Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'd vote for him . . .

Craig's Condensed US History of the 20th Century.

1917-1918 – WW1 (the US's first role as a super power)

1929 – Stock Market Crash
(hey, you guys seen my money, like all of it?)

1930-1941 – Great Depression (you usin that nickel, what about that crumb?)

1941-1945 – WW2 (people getting all take over the worldy)

1945 – 1989 – Cold War
(from McCarthy to Gorbachev and all the fun inbetween, and it may have been the only thing Reagan did right, on accident of course, this is what Korea, Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missle crisis, and just about everything else that's bad that happens in the time span is all about, damn Russians, what is the Russian dream anyway, 4th in line and a slight drizzle? It basically ends with Reagan, who outspends the Russians, by starting and arms race that the Russians can't keep up with, he kills the Russian economy, leading to some very unhappy, and hungry, wall tearing down communists. Other fun facts, during this time, we militarily aid Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and every other country in the world we now wish didn't have such big guns, except North Korea, they were the Russians fault, although we've now cut off their supply of ipods and plasma tvs)

1954 – Ban on segregation in school – starts civil rights era (Strom Thurmon gets upset)

1963 – Kennedy Shot (evidently by aliens for all we know, investigation files sealed for 50 years, kind of implies someone was involved that shouldn't have been)

1965-1973 Vietnam (lots of songs and movies about it, perhaps you've heard of it, these are the dates of major conflict, it actually first started in 1950)

1973-1974 Watergate
(and Nixon looked like such a trustable guy, changes the way we look at politicians, at least until 2004 when we forget the lesson)

1991 – Gulf War (pulls US military into Persian gulf. They're still there, and probably will be for a while)

1995 – Oklahoma City Bombing
(first terrorist attack on US soil, number of lessons learned = 0)

1998 – Monica Lewinsky (politicians prove that they can be childish and just want more power, sends trend set by Watergate to a new level, leads to our current president, thanks Ken Starr, we really owe ya for that one, the nut kicking line will be long)

Something interesting:
from 1918 to 1990 we were stuck in international conflicts, then we started making our own.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

President McCarthy

Washington Post reports that a federal judge rules the administration's order to block funds for terrorist organizations is unconstitutional.

David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who is helping to represent the plaintiffs in the case, said the executive order and a related federal statute improperly allow President Bush to create "blacklists" and engage in "guilt by association."
And how about this as a frame of reference, to keep this all in perspective.

Monday, November 27, 2006

'Tis the Season

Nothing like blind patriotism and fear to keep people acting rationally and making sense:

(AP) DENVER, Colorado -- A homeowners' association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.
Bob Kearns, president of the Homeowner's Association took it upon himself to valiantly address complaints from "3 or 4 people" and the offense they've taken over a symbol of peace.
"Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," he said in a telephone interview Sunday.
Kearns ordered the Homeowner's Committee to require removal of the wreath. When the committee refused, he fired all 5 members.

Aggressive Oversight. Please!

It looks as if Walker, head of GAO, is eager to finally have the Democrats in congress. Perhaps it's just nice to have a congress that may actually care about accountability? From the Washington Post

For the first time, Walker has sent congressional leaders a letter pointing to areas where he thinks oversight is needed. His list, drawn from years of research by the watchdog agency, is intended to give Congress "a jump-start on your planning," he said.
Walker details many items in the letter, from oversight regarding contracts, restructuring the Postal System, and reviewing the structure and functionality of the Department of Homeland Security.
"We cannot afford to continue business as usual in Washington, given our current deficit and growing long-term fiscal challenges," Walker said in the letter, sent this month.
While not wanting to dwell in the past, it still makes a person want to ask what the hell the republican congress had been doing for 12 years. If anything...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Flashback

Take a step back to the 2004 election. Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight would've saved us a lot of trouble (and lives, and money, and our integrity, and our reputation, and our national pride, and...).

The Bush-Cheney campaign yesterday accused Sen. John Kerry of "raw political opportunism" and using the recent troubles in Iraq for his political gain, as the Democratic presidential candidate continued calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld from the campaign trail.

"It's striking to see the ease with which John Kerry thrusts an important moment for our country into the campaign's daily spin cycle," said Bush-Cheney campaign chairman Marc Racicot, referring to, among other events, Mr. Kerry's sending out an e-mail that both demanded Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation and solicited campaign cash.

"At a moment when America and Americans stand strong behind our troops on the battlefield, John Kerry is attacking President Bush and the military and seeking to divide along party lines," he said.
That bastard! How dare he politicize the War on Terror, or the War in Iraq, or whatever it is called these days. Wait, let's check Fox News... Oh, it's "Iraq's War" now, I see. Yes, how dare he politicize Iraq's War on Terror... Wait, that doesn't make sense. Anyway, this business of asking for Rumsfeld's resignation, that's just ludicrous. Right? Let's vote for the other guy.

The 2004 Washington Times article also has one of my favorite quotes, from Kennedy, the most misunderstood, yet interesting to watch member of the senate:
"Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management — U.S. management," Mr. Kennedy said Tuesday.
If Kerry and Kennedy were "un-American" for making these remarks, what does that make the rest of the nation for, with their uneducated vote, giving power to the people who made them right?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tracked in America

has 25 firsthand accounts of what it's like to be spied on by your government. The stories come from all kinds of people who were the subjects of secret surveillance for just being activists--opposing Japanese internment during World War II, speaking out against the Vietnam War, standing up for freedom during the McCarthy era. Six historians give a real sense of context for the history of surveillance.

Tracked in America puts today's government surveillance news in perspective.

I Threw Up in my Mouth a Little Bit

From RCFP.org

Recently released documents show how much information on peace-related groups the Department of Defense maintained in an anti-terrorist database. According to Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times, the head of the military office that maintained the database said that those operating it "misinterpreted their mandate and that what was intended as an antiterrorist database became, in some respects, a catch-all for leads on possible disruptions and threats against military installations in the United States, including protests against the military presence in Iraq."
Ah, the memories...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Information and Democracy

Information is a requisite of any healthy democracy.

Access to information allows voters to make informed decisions, and a voter will take responsibility for his or her own vote if that vote was made by informed decision. Additionally, adequate distribution of factual information aids in keeping those elected responsible for their actions, oaths of office, and promise made to the voters who gave them the job.

In today's political and social climates, few will argue that despite 24 hour cable news channels, internet access in most homes, and a still flourishing independent newspaper boom throughout the nation, information coming from and about what goes on in Washington, DC is tailored and distorted, at best.

But who is responsible for distributing accurate and relevant information from the capitol of our nation to the homes and workplaces of the American people?

Some argue that in a representative governmental system, it is the responsibility of our elected officials to not only speak for us in the channels of Washington, but also carry back to us the pulse of the capitol, and the facts of all matters of import to his or her constituents. Argument is also made that the President of the United States has a similar obligation to respond to our demands, represent us in foreign policy, and return to us a factual and interpretive view of what is going on in the world, and far off parts of our own nation. This ideology places a responsibility on elected parties to fulfill their promises during election, speak for the collective minds of a majority, and tell us the truth about issues, initiatives, and executive decisions, success or failure be damned. These people may remember or have studied closely the history of a time when FDR was able to rally an entire nation into WWII with a few simple speeches and fireside chats. From this group comes a cry of reform in Washington, and a return to the days when the men and women of the three branches kept in mind they are working for us.

The opposition to this point of view are those who see the days of FDR gone forever, lost in the swamps of Watergate, the dust of the Iran-Contra affair, Clinton boldly declaring false testimony on national TV, the passing of the buck as New Orleans drowned, the War in Iraq, and the secretive belligerence of the current Bush administration. These members of our democracy believe it is an aggressive and reasonably unrestricted media who must realize a responsibility to inform America. They find frustration in the members of todays media, who often seem bent on playing the news for ratings game, rather than news meant to inform and educate the public. The Bill O'Reilly's and Rush Limbaugh's of the media are good business for the networks and radio stations, so what matter if they are perpetuating cognitive dissonance and uneducated voting? People of this mind want the business taken out of the media, and journalistic creed, a responsibility to the public rather than the CEO's, returned to our newspapers and news channels.

Opinion polls show most Americans have little faith they can now, or will ever be able to again trust their elected officials, or their news media. Those who have tried independently to stay educated are turned off of Washington and the media by the obvious intentional spin and twisting of fact so easily found in the "news" as the partisan swell of corporate giants steadily consumes every outlet of journalistic merit. The candidates and sitting officals can't be trusted, because they need our money or our vote in the next election, the polls say. The media can't be trusted because they want to attract advertisers and business revenue more than they want to distribute information and stimulate a responsible, informed collective. And for those few who do believe that changes can still save our country from losing it's own conscience and legitimacy in a haze of spin and misinformation for personal gain, there is great confusion on where to begin. Washington or the media? Elected representatives, or the "journalists" of corporate America?

Where best to begin reform? How can we ensure information, accurate information is available to the public easily, and consistently? Does it start at the top, literally with the White House, and in the isles of Congress and the Senate, or does it start in the grassroots underground of your neighbors basement and your friends' blogs?

Well, I haven't figured that part out yet. So I'll have to get back to ya. Soon... For now, I'll leave you with a quote from renowned Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein:


"You can't serve the public good without the truth as a bottom line."


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Buy the ($23 Million) Ticket, Take the Ride.


Abramoff checks into a prison camp in Cumberland, MD today.

You can write him over the next five years and 10 months at:

FCI, Cumberland P.O. Box 1000 Cumberland, Md. 21501

Terror groups receive $2 Million for Fox News employees' Release.

Palestinian terror groups and security organizations in the Gaza Strip received $2 million from a United States source in exchange for the release of Fox News employees.


Read More...
Perhaps this story slipped their mind.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Joe's Waffle House


The Exalted Joe Lieberman honored us with his keen insight on the benefits of fence sitting and self-delusion today on Meet The Press.

LIEBERMAN: The fact is that this was not a major realignment election in my opinion... I believe that the American people are considering both major political parties to be in a kind of probation because their understandably angry that Washington is dominated too much by partisan political games and not enough by problem solving and patriotism.
Games rather than problem solving? Games like declaring yourself an Independent, and a still active candidate after voters effectively ask you to sit down and shut up? Games like pandering to both Democrats and the GOP to avoid getting eaten alive for your lack of resolve or vision?

And not enough patriotism? Tell us, Joe, what is patriotic about claiming support for our troops in Iraq on TV and radio spots, then voting against every attempt to change course that floats through the Senate?

And where have your problem solving and patriotic solutions been? What have you brought to Washington yourself? Oh yes... John Bolton.

Thank you Joe. Now, we ask you again, nicely, please sit down and shut up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Take on "Enemy Combatants"

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam

Three Vietnamese-Americans, part of the California based "Government of Free Vietnam," a human rights group the communist government of Vietnam deems a "terrorist organization," were convicted on terrorism charges Friday for planning an anti-communism radio broadcast.

The prisoners faced charges ranging from 12 years in prison to a death sentence for smuggling radio equipment into the country, and intending to broadcast a radio program calling for revolution.

The Bush administration urged Hanoi to move swiftly with the trial, as the American Prisoners have been held for over a year without charges.

Apparently only we can get away with that.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Rummy's Greatest Hits

CNN's Jeanne Moos looks back on some of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's most memorable moments (November 8). Ahhh, the memories.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

More Dirty Tricks

RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) -- The FBI is taking a preliminary look at allegations that some voters in eight Virginia counties received deceptive phone calls before Election Day, law enforcement sources said.
Read more...

Dirty Tricks

Laura Ingraham, in an attempt at humor, ran a loop of tape on her radio show of Bill Clinton saying "call 1-888 Dem Vote to report problems." She then urged her listeners to flood the hot-line with calls. Apparently Laura finds disenfranchised voters funny.

Let Laura know what you think of this disgusting prank, as many times as you would like:

Call her at: 1-800-876-4123
or EMAIL HER

Monday, November 6, 2006

Success in the war on terror?

Look at the TRAC Report it seems that we are doing a lot of accusing, and not a lot of convicting. Even Less putting away of the terrorists (enemy combatants?).

For the whole five-year period, the assistant U.S. Attorneys also declined to prosecute 748 of the international terrorist referrals -- or two out of three during this five year follow-up period.(...)


As a result of these various decisions, the government reports that 213 individuals were convicted (by trial or plea) and 123 -- less than one out of ten of the original referrals -- were sentenced to prison.(...)


Ninety received no prison sentence. (As noted above, the median or typical sentence for these 213 individuals -- half got more and half got less -- was 28 days.)


Now I'm not suggesting that the FBI isn't doing it's job, far from it. But it does seem like they are bringing a lot of charges against people for a relatively small number of large case convictions (sorry, I don't see the half that got less than 28 days as hardened terrorists).

Which brings me to the Military Commisions Act. Something to be watched with the passage of a law that effectivly eliminates habeas corpus for enemy combatants (leaving the defining of enemy combatants to those in charge) is whether that will change the numbers in this report. Will the FBI cut back on it's suggestions to prosicute to the justice department? Will the justice department decide to prosicute more of those suggestions? Will there be more convictions and bigger penalties to those convicted?

My opinion is perhaps pessimistic, but, given everything we've seen for the last six years, I'm inclined to think that it's realistic. In order to justify it's budget, and prove it's doing something in the war on terror, the FBI will maintain if not increase it's investigations, and hence, recommendations to prosecute. Now with the "Enemy Combatant" label applied, the rights of those being prosecuted disappear entirely. Given this, the justice department will be more likely to prosecute. This also suggests that there will be a higher number of convictions, and larger sentences (perhaps, that may be a bit of a stretch).

What this turns into is an instant boost in the fighting the war on terror. Not because they'll find more terrorists, or the ones they do find will be worse, or more important. But because they can lock away whoever they want. Have we finally sunk to this level? Must we now pad our own process to show that we're actually accomplishing something on this front? For now, it would appear so, all the more reason to VOTE TOMORROW!

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Blood for Oil

In a desperate attempt to hold onto at least the Senate, even the President is pulling out the "big guns" and in doing so recounting 3 and 1/2 years of the administration's propaganda. It is possible the President has decided it is time to tell the truth, in order to salvage the midterm election for republican's, but it is more likely the President still thinks we are dumb enough to fall for it.

(Washington Post) GREELEY, Colo., Nov. 4 -- During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush and his aides sternly dismissed suggestions that the war was all about oil. "Nonsense," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared. "This is not about that," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. Now, more than 3 1/2 years later, someone else is asserting that the war is about oil -- President Bush. As he barnstorms across the country campaigning for Republican candidates in Tuesday's elections, Bush has been citing oil as a reason to stay in Iraq. If the United States pulled its troops out prematurely and surrendered the country to insurgents, he warns audiences, it would effectively hand over Iraq's considerable petroleum reserves to terrorists who would use it as a weapon against other countries.
And to ad insult to injury, he spells it out for us, just in case we, the idiot masses who are about to vote, don't understand this grave threat before us.
"You can imagine a world in which these extremists and radicals got control of energy resources," he said at a rally here Saturday for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.). "And then you can imagine them saying, 'We're going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your price of oil up unless you do the following. And the following would be along the lines of, well, 'Retreat and let us continue to expand our dark vision.' "

Bush said extremists controlling Iraq "would use energy as economic blackmail" and try to pressure the United States to abandon its alliance with Israel. At a stop in Missouri on Friday, he suggested that such radicals would be "able to pull millions of barrels of oil off the market, driving the price up to $300 or $400 a barrel."
Of course, there are dissenters who wish to undermine the President's noble campaign to flip-flop and distort what amounts to a national tragedy happening on a global scale into nothing more than political posturing (and how dare they!).
Some analysts, however, said that Bush is exaggerating the impact of Iraq's oil production on world markets. Iraq has more than 112 billion barrels of oil, the second-largest proven reserves in the world. But it currently pumps just 2.3 million barrels per day and exports 1.6 million of that, according to the State Department's tracking report on the country, still short of what it produced before the invasion.

That represents a fraction of the 85 million barrels produced around the world each day and less than the surplus capacity of Saudi Arabia and other Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, meaning in a crisis they could ramp up their wells to make up for the shortfall, analysts said. The United States also has 688 million barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, enough to counter a disruption of Iraqi oil for 14 months.

Even if Iraq did not sell oil to the United States, it would not matter as long as it sold it to someone because the international market is fungible and what counts is the overall supply and overall demand, according to analysts. If Iraq cut off exports altogether, it still would not have the dire effect on the world market that Bush predicts, they said. The price of oil began rising dramatically in 2002 as the confrontation with Iraq loomed, but many factors contributed, including increasing demand by China and problems in Nigeria, Venezuela and elsewhere.

The world, in fact, has already seen what would happen if Iraqi oil were cut off entirely, as Bush suggests radicals might do. Iraq effectively stopped pumping oil altogether in the months immediately after the invasion. And yet the price of oil has never topped $80, much less come anywhere near the $300 or $400 a barrel Bush cited as a possible consequence of a radical Iraqi regime withholding the country's oil.
Thank you Mr. President. Now everyone who has lost someone in this abhorrent war you have created can settle back confidently in the knowledge that they have no earthly idea why. And the American public can rest assured that you will keep us in this war to save face and win mid-term elections.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

New York Times

“It’s the worst political environment for Republican candidates since Watergate.”

Rice Goes on Talk Radio Media Blitz, State Dept. says it's "coincidental"

With apparently nothing more urgent to do, the Secretary of State decides to campaign for the republican party:

(Washington Post) Two weeks before crucial midterm elections that could tip the balance of power in Congress, Rice has been on a media blitz that appears aimed mainly at conservative media outlets, particularly radio talk shows. Secretary of state is traditionally a nonpartisan position, and Rice's media itinerary differs sharply from the practice of her predecessors during election campaigns, according to State Department records.
In the past two days alone, according to Associated Press, Rice has appeared on four radio shows, with a total of 12 appearances since October 24th.
Rice also appeared in the past week on CNBC's "Kudlow and Company," hosted by conservative economic commentator Lawrence Kudlow, and "Morning in America," a radio show hosted by prominent Republican William Bennett. Generally, the questions on even the conservative shows were devoted to foreign policy, allowing Rice to present a strong defense of the "really visionary" Bush and his policies, such as his "very skillful diplomacy" on the North Korean nuclear crisis. Kudlow quizzed her about whether she supported Bush's formulation that terrorists will win if Democrats take control of Congress, which Rice ducked.

I'm just out doing what I always do, just trying to explain American policy," Rice said. "I've always thought that it's an important part of the role of the secretary of state." State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the confluence of media spots with the election was coincidental.

"The tradition for secretaries of state has been to stay out of partisan politics and to stay above the fray," said Karl F. Inderfurth, director of the international affairs graduate program at George Washington University and assistant secretary of state under Albright. "They take office as the secretary of state of the United States of America, not of the Republican or Democratic party."

As national security adviser during Bush's first term, Rice drew fire for giving speeches around the country in crucial battleground states shortly before the 2004 election, a practice none of her predecessors had done. Colin L. Powell and Madeleine K. Albright, Rice's immediate predecessors, made only infrequent appearances in the media in the two weeks before elections.



Thursday, November 2, 2006

Exactly What has Lieberman Been Doing?

For a man who claims to "take a personal interest in this war, and how it effects my fellow Americans", Lieberman seems fairly absent from war-time decision making and fairly pre-occupied with war-time money making:

Lieberman has missed many critical votes on Iraq, and continues to refuse to call for accountability by strongly supporting Bush’s failed policies which enrich defense contractors while not protecting our troops and making our country less safe from terrorism. He skipped one very close vote on legislation that would have stopped the President from moving funds meant for the Iraq War to other purposes without the approval of Congress. He even skipped a vote on legislation that would have asserted congressional oversight of war funds in the wake of massive corruption with the Administration’s no-bid contracts.

So what has Lieberman been up to in this time he describes himself as "a critical time for America"? Take a look:

Lieberman actually tried to claim back in July that Ned Lamont was “profiting from the war he claims to oppose” by holding some the defense industry stocks. It was yet another classic case of projection from a man who has based his entire campaign around it. According to the latest numbers available at the campaign finance tracking website Opensecrets.org, Lieberman remains the top recipient of Defense Industry funds of any Senator this cycle, having received $170,000 from that sector.

In the last year and a half alone, he has received more than $72,000 in corporate PAC contributions from the energy industry – that’s almost $1,000 in energy PAC contributions per week since 2005. Since 2000, he’s raked in more than $285,000 from the energy industry. This includes PAC contributions from, among others, Texaco, Conoco, British Petroleum and Occidental Petroleum. It also includes contributions from the natural gas industry that will benefit from Lieberman’s support of stripping Connecticut’s ability to regulate the construction of natural gas terminals in Long Island Sound. Specifically, Lieberman has received contributions from the American Gas Assocation, Consolidated Natural Gas and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Meanwhile, Enron lobbyist Michael Lewan (also formerly Lieberman’s chief of staff and a top fundraiser for John Rowland) continues to hold K Street fundraisers for Lieberman in Washington, D.C. (Opensecrets.org)

Who are his friends?

Mel Sembler:

You’ve probably heard about Mel. He’s the former finance director of the RNC, and currently the Chairman of Scooter Libby’s Defense Fund. (He also happens to be the founder of a juvenile rehabilitation center called “STRAGHT, Inc.” which has been the center of many disturbing claims of horrific torture and abuse of children).

Sembler hosted a big-money fundraiser for Joe on September 30th in St. Petersberg, FL. Guests contributed a minimum of $1,000, up to a maximum of $2,100, to the Lieberman campaign. About 100 guests attended. Which means Lieberman likely took in anywhere from $100,000-$200,000 from this one event with Sembler alone.

Tom Kuhn:

Tom Kuhn was George Bush’s roommate in college, and they have remained “close friends” ever since. He’s also a big-time energy industry lobbyist who has used his friendship with Bush to push hard for deregulation and stymie EPA efforts to cut pollution in national parks. He was a member of the Bush-Cheney 2000 transition team for the Energy Department. And way back in 1999, he wrote a letter to other big energy lobbyists making sure they would write their industry on their contributions so that they would be paid back in kind by the Administration.

Robert Novak reported Kuhn hosted a big-money D.C. fundraiser for Lieberman on Thursday, September 28th:

The luncheon’s sponsors pressed fellow Republican lobbyists to pay a minimum of $1,000 a ticket. Lieberman has announced he will stay in the Democratic caucus if re-elected.

Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun told the Journal Inquirer that the September 28th big-energy fundraiser netted the Lieberman campaign a grand total of $400,000.

Rick Shelby:

Another host of that September 28th fundraiser was “longtime Republican operative” and executive vice president of the American Gas Association, Rick Shelby. Rick who?

Rick Shelby is another energy industry friend of Bush-Cheney who won $1 billion in tax breaks for natural gas companies in the 2005 Bush-Cheney Energy Bill… that Lieberman voted for. He also co-hosted a huge fundraiser for Tom DeLay in 2005.

Just a little glimpse at the world of Joe Lieberman, an upstanding member of the Bush-Cheyney "Borderline Ethical Conduct" Fraternity.