US Accepted Musharraf’s Emergency Rule Decree

November 24, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Diplomacy, Musharraf, Pakistan | Leave a comment

Not that anyone is really surprised, but our “we believe in democracy” president new in advance that Musharraf was going to declare martial law, and stayed silent, giving Musharraf the green light.

Looks like democracy is not the end all be all after all

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On The Rule of Law in a Democracy

August 31, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy | Leave a comment

Steve Clemons writes:

The norms of a nation aren’t really “knowable” unless observed under stress. Our recent history has tarnished our ability to motivate and animate others on everything from human rights to transparent and just government.
It’s easy to be for the rights of victims when there is no crime to consider. It’s easy to wax on about democracy, the rights of minorities, and checks and balances in government — but unless America itself demonstrates these when shocked and challenged, then the rest of the world won’t believe them when we are out “promoting democracy”.

Well said.

So Much For Democracy in Iraq

August 30, 2007 at 7:12 pm | Posted in American politics, corruption, Democracy, Iraq, Republicans, secret combinations | 5 Comments

Looks like the Bush administration is going to contract out to Allawi to instigate a coup and overthrow a democratically elected government in Iraq.

Of course this is no surprise. Republicans have a long history of overthrowing democratically elected governments that don’t do what they are told by their American masters. (see Eisenhower’s support of Operation Ajax – the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat and Nixon’s support of the Chilean coup of 1973.).

But, well…just what are our American soldiers dying for if it wasn’t to bring democracy to Iraq?

A Must Read

August 30, 2007 at 8:40 am | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

on voter suppression in the United States. Very important, that is if you believe in democracy.

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

The Decay of the Constitution

July 15, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democracy | 1 Comment

Jack Balkin writes about a very disturbing point regarding what the Bush administration has done to the Constitution.

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

On Lies, Credibility Gaps, Friedman Units, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad, and Approval Ratings

July 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Evangelicals, family values, friedman units, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations | 3 Comments

For any but the hardcore conservative, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is nothing but a proven liar. Well evidence has come to light showing just how badly he has lied to the American people and under oath to Congress. You see, in April 2005 he testified to Congress the following:

“There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.”

When talking about the FBI’s new powers under the Patriot Act. Well, that was a lie.

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

This is America’s top law enforcer.

Next comes General Kevin Bergner, a Bush administration operative who is now the spokesman in Iraq who said the following:

The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.

The incident shows the eagerness of the command to show progress in dismantling al Qaeda at a time when Democrats and some Republicans are pressing President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, has declared al Qaeda enemy No. 1 in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner began his Monday news conference with a list of top insurgents either killed or captured in recent operations. He said they had been eliminated “in the past few weeks” and were “recent results.”

“In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul,” he told reporters. “Kamal Jalil Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul. He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area.” All told, Bergner devoted 68 words to Uthman’s demise.

Uthman was indeed a big kill, and the military featured his death last year in a report titled “Tearing Down al Qaeda.”

The Bush Administration wishes so badly to inform us that we’re fighting “Al-Qaida in Iraq” that they are willing to tell us that they’ve killed the same guy again a whole year later. Anybody wonder why some of us do not trust a single word that comes out of the mouth of a military spokesman?

Friedman Units. Those fun six month periods so generously created by Mr. Tom Friedman of the New York Times, where the most vital period in our conflict in Iraq is always the “next six months.” Well, today is July 10. Six months ago, Bush unveiled his “surge” strategy. Let’s see what proponents said six months ago about this new strategy. (Courtesy of Atrios):

Senator Kerry and Michael O’Hanlon:

So my question to each of you, in sum, is if there isn’t sufficient evidence of this kind of summitry and diplomacy — if there isn’t a sufficient political process in place — and I want your judgment as to whether or not there is — will more troops have any chance of, in fact, getting what we want, or is it going to make matters worse? And if it does, where are we after putting them in in six months if it hasn’t worked? Mr. O’Hanlon?

MR. O’HANLON: Senator Kerry, very tough question. I like your idea of a ledger. On the positive side of the troop surge proposal, I would say we all know tactically there have never been enough troops in Iraq to clear and hold. So that’s the tactical argument for this case. It would have been a much more compelling argument three and four years ago than it is today, but I think it remains at some level in the plus column. On the negative column, of course, we know that there is no political resolution of these very sectarian divides —

Brigadier General James “Spider” Marks:

FOREMAN: Six months from now, are we going to look at this area right here where most of them are going to go and say we’re better off or worse off?

MARKS: We need to say we’re better off.

ZAHN: We need to, but will we?

MARKS: There are ways to achieve that. And it’s not mutually exclusive. It’s not a political solution better than a military solution. All of these are essential ingredients to a solution. So it’s not a military strategy.

CBS News:

Pentagon officials expect US troops to stay in the streets for about six months before turning security over to the Iraqis. `If it hasn’t happened in six months,’ one official said, `we’ll know it’s not working.

Tim Russert:

Unless considerable progress is made in Iraq in a relatively short time, you will see Republicans crossing over and joining Democrats in challenging his Iraq strategy in a bipartisan way. This is a dead serious six months we’re approaching.

Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think it`s his last stand. I think it`s the second to the last stand. I think asking for more troops suggests hope that if we try a little harder, it will work. I think the next go-around, six months from now, or a year from now, perhaps, you`ll see the president come back to the American people and say, give me one last shot at this. I think he has one more chance after this. It`s not the end of the game.

This is the second to the last battle, I believe, of this war politically. But I do believe his numbers will continue to go down. I think we`ll see casualties in the streets of Iraq, Baghdad. It`s going to be a bloody campaign and I don`t think it`s going to yield stability.

Michael O’Hanlon:

He has one last shot, and that’s the way to look at it, I think. It’s Hail, Mary time.

Mary Matalin:

But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months.

David Kerley:

You know, we’ve talked about that before here, Sam, on this program, that this is, the President believes, his last shot.

Pat Buchanan:

BUCHANAN: He has said it this time. The last test is right now.

This is why I`m saying, look, this is the last chance for Maliki, the last chance for the Americans. The acid test is whether they go after the Mahdi army, which I think knows we will go after them. And that`s why I think it may very well run to earth for the next six months.

SCARBOROUGH: We have to — we have to do that. We have to go after al-Sadr. We have to go after the Mahdi army. And, if we are, in fact, trying to start a democracy over there, and bring justice to Iraq, then, we have to arrest or kill al-Sadr.

Who still believes these bamboozlers?

Next, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad. I give you Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. He is a person found on Deborah Palfrey’s list of persons seeking, uh, companions, yeah, that’s what they are called…

Funny thing is that Senator Vitter has been one of the most outspoken people on banning same-sex marriage, because it is destructive to the family and all. Blah Blah Blah. It’s truly a Shakespearean comedy of errors, especially when you put into perspective what his wife said back in 2000 when talking about President Clinton’s West Wing escapades with one intern named Monica:

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he’d had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston’s wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

Heh, the good Senator should probably get a good iron chastity belt ready.

The ironic thing is that Senator Vitter got his position after Senator Livingston resigned after his affair was disclosed. Senator Livingston, as some may recall, was one of the strongest voices against Clinton’s White House escapades with one intern named Monica. Ironic indeed.

Finally, the news gets good for those who dislike Bush. His disapproval rating is as bad as Nixon’s. That’s right, no presidents have been as disliked than George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Both have disapproval ratings at 66%. Nixon was lucky to have resigned when he did. Assuredly his numbers would have tanked even worse with impeachment proceedings going on. It is indeed a wonder how impeachment proceedings have not begun yet on George W. Bush, with all that has been said and done. But no worries, Bush still has 18 months to go even lower than Nixon and become America’s most hated president ever.

The American Young Lean Left

June 27, 2007 at 5:34 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, George W Bush, Iran, Republicans | Leave a comment

Despite all of Karl Rove’s deceitful attempts to undermine democracy and create a permanent majority of Republican rule, the strong majority of America’s youth lean left on practically all topics. Republicans need to take some notes on how to best convince their fellow Americans that their way is the “more excellent way.” One really small thing, but so important, is that it usually does not do you any good to call your fellow Americans who disagree with you anti-American terrorist lovers. Just a small bit of advice.

In the meantime, we must bear with patience these next 17 months or so until this horrible administration is finally history, and pray they don’t do anything else stupid, like say, start a war with Iran. And I can tell you exactly what has ruined it for the Republican party. It is one small four letter word: Iraq. I hope it was worth it guys, because out of the multitude of costs, the biggest one you will feel will be when you sit back and languish with, say, 30 Senators in the Senate.

On Speaking Out Against A War

May 1, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, freedom, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military, violence, War | Leave a comment

(UPDATED)

Glenn Greenwald highlights the stark difference between two democracies that were recently in wars (or still in one) and how the people reacted to the wars, especially when they went bad.

Israel fought against Hezbollah last summer. It was a grand failure. Israelis immediately began speaking out against the war, and no one called them traitors or anti-Israel.

America has been in Iraq for over four years now, and throughout the ENTIRE PROCESS anyone who spoke out against the war was branded a traitor, a terrorist lover, an anti-American.

Mature societies do not make decisions by wondering what the Bad People want and then automatically doing the opposite. That is the mindset of a child. Had that perspective prevailed in Israel, they never would have issued this report, and likely would never have withdrawn from Lebanon at all — because: “hey, Hezbollah wants withdrawal from Lebanon and will be ’emboldened’ by it and happy about this Commission report and therefore we can’t do any of that. We have to stay and fight and stifle criticisms of the war, otherwise Hezbollah will be happy.”

But Israel recognized it did not have the luxury of concealing its errors or continuing to fight a misguided war, notwithstanding what Hezbollah might say about that. As the Commission put it: “No-one underestimates the need to study what happened in the past, including the imposition of personal responsibility. The past is the key for learning lessons for the future. . . One Israeli society greatest sources of strength is its being a free, open and creative (sic).”

He concludes with this scathing rebuke of our conservative Americans:

All of that stands in such stark contrast to the shrinking though still-substantial faction in this country who see war as a fun and sterile video game that never requires them to pay any price — no matter how profoundly the war fails. That is what enables them to cheer on those wars for years without end, to urge still new and more destructive ones, and to childishly insist that there is something noble and compulsory about keeping quiet, loyally cheering on the Leader’s war, and pretending that things are going great and we are on the verge of success.

Indeed, while the Israelis who were actually at risk from the Lebanon war wanted it to end, the crazed (and safe) neoconservative warmongers in the U.S. were furious when the war ended. And — needless to say — they ran around accusing everyone responsible for the war’s end of appeasement and cowardice and all of their other inane war-cheering platitudes that have driven this country so tragically off-course.

Only people who have adolescent views of war — only people for whom war is a distant, cartoon concept and not a reality, the primary purpose of which is to endow themselves with personal sensations of strength, power and purpose in the most risk-free manner possible — have the luxury of indulging such fantasies. That is why the Israelis do not and cannot, whereas America’s right-wing pretend warriors embrace those fantasies with increasing vigor and desperation as the failure of their wars become more inescapable.

I really can’t add anything to Mr. Greenwald’s eloquent writings. Those of us who thought this was a fool’s adventure from the start were always wondering why our patriotism was questioned. Our loyalty is not to a man. It is to the country. As such if a man makes a bad decision, the truly patriotic person SPEAKS OUT!

(Update)

Gary Kamiya writes in Salon about the same claims of defeatism from the desperate crowd.

War supporters are counting on a certain level of John Wayne war-movie immaturity on the part of the American people, a Technicolor conviction that America is ordained to be, must be, eternally victorious. But Americans are more grown-up than that. They know America, like every other country, sometimes loses. Many of them lived through Vietnam, and they know that the sky did not fall. They are quite capable of weighing the pros and cons of the Iraq war and making a rational cost-benefit calculation about whether it’s worth continuing to fight. They understand the concept of a tactical retreat, of cutting your losses, of losing a battle but winning the war.

Bush is talking like Churchill, but it’s an empty act. He’s a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. He’s stalling, hoping for a miracle that will save him and his bungled war. But the end is coming. The only question is how many more people will have to die before it does.

He is a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. Nothing more profound can be said about Bush.

If The Phone Is Not Ringing, Voter Fraud is Calling

April 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Democrats, Republicans, secret combinations, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

Jim Harper writes at Cato-at-Liberty:

That’s something like the predicament of searchers after the menace of voter fraud, who can’t seem to find much of it. The New York Times today reports that “scant evidence” exists of a significant problem.

Voter fraud is the idea that individuals might vote multiple times, in multiple jurisdictions, or despite not being qualified. This is distinct from election fraud, which is corruption of broader voting or vote-counting processes. While voter fraud (and/or voter error) certainly happens, it is apparently on a trivial scale. It probably has not changed any election results, and probably will not do so if ordinary protective measures are maintained.

This is important because voter fraud has been used as an argument for subjecting our nation’s citizens to a national ID. The Carter-Baker Commission found little evidence of voter fraud, but went ahead and called for adopting REAL ID as a voter identification card. One of the Commission’s members apparently retreated from that conclusion, having learned more about REAL ID.

For proponents of a national ID, if the phone’s not ringing, that’s voter fraud calling.

So true. This is dear to Karl Rove’s heart, because it cloaks his real desire to suppress Democratic votes with an issue no one, of course, wishes were around. See, Karl Rove knows the enforcement of stringent laws, such as presenting ID and other verifications at the polls will disproportionately affect the poor, who tend to vote Democratic. Whatever works to lessen the strength of Democratic voters, that’s what Karl Rove targets. And this is the math he was talking about in November last year, when he predicted Republicans would win. He of course was wrong, because he didn’t calculate just how strongly voter discontent with the war in Iraq really is now. But when you put all the pieces together, the elections, the US attorney purge, that’s what this is about: the suppression of Democratic voters at the polls, because Republicans really are a minority when all the numbers are in.

She’s Throwing Sand In Our Eyes

March 27, 2007 at 7:26 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democracy | 2 Comments

Underling Monica Goodling, a Justice Department official under Gonzales, subpoenaed to testify in front of Congress this week has refused to testify, claiming the Fifth. Her justification is pretty flimsy: Continue Reading She’s Throwing Sand In Our Eyes…

What It Is Really About – 2008 Of Course

March 26, 2007 at 1:05 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Democrats, George W Bush, Republicans, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

You know why Rove hatched up his plan to remove those US attorneys? The states they are in are key. It is all about the elections. It is all about 2008.

See, McKay, up in Washington didn’t press ‘voter fraud’ against Democrats (because of course the evidence was scant and flimsy—but of course Republicans never cared about actual evidence—see Iraq WMD for example), and he was outed. Iglecias in New Mexico didn’t rush a possible indictment against Democrats in 2006 and even got pressure calls from Rep Wilson and Senator Domenici (at home no less!!!). He didn’t budge (because that was the law) and he was outed. So on and so forth.

This is about elections, it always was and always will be. Think back to Tom DeLay’s attempts to redefine Texas politics with his illegal redistricting plan. It’s always about getting just enough seats to keep their party in rule? Why? Take a look at the past three months of Democratic control and all the skeletons they have found in the Bush administration closet by just barely shining a small light of oversight. Power corrupts, everybody. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Power is also very addicting. The more you get of it, the more you want.

The more I think about it, the more I fear what might happen in 2008. What cards does the Bush administration have up its sleeve to ensure that a Democrat does not win the 2008 election? Will it come again to a Supreme Court decision? They’ve got their conservative judges on the court as they wanted. Will it come to ‘voter fraud’ cases? If they have their way, their USA attorneys will press false charges against Democratic voters, suppressing just enough votes for a win. Can everyone not see how this stuff just stinks of tyranny?

Last April, while the Justice Department and the White House were planning the firings, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Lawyers Association. He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in the 2008 elections. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.

Rove thanked the audience for “all that you are doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the integrity of the ballot is protected.” He added, “A lot in American politics is up for grabs.”

The department’s civil rights division, for example, supported a Georgia voter identification law that a court later said discriminated against poor, minority voters. It also declined to oppose an unusual Texas redistricting plan that helped expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That plan was partially reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frank DiMarino, a former federal prosecutor who served six U.S. attorneys in Florida and Georgia during an 18-year Justice Department career, said that too much emphasis on voter fraud investigations “smacks of trying to use prosecutorial power to investigate and potentially indict political enemies.”

Several former voting rights lawyers, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of antagonizing the administration, said the division’s political appointees reversed the recommendations of career lawyers in key cases and transferred or drove out most of the unit’s veteran attorneys.

Bradley Schlozman, who was the civil rights division’s deputy chief, agreed in 2005 to reverse the career staff’s recommendations to challenge a Georgia law that would have required voters to pay $20 for photo IDs and in some cases travel as far as 30 miles to obtain the ID card.

A federal judge threw out the Georgia law, calling it an unconstitutional, Jim Crow-era poll tax.

In an interview, Schlozman, who was named interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City in November 2005, said he merely affirmed a subordinate’s decision to overturn the career staff’s recommendations.

He said it was “absolutely not true” that he drove out career lawyers. “What I tried to do was to depoliticize the hiring process,” Schlozman said. “We hired people across the political spectrum.”

Former voting rights section chief Joseph Rich, however, said longtime career lawyers whose views differed from those of political appointees were routinely “reassigned or stripped of major responsibilities.”

In testimony to a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing this week, Rich said that 20 of the 35 attorneys in the voting rights section have been transferred to other jobs or have left their jobs since April 2005 and a staff of 26 civil rights analysts who reviewed state laws for discrimination has been slashed to 10.

He said he has yet to see evidence of voter fraud on a scale that warrants voter ID laws, which he said are “without exception … supported and pushed by Republicans and objected to by Democrats. I believe it is clear that this kind of law tends to suppress the vote of lower-income and minority voters.”

Other former voting-rights section lawyers said that during the tenure of Alex Acosta, who served as the division chief from the fall of 2003 until he was named interim U.S. attorney in Miami in the summer of 2005, the department didn’t file a single suit alleging that local or state laws or election rules diluted the votes of African-Americans. In a similar time period, the Clinton administration filed six such cases.

Those kinds of cases, Rich said, are “the guts of the Voting Rights Act.”

Our democracy is under attack by Republicans who are trying any trick they can think of to limit the number of Democrats voting. They know they don’t have the actual physical numbers in a straight fight—in our nation, more people align themselves with Democrats than with Republicans—so they have to get dirty in order to get even. This from the party that claims is in line with Christian principles.

Welcome to the Police States of America

March 23, 2007 at 6:43 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, freedom, George W Bush | Leave a comment

Read this John Doe letter in the Washington Post and tell me if you don’t feel like you live in a police state. The letter is chilling, because this is what we would have expected to see in China in the 1960s, or the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand — a context that the FBI still won’t let me discuss publicly — I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.

Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway. But the FBI still hasn’t abandoned the gag order that prevents me from disclosing my experience and concerns with the law or the national security letter that was served on my company. In fact, the government will return to court in the next few weeks to defend the gag orders that are imposed on recipients of these letters.

Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case — including the mere fact that I received an NSL — from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.

This is not America. But this is what we get under the Bush administration.

Sand Thrown in Our Eyes

March 15, 2007 at 10:02 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Iraq, Republicans, Torture, War on Terror | 3 Comments

I hope you had eye protection, because you just had sand thrown in your eyes, America. With so much bad news coming out these past few weeks undermining the Bush administration’s credibility, Bush just threw some sand in your eyes to keep you occupied. What is this sand? Why nothing less than the signed confession of the 9/11 mastermind himself!

Politics is all about timing. This is why on Fridays this administration releases damning reports that it is forced to release. Why Fridays? Because that day offers the softest impact such bad news will have on public opinion. They know quite well that America has an extremely short attention span, especially when it comes to politics.

(Raise your cyber-hand if you recall Colin Powell in February 2001 saying that Iraq was not a threat and that sanctions were working)

So we’ve got reports galore that the FBI abused NSLs and gathered lots of information about normal ordinary Americans last week (on Friday). We’ve got the continually unfolding US attorney scandal and calls for Gonzales to resign. Iraq continues to be violent (though the administration touts any little bit of good news they can out of the country—for example, they say, “look the surge is working” with evidence that violence is down. That is correct, violence is down, but that’s because one side of the civil war said they were going to lay low while the US did its surge. The Bush administration unsurprisingly fails to mention this).

Further, because KSM was tortured, there will be lots of talk about whether his confession is forced, real, etc. But make no mistake, this is sand thrown in our eyes, America, so the heat will get off Gonzales. Don’t pay attention.

The “Decision-Maker” vs. No Decision

January 26, 2007 at 11:53 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, Republicans, War | 2 Comments

Bush today claims he’s the decision maker on troops in Iraq….huh, then how does he explain the three years of indecision on troops in Iraq?

What has suddenly changed from all these previous times Bush has said there will be no decision on an increase of troops in Iraq? I mean, just in November he said there was no decision. What changed in the past three months to garner the use of 21,000 additional troops? So what changed in the past three months? Nothing really in Iraq. But in America, something very significant. Democrats won. What does this tell you about this president? With his own party in charge in Congress, he makes no decisions about troop increase, but when Democrats are in charge, he’s the “decision-maker”. Hmmm, the change seems to be accountability. He knows he’s going to be held accountable by a Democratic Congress. Just what does this say about Republican leadership these past six years?

November 2006: “President Bush said Monday that he has made no decisions about altering the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, and he refused to discuss the pros and cons that would accompany such a decision.”

August 2005: President Bush said Thursday no decision has been made on increasing or decreasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, saying that as “Iraqis stand up, we will stand down” and that only conditions on the ground will dictate when it is time for a reduction in U.S. forces.

April 2004: “Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, has asked for contingency plans for increasing the number of troops in Iraq. No decision has been made to supplement the 134,000 troops now there, and White House officials said it was unclear whether such a move would help the situation.”

November 2003: “The President is going to do what is most effective in Iraq, and he gets recommendations from his commanders on troop levels and what is needed. No decisions have been made about future troops levels,” said National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice

The Ineffectual Condoleezza Rice Continued….

January 22, 2007 at 7:37 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Democracy, George W Bush, Iraq | Leave a comment

Yet again, another example of the ineffectual Ms. Rice. This time though, she’s reflecting her boss, Mr. Bush, who desperately needs Egypt in his pocket on Iraq. So what is Mr. Bush sacrificing in order to get Egyptian…er Mubarrak approval on Iraq? Bush is sacrificing democracy in Egypt.

The irony would be funny if it weren’t tragic.

What The White House Does Not Want You To Know About Iran

December 22, 2006 at 11:18 am | Posted in America, American politics, condoleezza rice, Democracy, Iran, King George, Middle East, Military, neo-conservatives, War, War on Terror | 1 Comment

See, Bush is selling a message. Facts that do not fit this message must not get out, or the message will fail. What is the message? That Iran is bad, and that Iran does not wish to work with the world, so the best option is war. That is the message the Bush administration wishes for America to see. They do not want America to know, or better said, remember, that Iran actually has cooperated with the United States in places like Afghanistan. That would be detrimental to their efforts to paint Iran as intractable and evil. Plus, it would make people ask why publicly the Bush administration states that it does not wish to talk with Iran, while in the back they do so anyways.

What is this all about? This is about Flynn Everett, who has written an op-ed for the New York Times. It was cleared through the CIA, but the White House got a hold of the document and redacted their own lines, things they don’t want America to see, mainly that Iran was cooperative with the United States in securing Afghanistan’s western border, and other help. The New York Times went ahead and published the op-ed with the redacted lines in black, so the whole world could see just what Bush did not want you to see. Mr. Everett writes a second piece to go with the op-ed explaining the portions that the White House redacted.

Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; a former State Department policy planning director, Richard Haass; and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins.

He concludes:

National security must be above politics. In a democracy, transparency in government has to be honored and protected. To classify information for reasons other than the safety and security of the United States and its interests is a violation of these principles. It is for this reason that we will continue to press for the release of the article without the material deleted.

What is the administration afraid of? If the truth sets us free, and freedom is the administration’s utmost drive…well…why is it then so secretive? What does it not want Americans to remember about Iran? Why now?

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Romney Voted For Tsongas!

December 22, 2006 at 1:32 am | Posted in America, American politics, Democracy, Democrats, Mit Romney, Republicans | 3 Comments

Wow, I’m really liking the old Romney! He voted for Paul Tsongas, the liberal Democrat back in 1992. That’s who I wanted to win back then. How ’bout that! What happened Romney? Why vote for a very liberal candidate? Were you preparing yourself for your failed run for Senate in 1994 in Massachusetts, and figured the best way to prove your “liberal” credentials to the voters of that very liberal Northeast state is to vote for the local kid?

Here’s a brief bio on Paul Tsongas. I knew there was a reason I liked him back then!

In particular, he focused on the United States budget deficit and its harmful effects, a cause he continued to champion after his primary campaign ended by co-founding The Concord Coalition

I wonder if Tsongas were alive today and running again if Romney would even think about voting for him…I doubt Tsongas would have changed his opinion over these past 16 years.

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The Rise of Student Revolutionaries in Iran

December 21, 2006 at 4:10 am | Posted in America, American politics, conservatives, Democracy, Iran | Leave a comment

This is how successful revolutions and changes in power start: with the students first. The young generation in Iran clearly are quite moderate and the key to a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Western countries, Sunni Arab countries and Iran. America needs to stop rattling her saber and accept these moderates, like Khatami. However, if this is any indication the future doesn’t look good even for moderates in Iran, at least if Republicans win in 2008. It seems Republicans really don’t see any alternative except war with Iran in America’s future. So sad.

The People of Massachusetts Wonder…Who is This Romney?

December 18, 2006 at 3:24 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Christianity, conservatives, Democracy, Mit Romney, Republicans | 7 Comments

Many have said that, hey, people can change their views over time, on an issue or even on everything. Sure, that’s not uncommon. But the people of Massachusetts voted for a governor in 2002, Mit Romney, who promised them to be moderate on issues. Now, he’s shifted hard right, and surprise, what’s ahead? The 2008 presidential election. As a Republican, Romney will have a very hard time selling himself to the Christian right if he continues supporting principles he supported in 2002. Stem cell research? Abortion? Gay rights? Contraception? Abstinence? All for liberal positions in 2002. All for conservative positions in 2006. What gives? The Boston Globe looks at Romney’s shift to the right and asks this question: who is Romney and what does he really stand for?

Conservatives should also ask themselves this question as they ponder their candidate for 2008. If Romney believed one thing in 2002, and four years later, believed something different, more to their liking, what will he say during the summer of 2008, as he tries to woo the independent minded voters? Will it be to the liking of conservatives?

Americans should ask themselves why they keep voting for people who compromise their principles, so that when good candidates seek office, they have to compromise also or they won’t get in. Is this really the kind of process we want in selecting righteous and good leaders?

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