27 June 2003

Howard Dean Wins MoveOn Primary

Dean captured 43% of the vote in the MoveOn Democratic primary poll. Dennis Kucinich placed 2nd with 24% and John Kerry finished 3rd, taking 16% of the vote. No candidate received the minimum 50% to secure the MoveOn endorsement. 317,647 members voted - voting was limited to one vote per email address.

Elephants at the Trough

Democrats crying foul at the success of the ""K Street Project", a concerted campaign to oust Democrats from top lobbying jobs, "sometimes through intimidation and private threats". According to the article, the Republicans are in line to increase their substantial advantage in business contributions. The few trade associations where Democrats presently occupy leadership, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have expressed a desire to change their leadership ranks to Republican.

What a sham. Both parties shamelessly bidding to see who can serve as the bigger corporate whore. These lobbyist interests must be successful in getting lawmakers to do their bidding as these lobbyist positions pay more than the legislators earn:

Moreover, by placing Republicans in these high-paying jobs, a whole new class of wealthy donors has been created. Most high-level lobbying jobs pay at least $300,000 per year, and some lobbyists are pulling down two or three times that amount annually.

I think the Democrats should be the party of the people, not vie to be "Republican Lite", beholden to monied interests as the Republicans are, but you can't get to office without a filled campaign coffer. In 2000, 85% of Senate races were won by the candidate who spent the most money. For the House, the figure was 94%. Where there was no incumbent, the candidate who spent the most won 76% of the time.

26 June 2003

Jeff Flake, Government Appropriations and Pork

Jon Talton, AZ Republic business columnist, posts a take on Jeff Flake's pronouncement to "never again to ask federal budget appropriators to fund any item or project". In my view, though I disagree with his far right politics, he is taking a courageous stand in separating himself from the rest of the Republicans, who prattle endlessly about "limited government", yet don't walk the walk. As Talton notes, the Republicans have held Congress for eight years and yet the federal budget is bigger than ever. However, Talton takes Flake to task for his "utopian conservatism, seeking a Jeffersonian world that never existed".
America has already experimented with the kind of weak government that Flake seems to advocate, with the Articles of Confederation. Its failure led to the strong Constitution of 1789. Hamilton, not Jefferson, prevailed. From the start, Washington energetically funded public works, infrastructure and territorial expansion. And it intervened in the market.

Capitalists shunned the transcontinental railroad until the government backed it. The breadbasket of the Great Plains was not economically viable until the government conquered the Indian nations. Slavery didn't collapse from its economic inefficiencies but from the thrusts of federal bayonets. America's transformation to an industrial giant was forged as much by the Republican tariff as by heroic industrialists.

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24 June 2003

MoveOn Online Presidential Primary

1.4 million MoveOn members to cast their votes today and tomorrow for their choice for Democratic presidential candidate to run against George W Bush in 2004. It's not too late to register and cast your vote and/or get involved in a grassroots online movement to bring citizens back in to the political process.

20 June 2003

General Clark Says White House Pushed Saddam Link Without Evidence

On the June 15 Meet the Press, former general Wesley Clark told Tim Russert that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day.

CLARK: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."

RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"

CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But--I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence."

18 June 2003

The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney

Former U.S. congresswomen Cynthia McKinney paid the price for daring to question powerful political forces. The final blow was a quote that was plastered "all over the place", but yet was a phantom quote never uttered by McKinney. She was beaten to death by a fabricated quote.

What was her transgression that led to her ouster? Perhaps it was her audacity to question the shenanigans that went on Florida Election 2000 with ChoicePoint, a strong Republican-tied database company, contracted by Florida to generate a list of felons ineligible to vote. Problem was, that list was erroneous and only a very few of the 90,000 (3%, 97% were innocent and half the list contained non-whites) voters on the list were indeed felons. Only one congress member inquired about the evidence - Cynthia McKinney of Atlanta, also home of ChoicePoint.

Or could it be because she was the only congressperson to demand hearings about a Canadian gold mining company, Barrick, who reportedly was funding both sides of a civil war in Congo? Human rights investigators had evidence that Barrick bulldozed mineshafts while clearing Tanzanian properties and buried 50 miners alive. A lawyer named Tundu Lissu stepped forward with the charges but was then charged himself with sedition by the Tanzian police. McKinney was trying to save his life. But Barrick has friends in high political places - George Bush Sr., or "Poppy" Bush who was serving as an advisor and lobbyist for Barrick. Even prominent Democrats Vernon Jordan and Andrew Young, who distanced themselves from McKinney in the 2002 election, were on the Barrick payroll too.

16 June 2003

Bush making us less secure, not more secure

Rand Beers, who recently resigned his post as top White House counterterrorism adviser says that the "administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism". Beers, who served under three different Republican administrations, feels that the Bush administration has underestimated the enemy and failed to address the root causes of terror and that it continues to avoid long term issues both home and abroad.
In a series of interviews, Beers, 60, critiqued Bush's war on terrorism. He is a man in transition, alternately reluctant about and empowered by his criticism of the government. After 35 years of issuing measured statements from inside intelligence circles, he speaks more like a public servant than a public figure. Much of what he knows is classified and cannot be discussed. Nevertheless, Beers will say that the administration is "underestimating the enemy." It has failed to address the root causes of terror, he said. "The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded."

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."

"I continue to be puzzled by it," said Beers, who did not oppose the war but thought it should have been fought with a broader coalition. "Why was it such a policy priority?" The official rationale was the search for weapons of mass destruction, he said, "although the evidence was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully."

He thinks the war in Afghanistan was a job begun, then abandoned. Rather than destroying al Qaeda terrorists, the fighting only dispersed them. The flow of aid has been slow and the U.S. military presence is too small, he said. "Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don't even know what's going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan," he said.

15 June 2003

Leo Strauss: Godfather of the Neoconservatives

An article in the International Herald Tribune by William Pfaff advances the notion that the dominant neoconservative philosophy, striving to "remake the international order under effective U.S. hegemony", was set forth by Professor Strauss.
The main intellectual influence on the neoconservatives has been the philosopher Leo Strauss, who left Germany in 1938 and taught for many years at the University of Chicago. Several of the neoconservatives studied under him. Wolfowitz and Shulsky took doctorates under him.

Something of a cult developed around Strauss during his later years at Chicago, and he and some admirers figure in the Saul Bellow novel, "Ravelstein." The cult is appropriate because Strauss believed that the essential truths about human society and history should be held by an elite, and withheld from others who lack the fortitude to deal with truth. Society, Strauss thought, needs consoling lies.

In another words, we can't handle the truth and need to be cajoled.
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12 June 2003

What will the Casualty Count be for Gulf War II?

The World Almanac says that the casualty count in Gulf War I 766. However, the US Department of Veteran Affairs has published a report verifying that 221,000 Gulf War I veterans are now permanently disabled. The report also acknowledged that well over 10,000 have died as a consequence of Gulf War I exposure.

As I was driving into work today, one local radio station was trumpeting a scheduled parade to celebrate the return of reserve marines from the Gulf while another was interviewing US Army Major Doug Rokke, who was sharing his message regarding the dangers and devastation caused by our military's use of depleted uranium. Until I heard this interview, I was completely unaware that the U.S. was throwing thousands of tons of this deadly, contaminative, radioactive waste around the world.

Yes, our government really does its best to "support the troops" - by covering up the danger, failing to provide proper prevention and immediate treatment and then dispensing and delaying with treating the symptons caused by this military technology. And in the case of Iraq, we are "liberating Iraqis" by dumping hundreds of tons of radioactive waste (an illegal use of a WMD according to the UN) onto their land and inflicting fatal poision upon millions of natives there.
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11 June 2003

How to persuade conservatives to oppose Bush

An excellent writeup on how the neoconservatives planned for the opportunity that Bush and 9/11/01 gave them. Bernard Weiner provides some background on the Project for a New American Century and it's national security strategy - "attacking possible future competitors first, assuming regional hegemony by force of arms, controlling energy resources around the globe, maintaining a permanent-war strategy, etc." ...

7 June 2003

GW Bush Lies About WMD an Impeachable Offense?

John Dean, former Nixon counsel, has penned an article asking the question and draws parallels to the Nixon impeachment:

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power.

Nixon claimed that his misuses of the federal agencies for his political purposes were in the interest of national security. The same kind of thinking might lead a President to manipulate and misuse national security agencies or their intelligence to create a phony reason to lead the nation into a politically desirable war. Let us hope that is not the case.