomplish a massive reduction in forces, materiel, and acquisitions, you would have to close several hundred bases around the world, having an unknown impact on world stability and economics. You would have cast loose major industries to compete in consumer markets causing massive economic dislocations, however dampened by the international arms markets. There are likely to be economic consequences of some significance as hundreds of thousands of soliders hit the labor market, bases are closed all over the country, and local markets lose the revenues from arms industries. It would be a political feat of major proportions.

Unfortunately, the only circumstances in which I see it occuring is if our balance of payments get so out of control that creditors demand austerity measures including major budget cuts. Defense spending may then be the only viable target for major cuts to Federal spending. If we HAVE to wack 100 billion or more out of the Federal budget, we mght have a chance to eliminate the standing army created as a response to the Cold War, in favor of a 'Virtual Army' which can spring into being to meet serious threats to American security. A lovely side effect is that Cowboy Presidents won't have nearly so great means to meddle in the affairs of other nations and trash international law. Denying the Executive a standing army to thrash about with is not only fiscally prudent, it is politically sound, too.

Obama's bangin'

Barack Obama, an excellent prospect to take a new Senate seat for the Democrats this cycle, and one of my favorite politicians (I'll predict now this man will be on a Presidential ticket in the future), has challenged Republican Jack Ryan to a series of 6 debates. Big deal right? Well, polling indicates that Obama is cruising to victory. He's now motoring toward the finish line at 52-30 over Ryan in late May polling, and the spread is probably even greater now.

Obama doesn't need to debate Ryan. CW says he should duck the issue. His immediate acceptance of Ryan's invitation to debate demonstrates both his confidence and committment to the democratic process. Ryan has lept at the chance, but Barrack, a Havard Law grad and the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review, will debone him in debate.

With more credible, skilled, smart and daring candidates like Barack Obama, the Democratic party is going to stomp on the GOP in coming cycles. With dilletante, self-funding, trustfundie duds, and racebaiting, intolerant, Jesus feltching, redneck populists shouldering out the real political talent in the GOP, courtesy the Rove machine, their bench is going to start looking like the 1962 Mets pretty soon.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Here Lies Cheney

White House officials and a Cheney Aide approved the Halliburton contract in Iraq according to Pentagon officials testifying before a Congressional inquiry. Of course, Cheney claimed publicly on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" on Sept. 14, 2003, that "as vice president, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the federal government."

Well, that looks very much like another lie. Is anyone really surprised at this point? It's tragic when such unethical behavior comes to be expected of a public official. I shudder to think the standard these thugs will set for public service if they are not severely punished for their behavior, and simply losing the election is NOT punishment enough.

Radicals on the run?

I hate to appear, well... optimistic, but it seems very much as if the Wrong Wing Nuts are on the run in Arizona. With the passage of a compromise budget which left the Right out in the cold, snivelling and moaning, a new consensus for realism and moderation seems to be forming in response to our long national and state nightmare of ideological troglodytes stomping on the public welfare. As Reps Hershberger and O'Halleran correctly point out in their in-your-face response (not yet online) to Rep. Biggs extended whine regarding the budget compromise, the excuse of budget shortfalls is a strawman (AZ's state debt per capita is 49th in the Union) and the Right's intended victims were our children, developmentally disabled citizens, and the elderly (exactly those who are least able to defend themselves). The Right are a pack of arrogant bullies, attacking the weak and defenseless for their greedy and nihilistic agenda. They wouldn't even work within their own caucus to find a compromise, instead bullying their own party members, and they rightly got their asses stomped into the ground.

This might be a turning point in AZ politics, and possibly signals a turning point in the nation. People are waking up to the fact that the Right's anti-Government cant is nothing but a cover for a deeply flawed, regressive socio-economic agenda. Mainstream Arizona is picking up steam, scoring a major fundraising coup with their June 4th fundraiser. Hopefully this is reflective of the solid center of Conservative-leaning Independents and Moderate Republicans begining to show their strength. They may be tired of having to acquiesce to the worst tendencies of the Right in order to be represented. More power to them.

In the end, the Far Right as whole may become victims of their own alarming and unprecedented success. They have never been so completely in control of the levers of power, and as might be expected of neophytes, they misunderstand how that power can be used to effect long-term changes. Like babarians taking over the state, they failed to appreciate the delicacy and compromise that lasting power requires. In a pluralistic society, abuse of power only engenders resistance and counter-organization. The right just swarmed in and started shouting orders and breaking up the furniture to cook their mutton, assuming (or a least dreaming and believing) that having won a majority, it would last forever. Their tactics might shock the civilized for a while, but sooner or later the barbarians are going to find themselves wandering through the woods again without being able to understand how they got back out there. These people are not politicians, they are bullies and madmen. They aren't fit to govern.

In most ways, I find the very idea of a permanent Republican majority completely absurd. The only way to ensure domination is to destroy democracy entirely, and the demographics of the country are headed in the opposite direction. The GOP is not only largely unwilling to make the changes to their platform and constituency to maintain a majority, they are likely incapable. They are no longer able to spit out the racism, xenophobia, and intolerance which lies at the core of their agenda. Meanwhile they become victims of their own success. The more they concentrate power within the Right faction, the more of their own base they marginalize. Sooner or later they create their own doom. The depth of delusion it requires to translate a razor thin electoral margin into a strategy for a permanent mandate by favoring discrete minorities over the public interest truly boggles the mind. The very idea of permanent mandate is somewhat absurd - nothing is permanent in politics - but the idea that one can expand ones base by intensely favoring factions within it with policies that alienate most others is simply stupid.

Democrats need to stop referring to Karl Rove as a genius, he's not; he's a reckless, short-sighted, fucking idiot. What he has done is to intensely target and mobilize several factions within the Republican party, and then craft campaigns and candidates to cater very strongly to those factions. This is highly successful strategy in the short term, but once you begin to alienate the vast majority of the electorate, and your own party, you have really only done your opponent's work of mobilizing his voters for him. The backlash will wash your mighty movement away in a flash-flood of voter resentment. The primary emotion we should experience when thinking about the Right is contempt, not fear. The primary message we should give Republicans is that Bush/Rove is destroying their party.

Stop Michael Moore!?

Stop Michael Moore! The fascists are at it again. Now they are trying to intimidate theater chains to prevent them screening Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11'. This is a naked attempt at good old-fashioned un-American censorship of opposing political views.

If Moore's film is so chock full of lies, why not refute it rather than attempt to censor it? Lucky for us these kommissars have provided us with a nice list of theater execs to write to in support of artistic freedom and American values. Go to it, and spread the word! Write to your representatives about it while you are at it.

Bushenko Strikes Again...

Perhaps it will surprise no one to learn the Bush Administration may have intentionally rigged the State Department's terrorism report for 2003. They hid figures indicating terrorism was at a 20 year high under the fiction that it was at a 34 year low.

Reality has no meaning anymore. We have officially become the Soviet Union where false reports became not just a tool of political control, but a self-reinforcing belief system about reality that ultimately destroyed the state. The Bush Administration's Lysenkoism should be a lesson to us all. All fact gathering and disseminating functions in Washington need to be isolated from political control and rigourously and openly audited on a constant basis. Everything that doesn't require a security clearance should be taken only from open-source networks of experts, or vetted by the same. It is the only way to keep the Right from lying the nation into an early grave.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Bush Asked for Vatican's Help on Re-election

Bush requested the Curia to nudge American clergy into more outright political activism. In essence, he requested Papal assistance with his re-election based on his extra-constitutional positions on gay marriage and abortion. What once was the boogey man used against Kennedy, that he would follow the Pope and not the Constitution, is now the bait with which Bush courts the Curia's favor. What is the difference between taking instructions from Rome and Bush's advocacy of overturning the constitutional status quo ante on gays and reproductive rights in the hope of gaining the favor of the Pope? How is it any different to ask the Pope to instruct his clergy to influence their parishoners than asking a foreign leader to instruct his countrymen in America to influence the outcome of an election? People would be outraged by the naked meddling in our elections by a foriegn country. This is worse. The President is willingly offering his fealty to the interests of a foreigner leader to gain favor.

Bush is a religious quisling. He has chosen loyalty to a set of relgious tenets over his consititional duty to enforce the laws of this nation. He is plotting with the Pope to insert religious law into our Constitution in order to maintain and extend his own power. Bush is a traitor to the Novus Ordo Secularum of our founding. It may not be criminal, or even impeachable, but it is deplorable, and if Catholics and other Christians heed the lessons of history, they will oppose it too. No good can come of mixing relgion and secular authority in a modern, pluralistic society.

Arizona Nader Challenge Update

Arizona Nader Challenge Update:

Total Number of Reviewed Petition Lines: 7618
Unregistered Names 3942
Party: Democrat 911
Party: Republican 1572
Party: Independent/Other 1151
Party: Libertarian 24  
Party: Green 18

The count is still in progress and should be done before the deadline.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

CO Redistricting Denial of Cert Demonstration SC's Contempt for Federalism

A Troubling Dissent from the SC. They rejected cert by 5 to 3 on a CO redistricting case, but the dissent of Rhenquist, Scalia, and Thomas (the three partisan whores) makes it clear that they had pre-judged that the CO SC was merely "purporting" to apply state law in the case. Of course, they would know, as they are experts in "purporting" to apply the Constitution, when, in fact, it is their thumbs on the scales of justice, not our Constitution. These three bastards need to be fully flushed out for the inconsistent political hacks they are. We need the Democratic Party to try the same mid-term redistricting gerrymandering as the CO and TX GOP in a Democratic majority state, and then get the case up to the SC and see what they say. If their decision doesn't contradict their convenient, redistrict-as-thee-will stance of the TX case, I'll eat my law degree.

They will, of course, find some meaningless point to distinguish upon and blow out of proportion, but they would never hand the Democrats an unearned advantage. The very first thing Democrats should do upon regaining Congress is to impeach these bastards, and give the GOP whatever they ask for their heads on a platter (espcially the young-uns Scalia and Thomas). Then again, Secret Service protection of SC Justices is very light as Souter's recent assault indicates. Who knows, we might get lucky.

An American at the Hague?

Jon Tepperman of Foreign Affairs wrote about the possibility of the Bush Administration personnel ending up in the dock at the Hague for thier role in the torture scandal in Iraq. It points up the possibility of an line of attack for the Kerry campaign. Why aren't they pursuing it vigorously? The Administration is wounded by this scandal. Why not move in for the kill?

I think it is likely that Kerry is a afraid to push too hard on the issue of Bush's potential criminality. He is hoping that the Bush Administration will be destroyed by the the CIA, the Pentagon, and the professionals of the Justice department in this, and other scandals. His is not an entirely unrealistic viewpoint. Kerry's criticism tends to make the whole affair look political when it is not, giving the Republicans a rhetorical lever they surely wished they had - they can hardly claim partisanship by the CIA or the Pentagon without looking like fools. This is why their rhetorical ire is reserved for 'liberals' who are outraged by the torture pictures, or, more properly, the torture itself. Better that Kerry relies on proxies like Gore to let the faithful know how he feels (note that Kerry refused to repudiate anything Gore said when asked about Gore's speech) and continue letting Bush beat Bush.

Additionally, Kerry has by his own admission either witnessed, and failed to halt, or possibly participated in events in Nam which he himself considered to be war crimes at the time. Any war crime accusations from Kerry simply invites the GOP attack dogs up that old dark alley - not a good move. Better to wait for the election to install him, and allow the dregs of BC04 to be hauled off to a special UN tribunal, to be tried for Iraqi war crimes. Kerry would likely pardon Bush and Cheney under US law to be sure that executive immunity for 'acts of state' are not endangered by a criminal trial under US law, unless he's impeached before the end of his term, of course. Although I do not pretend to understand all the legal motives for pardoning a President accused on a criminal activity who is willing to resign, certainly one is that there is no where in the US he could get a fair trial. It not at all clear, however, whether the President can pardon anyone for crimes against humanity, protecting him from international justice; it is unlikely he can.

Kerry should keep his hands clean of the whole affair, and negate the charges of political motivation which would be the certain response to his involvement. As much as I think it is time for a US President end up in jail for crimes committed while in office, it shouldn't be a US jail.

The one exception to clemeny I can forsee is if Bush tries to forstall justice by pardoning his confederates who could implicate him, or, indeed, pardon himself before stepping down, as Nixon contemplated doing. Kerry, as the preseumptive next President, should work with Congress at that point pull out all the stops to prevent such a gross abuse of the pardon power. Allowed to pass unchallenged, such use of the pardon power could place the President permanently above the law if allowed to take root in American constitutional tradition. Better to precipitate a Constitutional crisis now than allow such a precedent to fester and spring forth to destroy the Republic, turning it into naked distatorship at some future date.

Along the same lines, all members of the Bush Administration who are convicted of crimes in U.S. courts or international tribunals, or are pardoned for their crimes, should be impeached post-term. This is a controversial practice, as yet untried in the U.S., though widely accepted in England. Post-term impeachment would prevent the criminals of the Bush Administration from ever holding elective or appointed office again. Given that the Bush II Administration recycles so many of the convicted and alleged criminals of the Reagan and Bush I administration, the wisdom of disqualifiying certain 'bad-apples' from ever holding a public trust again is self-evident. People like Poindexter, Armitage, and Negroponte should not be tolerated in public service. And certainly people like Wolfowtiz, Libby, Cambone, Perle, Feith, and their ilk should never turn up in a future Republican Administration. These people are unfit to serve and should be barred from creeping back into power. Post-term impeachment is the only way to ensure that they won't.

Coup D'etat?

Michael Ruppert weaves the threads of scandal into a very alarming tapestry of conspiracy. He argues that Tenet and Pavitt's resignations signals the begining of the end of the Bush Administration. He is about to be criminally charged in the Plame affair, and possibly in other open investigations. Tenet and Pavett resigned so preciptously so as to be available to testify without Bush or Cheney being able to invoke executive priviledge.

The author argues, quite convincingly, for a CIA-backed take-down of a rogue Administration that has become a serious liability for the powerful and influential of America. For my own part, I'm not entirely convinced by the conjecture. I am inclined to use Occam's Razor to cut out any CIA conspiracy out of the weave. I find it entirely believable that responsible and professional people throughout the government are intent on protecting America's reputation and the institutional integrity of our system of government, regardless of their ideology or party. People can be quite ready to flush the Bush Administration down the toilet of history and to step up to tell what they know to make that happen without having to propose any conspiracy behind it. The Bush Administration is certainly inept enough to stick their collective foot in it without any help. On the other hand, who knows? Odder and less rational things have proven true. Of course, if Bush succeeds in squirreling away his Presidential papers, we may never know the truth of the matter in our lifetimes.

"President Hastert" doesn't sound very appealing either, but it can hardly be worse than what we have. It would certainly ensure the election of Kerry in 2004, and probably 2008 as well. Hell, if there were any justice in politics, a Bush/Cheney impeachment double-tap would ensure Democratic control of the Executive for the remainder of the 21st century.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Apologia Pro Tormento: The Walker Memo

Michael Froomkin analyzes the 'Torture memo' and finds the same argument so often used by the Bush Administration undergirding it: unlimited executive powers. In this case, the Administration argues, as it has before in 'enemy combantant' detensions, that the Presdient's role of Commander-in-Chief cannot Constitutionally be limited in any way by acts of Congress. The assumption of this philosophic position is that the authority and powers of the English Crown were passed to the President, except as specifically limited by the Constitution. As with any poor choice of premise, the result is a argument which is logical and self-consistent, and entirely erroneous.

America hasn't any king, and we would cease to be America were we to acknowledge one, even in the limited a fashion the Bush Administration would wish us to. What these people argue for is a form of what was known to the Nazis as the Fuehrerprinzip, or the concentration of all authority in the leader. All initiative and power are vested in one man, who embodies the spirit and force of the State. All authority flows from the Fuehrer, to lesser Fuehrers, much as Bush's authority flows to Bremmer, or to Rumsfeld, or to Ashcroft. Each Fuehrer has absolute power in their own sphere, and is answerable only to their superior Fuehrer, much as Bremmer, et al, are apparently unwilling to be unaccountable to any but Bush in their use of dictatorial powers.

By reaching outside the Constitutional framework for absolute and unaccountable power, the Bushies are in effect making a bid for expanding Presidential power into the functional equivalent of dictatorship in every way. Not satisfied with the scope of the tools of Presidential action such as the executive order and directive being limited to war, foreign affairs, and the operation of the Executive Branch, the Bush partisans seek to expand their scope through using the warmaking powers of the Commander-in-Chief, and then making everything in creation an instrumentality of war. An interesting study of the use and misuse of executive power by the Heritage Foundation in February of 2001 rightly highlights to potential for repression and dictatorship by vesting an unchallengable legislative power in the President. They point to the alleged abuses of President Clinton, of course. Oddly, one does not hear so much on this topic from the Heritage Foundation any more...

Added 6/11: Having read the memo more closely, one section stands out as highly relevant to the torture at Abu Ghraib and other prisons and bases around the world where prisoners of the Iraq and Afghani actions and the 'war on terror' are held. The passage relates to affirmative defenses to torture under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

"The existence of war does not in and of itself justify all forms of assault. For instance, in US v. Calley, the court recognized that "while it is lawful to kill an enemy in the heat and exercise of war, to kill such an enemy after he has laid down his arms…is murder." Further, the fact that the law of war has been violated pursuant to an order of a superior authority, whether military or civil, does not deprive the act in question of its character of a war crime, nor does it constitute a defense in the trial of an accused individual, unless he did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful. In all cases where the order is held not to constitute a defense to an allegation of war crime, the fact that the individual was acting pursuant to orders may be considered in mitigation of punishment." The thrust of these holdings is that even in war, limits to the use and extent of force apply. [ed.-underline added]

Near the end of 2002 and into 2003 the Judge Advocates General corps staged a near revolt over the new rules for interrogations at GTMO. The eventual loss of this administrative pissing match led them to seek outside counsel and to discretely leak their concerns to the ACLU (see the section entitled The Roots of Torture). Finally, the JAG corps, who supervise directly all military interrogations in the normal course of operations, were removed from Abu Ghraib, and the facility was placed under the direct command of Military Intelligence. If you wanted to create an enviroment in which the guards would have an 'under orders' defense available to them, as described by the Walker Memo, one would have to take these very same steps. By eliminating JAG oversight, and placing Abu Ghraib under the direct command of MI, the stage is set to torture prisoners and give soldiers the best chance of aquittal for the crimes you ordered them to commit.

The likely plea of the three soldiers facing general courts martial thus far? You guessed it. According to lawyers of the soldiers, they were only following orders and didn't know thier orders were illegal. They had no access to counsel, no superiors with the requesite training to advise them. Their MI superiors who engaged in torture and gave the orders? No word on that yet, but we do know the contractors and MI personnel regularly wore uniforms with no identification and even donned disguises to commit their crimes. Surprisingly, this simple means of getting away with crimes against humanity is not discussed in the memo, but it seems to have been fairly effective none-the-less.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Road of a Nation Forums

Road of a Nation Forums was created by an Iraqi blogger to facilitate the exchange of questions between Iraqis and Americans. Go share your views with curious Iraqis, or ask those questions of Iraqis you have been buring to ask.

The Scariest Thing I've Ever Read

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides. According to off-the-record sources inside the White House, Bush is melting down mentally. He fully into a bunker mentality and decompensating emotionally in a major way. Tenet's unexpected resignation was due to a snit by the President in which he demanded George's resignation.

According to this article, Bush is self-justifying by refering to God's will, demonizing anyone who opposes or slights him as 'anti-American', and openly berates staff members. If even a portion of this is true, it presents a picture of a President in full melt-down mentally. Recall that this is a the person who has the 'football', and despair. It may be dangerous for America to get rid of this President. It may unseat his mind to be defeated and rejected by the electorate.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Candy-Coating Reagan

The Media are lionizing Reagan now that he's dead. Right-wing and mainstream hacks both can't find enough nice things to say about Ronald Reagan's life, politics, and legacy. It seems even most of the Left have been defanged; holding their tongues in conformance with the adage 'if you can't find anything nice to say, say nothing at all.' Worse, effusive praise gushes even from the left, in a frenzy not to be seen as ghoulish, or bashing the dead.

Well, to hell with that. I fully recognize that there are positive aspects of Reagan's legacy. His policies tended to be far more progressive than his rheotric; I suppose this is due in part to the formation of his character in the depression and Roosevelt's New Deal. Most of it probably stems from those few times he was actually paying attention and calling the shots in he Presidency. Reagan was a liberal and a Democrat in his younger days, and perhaps he never truly lost contact with rational habits of thought and the better angels of his nature.

A public figure's life is judged differently than that of most people. Private people deserve some deferrence in death, they did not ask for our judgements upon their privately lived lives. Public figures deserve to be judged not solely upon what they might have done right with their life, but on the things they did wrong, as well. Reagan did plenty wrong that was never atoned for.

He sponsored state-supported terrorism and death squads in Central America. He trafficked in drugs and illicit arms to skirt Congressional spending controls. He led us to slink out of Lebanon with over 240 American Marines dead from a terrorist bomb. He built up an only-recently-beaten record deficit. He presided over such corruption that more of his appointees were criminally prosecuted than any other Administration (unfortunately many of them are back serving in the Bush Mis-Administration). The list goes on and on. Characterize it as neglect, being out of the loop, plain incompetence - it doesn't matter. All of it is Reagan's fault and Reagan's doing. For some of it his simply deserves disapprobation, some of it should have seen him impeached and driven from office, some of it should have landed him behind bars for the remainder of his life, covicted for crimes against humanity.

The man's death of natural causes at the age of 93 does not excuse his crimes, assauge the suffering his actions and choices inflicted upon so many, or give us leave to forget the unsavory aspects of his legacy. His gentle old age of dottage and decline gives us no reason to feel sorry for him, nor to reconsider his legacy. His lot in life was infinitely better than what his victims got. I realize that I'm being ungracious, hard, and even ugly, in pointing out the flaws in one recently dead. I really don't care. The old son-of-bitch is gone. Good riddance. Let's resist the calls to name every damned thing under the sun after the old reprobate, or putting his mug on a coin, shall we? There is quite enough of that nonsense already. The only exception I would make would be to go down to Guatamala and El Salvador [and Nicaragua, of course- addedum 6/7/2000] and christen the anonymous graves of his victims the 'Ronald W. Reagan Memorial Killing Fields'. That would be a fitting tribute to the man and his legacy.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


BC'04 is crowing about its job creation record. That's fine, it makes them look like fools if Dems take advantage of their misdirection. They claim to have created 1.4 million new jobs since August of 2003. That averages to just over 140,000 per month. Not a terrible record if you look at it with no context. The problem is the context is tragic. The Bush Administration is still presiding over a 1.3 million job loss to the economy since inauguration, and are nearly 7 million jobs behind their own economic projections.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Bush Knew About Leak of CIA Operative's Name, and Other Anticlimaxes

Not only is Bush lawyering up in the Plame investigation,Bush had fore-knowledge of the leak according to Grand Jury witnesses. He knew about the plot to expose a national security asset and did nothing to stop it. Kerry should demand Bush come out with everything he knows and stop playing footsie with the legal process. Already, it is clear that he lied when he said he had no knowledge of the matter, and was shining the American public on when he encouraged his staff to cooperate. The media should be beating the hell out of him about this. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read this blog before that I think Bush is unfit to hold the office of dog-catcher, and that he's bloody-handed criminal to boot. But how many different ways are there for one man to be corrupt?

I'm sure Cheney might be able to answer that question from personal experience. Democrats have called upon Ashcroft to appoint an independent investigator to look into any wrong-doing by Cheney's office in the awarding of an up to 7 billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for services in Iraq. This is the same contract which caused a stir a while back by its very existence. Cheney, at that time, denied any involvement in awarding the contract, but an email from Scooter Libby recently turned up in a Judical Watch FOI request to the Army Corps of Engineers that suggests the VP's office "coordinated" the deal. Vague, yes. Possibly a boogey? Absolutely. Potentially the next Tea Pot Dome scandal? You bet.

The Resident is in Italy at the moment, causing the Italians no shortage of headaches with protests he is inspiring and the security arrangements he requires to keep the vast majority of Italians, by whom he is despised, at arms length. Even the grand-daughter of Mussolini, Alessandra Mussolini, hardly a lefty, is opposed to Bush's policies and said she intends to join the planned protests for Bush's visit.

Bush visited the Pope, who took the opportunity to prod Bush on opening Iraq to international participation, and to castigate him about Abu Ghraib. The Pope warned Bush that, "In the past few weeks other deplorable events have come to light which have troubled the civic and religious conscience of all, and made more difficult a serene and resolute commitment to shared human values. In the absence of such a commitment neither war nor terrorism will ever be overcome." Though the Pope also obliquely praised Bush's abortive efforts (groan) at passing a 'partial birth' abortion ban.

I can't wait for the next leg of the President's trip - France. If some enterprising French politician doesn't do something highly embarrassing to Bush, I swear I'll stop buying Evian water and brie.


William Grieder casts down the banner of the "War on Terror" and beseeches Americans to "Get a grip" before it's too late. Read it. Spread it. Memorize it. This is what people need to hear to stop the insanity.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I knew WWII, and I can tell you, this war is no WWII...

Bush, attempting wrap Iraq in the sentimental aura of WWII's righteousness, has attempted to draw a connection between the 'Good War' and the 'War on Terror', of which Iraq is claimed to be the central front. Such an analogy is an affront to the the soldiers of today, and of that distant war. It is only a matter of time before Bush manages to alienate WWII vets even more than hundreds of millions of cuts to verteran's benefits have already. Let's look at the real contrasts- WWII on the right, Iraq on the left:

World divided between us and them vs. World divided between us and everyone else;

America is loved by its allies vs. America is feared by its allies;

Fighting some of the most powerful fully-industrialized nations on earth vs. Fighting a single, backward, de-industrialized basket case of a nation and a bunch of religiously insane bomb-throwers;

A draft shares the burden among all Americans vs. The volunteer army and stop-loss orders place all the burden on a few;

We raised taxes to pay for everything equitably vs. We are mugging our children to pay for everything, including huge tax cuts for the wealthy;

There was a broad consensus about war aims vs. There is no consensus about what the war aims for;

We were repeatedly attacked and provoked into war vs. We attacked pre-emptively;

Our people were killed in a sneak attack, and we struck back at the killers vs. Our people were killed in a sneak attact, and we struck back, but not at the killers;

Soldiers and all Americans look back at the war with pride as a national accomplishment vs. Soldiers and all Americans will look back at the war with shame for having participated in a national travesty;

We had a President who knew how lead vs. We have a Resident who knows how lie;

We rebuilt nations with no thought for personal gain vs. The rebuilding is all about what’s in it for American corporations;

Where is the similarity? Here's a few of them:

We put the Japanese in internment camps vs. We put muslims in internment camps.

The Nazis tortured and humiliated their prisoners of war vs. We tortured and humiliated our prisoners of war.

The Nazi's indiscriminately murdered occupied civilians to no military purpose vs. We indiscriminately murder Iraqi occupied civilians to no military purpose.

They called it Blitzkreig vs. We call it Shock and Awe.

Saddam's Killing Fields vs. Nazi Killing Fields vs. American Killing Fields;

History has a hideous way of repeating itself, simply because people never learn a damn thing from it.

Data on National Debt by President - dKosopedia

Data on National Debt by President - dKosopedia

Call the Republicans the "screw the kids, I want that new car now!" Party. For the past generation, whenever these bozos get into power, they run up a ridiculous amount of debt. I guess they figure that kids can't vote, so fuck 'em. We'll spend their money buying the votes of those who can. The Republicans are a third-world style party. Their priorities are buying guns (even if we haven't any need for them), satisfying the wealthy and the corporate, marching about in cute paramilitary outfits, trying to corrupt the ballot box, attacking everyone else who might challenge their power as being un-Banana Republican, and trying their best to spend us into becoming a third-world nation. The Republican party no longer represents Republican virtues. I am more Republican can most Republicans in Congress, and certainly in the White House.

It's time that we Democrats took over those traditional Republican values openly as a repudiation of today's Republicans. We could rename the party and Democratic Republican party (a name not without a heritage) and write a platform that includes a strong and sensible national defense, balanced budgets, equitable taxes, fair trade, and support for small buinesses... hmmm. Sounds familar. You know, I think this IS our platform. Whatdya know. Democrats are more reliably Republican than "so-called" Republicans who have hijacked the party of Lincoln.

We're not doing a good job of communicating it, though. A while back I was at a McDonalds drive through (I needed spackling, so I bought a vanilla shake) and the young Native American kid at the window saw my "Proud American Proudly Voting Democrat" sticker. He said, "You're a Democrat? I'm a Republican. My party freed the slaves, what has your party done lately?" My jaw dropped. There were any number of things I could say, like winning WWI and WWII, like building the Great Society, or ending Aparthied in America. But I couldn't bring myself to bust a rheotrical cap in this burger flipping dumb-ass. I just told him, "Son, that is the last thing your party has done for anyone who looks like you. The only thing they can point to with pride for past 150 years. Personally, I would be embarrassed to belong to a party that has to dig that deep to find something to be proud of." And left it at that.

If the Republican have some Native kid working at McD's thinking they're on his side, we have done dropped the ball. Yet despite their constant screw ups, despite their people- hating policies, they talk a good game. They are putting their message out there and its just stupid enough that people lap it up. Perhaps what we need is to be right less, and persuasive more.

I'm just sick and want someone in jail.

The CIA is probing Ahmad Chalabi's alleged spy links to Iran, specifically the allegation that he tipped off Iranian intellegence that America had cracked their classified code. If this is true, it is an intellegence blow of major proportions. It makes the outing of Valerie Plame look positively patriotic by comparison. The Bush Administration seems content to flush our hum-int capacity down the toilet if there is a political advantage to it.

The first rule of tradecraft is to never trust a traitor. Having changed alliegence once, it is far too easy for him to do so again. Chalabi, a traitor to his own people, a traitor to his investors, and a power- and money-mad egoist, should never have been allowed access to classified U.S. information. It's like giving an assassin a gun and turning your back on him. Those who think that the Bush team is worldly wise and experienced need only familiarize themselves with Chalabi's history to know that this is a man one might use, but never trust. What sort of naiveté does it take to give such a man access to state secrets? The Bush kind. That's the kind where you pretend to know better than everyone else, and then consistently fall flat on your smug fucking face.

I think that Bush would sell the codes to the our nuclear arsenal to the person who could guarantee his re-election. This Administration has consistently acted in their own interest, even at the cost of national security. Now Bush is lawyering up on the Valerie Plame affair, because a Grand Jury is cranking up to hand down indictments. Now, while the Prez is retaining counsel, he continues assures the country of his Administration's complete co-operation with Prosecutor Fitzgerald's office. I usually lawyer up when I am completely blameless and ready to help however I can. "I'd like to know who leaked," Bush said in October. "And if anybody's got information inside our government or outside our government who leaked, you ought to take it to the Justice Department, so we can find the leaker." Now, call me a cynic, but I'm thinking anyone who did so had better be lawyered up and in an undisclosed location if they don't want to be buried under the shit-storm Bush would throw at them. There is simply no way anyone accessed program specific intel, such as Plame's identity, who was not part of a very small charmed circle in the Adminsitration. There is no way there is not a record indicating who did it, who ordered it, and who the information was released to. No one without access to Special Access programs could access Plame's identity and that gives a field of suspects of less than 10 people, none of whom would lift a finder without Bush's approval and none of who are going to say a word without an idictment with their name on it.

And then there is Abu Ghraib, where the Bush Administration had prison consultants working, both for private contractors and for the DOJ, who had been fired for abuse (including rape, assault, and manslaughter) and misconduct (like destruction of evidence in a criminal investigation) in United States prisons from Arizona, Texas, and Connecticut. And still Bush maintains the absolutely unbelievable lie that Abu Ghraib was just a few grunts having sport off the reservation. How can the press just sit and listen to these lies? Why don't Bush press gaggles become like standup comedy performances, with reporters laughing so hard they can't breath? How did we and our press ever become such stupid, uncritical, craven little kiss asses?

Isn't it possible we could jam together all the messes that the Bush Adminstration have made? If we stick Robert Novak and Ahmed Chalabi in Abu Ghraib and have Lindey England torture them, I think it won't take too long to discover who leaked Plame's identity and whether Chalabi is an Iranian double agent. But, of course, that would be effective, efficient, and fair. Bush seems to have signed a contract with somebody that his Adminstration would never be any of those things. Who did he sign a contract with? Hmmm... let's see now.... could it be? SATAN? Yes, that right. There now, it wasn't that hard, was it?

Addendum: Chalabi is now claiming that the CIA is trying to smear him. Not the Administration mind you, he hasn't burned all his bridges yet. It will be interesting to see who wins the rhetorical war between two big shameless liars; Bush v. Chalabi. Chalabi has proven again and again that he's not only in Bush's league, but far beyond it, in lying bastardry. It will be instructive and entertaining to watch one who knows how to play the game so well plying his trade...

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