Friday, March 30, 2007

Non-Scandal Part 3

Voter Fraud.. An issue near and dear to right wingers and Republicans since forever. I mean gosh, it's so EASY to go right back to the end of the line and vote again, this time with a dead guy's name. It's so easy to forge a voter card and drive around to all the precincts in town and vote everywhere. Dang, these prosecutors ought to just get all over this!

Voter Fraud... A myth perpetuated by legend, internet horror stories, and gossip columns for years, has now become accepted as conventional wisdom and even as truth. As Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt report in Thursday's Washington Post,
"But the notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch. .. Where fraud exists, of course, it should be prosecuted and punished.... Yet evidence of actual fraud by individual voters is painfully skimpy."

Allegations of voter fraud by Republicans is an old saw, dating back as far as there are elections. To fix this imaginary issue, they advocate means of "voter protection." Remember poll taxes, intelligence tests, no women allowed to vote? All in the name of "voter protection." Now we're on to Voter ID cards and proof-of-citizenship requirements. If you don't have your papers in order, it can cost up to $200 to get everything taken care of. The old poll tax only used to be $1.50! This strategy of course limits the participation of the elderly, minorities, ostensibly a Democratic Party voter base.

The whole idea of making it difficult for folks to vote came to a head in Ohio in 2004, where manipulations of voting machines creating long lines and abuses of electronic devices swung the election numbers absurdly to the Republican candidates. In short, allegations of voter fraud and the failure to pursue them, cause the Gonzales 8 to be hung out to dry. A bogus issue behind a non-scandal?

The callous disregard and disrespect for government for the people and by the people is the scandal. Again and again it must be said that this administration is neither "right" or "left" but in fact is radical and revolutionary. A point well taken by Glen Greenwald in Salon Magazine.
"That's because the political movement that dominates our country is radical and authoritarian -- "security leads to freedom." Our political spectrum is now binary: one is either a loyal follower of that movement or one is opposed to it.

The terms "left" and "right" do not mean what they meant even ten years ago, though they still have meaning. At least for now, until this movement is banished to the dustbin, those terms have come to designate whether one is loyal to, or whether one opposes, this government-power-worshipping, profoundly un-American right-wing cultism that has been the dominant political faction in America for many years."

It's a cult. It's a huge power grab and it is not and never will be anything resembling the "American Way."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gonzales, Bush, Congress, War....

So Mr. Gonzales got heat from his own employees yesterday in Chicago.. Hmm.. Seems they think that now they are all on thin ice. They reported to the Attorney General that employee morale has been affected and has made many of the remaining prosecutors wonder about their own standing. Hmm... seems that his own prosecutors are questioning Mr. Gonzales leadership. Hmm... Republicans, eating their own.

Molly Ivins used to say that Alberto Gonzales was a "lightweight" lap dog for the President. It's tough to see it playing out in front of our eyes. To think the the Department of Justice for the United States of America has been turned into the Department of Justice for the Republican Party is depressing beyond belief.

Today, we'll hear Kyle Sampson's testimony that it's simply a normal part of the political process to hire and fire prosecutors on their loyalty based performance. Of course good loyal partisans should be rewarded with prize jobs! But watch it! Even Republicans who are in good standing in the party can be sacked if they don't follow the party line. Just business as usual folks.
"Sampson's testimony includes a broad defense of the two-year process that led to the firings. He concedes that the "process was not scientific, nor was it extensively documented," but he argues that that is the nature of presidential political appointments.

And from Laurie Kellman at the AP:

However, he denied that the firings were improper, and he spoke dismissively of Democrats' condemnation of what they call political pressure in the firings.

"The distinction between 'political' and 'performance-related' reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial," he said. "A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective ... is unsuccessful."

Sampson maintained that adherence to the priorities of the president and attorney general was a legitimate standard.

Other thoughts:

President Bush spent a lot of time looking and sounding "tough" yesterday. The "Bulldog" was in the pulpit of personal politics yesterday spitting and clawing at the dastardly congress for jeopardizing the troops by not funding the war effort...

In other news, it's been all over the news that the Army has sent artificially boosted troop numbers to the top Brass to show our readiness for being sent back into combat. Oops... It turns out that a pretty good number of those troops were injured, some seriously. Some of the soldiers on crutches got sent to Iraq anyway. I guess crutches a one way to "support our troops."

The President told us that the Congress shouldn't limit the flexibility of the commanders in the field by mandating a troop pullout. General Petraeus is now leading the "surge." How many generals were fired before one was found that would be "flexible" enough?

The President wants a "clean" bill for new war funding. All of a sudden it seems that pork is bad. Bush almost gleefully pointed to the additional spending and laughed out loud! Democrats are doing it to! Slimeballs! How dare they ask for an incredible 20 billion for pork. I need 102 billion RIGHT NOW for the war. Don't bother me with this trivial stuff!

The trivial stuff that the President so gleefully mocked with supreme arrogance: (DNR 3/29/07)

6.4 million for a "highly classified upgrade of the Capitol security that has been underway since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."

3.5 million for "visitors to tour the Capitol and see for themselves how Congress works."

100 million to pay for security at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 2008.

These were punch lines that drew laughter with a final comment from Bush,
"I'm not kidding you."

Score: 20 billion for the Homeland, 102 billion for War.



I love these guys! Pelosi and Reid just told President Bush to quit whining and playing political games. Guess what Mr. Bush, the Congress is Democratic now and you have to work with them! Kudu's! In a joint letter, they warned him against following
"a political strategy that would needlessly delay funding for our troops."

""Calm down with the threats. There is a new Congress in town, We respect your constitutional role. We want you to respect ours."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Going it Alone

The Jordanians and Saudi's, friends and supporters in the Middle East, have both decided that they can't come to the States for ceremonial dinners with President Bush. They are backing away, increasing the Administration's isolation. It's getting harder to tell who's with us and who's against us! Don't we need these guys?

Speaking of isolation, you should all read Robert Novak's article in the Post, A President all Alone. Go it alone has taken on a new, somber meaning indeed. Republicans are avoiding him, and impeachment talk is spreading slowly but surely. Even on the Iraq resolution, congressional Republicans have given up the fight and are going to let the legislation pass, leaving it up to the President to once again go it alone by vetoing the measure.

Mr. McCain, Mr. Straight Shooter, where have you gone? You were on TV this morning as well as earlier this week arguing that folks just don't know how much progress we are really making in Iraq. You told us that we really ought to be getting current information. There are strip malls, and places in Baghdad that look like American suburbia, why even General Petraeus'
"goes out there almost every day in in an unarmed Humvee."
Yo.. just in from General Petraeus staff, the general,
"never goes out in anything less than an up-armored Humvee."
Oops you just covered up your statement with a little more straight talk..

"I'm not saying that they could go without protection. The president goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn't say that. The fact is that the neighborhoods are safer and every indicator of that, the number of bodies found, the number of deaths, the fact is we're making progress. It's still dangerous, it's still a long way to go, but the fact is that things have improved and much of that you do not get to the American people and that's just a fact."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dear Editor

Quit apologizing for corruption and dishonesty in Government. In today's editorial, yet again, you seem to say that lying to Congress is okay. Doing so must mean that you accept the excuse of incompetence. Wow! Would you please tell us sometime that the ability to actually govern is important? Bushies are political hacks to whom the truth is whatever works for the party. Bushies are allowed to play politics with everything and still say that Democrats are playing partisan games? Cover ups, lying, playing fast and loose with rules? Come on! Where's the scandal in that? Are you blind?

In a recent USA Today Poll, a large majority of Americans believe that Administration officials should go to Congress and testify under oath. Another large majority believes that it is very important for Congress to investigate the involvement of the White House in the matter of the Gonzales 8. And yet another large majority believes that President Bush should not invoke executive privilege on behalf of his White House staff.

First with Scooter Libby, who is now a convicted felon, and now with Alberto Gonzales, it is evident that Congress was misled and lied to. To say that there is no scandal because THEY DIDN'T REALLY NEED TO LIE, BUT LIED ANYWAY, is a complete, helpless joke.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

And the World shrugged...

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was captured, tortured, held in secret prisons, and now is finally having his day in court as he faces a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal. His capture was a major accomplishment in the "war on terror" giving hope that his knowledge of plots and plans would reveal valuable intelligence and real insight into the terrorist movement. His stature was such that the most serious "gloves off" treatment was administered. Basic CIA "alternative interrogation techniques" were used evidently to great success. He confessed to everything! He took credit for every major terrorist attack in the last 10 years! Trouble is it sounded like bragging. It was almost as if Mr. Mohammed was laughing in our face saying, "You wanted to hear it? Well, here it is.. All of it!" In so doing, he belies all credibility.

This news of Mr. Mohammed's confession should have been greeted with claims of victory and at least some front page news. Where were the editorials and news articles proclaiming this as a great victory in the war on terror? Outside of the Fox Network, the rest of the major media and the entire international community gave a collective shrug and pretty much ignored the news.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed is undoubtedly a very bad guy. As a terrorist and mastermind of murderous plots against humanity, he is obviously deserving of the most severe punishments our LEGAL system can bestow. The problem is simply the way he was treated and the manner in which his interrogation was handled. There was no attempt to ensure the credibility of his statements. The methods used to gain information are generally considered ineffective and immoral, which the administration continues to deny.
"The administration claims it has not used torture on prisoners such as Mr. Mohammed. Yet it has been working aggressively to ensure that he and 13 other accused terrorists formerly held in secret CIA prisons are never allowed to reveal how they were treated."

The amoral methods of fighting terrorism, advocated by the Bush administration are now proving to be wrong, destructive, and ineffective. In fact, the tribunals will now need to be held in complete secrecy in order to hide the fact that the CIA tortured Mr. Mohammed and the 13 others held in secret CIA prisons throughout the world.

Anne Applebaum lays it out clearly in the Washington Post on March 20:
"If al-Qaeda members are allowed to talk about the abuse they suffered, President Bush's frequent contention that no one was tortured will come under question; so will his determination to maintain the CIA's secret detention "program." If the administration strategy succeeds, much of the trials and appeals of the al-Qaeda suspects will have to be conducted in secret -- something that will strip the proceedings of credibility and legitimacy."

Fast and loose; take the gloves off; rule of law; blood rage; revenge; preventive war; and now utter helplessness. Because these guys simply believed they were right, they felt that the rules could be bent, due process ignored. Because these enemies were so bad, evil, and terrible, only a vigilante style justice would suffice. Now they are on the verge of bumbling and stumbling through the Mohammed tribunal so ineptly that the world simply won't believe whatever outcome may occur. Very sad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Business as usual... (updated twice below)

What??? These guys serve at the pleasure of the president! What..... He can fire whomever he wants whenever he wants! It WAS because of their performance! They didn't prosecute the high profile cases WE wanted them to pursue. They didn't go after the real bad guys hard enough! AND they went after our guys! Daggonit! They should be fired! Clinton fired all of his! Reagan fired all of his! Daddy Bush fired all of his! Why can't W fire all of his?

Of course he did fire all of his at the beginning of of the first term as an "orderly transfer of power" according to the Bush transition team in January of 2001. Of course Clinton, Reagan, Bush 41, did as well as part of an orderly transfer of power. You get power you get to appoint the executive branch... duh!

In 1993, the Republicans cried "FOUL! You fired all of our Reagan appointees! NO FAIR!" The Republicans of course were beginning to feel their oats and their turn as majority party was about to begin. The tables have turned and the irony is that Republicans are now using the tired old saw, "Blame Bill," to JUSTIFY the presidents new action.

"And as Arch-Pundit documents, the practice of replacing all U.S. attorneys at the start was customary even before the Reagan administration. What the Clinton administration did (that provoked such contrived outrage) was what every administration had been doing and is what the Bush 43 administration itself did back in 2001.

What none of those administrations did -- until now -- was cherry-pick a list of prosecutors to be fired in the middle of the administration for clearly political purposes and then lie to Congress (and the country) about what happened. Why -- when journalists hear the "Clinton-did-it-too" claim or the "there-is-nothing-wrong-with-firing-prosecutors" excuse -- are they so incapable of just pointing out these easily discovered facts?"

Read a complete and well documented version from Glen Greenwald HERE. (Scroll down to Monday March 19).

It's business as usual folks. Politics is the way the game of governance is played. Absolute loyalty to the Leader is the sole standard of excellence. The only qualification for employment that matters is party loyalty. Everyone who is not in the party is an enemy, to be vilified and marginalized. Folks, it's gotten so bad that the party is beginning to eat its own. How long until the next presidential election?

Update; March 21, 2007

Last night on "The Daily Show" Jon Stewart invited John Bolton to join him as a guest. Mr. Bolton's reasoned, passionate defense of "business as usual" made for an interesting bit of interplay. Mr. Bolton essentially stated clearly and unequivocally that Mr. Bush was supposed to find "sympathetic" partisans to fill the posts in his administration. Because Mr. Bush was duly elected by the people, his service to them required that he put in place his crony's, friends, "loyal Bushies," and partisan sympathizers. Mr. Bolton went on to say that President Bush is entitled to appoint whomever he needs to impliment his policies with complete loyalty. This is the validation of the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Only a radical idealogue could say this about effective governance. Only a radical could be so willing to marginalize "unbelievers." Only a radical could say that 36% is plenty of mandate for a validation of policy. Amazing!

Update again; March 21, 2007

This morning we are greeted with the news that President Bush will fight any attempt to require White House staffers to testify under oath to Congress, in essence hiding behind Executive Privilege. Again, because of bumbliing and stumbling, Mr. Bush's administration is playing fast and loose with one of the most important powers of the Executive Branch. Our president needs confidentiality in the Oval office as policies are being developed and implimented. The Executive Branch would be severely hampered if this confidentiality were compromised. Yet, in the case of the Gonzales 8, WHAT ARE THEY HIDING? Why not "man up" and just say, in the open, what they were doing! President Bush is probably correct in saying that there was nothing illegal done, so what's the problem? Simply stand up and say that these prosecutors just weren't loyal enough! Cowardice or Courage?

Friday, March 16, 2007


I strongly agree with the editorial on Friday March 16, singing the praises of Rudy Giuliani as a potential candidate for president. His tolerance of liberal social issues was touted as well as his show of "courage and fortitude" during his term as Mayor of New York. I also congratulate the Republican Party for their willingness to accept these liberal views as well as celebrating the drop in crime and the improvement of life in the city during his term.

I would be happy to vote for a candidate from either party who would be willing to put the good of the country ahead of their party's political agenda and social views.

I would be happy to vote for a strong and courageous candidate who would provide safety and security for our communities and cities.

I would be happy to support a candidate who shows intelligence, thoughtfulness, and is willing to work with countries that disagree to find solutions to the world's problems.

I would vote for candidate who can talk about the problems of the Middle East from a basis of knowledge and who can talk about solving our differences with Iran, Syria, and North Korea without referring to them as the "axis of evil."

Finally, I would support any candidate who shows true courage, wisdom, and strength by speaking out strongly that the American way is not about Imperialism or world domination by military might; that privatization of everything is not the best policy for all Americans; and that a purely political machine is not the best way to govern.

I thought it was very open and honest of the editor to show us that his feelings were hurt by "some folks on the left" for being called a "hardcore Neanderthal" and for being falsely accused of requiring a "social litmus test" for any political office. I would remind him that in reference to Senator Lieberman, the Democrats turned him out in a primary election because of his steadfast support of the failed Iraq policy and his unbending loyalty to the president. Primaries, of course reflect the values and political process of our country, not the politically correct views of radicals from the left or the right.

Contrast this with the vehemence of the vitriol from the tabloid media of the right wing spin machine. If you haven't read the latest diatribe from humorist, Ann Coulter, if you haven't bothered to read any of the recent statements of Dick Cheney, if you haven't seen or heard from Rush, Sean, Wolf, or Brit lately you need to turn on and tune in. The tolerance of the these commentators is legendary! Anything goes as long as the pundits show the proper respect for the conservative agenda. Want to call someone a "Faggot?" Go right ahead! Accuse anyone of "Treason?" No problem. Want to feminize the whole Democratic Party? Have a ball!

Does any of this happen from the left? Of course! Just go to any moderate to radical left-leaning web site and read down through hundreds of anonymous comments left by citizens participating in this unique form of free speech and you'll find plenty of name calling, hate filled rhetoric, and venomous vitriol. Of course, you'll find the same thing on any moderate to right-leaning web site as well.

Let's see... nationally known pundits who have audiences of millions versus anonymous citizen bloggers? How do you spell cowardice?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

In response to the articles and editorials of the past week concerning the pathological hatred of President Bush by the "left."

Folks this is what happens when Fundamentalists of the Right Wing bump heads with Fundamentalists of the Left Wing. Lots of hate-speech, refusal of either side to even recognize the other much less listen to their dogma. Of course both sides spew extremist vitriol as dogma, so no one can really listen for long to either side without getting a little squeamish.

There is a difference in the presentation of the two groups however and it is simply this: you've got to dig a little to get to the left-wing hate mongering. You can find plenty of it on the blogosphere, or glance through a Mother Jones magazine you'll see instances of leftist "logic" that will make your head spin. In contrast, the Right Wing propaganda machine is right out there in the open and easy to see and hear. Locally, our own beloved DNR editor regularly, but tastefully, espouses the positions of the radical right wing, but more importantly on the national scene, right-wing bluster is syndicated, published, broadcast, and celebrated by millions of readers, viewers and listeners.

Just last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of the featured speakers was noted columnist, Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter was pretty much the star of the event, featured prominently in promotions and increasingly popular as a speaker and advocate of conservative causes. Her appearances over the last two years were highlighted by comments about Arabs ("ragheads"), Supreme Court justices, (deserving of murder), and presidential candidate John Edwards ("faggot"). All of these comments were greeted by spontaneous cheering and standing ovations.
"This is a movement propelled by an insatiable hunger for more slaughter and more wars. It is centrally dependent upon hatred of an Enemy, foreign or domestic -- the Terrorist, the Immigrant, the Faggot, the Raghead, and most of all, the Liberal. ... that is the only real feature that binds the "conservative" movement at this point, the only attribute that gives it identity and purpose. It does not have any affirmative ideas, only a sense of that which it hates and wants to destroy. So to watch as the crowd wildly cheers an unapologetic hate-monger is perfectly natural and not at all surprising."
-Glen Greenwald of (His well-written analysis is a good read. Click HERE)

Its a sad moment in politics and in society when our political discourse encourages this kind of "in your face" verbal violence. The hijacking of the Republican Party by its right-wing fringe is a tragedy of historic proportions.

I call on all true conservatives and pragmatists to put a stop to this ideological warfare. Get involved, identify the politicians who will take care of governing and fire those who only aspire for status with the either the radical left or right wing "base."

Friday, March 2, 2007

Cheney on the Loose

Vice President Cheney is on the loose this week. He's been on an emergency visit to the few friendly countries we have left in Asia and the Middle East. Highlights have included his opinion freely offered that somehow our allies in Pakistan and will be endangered if we withdraw from Iraq,
"I've often spoken and would reiterate again today, when you think about the debate at home, some of my friends on the other side of the aisle arguing that we need to get out of Iraq, then you go spend some time with our allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, you can't help but be convinced that that would have a devastating impact, devastating consequences for what they're trying to do, what they've agreed to do in terms of their ongoing efforts with us as allies in these struggles in this part of the world."
Curiously, the reason we're in trouble in Pakistan with Al Qaeda and in Afghanistan with the Taliban is precisely that we are expending so much of our military capability in Iraq. Cheney himself admits that it's the lack of manpower that is the problem.
"One of the reasons I think Karzai was upbeat was because of the United States' economic and financial commitment. We've asked for significant sums for him this year in the budget, the commitment of an additional brigade of troops to beef up what's already there, that's all taken as a sign of our commitment, specifically to Afghanistan. They worry about that."
So let's see... The Taliban and Al Qaeda are resurgent and getting stronger because we went to Iraq and didn't finish the job in Afghanistan. Now we can't leave because that somehow endangers our allies and would embolden the enemy.

Another highlight came from Afghanistan. We've shown how strong we are and that we have "stomach for the fight" by "staying the course." The Taliban is so intimidated that.... they walked right up the air base where Vice-President Cheney was staying and blew up a guard station killing another American soldier! It gives new meaning to "fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them here." Perhaps this was a "horse head in the bed" gift from the Pakistani's for Vice President Cheney. The statement they released after his visit is most telling.
" nation will dictate to us our foreign policy positions."
It's notable that all the public comments stopped after the bombing...

The fact is the Taliban and Al Quaida are now strong and dangerous again primarily because of our failed Iraq policy. Glen Greenwald explains it this way:
"Nothing has aided Al Qaeda more than our decision to all but forget about (or at least seriously neglect) Afghanistan in order to satisfy the personal Iraq project of the President and his neo-conservative comrades. That decision has helped Al Qaeda in so many ways, primarily by abandoning that region and allowing them to re-establish their sanctuary. One of the benefits of an Iraqi withdrawal would be that our military resources could be freed up to fight against actual Terrorists."

The most serious highlight of course was his accusations of treason against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"If we adopt the Pelosi policy, (to withdraw) then we will validate the strategy of al-Qaeda. I said it and I meant it."
He went on to say that the strategy of the Al Qaeda is to simply make America quit and that we have to show them how strong we are and that we have stomach for the fight.. As the trip proved, we have showed our strength to the point that terrorist attacks are now much more likely and have increased dramatically since our invasion.

Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, senior fellows at the New York University Center on Law and Security report:
"Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the average fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, which accounts for fully half of the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks in the post-Iraq War period. But even excluding Iraq, the average yearly number of jihadist terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities still rose sharply around the world by 265 percent and 58 percent respectively."

So now we have to show our strength so that the terrorists will know we have the "stomach" for the fight. Doing so increases the level of terrorism around the world. Leaving Iraq would show weakness, validating the strategy of Al Qaeda. Staying in Iraq shows the terrorists how "strong" we are, but weakens our ability to deal with them. And 'round and 'round we go....

Questions for the Editor

(This is a longer version of the editorial submitted to the DNR on Friday March 2, 2007)

Mr. Editor, On March 2 you wrote that
"The Democratic Party is being pulled to the left by the verbal furor of the anti-war faction, particularly the netroots - the leftwing anti-war blogger who are flexing more and more muscle in the party."
Who constitutes the "Left?" What exactly is their role in defending American freedom and liberty? How are these unnamed and largely anonymous left wing bloggers any different than the nationally known conservative commentators who have pulled the Republican Party to the right by the verbal furor of the pro-war, neo-conservative pundits and commentators who carry the message of the party?

In your editorial praising Senator Joe Lieberman on Feb 26, you highlighted his statement that the war in Iraq
"is part of an even bigger, global struggle against the totalitarian ideology of radical Islamism. ... we must remember that our forces in Iraq carry America's cause - the cause of freedom - on which we abandon at our peril."
This statement was in support of the current troop surge and part of the larger argument that we should stay in Iraq to demonstrate our resolve and to maintain credibility. In that context, what should we be doing about the al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan and the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan?

In today's paper, you report that 90% of the Army National Guard units are rated "not ready" because of billions of dollars in equipment shortfalls directly caused by our involvement in the Iraq war. You also report on the legislation supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress addressing the issue of our troops getting the proper training, equipment, and down time between deployments. In this context, is it still a good idea to "support the troops" by escalating the war even further?

President Cheney regards the policy advanced by the Democrats to require proper training, equipment and troop rotation as a validation of al Qaeda and it's mission.
"And my statement was that if we adopt the Pelosi policy, that then we will validate the strategy of al Qaeda. I said it and I meant it."
Mr. Editor, what actions, penalties, or censure do you recommend in light of this serious charge by the Vice President?