Friday, June 30, 2006

Navy Lawyer who won Hamaden case passed over for promotion.

According to Digby Lt Commander Swift, the navy lawyer who took the Hamden case to the Supreme Court and won, has been passed over for promotion to Commander by the Navy. He had a choice. He could do what the Navy wanted or he could do what the law demanded. He chose the Rule of Law, and the Navy is angry.

Read what he had to say to Chris Matthews:
"MATTHEWS: What about the charge made recently, just a couple minutes ago by Kate O‘Beirne of the “National Review,” that people who fight us who are not in uniform, who do not represent countries who are party to the Geneva Convention shouldn‘t be free riders? They shouldn‘t get Geneva Convention treatment. They should be treated like thugs.

SWIFT: Well, you know, if you‘re looking at it from that way, we have a lot of criminals here in this country. And to prejudge anyone that we capture outside the country as a thug, why are we having a trial in the first place? We‘ve already decided they were guilty.

What the Supreme Court said is you have the trial first, you use the procedures that are set up under international law, and then you decide whether they‘re a thug. You don‘t make the thug determination going in."
It's sort of strange that the conservatives only remember that you have to have the trial first when it is a conservative like Rep. Jerry Lewis being charged with a crime, and ignore it for anyone they don't like and want to smear. The lesson of Gitmo is that for their enemies, the trial not only doesn't come FIRST, their enemies get charged and found guilty without a trial at all.

Oh, and don't ask for an effective defense lawyer. Conservatives HATE defense lawyers! Especially effective ones like Lt. Commander Swift. But the Rule of Law requires them.

Rule of Law & the genius of American Democracy

Michael Signer discusses the Rule of Law and the genius of American Democracy as demonstrated in the Supreme Court's Hamden decision yesterday. Here is a sample:
"American liberal democracy is different [from totalitarianism]. The burdens are heavy. Rawls' theory demands thoughtful and constant commitment to key principles of equality and justice, and constantly considering the gifts you did not earn that give you advantages over others. Arendt goes even farther -- we have the ability to introduce new things into the world just by being human. Our capacity to create -- in the beginning, what she calls our "natality," and then our ability to say something unpredictable, to bear children, to create new ideas -- is also our unique political ability, and the responsibility."
It is over at Democracy Arsenal. Go read it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Computer with vets data found Wednesday

The laptop computer with the data on veterans was located Wednesdat according to a report on MSNBC today. The FBI says that forensic tests indicate that the critical data was not accesses.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It takes only one person to steal a states election

The Cybersecurity experts have weighed in on the ease of stealing an election that uses electronic voting. This from the Washington Post:
"The experts thought about all the ways to do it. And they concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome. {Snip]

The report concluded that the three major electronic voting systems in use have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. But it added that most of these vulnerabilities can be overcome by auditing printed voting records to spot irregularities. And while 26 states require paper records of votes, fewer than half of those require regular audits.

"With electronic voting systems, there are certain attacks that can reach enough voting machines . . . that you could affect the outcome of the statewide election," said Lawrence D. Norden, associate counsel of the Brennan Center. [Snip]

Voting machine vendors have dismissed many of the concerns, saying they are theoretical and do not reflect the real-life experience of running elections, such as how machines are kept in a secure environment.

"It just isn't the piece of equipment," said David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold Election Systems, one of the country's largest vendors. "It's all the elements of an election environment that make for a secure election."

"This report is based on speculation rather than an examination of the record. To date, voting systems have not been successfully attacked in a live election," said Bob Cohen, a spokesman for the Election Technology Council, a voting machine vendors' trade group. "The purported vulnerabilities presented in this study, while interesting in theory, would be extremely difficult to exploit."
The guys who are defending the current machines are the same ones who are selling those machines and have a large invested stake in seeing them used as is.

There are ways to make sure the vote totals are accurate, but they depend on the honesty of a few people who are directly responsible for the machines. Such people are vulnerable to influence of various types.

Does anyone really think that Katherine Harris in Florida was concerned about Al Gore getting a fair count? I mean she was Florida Secretary of State at the same time she was the Co-chairperson of the Bush for President organization in Florida. The Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, was George Bush's brother. And the election was stolen.

What stops that kind of action in any state in the Nation?

More on what is wrong with conservatism

Stong conservatives cannot run effective competitive companies. Here is Alan Wolfe's explanation for that:
"Conservatives fail because those who hate government cannot run it very well – the theme of my recent article in the July/August issue of The Washington Monthly. But then there is also what can be called conservative management theory. Conservatives have strong ideas about how organizations ought to be run – and those ideas invariably make them run badly.

One such idea is that no information hostile to those in charge should ever leak out. The result, however, is that no good information ever leaks in. The smaller the number of decision-makers, the less the knowledge on which decisions are based. It is not good to keep a tight ship if the ship always sinks.

Conservatives love to proclaim courage a virtue, and a manly one at that. But loyalty to the man at the top, another conservative management idea, encourages fawning among all those below. If you want to fill an organization from top to bottom with chickens, give medals of freedom to as many people as you can.

Finally, conservatives view organizations in exactly the opposite way they treat markets. The economy, they insist, works most efficiently when spontaneous decisions emerge from the uncoordinated actions of millions of anonymous consumers. But when they run organizations, they insist on formal organization charts, aim to leave nothing to chance, and treat all decisions as authoritative. Their theory of the private sector is borrowed from Adam Smith. Their approach to the public sector owes far too much to state socialism."
This set of beliefs about appropriate leadership also applies to fedual leaders. They focus all power on the leader and resist any review, any checks-and-balances, and any outside news organizations from telling anything negative about the leader or the organization. They will spout a lot about "morale."

The fact is that good organizations work very hard to get both positive and negative information from the lower ranks to the higher ones. Those organizations who do not fail in competitive strategies over long period.

[See also Conservatism as a philosophy has failed America.]

Supreme Count upholds (most of) Texas' redistricting.

The U.S. Supreme Court essentially upheld the Tom DeLay inspired (and paid for) mid-decade redistricting by the Texas Legislature. Except that the district 23 especially designed to reelect Tony Bonilla (R, TX-23) was declared unconstitutional.
"Here is a key paragraph in Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's plurality opinion in the Texas redistricting case: "In sum, we disagree with appellants' view that a legislature's decision to override a valid, court-drawn plan mid-decade is sufficiently suspect to give shape to a reliable standard for identifying unconstiutitonal political gerrymanders. We conclude that appellants have established no legally iimpermissible use of political classifications. For this reason, they state no claim on which relief may be granted for their statewide challenge."

The District that the Court found legally wanting is a huge Latino-dominated district that the state created in an attempt to salvage the political fortunes of a Latino member of Congress, Republican Henry Bonilla. He had been losing strength among Latino voters, so the state legislature drew a new district by including a largely Anglo, Republican area in central Texas. That, a Court majority found, was the product of a "troubling blend of politics and race -- and the resulting vote dilution of a group that was beginning to achieve [the Voting Rights Act's] goal of overcoming prior electorial discrimination." It "cannot be sustained," the Court concluded.

Whether the state legislature can repair the problem found by the Court in that one District without redrawing the plan statewide is uncertain at this point. The Court majority found no legal flaw in any other part of the plan."
So middecade redistricting as a result of the turnover of a legislature to an opposing party is legal. The total elimination of the District that Martin Frost used to represent in Fort Worth and Arlington by sending tendrils of surrounding Republican districts into East Fort Worth to "sop up" Democratic voters and swamp then with surbaban Republicans is legal. The only thing that wasn't legal was to remove errant Democratic voting Latinos from Henry Bolilla's district 23 and replace them with reliable Republican white voters.

I'm sure the Republican Texas Legislature's computers will make short work of the minor discrepancy in district 23 with a minimum of damage to the otber Republican-dominated districts created in Texas. We can thank Bush, Frist, and Joe Lieberman for Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Counrt which gave us this abortion of a decision.

The actual decision can be found here. The AP wirestory is here.

Digby: Rush needs our support and acceptance

Digby makes the important point that Rush Limbaugh's new legal problems really are representative of many poor downtrodden American men.
"Rush should be urged to share his story with America. Here's he is, an impotent, thrice divorced, ex-drug addict, conservative, parolee who went on a sex tour in the Caribbean and found himself rudely embarrassed for carrying recreational prescription drugs in his doctor's name. Who can't relate to that? This is a man who has been run through the mud and I think we would benefit from a thorough national conversation to try to understand Rush's urgent need for sex in one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world."
Really! Who can't relate to Rush's sad plight? What a truly embarrassing position for him.

Although we have to ask what is next for him. Will we soon see Rush Limbaugh on the Jerry Springer Show? This seems like an ideal situation for talk show cross-referencing, and I'm sure that Rush would love to get this new set of problems off his chest and out to an audience.

And don't forget, a requirement of his probabion is that he remains gainfully employed. As Digby and say, poor Rush needs our support.

Conservatism as a philosophy has failed America

Is there any doubt that the Bush 43 administration is one of the worst and most ineffective Presidencies America has ever survived? Or that the conservative Republican -controlled Congress is not only incompetent but also the most corrupt since the days of the American Robber Barons?

Why have these problems been laid upon America? What is the core problem with our government and our country?


Conservatism is the source of the majority of the problems America is dealing with.

Conservatism is a greater problem to America and Americans than Terrorism.

This is from Washington Monthly:
"The collapse of the Bush presidency, in other words, is not just due to Bush's incompetence (although his administration has been incompetent beyond belief). Nor is it a response to the president's principled lack of intellectual curiosity and pitbull refusal to admit mistakes (although those character flaws are certainly real enough). And the orgy of bribery and special-interest dispensation in Congress is not the result of Tom DeLay's ruthlessness, as impressive a bully as he was. This conservative presidency and Congress imploded, not despite their conservatism, but because of it.

Contemporary conservatism is first and foremost about shrinking the size and reach of the federal government. This mission, let us be clear, is an ideological one. It does not emerge out of an attempt to solve real-world problems, such as managing increasing deficits or finding revenue to pay for entitlements built into the structure of federal legislation. It stems, rather, from the libertarian conviction, repeated endlessly by George W. Bush, that the money government collects in order to carry out its business properly belongs to the people themselves. One thought, and one thought only, guided Bush and his Republican allies since they assumed power in the wake of Bush vs. Gore: taxes must be cut, and the more they are cut--especially in ways benefiting the rich--the better. "
Conservatism is so bad at governing that even the Conservatives are complaining, but like the ideologues of Communism who watched their ideology fail as a set of governing ideas, the Conservatives have to claim that Conservatism has never been tried.

Of course, their Conservative philosophy is perfect, so if it fails it must be because the so-called Conservatives in government are not real conservatives. It has to be the people failing because the philosophy is Perfect!

Sorry, Guys. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld are the final result of the Conservative movement that was championed by William Buckley, Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Bill Krystol, Pat Buchanan, and so many others who knew that their ideology was so perfect that there was no need to identify and solve problems. Just apply the ideology and the problems would fall away as government shrank and the free market solved all problems.

It isn't a failure of the people trying to implement the ideas. It is a failure of the ideas themselves. Identifying problems, collecting information about them, applying ideas that might change the situation for the better, measuring the changes and correcting for errors is much better than any political philosophy. Communism failed because it was an ideology, not a problem-solving techniques. Conservatism has similarly failed. {And libertarianism is recognized in advance as a generally non-workable ideology.

America has tried Conservatism, and it has failed spectacularly. It is time to return to a pragmatic, rational, science-directed philosophy of government and bring back the adults.

[See also More on what is wrong with conservatism.]

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Secondhand smoke is never safe at any level

The U.S. Surgeon General released a report that says there is no safe level of second-hand smoke.
"...even a few minutes inhaling someone else's smoke harms nonsmokers, he found. And separate smoking sections, even the best ventilated ones, don't protect enough. Carmona called for completely smoke-free buildings and public places to lessen what he termed "involuntary smoking."
So the discussion is over, except from the tobacco companies. Now it is just a case of outlawing smoking in all public places and educating the ones who smoke at home. The latter should include helping everyone who is hooked on smoking break the addiction.

Conservatism, not G.W. Bush, is source of incompetence.

America is not suffering from George W. Bush' incompetence or ignorance. America is suffering from the attempt to apply "Conservatism" to government operations. So says George Lakoff.
Bush's disasters -- Katrina, the Iraq War, the budget deficit -- are not so much a testament to his incompetence or a failure of execution. Rather, they are the natural, even inevitable result of his conservative governing philosophy. It is conservatism itself, carried out according to plan, that is at fault. Bush will not be running again, but other conservatives will. His governing philosophy is theirs as well. We should be putting the onus where it belongs, on all conservative office holders and candidates who would lead us off the same cliff.

It's not Bush the man who has been so harmful, it's the conservative agenda.

The Conservative Agenda

Conservative philosophy has three fundamental tenets: individual initiative, that is, government's positive role in people's lives outside of the military and police should be minimized; the President is the moral authority; and free markets are enough to foster freedom and opportunity.

The conservative vision for government is to shrink it – to "starve the beast" in Conservative Grover Norquist's words. The conservative tagline for this rationale is that "you can spend your money better than the government can." Social programs are considered unnecessary or "discretionary" since the primary role of government is to defend the country's border and police its interior. Stewardship of the commons, such as allocation of healthcare or energy policy, is left to people's own initiative within the free market. Where profits cannot be made -- conservation, healthcare for the poor -- charity is meant to replace justice and the government should not be involved.

Given this philosophy, then, is it any wonder that the government wasn't there for the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Conservative philosophy places emphasis on the individual acting alone, independent of anything the government could provide. Some conservative Sunday morning talk show guests suggested that those who chose to live in New Orleans accepted the risk of a devastating hurricane, the implication being that they thus forfeited any entitlement to government assistance. If the people of New Orleans suffered, it was because of their own actions, their own choices and their own lack of preparedness. Bush couldn't have failed if he bore no responsibility.

The response to Hurricane Katrina -- rather, the lack of response -- was what one should expect from a philosophy that espouses that the government can have no positive role in its citizen's lives. This response was not about Bush's incompetence, it was a conservative, shrink-government response to a natural disaster.

Another failure of this administration during the Katrina fiasco was its wholesale disregard of the numerous and serious hurricane warnings. But this failure was a natural outgrowth of the conservative insistence on denying the validity of global warming, not ineptitude. Conservatives continue to deny the validity of global warming, because it runs contrary to their moral system. Recognizing global warming would call for environmental regulation and governmental efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Regulation is a perceived interference with the free-market, Conservatives' golden calf. So, the predictions of imminent hurricanes -- based on recognizing global warming -- were not heeded. Conservative free market convictions trumped the hurricane warnings.

Our budget deficit is not the result of incompetent fiscal management. It too is an outgrowth of conservative philosophy. What better way than massive deficits to rid social programs of their funding?
The problem is, that if America is in trouble because of Conservatism then just getting rid of Bush will not solve the problems. America needs to get rid of the conservative philosophy.

Al Qaeda strategy: Get U.S. to overextend military overseas

ABC News discusses the new translation of an al Qaeda strategy document which is currently circulating among DoD and government policy people.
"Abu Bakr Naji, an al Qaeda insider and author of the book, "The Management of Savagery," believes that the 9/11 attacks accomplished what they needed to by forcing the U.S. to commit their military overseas. He says 9/11 forced the U.S. to fall into the "trap" of overextending their military and that "it began to become clear to the American administration that it was being drained."

He says that al Qaeda shouldn't be focused on any more of those kinds of attacks for now.

"The focus is on mid- to small-range targets in the region and not go after big symbolic targets like the Twin Towers," says Will McCants, a fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, who translated the 268-page document."
Considering the fact that the U.S. Army is going to double the next years request for funds to replace equipment destroyed and worn out in the destructive environment of Iraq, and the Marine Corps is expected to have nearly as much need, then they have pretty much achieved this goal. It will be a decade before our ground troops are brought back to a reasonable level of readiness.

CT AFL-CIO to support Lieberman only for Primary

The AFL-CIO decided to support Joe Lieberman in the CT Democratic Primary, but to hold off on the November election. This is according to Connecticut Blog. [Which I found thanks to MDD]

This makes any effort for Joe to run as an independent in November more dangerous. If he pulls out of the Democratic Primary, he won't have labor support in November.

The AFL-CIO Convention showed a majority support for Lieberman, but a strong minority for Lamont based on issues such as his failure to even be present in the Senate to vote on trade bills, his early support of privatization of Social Security, his lack of support for National Healthcare and his support for right-wing federal judges and for school vouchers.

There appears to be strong opinion that Sen. Lieberman is unresponsive to the concerns of Connecticut Democrats. That national media gets it wrong. There are a lot of reasons for Democrats to oppose Sen. Lieberman for reelection, and Ned Lamont is bringing them up effectively.

New documentary out on Tom DeLay

[In These Times] Joe Bleifuss reviews the new documentary on Tom DeLay and his takeover of the Texas House of Representatives so that he could redistrict Texas and gain five more Republicans in Congress. The film is The Big Buy: Tom Delay’s Stolen Congress, by filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck.

Ronnie Earle, District Attorney of Austin, Texas, is the hero of the film. I haven't seen it myself, but based on the review I would like to. Go read Joe's review, and if you agree that it looks interesting, you can order it for $14.95 at his site.

There will also be a screening of the film in Dallas at 6:00 PM Thursday June 29th. Go here for the details. As of right this moment there are four seats left, so RSVP quickly.

Rush Limbaugh found with Viagra prescribed in his doctor's name

Attorney Christi Hardin Smith at FireDogLake explains what it means that Rush Limbaugh was found to have a prescription for Viagra that was made out in his doctor's name rather than his own.

Rush's attorney, Roy Black, was able to get him a sweetheart deal on charges of doctor-shopping. Limbaugh had obtained overlapping prescriptions from three different doctors. The doctors were not told of the prescriptions issued by the others. Just before the case was taken to a Grand Jury, Rush's lawyer negotiated a deal that involved going into a month-long drug treatment program and 18 months of supervision. Limbaugh has to undergo random drug testing and pay $30,000 to defray the costs of the investigation of his doctor-shopping case. During the 18 months Limbaugh cannot own a gun, drink too much and must remain employed. Rush must also "refrain from any violation of the law."

If he completes the 18 month period without problems, the felony charge will be removed from his record. This deferred adjudication provision is the "sweetheart" part of the deal.

Unfortunately, getting your drug prescriptions in someone else's name is not legal, either for the patient or for the doctor who wrote the prescription. Still, Viagra is not a pain-killer, so it is not clear that the States Attorney will void the deal over this violation.

Looks like Rush's attorney, Roy Black, has some more work to do. Jeralyn Merrit at TalkLeft predicts that Rush will skate on this one.

Withdrawal of 30,000 troops from Iraq will improve Republican election results

[The Hill] Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) told a group of NRA members at a fund raiser that the withdrawal of 20,000 to 40,000 troops from Iraq in the Fall would improve election prospects for Republican candidates in November. It would amount to "an October Surprise" since it would indicate that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq.

Rep. Souder rejected the idea that the troops would be withdrawn for U.S. domestic political reasons, however. Such a withdrawal has already been announced.

[In the Summer of 2005 I started predicting that the Bush administration would conduct this troop withdrawal just prior to the 2005 election. If done, it will be entirely for domestic U.S. political reasons. It will also very probably be reversed in the Spring of 2007 as the violence in Iraq increases. - RB]

Judge thinks Tom DeLay withdrew from election

[Houston Chronicle] U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks heard the case on Tom DeLay's eligibility to run for reelection Monday. Afterwards Judge Sparks said that he thinks DeLay withdrew from the election rather than becoming ineligible. No official ruling has been issued yet, though.

Tom DeLay has claimed that he moved to his townhouse in Virginia and has registered to vote there. He also now has a Virginia driver's license. However, he still owns his home in Sugar Land, TX where is wife still lives. When asked where he would be on election day, DeLay said he did not know.

The legal issue is whether Tom DeLay became ineligible to run for Congress from Texas or if he withdrew from the race after winning the Republican Primary. If he became ineligible, then the Republican Party can name and run another candidate for the 22nd Congressional District. If he instead withdrew, then state law says the Republican Party cannot replace him on the ballot for the election in November. The district voted 64% for George W. Bush and 55% for Tom DeLay in 2004, so the district clearly leans heavily Republican normally.

Art I Sect 2 of the Constitution states that a Representative must be a resident of the state he represents on the date of the election. DeLay's claim that he became ineligible by moving to Virginia is suspect since he still owns his home in SugarLand, TX and his wife still lives there. Also when asked on the stand where he would be residing in November, DeLay stated that he does not know. There is no clear indicator that he has actually moved and that he will not be resident in Texas on the date of the election.

If the Republicans cannot replace Tom DeLay on the ballot, then the Democrat, Nick Lampson, is expected to win.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Zarqawi’s death a minor event

Zarqawi was created by the western media who wanted to put a "face" on the Iraqi enemy. It's hard for reporters to direct readers/viewers to develop a personal and long-term relationship to "someone who is directing bombers." News organizations need a real person to provide the viewer/reader focus for a movement. They needed a picture and a name to personalize the news of a bunch of Improvised Explosive Devices that was more than just the victims.

They chose a somewhat talented thug from Jordan who had gone through al Qaeda training. It helped that he had actually been connected to bin Laden, the previous principle face of anti-American Arab terrorism. Bin Laden became the worldwide face of terrorism, and Zarqawi has become bin Laden's face in Iraq. The media had a name, a picture and a pedigree or backstory on him, and he fit the role. It was more about creating a news narrative than it was about fighting the terrorists.

All a newsperson had to do to set the scene of a new story was to provide the name or picture of Zarqawi. Then they added whatever new item had become available at the time.

Building on that narrative, and building the narrative itself, were the Republican image builders. They are using that narrative and others like it to add fear to the general American public view of international events and Iraq. This fear is the life-blood of Republican reelection, since they can run on simplistic slogans while Democrats are stuck with the messy truths that do not fit the news narratives. [Hey, if invoking Zarqawi doesn't work, then the Republicans can jack up the Homeland Security terror level a notch or have the FBI arrest a bunch of "terrorists" here in the U.S. - sort of like the hapless guys in Miami. The old saying "The Truth will still be sitting on the bed putting its socks on as the lie spreads around the world." is very true. Check the latest things on the Miami terror cell.]

So Zarqawi is dead. There was a two-day rejoicing. Bush and the Republicans felt good. But the only real result of this is that there is now a worldwide search on for his replacement. Soon another face and name will pop up and he will become central to the new narrative. There are names and faces lined up to fill the role, in spite of the danger it presents. Everyone wants to become a TV hero/villain. “Famous” is more important than “Risky”.

But the next face and name will not be proposed by U.S. Intelligence people who know who to really be concerned about. That person will not be appropriate to star in his own media narrative.

Zarqawi's death has no real effect beyond forcing the change of the news narrative.

Supreme Court strikes down VT Campaign finance law

Adam B at dKos provides an interesting analysis of the Supreme Court decision to strike down Vermont's campaign finance law. It is an interesting decision, since it resulted in six different opinions out of the nine Justices.

Then NYU law professor Rick Pildes offers analysis regarding how these decisions suggest the court might rule on the gerrymandering cases. Since Roll Call states that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on Tom DeLay's 2003 Texas redistricting this week, Prof. Pildes' ideas are quite timely.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

We've done about all we can in Iraq; Now it is US election politics

Larry Johnson points out that we have never had enough troops in Iraq to conduct Counterinsurgency actions, so that all we can do is conduct Counterterrorism attacks. Along with that our training of Iraq troops has had the effect of creating an Iraqi Shia army that the Shia's are using and will continue to use in their internal civil war with the Sunnis. There is no Iraqi army, and will be none.

"Counterterrorism" according to Larry Johnson is that set of offensive actions involving using military forces to "identify, locate, and kill or capture terrorist operatives. It is an offensive rather than defensive tactic."

"Counterinsurgency" is a much broader set of actions that are designed to eliminate the insurgency, not just go after terrorists. The Army defines it:
"Counterinsurgency is those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency (JP 1-02). It is an offensive approach involving all elements of national power; it can take place across the range of operations and spectrum of conflict. It supports and influences an HN’s IDAD program. It includes strategic and operational planning; intelligence development and analysis; training; materiel, technical, and organizational assistance; advice; infrastructure development; tactical-level operations; and many elements of PSYOP. Generally, the preferred methods of support are through assistance and development programs. Leaders must consider the roles of military, intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, information, finance, and economic elements (MIDLIFE) in counterinsurgency."
So let's go back to what Larry Johnson says"
"Without a draft or a substantial increase in coalition forces on the ground in Iraq, we do not have the resources to conduct a counterinsurgency campaign. If we decided to go this route we must be ready to accept that the process will endure several years and that casualty rates for coalition forces would, at least over the short run, increase dramatically. Talking about this is pure fantasy. No political leader in the United States has the stomach or courage go down this road.

It is becoming clearer everyday that the Iraqi Shia are consolidating their power and the fight with the Sunnis will continue for several years. The United States has succeeded in creating a Shia religious state in Iraq; an accomplishment that has horrified Iraq's Sunni neighbors."
So because we didn't have the resources, for years Rumsfeld and the Bush administration have refused to admit that we are in a situation in Iraq where the only way to win is a counterinsurgency campaign. No Draft means no counterinsurgency campaign. But a draft is politically impossible for the Republicans, because they sold the war in Iraq as a quick in-and-out operation that would leave behind a budding free market democracy that would become a beacon for the rest of the Middle East. Passing a draft would be admitting that Bush/Cheney screwed up when they invaded Iraq.

So now they are stuck with overseeing a war in which there is no way to win. But as long as we don't pull out and leave the Civil War as the main thing happening, they haven't LOST. So the Republicans can continue to fight the war and use their dominance of the media narrative to paint the Democrats as "Weak" because they want to give up the war.

This media narrative control runs on a two year cycle, dependent on the timing of the American Congressional elections. The main purpose of Iraq to the Republicans today is to not appear to have lost it, and to use it to win each election as it comes up.

The recent events leave me suspicious. Bush's surprise trip to Iraq was very probably mpre than just a publicity stunt to show his interest. Is it a concidence that Bush met with the Prime Minister of Iraq who then, within a week, requested that the U.S. provide a schedule for withdrawal of American troops? General Casey, commander of troops in Iraq also announced a schedule of American withdrawal.

This is all timed very nicely to allow the withdrawal of many American troops prior to the November election, something I have predicted since Summer of 2005. Bush can then announce the withdrawal as a success for the Republican strategy (unknown to anyone but Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove) in Iraq. The timing of all favorable events has to be in the Summer and Fall before the bienniel elections. The timing of announcements for all bad things has to be the Spring and Summer after each election. With the Republican ability to control the media narrative and with the Sunni insurgent inability to win the Civil War in Iraq (they also are in contention to avoid admitting losing), this becomes possible to maintain over each two year American election cycle.

The Democrats this last week tried to throw a wrentch into the process by forcing a discussion of how to win or get out of Iraq. The Republican were able to use House rules to deflect it into a meaningless discussion on a House Resolution in the House, and since the minority party has no executive responsibility or way to achieve a unanimous decision (and sense there are members of the Senate who want to differentiate themselves for a run for the Presidency in 2008) the Senate Democrats were not able to present a unified position. This was countered by the Republicans with a media narrative that the Democrats are disorganized and disunited with no party plan for Iraq. This media narrative is expected also to allow the Republicans to start pulling troops out of Iraq in August and take credit for it for the November election. If the Democrats keep demanding a pull-out between now and then, the Democrats will get credit for forcing the pull-out (but in the short run for the election will be blamed for the increase in violence and more obvious Civil War that will occur in Iraq in either case. Either choice gives the Republicans the appearance of strength and the Democrats the appearance of wealness in Iraq.

So this is the way I see the next four months going nationally. The Democrats will win many of the House elections from Republicans, but the Republicans are likely to maintain the majority.

That's my bet, anyway.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why Democrats are attacking Joe Lieberman

There have been a lot of very silly statements by pundits and others saying that the blogosphere is out to get Joe Lieberman because he supports the Iraq War. His pro-life position is also a big negative.

Actually, while those postitions of his are rather grating to many of us, they have little to do with why much of the Democratic and Progressive blogoshpere wants Lieberman replaced. His problem is that because of his personal positions he spends all his media airtime attacking Democrats rather than Republicans. As a nationally known Democratic Senator, his attacks on Democrats damage the Democratic Party more than do the attacks of most Republicans.

Joe Lieberman was given a great gift when Al Gore chose him as his running mate in 2000. It places Joe Lieberman on the national stage as one of the few nationally recognized Democrats. His inability to act as though he is a Democrat who supports the other members of his party is his great sin, not his personal positions.

It is Lieberman's failure to support the Democratic Party that has led to the effort to get him out of office, not his political positions.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Big Bang is real

Darksyde over at dKos has a fascinating diary on the universe, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy. Here is just one paragraph from his Cosmologist:
"The overall "Big Bang model" is healthier than it's ever been. That's just the basic idea that the universe is uniform on large scales and expanding from a hot, dense state. We don't know much about the Bang itself, but we still know an awful lot about early times, all the way back to a few seconds after the Bang. At that point the universe was a nuclear reactor, and we can look at the leftover elements to check whether their abundances match what we predict -- and they do! The fact that we can extrapolate our theories fourteen billion years into the past to a time just a few seconds after the Big Bang, and check that they give the right answers, is one of the most impressive feats in all of modern science.

Even though the Big Bang model works really well, it raises questions. Why is the universe so smooth, and what made it "Bang" in the first place? The best current answer is inflation, proposed by Alan Guth in 1981. Inflation imagines that a tiny region of space can be dominated by "false vacuum energy" for a brief time, stretching out space and making it smoother as it expands. This model both explains why the universe is smooth on large scales but not perfectly so, since tiny quantum jiggles lead to fluctuations in the density of matter. These fluctuations show up in the Cosmic Microwave Background, leftover radiation from the Big Bang itself, and recent observations from NASA's WMAP satellite confirm that they look exactly like inflation predicts. A few billion years later, gravity has magnified these small perturbations into the galaxies that we observe today."
Go look at the diary. It is fascinating, with pictures and everything.

U.S. to not leave Iraq - We will look weak if we do.

Dan Froomkin reports Cheney's statement.
"Vice President Cheney yesterday offered an unusually revealing glimpse of his worldview -- one in which a withdrawal from Iraq may have less to do with Iraq, and more to do with the message it would send to the world about the limits of American power.

In Cheney's view, withdrawal from Iraq would first and foremost make the United States look weak. And that, in turn, would have cataclysmic domino-style effects across the globe: Afghanistan could fall, and so could Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Iranians could get nukes. And the United States itself would become dramatically more vulnerable to attack, not to mention lose its ability to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests."
Last time I heard the Domino Theory it was the explanation given by Conservatives in 1963 of why we couldn't leave Viet Nam. If we pulled out, not only would Ho Chi Min take all of Viet Nam, but Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Malayasia, Singapore and Indonesia would all fall to the Communists and join with China as our enemies. You will notice that was two years before LBJ sent in half a million American troops.

When we did pull out after 58,000 American deaths ten years later, Laos and Cambodia had already gone Communist as a side effect of the war we had fought. The rest never did. Then Viet Nam invaded Cambodia and China went to war with Viet Nam.

Cheney is just afraid to look weak. Because of his fear and his ego, we invaded Iraq. Now his fear drives both him and and his puppet Bush to refuse to make any plan that might end the war in Iraq.

Many critical decisions about the war are being made in secret, then denies when rumors of them surface. The NSA wiretaps are an example, as is the entire camp at Guantanamo. The reasons are that they are being made arbitrarily without the cooperation and advice of Congress and to the extent possible without court review. This is key in renditions and the camp at Gitmo. It is key to the assertion that the President is supreme when acting as Commander in Chief. In short, they fear coordination and review because they are afraid that if they get those things, they will not be allowed to act in the arbitrary manner they feel necessary to relieve their fear. They don't trust others.

They don't understand and they don't trust other people. They are really paraniod. So they are abandoning the rule of law on which the US Nation and its Constitution are based. Go see Rule of Law vs. Arbitrary Command.

The alternative to arbitrary command by a single individual is the process of making collective decisions. They are not as fast as arvbitrary decisions, but social science research has shown that collective decisions in complex matters (like war) are invariably more accurate. That's not "usually" more accurate. That's "invariably" more accurate.

If you question this, then James Surowiecki has an excellen book you need to read.

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations

This is why complex industrialized nations invariably become more democratic. A freely operating Congress or Parliament is absolutely necessary to process the complexities of an industrial economy and establish the most important issues that the executive will have to react to. As messy as the process is, there is no other process that works as well.

It's a damned shame that the Republicans don't understand this. They are looking for a father figure to provide guidance and protection. But it doesn't work as well as a democracy.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rockford, IL paper supports investigation of 2004 election

The Rock River Times of Rockford, IL supports RFK's request to investigate the 2004 Presidential Election.
"As time went on after the election, according to Kennedy’s Rolling Stone magazine piece, more and more irregularities with that election surfaced.

For instance, nearly half the 6 million American voters living overseas never got ballots or got them too late to vote. That happened after the Pentagon closed down a high-tech Web site intended to process registrations from overseas voters. Then, it was learned that a consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee—Sproul & Associates—to register voters in six battleground states had been caught shredding Democratic registrations.

And Kennedy cites these other suspicious facts as well: in New Mexico, decided by 5,988 votes, malfunctioning voting machines did not properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots. The federal Election Reform Commission found that nationally as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting machines, about one for every 100 ballots cast.

Kennedy and other investigators found the most egregious malfeasance occurred in Ohio. That was the critical state that cinched Bush’s re-election and is the home state of the Diebold voting machine company, whose CEO, Wally O’Dell, swore he would deliver the state to Bush.

Ohio officials scrubbed tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls; did not process registration cards from Democratic voter drives; shorted Democratic precincts on voting machines, so voters there had to wait unreasonably long periods to vote; and officials also illegally prevented a recount that would have given Kerry the White House.

The most glaring aspect was that exit polls did not agree with vote totals. Those totals did not match voter registration rolls. One precinct in a church in Miami County, Ohio, had a turnout of 98 percent, an impossible amount for a rural county, and an inner-city polling place in Cleveland reported only a 7 percent turnout, another highly improbable total.

In Warren County, election officials cooked up a non-existent terrorist threat to keep the media from following the official vote count. The chief election official in Ohio is Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican and a member of Bush’s re-election committee in the Buckeye State. Blackwell is running for governor of Ohio today.

Some discrepancies will pop up in any national election, but this one was very unusual. Kennedy quotes Robert Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. “We didn’t have one election for president in 2004,” said Pastor. “We didn’t have 50 elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities.” The number is a reference to the widely varying patchwork of voting rules operated by city and county officials across the country.

Kennedy wrote that he found the major factor in the irregularities was that in nearly every case, the anomalies hurt Kerry and helped Bush."

The problems are't just in the past. The recent special Election in California's Congressional Distrist 50 to replace the felon "Duke" Cunningham used decertified diebold touchscreen voting machines. Is it any wonder that the Republican lobbyist edged out the Democrat in that election? Of course, they will run against each other again in November.

Any political division that is dominated by Republicans can be suspected of using crooked elections practices.

Why the Unemployment Rate is meaningless

Do you wonder why the unemployment rate seems to be pretty good, but a whole lot of people you know aren't working and aren't finding work? That's because the unemployment rate doesn't really mean what most of us think it means. Ian Welsh over at FireDogLake explains.

Here is his conclusion:
  1. Forget the unemployment rate – look at the labor force participation rate or the employment/population ratio.
  2. Because the working age population of the US is going up every month, the job market must create jobs just to stay even. Roughly 150,000 jobs a month. If it creates less than that, consider things to have gotten worse.
  3. The Establishment survey is more accurate than the household survey. If the gap between the two surveys is decreasing that’s usually good. If it’s increasing, that’s usually bad."
Look especially at item #2. If the economy creates fewer than 150,000 jobs each month, things are getting worse. Remember this the next time the Republicans announce that under their regime some number of jobs have been created. Convert that number to a monthly number, subtract 150,000 and every negative result is a bad month.

You need to go read his discussion to see why he says this.

Safavian's conviction will lead to others

The Abramoff investigation and Abramoff's guilty plea led to the successful conviction of high government official David Safavian. In some ways, the Department of Justice was testing its evidence on a "small fish" before going after bigger fish. So who are the bigger fish now coming into the DoJ's sights?

According to TPMMuckraker, Rep. Bob Ney (R - OH) is next. Also there is Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay's previous staffer and later lobbyist. In a cross-over with the Randy "Duke" Cunningham (Felon, prisoner, previously R - CA 50), Buckham lobbied for Brent Wilkes, the man who bribed Cunningham. So that puts Wilkes into play.

Then there are other politicians such as Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA).

I'm sure that there will also be aditional names. The fun is only just beginning. The Republicans have had control of the House since 1994 and all three branches of government for six years now. It looks like it took awhile for the corruption to become so blatant that legal action had to be taken. Now that the legal actions are on-going, each investigation turns over new rocks that reveal more corruption.

Just a reminder. This investigation is being run by the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, not the Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Addemdum June 23, 2006
Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker reviewed the McCain report and found where it documents that Rep. Bob Ney lied to the Senate Investigators. Notice above that this is exactly one of the charges for which Safavian was just convicted.

Ney's defense? He says he wasn't under oath.

Looks like Rep. Ney is in real trouble. He is essentially ignoring it in public, just a Tom DeLay did.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another idea for Democrats to run on - Publicly financed elections.

Republicans will panic at the idea if it seems likely to be put into effect because they run on money, not ideas. Go see Nathan Newman's discussion here.

This is the set of poll results Newman reports:
  • 82% of voters believe it is likely, as a result of publicly financed elections, that candidates will win on their ideas, not because of the money they raise.
  • 79% said it would allow candidates with good ideas rather than just the rich and powerful to have a shot at winning elections.
  • 77% said that special interests would not receive as many favors, tax breaks and deals from politicians.

RFK on Nov. election - Same people up to same shenigans

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. plans a lawsuit over the theft of the 2004 elections. See Public Relations News.

As for the future, he says "There's another election soon. And as the Times [just] reported, the same people are up to the same shenanigans."

See Frontline's "the Dark Side!"

Frontline offers some hope for the mainstream media. Last night PBS showed the program "Darkside" which describes Vice-President Cheney's effective takeover of the federal government and the politics of lies and misrepresentations that took America to the war in Iraq.

The material in the show will not surprise people who have been reading the blogs on-line, but this is the first time it has all been pulled together in the public statements of the main participants and presented as a single narrative. It's all there. The weak and poorly supported effort to get the al Qaeda in Afghanistan with Gary Berntsen's story of how General Tommy Franks failed to provide needed military to block the escape of bin Laden from Tora Bora, together with the fact that even then (December 2001) Franks was already pulling forces out of Afghanistan for the planned attack on Iraq.

There was clear coverage of the way that Dick Cheney and his cadre fought against the DIA and CIA because they felt those agencies were opposing the planned war against Iraq. This resulted in the creation of the Pentagon's special Intelligence evaluation group under Douglas Feith to stove-pipe unevaluated snippets of faulty Intelligence to the Office of the Vice President (OVP). This resulted in such items being repeatedly speaking publicly of the "proven" connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden over the next two years as well as the publicly stated "clear knowledge" that Saddam had nuclear weapons.

The famous "16 words" presented in the State of the Union Speech (SotU) indicating that Saddam Hussein had supposedly tried to buy yellow-cake uranium ore from Niger is there. That was based on what we now know were forged documents from the Italian Secret Service. George Tenet, CIA Director, had fought to keep it out of published Intelligence, but the OVP got it included in the SotU Speech anyway. This led Ambassador Joe Wilson's editorial in the New York Times that caused the OVP to tell reporters that Joe's wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer of the CIA. This caused the CIA to request an investigation and ultimately caused the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.

It was material from this "stove-piped" but unvetted Intelligence that "Scooter" Libby packaged into a speech he wrote and sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell to present to the UN. Colin Powell looked at it, it did not pass the "smell test" and he went to the CIA to evaluate the material he was given. Powell threw out the Niger yellow-cake assertions and several other things, but based on assurances by George Tenet that it was well supported left in the false information (from Iraqi National Congress (INC) asset "Curveball") that the Iraqis had mobile laboratories to create poison gas. This was from an alcoholic who could not have knows what he said he did, was not confirmed and later proven false, but George Temet assured Powell that it was independently confirmed.

Powell also was assured by Tenet that Mohammed Atta had met with Iraqi Intelligence personnel in Czechoslovakia. The CIA had already determined this was impossible because Atta was in Florida at that time as confirmed by the FBI.

There is a great deal more. The show is available on-line at PBS.

My opinion on Iraq and the so-called War on Terror.

Iraq is Dick Cheney's war. This Frontline show clearly proves his responsibility and his methods of achieving the war. He wanted it from September 11, 2001 and he lied, cheated and manipulated people to get his war.

Cheney conducted the politics to get the war started, and Rumsfeld was joined at the hip with Cheney. Bush is the front man and the man in the ultimate position of responsibility. This Frontline show clearly lays out the government decision process that has led to the deaths of over 2500 American Soldiers and Marines and nearly 17,000 casualties. Estimates of Iraqi deaths range from 30,000 to over 100,000, and the has left Baghdad as the center of a civil war mixed with a cesspool of violent crime.

The connection between the war in Iraq and bin Laden is the same as the connection between a football game and a football commenter. Bin Laden and his version of al Qaeda are outsiders commenting on the war in Iraq but having little or no real connection to it.

Our government, led by Office of the Vice President built up the reputation of a Jordanian thug called Zarqawi so that they could claim that the war in Iraq is a theater of the war on Terrorism. Now that Zarqawi is dead, there is a need for OVP to create some new entity in Iraq called "al Qaeda", but it is entirely a public relations effort.

The war in Iraq is Dick Cheney's ego-trip, initiated by the unrelated al Qaeda attack on September 11, 2001 and Dick Cheney's fraud. The invasion and occupation were poorly planned and the occupation in particular has been incompetently conducted. Cheney's ego trip has resulted in the destruction of the nation of Iraq, a real recruiting tool and possibly training ground for al Qaeda and other Jihadists, the expansion of the power of Iran in the Middle East, and the effective destruction of American military ground forces. America is less secure as a result of this unjustified war.

The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld is to "stay the course." Whatever that is, as our military gets ground down and Iraq driven closer to civil war and anarchy on a daily basis. Somehow the creation of an Iraqi government that governs nothing outside the Green Zone is somehow magicly going to allow us to win the war.

Bush has already stated that getting out of Iraq will be the responsibility of whoever follows him in office. In the meantime America's ground forces are ground down to impotence and the Iraqis are thrown at each other's throats while outsiders cheer and boo.

America needs to commit to leaving Iraq and begin planning for it. Conditions on the ground will determine when and how we actually pull out, so that no "date certain" can be planned. But at least the process needs to be initiated.

The essential question is "How many people will die for Dick Cheney's bloody ego trip?" We need to end it somehow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Truthout continues to support "Rove Indicted" article

This gets more interesting. Truthout is still saying that everything their sources told them are still true, but that after the publication of the "sealed vs. sealed" indictment story, Rove and Lusking went back to Fitzgeralsd and made a deal.

From Truthout:
"After spending the past month retracing our steps and confirming facts, we've come full circle. Our sources continue to maintain that a grand jury has in fact returned an indictment. Our sources said that parts of the indictment were read to Karl Rove and his attorney on Friday, May 12, 2006. Last week, we pointed to a sealed federal indictment, case number "06 cr 128," which is still sealed and we are still pointing to it. During lengthy conversations with our sources over the past month, they reiterated that the substance of our report on May 13, 2006, was correct, and immediately following our report, Karl Rove's status in the CIA leak probe changed. In summary, as we press our investigation we find indicators that more of our key facts are correct, not less."
Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft is covering the story and will report further. Her clearly writen and well-researched legal explanations are worth a lot more than the price of admission (Free.)

Prior stories on Truthout revelations

First Bush administration official found guilty

David Safavian, ex-chief procurement officer at the Government Services Administration, has been found guilty on 4 of 5 federal charges. There were two charges for obstucting justice during investigations into the Scotland trip he was given by Jack Abramoff, and three charges of making false statements or concealing information from GSA ethics officials, a GSA inspector general investigator and a Senate investigator. He was acquitted of the charge of obstructing justice in the investigation by the Senate Committee and convicted on the other four charges.

[Source Houston Chronicle]

There will be more legal action coming from the Jack Abramoff activities with the Bush administration.

U.S. ignored efforts of Iran to negotiate

Gareth Porter has written about The Bush - Cheney administration's monumental strategic misjudgement when they rejected the efforts of Iran to negotiate early in the Bush administration.

The Iranian negotiation proposal provided diplomatic directions for the U.S. to have achieved almost everything we needed, but Cheney and his Uber-hawks wanted Iranian regime change, and felt that we could not do that if we were talking to the government like we recognized it. We had to keep the pressure of threatened force on them. Diplomacy would make regime change more unlikely.

Since we could only cause regime change by threats of force, the administration ignored the Iranian offers of negotiation that would have from the very beginning enlisted the Iranians on our side in the war against al Qaeda. Iran is the most powerful single nation in the Middle East.

The difference between how Iran and Pakistan were treated by the Bush administration was primarily based on two things. First is the fact that Pakistan has nukes and Iran does not, and second is that Cheney hates the Iranians and has hated them since the Hostage Crisis of 1979.

The result has been that from the Bush administration we get hate-based and fear-based strategy that has at every turn been incompent in achieving even the goals they set themselves, let alone the goals which would benefit America in general.

[via Kevin Drum]

Addendum 10:28 AM CDT
Steve Clemons quotes Flynt Leverett:
"the Bush administration's approach to nuclear diplomacy with Iran is strategically shallow. The decision to encourage direct talks with Tehran generated many headlines but was really only a limited tactical adjustment to forestall an embarrassing collapse in coordination with America's key international partners.

By continuing to reject a grand bargain with Tehran, the Bush administration has done nothing to increase the chances that Iran will accept meaningful long-term restraints on its nuclear activities. It has also done nothing to ensure that the United States wins the longer-term struggle for Iran. Such a grand bargain is precisely what is required, not only to forestall Iran's effective nuclearization in the next three to five years, but also to position the United States for continued leadership in the Middle East for the next decade and beyond."
[Underlining mine - RB]

[June 22, 2006 - corrected title. I meant Iran, typed one letter off. I am used to typing Iraq. Really - I DID proof read it!]

Pardon for Libby being floated to legitimize the idea

The idea that "Scooter" Libby will be pardoned by the President is being floated to news outlets. According to Josh Marshall this is the first stage in a program of legitimizing the idea with the public so that when it happens the public reaction is more likely to be "Yeah, we all expected that." Rather than "What? More coverup from the administration? How crooked are they anyway?"

OK. How Yankee/Southern is your speech?

For fun, go take this test (which I keard of on National Public Radio this morning) to see how Southern your speech is. click here.

My result was "45% Dixie. Barely in Yankeedom." My mother was from Illinois, my father was from New Mexico with a degree in English, and I grew up learning to talk in Southeast Texas.

Monday, June 19, 2006

How the Democrats need to approach Iraq

Josh Marshall posted an email he reveived from TPM reader RC. RC described the position the Democrats need to take on the Iraq War:
"I'd like to see the main Democratic talking point become, "Bush will be in Iraq forever. Period. The Democrats will extricate us. Period." And let the administration convince the public otherwise. I think if the Dems just keep saying, over and over, "Republicans want us there forever, that's why we have no timetables, that's why THEY ARE building permanent bases, etc.," this would be a useful evolution of the basic description of the situation."
Then TPM Reader TM goes on to point out that the demand that the Democrats actually offer a specific plan is unreal. No Democratic plan can be implemented or even described at this time.
"I think the notion that there has to be a unified Democratic plan on Iraq shows a complete misreading of the political situation. Bush is the President until 2009. The Dems won't have any means of actually implementing any plan they come up with for 2.5 years, at the earliest. Additionally, any plan created now would be done without even knowing who the (hopefully) Democratic President in 2008 would be, or whether he or she would have any support for this hypothetical plan. All of this makes any plan created now worse than useless - not adding value and merely serving as a target for GOP attacks."
The problem will be that the Republicans will demand an alternate plan. Democrats need to resist and stick to the sound byte "Bush will be in Iraq forever. Period. The Democrats will extricate us. Period." and go on to prove the point that Bush will be there forever. (The permanent bases, the refusal to set a timetable for redeployment, and his statement that the next President will have to get America out of Iraq.)

Why are Republicans spending so much on the NH phone jammers?

Empty Wheel asks the really relevant question about the 2002 NH phone jamming scandal. Why is the Republican National Party spending so lavishly to keep the Democrats from getting depositions from people connected to the scandal?

What are they so afraid will be exposed?

Sure provides an incentive to Democrats to dig deeper, doesn't it?

See earlier posts

Some Katherine Harris snark

I feel almost guilty for posting this - but not guilty enough to not post it. [Grin]

Here is a "shoe story" about Katherine Harris, every Democrat's favorite Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Or maybe it is a "missing shoes story."

I won't tell you more about it, since that might spoil the surprise, but it really is worth reading. So go read it here. And I'll Say No More.

At least for now.

Earlier Katherine Harris posts: With this litany of horrors regarding her Senate race the only two ways she could win the election for Florida Senator is a miracle (such as incumbent Democratic Senator Nelson's death, say in a plane crash) or by the Florida Republican machine headed by Jeb Bush stealing the election.

When you consider that Katherine Harris herself was the point-person in stealing the election from Al Gore in 2000 by disenfranchinsing large numbers of Democratic voters (most of whom have not been reinstated to the voter's rolls because of barriers the Republicans have placed in their way) then we should not discount the strong possibility that the Florida election will be filled with fraud and possibly stolen.

See The Republicans stole the 2004 Presidential Election.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Steven D traces his belief that our elections have been stolen.

Steven D. post an excellent diary at Daily Kos (and Booman Tribune and My Left Wing) explaining why he has reaced the conclusion that the Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen.

Needless to say, I have also reached that conclusion.

Next, pronnin2 diaries about the Republican memos Greg Palast has published showing how the Republicans prevented Blacks from voting. Also, here is another report by Palast on how Blacks and soldiers in Florida were prevented from voting.

Or buy and read his book.

Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf? China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal Election '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War
Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf? China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal Election '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War

Notice that he has a section on how the Republicans plan to steal the 2008 Presidential election. That should be mandatory reading for all Democrats.

The surprise in the Conservative Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) just elected a surprise new President, Rev. Frank Page. He is the candidate not supported by the ultra-conservative and combatative right-wingers who took over the denomination in 1979. I haven't been sure what this really meant, so I haven't written about it yet. But now E. J. Dionne, Jr provides some hints in today's Washington Post.
"In the Southern Baptist election, Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., defeated two candidates more closely associated with the convention's conservative leadership, the Rev. Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, Ark., and the Rev. Jerry Sutton of Nashville. The election was important because the Southern Baptist Convention has been the locus of fierce struggles between moderates and conservatives in which the right emerged triumphant.

In response to the resulting purges and acrimony, moderate and progressive Baptists formed new organizations such as the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics. Robert Parham, the center's executive director, argues that it would be a mistake to read too much into Page's triumph. "This was a race between the right and the far right," Parham said. "One election neither makes a positive trend nor unmakes the essence of fundamentalism." [Snip]

The election, he said, indicates that "the leadership of the denomination that pushed it hard to the right on theological and social issues is aging or passing from the scene and is unable to rally the troops as they once did." [Snip]

One other force was at work in this year's Baptist voting: the rise of the blogosphere.

Over the past several years, an active network of Baptist bloggers has opened up discussion in the convention and given reformers and moderates avenues around what Parham called "the Baptist establishment papers" and other means of communication controlled by the convention's leadership. Thus may some of our oldest and most traditional institutions be transformed by new technologies."
I am not and never could be a Baptist, but I graduated from High School along with Rev. Paige Patterson, now President of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Patterson, along with retired Judge Paul Pressler of Houston, led the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, including any of the Seminaries, and ramrodded the purge of Moderate Baptists. [Yes, the conservative SBC takeover was also driven by Texans.]

While I am not a Baptist, I always appreciated the Baptist doctrine of the "Priesthood of the Believer." That doctrine says that each man reads the Bible and interprets it for himself with the help of God. No other man can stand intermediary and tell the believer what to believe. The purges of Seminaries and Missionaries were conducted by forcing professors and Missionaries to sign a very conservative statement of faith or be fired. That approved statement of faith destroys the doctrine of "The Priesthood of the Believer."

This may mean that the wave of conservatives in both politics and religion which has been growing in America since the late 1970's has peaked and is beginning to roll back a little. They aren't going to become less conservative, but I think they will begin to not automatically bristle around those of us who are not conservative Christians.

Of course, it may not mean that, either. Still, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paige Patterson endorsed Arkansas Pastor Rev. Ronnie Floyd while Paul Pressler supported Nashville Pastor Rev. Jerry Sutton. Rev Frank Page, Pastor of a megachurch in Taylors, S.C. won the election. At the very least there will be some change in the personalities who are leading the SBC.

The New York Times reported that the election like this:
"The new president, Frank S. Page, is the pastor of a megachurch in Taylors, S.C. He won more than 50 percent of the vote in a three-way contest that he entered late. His opponents were Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, Ark., and Dr. Jerry Sutton of Nashville.

Generally, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is elected unopposed.

Dr. Page and his supporters said his election, on the first ballot on the first full day of the annual meeting of convention, did not mean that the nation's largest Protestant denomination would change its views on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion that the three candidates generally opposed. "I do not want anyone to think I am out to undo a conservative movement," Dr. Page told reporters after his election. "
I would say that the fact that he is a late candidate, yet won on the first ballot with over 50% of the vote is quite significant. It's a big change. How, I am not yet sure. But I suspect it is positive for both the SBC and for America in general.

Technorati shows these blogs referring to E. J. Dionne's editorial.

Backstory on Leopold's now discredited scoop

Freelance Writer Joe Lauria writes in the Washingtom Post that Jason Leopold appears to have lied to an attorney for Karl Rove passing himself off as Joe Lauria to get an interview. This resulted when Joe Lauria read what Jeralyn Merrit of TalkLeft reported she was told by Jason Leopold.

Lauria blasts Leopold as an unethical reporter who will lie and cheat to get a scoop with no qualms, using Leopold's own autobiography as part of the evidence. This is Leopold's autobiography:

News Junkie
News Junkie

From what Lauria says, Leopold has been a high-flying reporter who has on several occasions conducted an Icarus act [flying too close to the sun, so the wax melts from his wings and causes him to crash.]

That doesn't discredit everything he writes, but it sure as heck makes it a good idea to always search for independent confirmation of anything he writes. I wonder how much longer "Truthout" will stand behind him. If he is the franchise for "Truthout", possibly a long time.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nancy Pelosi releases Democratic agenda

Nancy Pelosi provided a listing of some of the things the Democrats will do in January when they take the Congress back. These are some of the items she listed:
"The ideas range from lowering prescription drug prices to raising the minimum wage and eliminating billions of dollars in federal subsidies to the oil and gas companies, as well as allowing parents to deduct the cost of college tuition from their taxes. [Snip]

...part of the Democrats' plan is a call to require fiscal responsibility, following pay-as-you-go rules that prevent deficit spending. And they note that it is under a Republican president and Congress that the federal deficit has soared to new levels.

"This is the path we were on when President Clinton was president, and we would have On Iraq, Pelosi said: "2006 must be a year of significant transition. It is time for a new direction in Iraq."

She didn't mention that there's significant disagreement among Democrats on when to begin withdrawing troops.

Pelosi's position on the Iraq timetable — "at the earliest practicable time, the United States must begin the responsible redeployment of its troops," she said
been debt free as a nation if we had stayed on that course of pay-as-you-go, no deficit spending, debt free as a nation in 2008,'' Pelosi said. "Instead, we have a debt ceiling of $9 trillion." [Snip]

One of the Democratic proposals, to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997, has already shown signs of support beyond the Democrats. On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to raise the wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 hourly and attach it to the Labor, Health and Human Services spending bill. Seven Republicans joined committee Democrats in supporting the measure."
There is more in an Associated Press article:
"The ideas are part of the Democrats' new domestic agenda, named "New Direction for America," which the party rolled out during the past week. [Snip]

"A new direction means expanding access to affordable health care for Americans. We will begin by lowering the cost of prescription drugs by putting seniors ahead of pharmaceutical companies and HMOs," Pelosi said.

"A new direction means broadening opportunity by addressing the soaring costs of higher education. We will begin by making tuition tax-deductible and cutting the interest rates of student loans in half."

Pelosi also pledged to improve security, reduce dependence on foreign oil, maintain Social Security and oppose deficit spending. Under the plan the minimum wage would rise from $5.15 to $7.25 over two years, the interest rate on student loans would be cut to 3.4 percent and Democrats would approve a "pay as you go" budgeting rule."
The various news reports all either include the very negative responses from the Republicans or emphasize that the Democratic Party is split on how to deal with the Iraq war, or both.

This looks like a good set of ideas to go into the November election with. Combine it with pointed remarks to the incompetence and corruption of the Republicans and it looks like a winner.

What do you think? Leave comments.

Addendum June 18, 2006
Tristero makes the following comment re: Pelosi's proposals:
In contrast, the latest bundle of snoozers packaged into an "agenda" by the Democratic party's utterly inept national political consultants is a major league embarassment. It's almost as if the party consultants concluded that since the world is facing an energy crisis, the Democratic party should set an example and not have any.

The modern Al Gore, however, points the way towards a seriously exciting Democratic politics, one that can see a deeply important problem clearly, find ways to tackle it, and inspire the political will to do so. We need that kind, and how.
OK. Upon later thought, I think the November 2006 election like the last two will revolve around security issues. As I look at Pelosi's proposals, I see no addressing of those issue, and no addressing of energy policy. As Tristero points out, Al Gore is providing us with the core of an energy policy.

As I listen to Congressman John Murtha on "Meet the Press" this morning, I think he is providing the core of an Irag policy. But it doesn't address the problem that a lot of voters are very afraid, and will vote for the Congressperson who offers a set of proposals that "Protect America." Hence, Immigration policy is security policy.

One problem is that the Democrats no longer have many veterans who are in office. Murtha can be effective in large part because he is a veteran of Viet Nam and a retired Marine Colonel. In the absence of the cachet provided by veteran's status, the politician with the loudest, most aggressive bombast is most likely to win a majority vote in a polarized and frightened group of voters.

Lieberman's contempt for Democratic voters is his weakness

If you are wondering why the so-called radical anti-war blogging Democratic left is out to purge the party of a clear middle-of the road Democratic Senator with three terms, then you don't understand the real issue. DHin MI lays it out very clearly.
"what's driving the Lamont effort, it's Lieberman's contempt for people who don't share his views. Democratic voters haven't been on a jihad to cleanse the party of people who supported the Iraq war; hell, we even nominated a Presidential candidate who had voted for the Iraq War Resolution. Joementum's claim is a canard. His problems are entirely of his own doing, and have little to do with the policies he supports or the ideas he espouses and almost everything to do with the contempt he showers on those he would refer to as Jihadists, but who we call Democrats."
I agree with DHinMI. While I dislike Lieberman's Iraq War position, my dislike for the man has grown everytime I have seen him on TV. He doesn't seem to have an honest bone in his body. He acts like a nasty, fat-faced little kid who is demanding to have all the candy or he'll throw a tantrum. He has made the whole election about keeping him in office or else he'll screw the Democrats every way he can.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Truthout stands down on the 'Rove Indicted' story

Jerylyn Merril at TalkLeft reports that Truthout has backed down on Jason Leopold's May 13 story that Karl Rove had been indicted. Truthout fully supports Jason Leopold's story as reported, but has finally concluded that it must be wrong. The Editors had gone over the story throroughly before it was published and take full responsibility for the story and for Jason Leopold's reporting.

Jeralyn's most cogent statement is:
"I continue to believe that Jason's sources told him what he reported but that they were wrong. Was it a burn or just misinformation? I have no idea."
I'm sorry the story has turned out this way, myself. The backstory behind the story will itself be an interesting revelation someday.

Prior Posts here:

How Republicans support the troops

The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that the electric company providing power to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas has issued 1300 termination notices to the post to be effective next Wednesday. This is because the post is three months behind in paying the electric bills.

The post is behind because of a severe budget shortfall. It's not limited to Fort Sam Houston. Fort Hood is also behind in paying its bills according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman on June 8.

[Via First Draft - to which I was led by FireDogLake.]

Abu Aardvark - the Zarqarwi docs appear fake

Abu Aardvark thinks the alleged war strategy documents supposedly found on a computer in Zarqarwi's house after it was hit by two 500 lb bombs killing everyone in the house appear to be fakes.

[via Kevin Drum.]

Thursday, June 15, 2006

America is moving rapidly towards right-wing authoritarianism

With the decision of the Supreme Court to permit the use of evidence obtained even if the police don't knock before entering your home the right-wing takeover of all three branches of the federal government is complete. This was a decision that was reargued after Justice O'Connor was replaced by Alito (who we knew was a knee-jerk "support the police and government at all times" judge. Without O'Connor the decision was 4 - 4. Alito joined with Scalia and Thomas and two others to provide the 5 - 4 decision that works to gut the procedures that made a search warrant an effective protection of an individual's personal privacy.

We will see more of these decisions eliminating traditional American legal Constitutional Rights as further decisions come out this year.

Think about this as you go back to read Mary Scott O'Connor's essay Slouching towards Kristallnacht.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

NeoCons fading into ignominy

According to EmptyWheel over at the Next Hurrah the Project for the New American Century, which has been the organizational basis of the NeoCons, is fading into non-existence. They are announcing "Goals accomplished" and fading from the scene. EmptyWheel lines up the goals the PNAC attempted to achieve, and then show the results.

Let's see here:

Rallying support for American leadership? Check.

Inattention to the rules of statecraft and inconstant leadership? Check.

Short-term commercial benefits overriding strategic considerations? Check.

Inviting challenges to our fundamental interests? Check.

I'd say they've done a tremendous job ... of bringing about everything they aspired to avoid, including a world in which our chief rival owns our piggy bank and all the change in it.

Which suggests this faux-triumphalism should only invite one response. Constant, specific branding of these problems as Neocon problems. The Iraq debacle? A Neocon debacle. Lost opportunities in Latin America? A Neocon debacle. Alienated old-Europe allies? A Neocon debacle. The embrace of torture and many other atrocities against the rule of law? More Neocon debacles.
It really is rare for a set of political ideas to be so fully implemented as have those of the PNAC. It is even more rare for such experiments to fail so completely.

This has been the result of Conservatism applied to American foreign policy. When a politician advertises that he or she is a conservative, the debacles caused by the PNAC is what they are asking voters to vote for.

Monday, June 12, 2006

House cats are the dominant species on Earth

I keep running into people have this strange idea that human beings are the dominant species on Earth, even though the facts are right there in front of all of us. We aren't "it." House cats are.

Don't believe me? Here is what one of the uninformed wrote:
"I, for one, have no doubt that if they could figure out how to use can openers, house cats would take over the world in about a week."
Here is my response.

Housecats already are the dominant species on Earth. They long ago figured out how to control humans and get them to use the can openers for them. Haven't you noticed? Why should they lower themselves to use can openers. They have us.

Remember. Cats in general are the single most efficient predator on land. House cats, however, have evolved to where they don't have to bother with such "iffy" propositions as actually hunting for a living. Instead they have tamed people to provide for them. Look at the house cats in your home. When was the last time they actually had to hunt for any reason other than recreation?

It is my suspicion that our house cats have selectively bred humans for our increased ability to use tools. The early association of house cats and humans in Egypt was also the first human civilization. You will notice that in Egypt cats were recognized and worshipped as Gods. Do you think it is coincidence that humans were not civilized before associating with house cats? I don't think so.

Think about it. There has never been an advanced city-based human civilization that was not associated with cats.

We no longer worship house cats as Gods on a formal basis. Why is that?

The answer is obvious upon a few moments reflection. Any house cat worth its purr can make you worship it. Cats recognized after a time that they could have more power from a less obvious position than as formal Gods. They don't need a crude human religious institution to assist them. Each competent cat is fully capable capable of individually controlling its own humans without a religious instituion to direct the humans.

Just remember. Contrary to all our myths, God walks on four paws with little switchblades inside each toe. When you please God, God sometimes purrs for you.

When you realize how much work we humans will go to to get that purr, you tell me who is dominant?

Just how powerful are house cats really? Go check this post at Digby out. You'll see.

Don't argue with the cat that owns you. It's not healthy.