31 July 2003

U.S. Military an instrument not of defense, but of control and plunder of peripheral peoples

A quote from an interview with former Army Special Forces Sergeant and West Point military instructor Stan Goff. Interesting reading and a rebuttal to the sterotypical portrayal of military personnel.

And as you can certainly deduce from the headline quote blurb, he's no fan of the Bush administration.

Bush is making more politically fatal mistakes than I can count these days. His so-called build-up of the military is one of them. He is not in fact building up the military, depending on how you define that. He is building up the weapons industry, at the behest of his mad military advisor, Donald Rumsfeld - a weird man who has convinced himself without a shred of evidence to support it, that he is a military genius.

Rumsfeld has convinced himself that technology can replace human leadership and ingenuity on the battlefield, so he is prevailing on his intellectually challenged boss to buy lots of expensive toys. I write at length about this Rumsfeld Doctrine in "Full Spectrum Disorder," the book that's coming out in December from Soft Skull Press. This whole trend is being reinforced within the administration by his coterie of neo-con economists who think they can replicate the Reagan era recovery through military Keynesianism. Like I said, the sum of these errors will be far greater than their parts. Unfortunately, other people will pay with treasure and blood, and the whole clique will retire in comfort to write their bullshit memoirs and give lectures. The military itself, if you look at the humans who populate it, is undergoing the same kind of attacks on its living standards as the whole rest of the American working class, in order to pay for Rumsfeld’s killer drones and super-subs.

30 July 2003

What if voting bought you a chance to become a millionaire?

A gentleman from Tucson has a novel idea to increase voter participation.
Mark Osterloh, a promoter of several past voter initiatives, plans to file paperwork in Phoenix today for an initiative called the Arizona Voter Reward Act.

It would give everyone who votes in state or federal elections a chance to win $1 million in special drawings held every two years.

The prize money would come from lottery revenues and private donations, and the program would be administered by the Arizona Lottery.

19 July 2003

GW Bush Approval Ratings Sink to Lowest Level Since August 2001

In wake of Niger Gate, President Bush's polling numbers are plummeting...

18 July 2003

White House Retaliates for ABC Report on US Soldier Complaints

Retaliation came swiftly for the homesick troops in Iraq who complained to an ABC reporter about their low morale and angst over their stay duration.
"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

According to the Washington Post's Lloyd Grove, White House officials were so "hopping mad" about ABC reporter Jeffery Kofman's piece that they struck back at him too, by playing the "homosexual Canadian" card.

So angry, in fact, that the next day, a White House operative alerted cyber-gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that Kofman is not only openly gay, he's Canadian.

Yesterday Drudge told us he was unaware of the ABC story until "someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it" along with a profile of Kofman in the gay-oriented magazine the Advocate. On Wednesday, for 6 hours 38 minutes, the Drudge Report bannered Kofman's widely quoted ABC story -- in which enlisted people questioned the Army's credibility and one irked soldier went on camera to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign -- and linked to the Advocate piece with the understated headline "ABC NEWS REPORTER WHO FILED TROOP COMPLAINT STORY IS CANADIAN."

17 July 2003

Bush Administration Compromises National Security to Settle a Score

According to columnist Robert Novak, senior Bush officials blew the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security, breaking the law to strike back at Joseph Wilson and to possibly intimidate others.

Time also has also published an article on the administration's "War on Wilson".

Journalist David Corn says that Novak's source outing Wilson's wife are "two senior administration officials".

This is not only a possible breach of national security; it is a potential violation of law. Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, it is a crime for anyone who has access to classified information to disclose intentionally information identifying a covert agent. The punishment for such an offense is a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to ten years in prison. Journalists are protected from prosecution, unless they engage in a "pattern of activities" to name agents in order to impair US intelligence activities. So Novak need not worry.

Novak tells me that he was indeed tipped off by government officials about Wilson's wife and had no reluctance about naming her. "I figured if they gave it to me," he says. "They'd give it to others....I'm a reporter. Somebody gives me information and it's accurate. I generally use it." And Wilson says Novak told him that his sources were administration officials.

13 July 2003

Take the 2004 Presidential Candidate Selector Test

A short 17 question survey that will query your stances on the issues and then evaluate your input against the field of 2004 presidential candidates and thier actions, public votes, public statements and special interest group rankings (i.e., National Rifle Association, ACLU, etc. ...). A list is then generated, ranking the candidates on how close they matchup to your political views.
» read more

12 July 2003

Democratic Presidential Hopeful Guest Blogs for Lawrence Lessig

Presidential candidate Howard Dean is going to play guest blogger for Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig. Lessig, author of the classic text The Future of Ideas, has been outspoken about how new and more stringent copyright protections hampers creation and harms the public. In short, Lessig rails against the corporate raiding of the intellectual commons, and the threat to freedom. Applying traditional real life law to cyberspace is lunacy in Lessig's view.

But I wasn't aware that Howard Dean was on the same wavelength as Lessig regarding net policy. Dean is rushing full steam into the internet thing, and he's one of the first presidential candidates to enter the blogosphere. (Dennis Kucinich also has a blog up and running). It's refreshing to witness such candidness by a presidential contender, considering that one of the current executive branch chief's first online policy moves was to refrain from sending any email. And GW Bush's total online dialog is confined to the republishing of carefully crafted remarks, or the sanitized quoting by obedient capitol press scribes.

So it is time for me to take a break from this space too. But I’ve arranged for a much more interesting guest blogger while I’m gone: former governor, and presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

This is, I believe, the first time a presidential candidate has been a guest blogger. But it is an obvious extension of blogs and the process of becoming President. Campaigns are all about meeting different groups and talking about ideas. Where better than a blog?

I have great respect for Governor Dean, and especially the clarity of his voice. I have even greater respect now that I see the doctor makes house calls. So Governor, welcome to this tiny server at Stanford: You’ll find perfect acoustics provided by MovableType, and an interesting mix of views provided by the readers.

Of course, this all could be an orchestrated Dean campaign ruse to solidify his growing base of avid internet patron support. Like antoher previous Democratic candidate, who professed to "feel your pain". Or maybe it's just another step in a pioneering foray deep into an online political campaign, testing the feasiblility of future ventures in a token attempt to capture the Democratic nomination.
» read more


U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Republican himself though he's probably better known for his libertarian philosophy, issues a scathing indictment of the neoconservatives in a public statement to his colleagues (C-SPAN carried the speech live). Paul believes neoconservatism is a dangerous affront to democracy, conservative and liberal ideas.

He decries the Bush administration platform point by point - from "the ends justify the means" philosophy to their secretive practices concealing facts from the public and belief in the necessity of lying. How they are proponents of imperialism, and endorse attacks on civil liberties. Most of all, because they've abandoned the true conservative principles of limited government based on the constitution in favor of massive government growth and the benefits of power that come from that expansion.
» read more

7 July 2003

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism

An 87 page, 40,000+ word essay on Rush Limbaugh, newspeak, and fascism. A scholarly study on the word fascism and whether or not it's an obsolete term or a significant political threat facing America. David Neiwert, author of In God's Country: The Patriot Movement, argues that the term has been abused, but that the political right now has morphed the word into meaningless newspeak. Neiwert discusses Limbaugh and his successful role as a propagandist serving as newspeak transmitter for the extreme right.

The closest historical parallel to Rush would be the radio reign of Father Coughlin in the 1920s and 1930s. While Clinton was in office, Limbaugh offered up a steady palette of anti-government rhetoric to "drive a wedge between middle and lower class workers and the one entity that has the capability to protect them from the ravages of wealthy class warriors and swarms of corporate wolves". Now, with Bush in power, anti-government is out and the only "evil" people in government are liberals.

It's not just Limbaugh, but the tone of many right wing media pundits has started to become dangerous - by associating anybody that disagrees to President's Bush's policies as "anti-American" and equating liberals with Nazis and other fascist regimes.
» read more

6 July 2003

Beyond Bush

An article by Michael Ruppert presents an argument that a decision has already been made by corporate and financial powers to remove George W. Bush.

And check out the 9-11 timeline posted there...

4 July 2003

Bring Them On

George W. Bush is taking some heat for his recent braggadocio contained in his verbal challenge to Iraqi militants.
"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is 'bring them on'. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

Though some have suggested that this was a bad idea and others decry the inherent "lack of dignity" in such remarks, I don't think the words are off base. It really should be the mindset of every American to support the elimination of sworn enemies and support our forces to the fullest degree. But coming from George W. Bush, it smacks of hypocrisy, like just about everything else that is emblematic with his character. He can sit at his cozy desk, thousands of miles away from the battlefields, and engage in world wide wrestling speak, while he himself ducked out of hostilities, courtesy of a cushy National Guard slot that Poppy Bush and friends procured for young George back in 1973. Dubya couldn't even meet his committments then, going AWOL and never showing up for over a year.
» read more

3 July 2003

'Bracero' — Another Word for Corporate Welfare

A Ruben Navarrette Jr. column exposes the flaws in the proposed resurrection of the old Bracero program that imported temporary workers from Mexico. Navarrette notes that we've not learned the lessons history taught - that the Bracero program was curtailed when Americans realized the degree which guest workers were exploited. The great journalist Edward R. Murrow revealed the dirty secrets of this "guest worker" program to mainstream America with his video documentary in 1960. Navarrette correctly tags it "an affordable dose of corporate welfare intended to free businesses of the obligation to pay decent wages".
Guest-worker programs should offend our national sensibilities. They designate a class of people and say that they're good enough to pick our crops but not good enough to stick around, buy a home and join the PTA. Besides, the programs never work. You just can't make employers pay the wages and provide the benefits and build the housing necessary to keep workers from being exploited, because doing all that would negate the value of the subsidy.

Well stated.

2 July 2003

Re-redistricting is an ugly power grab

An insightful article on undemocratic nature of recent redistricting that augments and confirms my thinking on the matter. I'll have more to write, but thought I'd share the link for now...
Does redistricting make a difference? You bet it does. Virginia Democrats in 2001 won their first gubernatorial race since 1989. But Republicans went from barely controlling the statehouse to a two-thirds majority. How? That's right -- Republicans drew the district lines before the election.

In many states, one party stuck it to the other in redistricting. Take Florida, where Democrats are strong enough to hold both U.S. Senate seats and gain a virtual tie in the presidential race. But with full control of drawing the district lines, Republicans hold an overwhelming 18 of 25 U.S. House seats. In 2002 Maryland Democrats picked up two of the state's Republicans' four U.S. House seats as a direct result of redistricting.

However dangerous to democracy such partisan power grabs are, however, the problem is more fundamental and sweeping. The real story of the last redistricting cycle was that both parties generally colluded in a crass way to take on their real enemy: the voters. "Incumbent protection" was raised to a whole new level.

The result was that in 2002, just four incumbents -- the fewest in history -- lost to non-incumbent challengers. In California, every single incumbent won by landslide margins. It was no coincidence that Democratic incumbents forked over $20,000 apiece to the redistricting consultant to draw them a safe seat, and that the consultant was the brother of one of the incumbents. To buy their cooperation, Republican incumbents were given safe seats too. California voters were the real losers.

1 July 2003

Republicans Betray Public Trust

A genuine spy who is also a major Republican fundraiser but no hearings, no investigation, no outrage whatsoever. Where is the so called "liberal media"?
In March, 2003, the FBI arrested a Chinese-American businesswoman and Republican fundraiser, alleging that she had passed a frighteningly broad range of American intelligence secrets to the People's Republic of China (PRC). For two decades, Katrina Leung had been a paid bureau informant, supplying information on Chinese intelligence operations in America. She'd also been sleeping with two senior FBI agents--one of whom was her so-called "handler"--for the better part of those two decades. It was alleged that she had transmitted what she learned about American counterintelligence from her lovers to Beijing and sent Beijing's disinformation back through the FBI. The story was sordid, embarrassing, and, worse than that, quite grave: Intelligence sources told The Washington Post that Leung had single-handedly compromised 20 years of American counter-intelligence work against the PRC.

Democrats, who in 1997 weathered endless--and ultimately unproven--accusations of selling political favors or national security secrets for PRC money, can take a measure of satisfaction from this unlikely coda: The only bonafide Chinese spy so far turns out to have been not only a Republican, but a well-connected GOP fundraiser. And not just any Republican fundraiser, but one who happened to be sleeping with one of the lead FBI agents investigating Democratic fundraising.