Sunday, October 21, 2007
Andrew Rice, currently a state senator, is seeking a promotion in an attempt to unseat Jim Inhofe. Oklahomans will have a clear choice before them--to be a part of the solution to the many problems plaguing our nation, or do we continue to ride in the back of the bus and throw spitballs.
Problems like Iraq, our national debt, health care, environmental issues, torture, rendition, elimination of Habeus Corpus, warrantless wiretapping, immigration, etc. require solutions, not the partisan obstructionist machine that Inhofe is in lock-step with.
Mr. Rice got into politics shortly after losing his brother in the attacks on September 11, 2001. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and wants us out as safely as possible. He won a landslide victory as a state senator and is now campaigning to take Inhofe's job.
Mr. Rice has the backing of the netroots, a group of progressive bloggers created to fill the void of progressive politics. We have done quite well, as opposed to the conservative side of the blogosphere. Andrew Rice currently has 500 netroot supporters, kicking in $32,322. Inhofe, on the other hand, has one supporter who donated a dollar.
It was interesting to learn that Chuck Schumer, the Senator from New York and head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been in communication with Mr. Rice. Chuck is not famous for backing progressive candidates. Indeed, in the 2006 campaign he insisted on backing only those candidates that were not to the left of the candidate running in the reddest of states. He would choose, or at a minimum, approve of the campaign director.
Fundage allocated from the DSCC came with strings held in the hands of DC insider consultants. A recent article in the Oklahoma Gazette held forth that perhaps Chuck would be reluctant to dole out millions of dollars in light of the drubbing Brad Carlson took by Tom Coburn in the 2004 campaign. The DSCC kicked in 2.3 million dollars and lost by 12 points.
The reporter, Grant Slater concludes Chuck may feel Oklahoma to be beyond the reach of the Democratic party, and sending money would be like "kicking a dead donkey." Brad Carson tried to hire a very effective advertising agency who hailed from the corporate world, Milwaukee-based Steve Eichenbaum. One of his clients was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold who took the seat in an improbable bid in 1992.
Russ won again in 1998 against withering Republican assaults. He vowed to spend no more than $1 per voter in his campaign, about $4 million total, while his opponent spent $11 million. But when the DSCC heard Brad Carson was thinking of hiring Eichenbaum they reigned him in, pressuring him to hire the inside-the-beltway DC firm of Murphy Putnam Media. Brad quickly realized that these consultants were above him in the food chain. He had to negotiate what he put in his commercials and if he did not do as they said, they would call the money men in DC.
These consultants are beholden only to themselves and there position in the DC elite Village. They can lose and lose and lose, in fact they have for years, yet their positions are never in jeopardy and candidates are required to use them. Hopefully Mr. Rice has done his homework and talked with Brad Carson about these things.
The race will be tough enough fighting with Inhofe without having to fight the National party as well. We have a candidate in Andrew Rice. He is a very bright, articulate, passionate and charming representative, not an angry old obstructionist partisan idealogue. Mr. Rice needs all of our active support. We cannot leave this to others to do. Go to the Andrew Rice Website here and read about him and volunteer. Donate to his campaign here.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
There is one major area of disagreement between the administration and House Democrats where we think the administration has the better of the argument: the question of whether telecommunications companies that provided information to the government without court orders should be given retroactive immunity from being sued. House Democrats are understandably reluctant to grant that wholesale protection without understanding exactly what conduct they are shielding, and the administration has balked at providing such information. But the telecommunications providers seem to us to have been acting as patriotic corporate citizens in a difficult and uncharted environment.
At one time I believed that people like Fred discussed matters too great for me to comprehend, mainly because what they said or wrote was indeed totally incomprehensible.
I now realize they are just that stupid. Shame on Hiatt for declaring illegal activity is somehow patriotic. Perhaps Fred is simply unaware that Corporations are amoral entities that exist merely to maximize shareholder profits. Profitable contracts that would have been revoked had they not undertook this criminal enterprise.
Fred's own paper, the day before he wrote this junk, revealed this criminal activity began before 9/11/01, and as everyone now knows, has continued for years.
Is Mr. Hiatt suggesting that Government officials should habitually grant unto themselves immunity as well as their Corporate enablers each and every time they get caught involved in criminal activity?
The amnesty clause being heavily lobbied by the Telecoms extends to everyone involved, including Government officials.
Or is Mr. Hiatt the arbiter of when amnesty meets the "patriotic threshold?" Does a flag lapel pin automatically protect dope smokers as "sufficiently patriotic?"
There are currently lawsuits working through the courts by customers of the Telecoms and it is there that the issue should be resolved, by an independent judiciary. These laws have been enacted by the people, through their representatives, and if they have not been violated certainly these huge Telecommunication firms have the wherewithal to defend themselves.
But they are using their money and influence to pressure the congress to grant retroactive amnesty instead. Mr. Hiatt, as part of the Village, declares them "patriotic corporate citizens", who willingly, blatantly and repeatedly violated the law for years.
If we are indeed a Nation of Laws, how can breaking them become patriotic? To give a retroactive blanket amnesty to everyone involved only encourages future criminality and demonstrates to the electorate that we do indeed have a two-tiered judicial system.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
He is the former CEO for Qwest Communications International that rebuked the Administrations efforts to monitor their customers conversations without a warrant. Unfortunately, not all telecom companies felt compelled to follow the law.
Perhaps they felt they could eventually get retroactive immunity from a compliant congress. Donations have a way of purchasing a lot of explanations.
The really foul thing about this story is the offer of multi-million dollar no-bid contracts that were yanked when Qwest failed to participate in this criminal enterprise. A pay-to-play arrangement.
Bush, and the entire right wing fanaticsphere have trotted out the shiny slogan "Terris Surveillance Program" and just flat out scream at anyone who mentions privacy or civil rights. The wide stance viewpoint of the reich-wingers is "dead people have no civil rights."
But these legal documents state the Bush administration was attempting to put in place the warrantless wiretapping program a full six months before September 11, 2001. It makes it very hard to believe the reason the administration seized the power to break the law was 9/11 when the program was being implemented prior to 9/11. The fact that 9/11 occurred anyway does not give a ringing endorsement to The Party Of Torture's shiny new fascist Orwellian worldview of private Government and public citizens. In short, the illegal program is an failure, unless of course it was designed to do something else entirely.
But Nacchio is convicted for insider trading (currently under appeal) for selling some stocks in light of some sooper sekrit NSA contract opportunities for Qwest in the pipeline. They were yanked when he refused to go along with their scheme. The jury was not allowed to hear any of this because of the "states secrets" mantra that comes from anything Bush does.
But the other telecom companies named Not Qwest? They are lobbying for retroactive immunity. Perhaps three percent of the contracts relating to sooper sekrit NSA programs will find their way into the coffers of Senators charged with reigning in a Presidency run amok.
It is a sad day when the peoples house vote to give immunity to blatant and repetitive lawbreaking by Government officials and Telecommunication industries. This is the type of thing that cause people to shake their heads and quit listening to politicians. After all, they are not listening to us.
"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.
"I think there is too much concentration of power in the. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.
Uncomfirmed reports claim Vladimir Putin responded by saying, "Neener neener, I know you are but what am I?"
Sunday, October 07, 2007
September was supposed to be the month of change in Iraq. Now that September has come and gone with nary a budge of President* Bush's policy of neverending occupation, it is important to look back at the strange kabuki we witnessed.
First off were unconfirmed reports of a draw down, which were shot down by Petraeus staffers.
The Republican Senator from Virginia, John Warner, stepped before the cameras prior to The Man Called Petraeus' report and wagged a threatening finger at the President*, urging him to pull out some troops, maybe 5,000 or so, to be home by Christmas.
He explained his reasoning to send a strong message to the Maliki Government of Iraq to reach compromises needed to end the sectarian strife. Another reason was to send a message to President* Bush the impatience of the American people with the Iraqi occupation.
Reporters asked him if he had discussed this with the President* before his public announcement. Warner said he had but would not discuss the details of their conversation, because he liked to protect his visits.
It is clear now that all this was a very well orchestrated plan to continue the American occupation of a country involved in a multi-faceted civil war.
And the press played along, dutifully fulfilling their roles of the courtier class.
Breathlessly they portrayed Warner as a Very Serious Moderate Republican showing signs of doubt about the President's* policy and foreshadowing an avalanche of Republican defections.
Warner was the glue, the stalwart statesman that is guided by his long and credentialed history of military events. He was constantly hailed in the press as a reasonable, concerned and Very Serious Person.
So the political tactic was made to use the rotation of troops to appear as a draw down, therefore satisfying Warner's "line in the sand". He was satisfied with the 5,000 troops out by Christmas, a line parroted by both The Man Called Petraeus in his congressional testimony and President* Bush's statement a few days later.
No need to consider any Unserious Democratic Plan that called for troop re deployments, even though this is what 70% of Americans want, which was a possibility Senator Warner floated if Bush did not consider his proposal reasonable. This eliminated any crack in the Republican wall of obstructing troop redeployment out of Iraq.
So Warner makes a threat to the Decider, the press report a potential stampede of Republican defections, rotations are dressed up as a drawdown and the reich-wing marches in lock-step to a stay-the-course policy.
I don't think the term "moderate" and Senator Warner should be used in the same day. He is a tool for the Bush Maladministration and their War In Error.
Now, I hate to say I told you so, but I am just a blogger that probably lives in his Mother's basement, and I am not an "Emmy Award Winning Member Of The Best Political Team On Television. AKA Chicken Noodle Nuze: from August 23, 2007:
Up first tonight, Senator John Warner's revolt against the president's Iraq policy, one of the most influential voices on military affairs is taking his reservations about the war to a new level. Says President Bush should tell the American people next month that he's starting a troop withdrawal from Iraq and that some troops should be home by Christmas. Now many are asking, if the president has lost John Warner, who might be next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: We simply cannot, as a nation, stand and put our troops at continuous risk where there will be loss of life and limb without beginning to take some decisive action which will get everybody's attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our congressional correspondent Dana Bash. This is a new level for John Warner. He's been somewhat critical in the past, but today he's saying things he's never said before.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It is different. He has bugged the president on military strategy in Iraq. He never liked the surge to begin with. This is the first time he or anyone of his stature in the military community or in the president's own Republican Party has actually said it's time to start bringing troops home. And that's why he is very well aware that what he did here today is very politically potent because it is a stark challenge to the president and also one that nervous Republicans may come back in September and embrace.
BLITZER: What about, Dana, the whole notion of his specific proposal right now. He's stopping short of simply saying that all U.S. troops have to get out of Iraq?
BASH: He's stopping short of saying that. He may sound more like a Democrat in saying troops do need to start coming home, but he's being very clear, Wolf that he does not support a deadline for troop withdrawal as most Democrats want. The bottom line is John Warner just came back from Iraq really fed up with the Iraqi government and made clear what he thinks the only way to get them into shape is to show them, not just tell them, but show them that the U.S. isn't going to be there forever by starting to bring troops home, even if it is just a symbolic number of troops that will start coming home from Iraq.
BLITZER: Still a real bombshell on Capitol Hill today. Dana, thanks very much.
The Bush administration suggests it's keeping an open mind about Senator Warner's proposal. (emphasis added)
So, the very influential Warner threatens a revolt, a stark challenge to the President* that nervous Republicans may embrace. Oh, and Bush has an open mind.
Today, Jamie McIntyre filed a report at CNN that states the reduction is actually normal troop rotation and not a reduction at all. It was set in motion in August, which pre-dated General Petraeus' report to congress, where he recommended a reduction of a Brigade by Christmas (5,700 troops) which would have happened with or without his reccomendation.
It also pre-dated Warner's "stark challenge to the President", and Senator Warner's meeting with the President, the meeting Warner would not discuss. He didn't want to blow the whole plan by talking about it I guess.
Bush accepted the recommendation of Petraeus to bring home a Brigade by Christmas (5,700 troops) which would have happened with or without his reccomendation.
This number of 5,000, with the deadline of "by Christmas" being repeated verbatim by Warner, Petraeus and Bush is just too coincidental to pass the smell test and looks suspiciously like a carney pitch job to cheat America of more blood and treasure.
Now, nearly a month later, our Emmy Award Winning Newsperts, gets around to reporting there shall be no reduction. In fact, at the end of the surge, more troops will be on the ground simply because of support personnel.
Not like this is important or anything.
Monday, October 01, 2007
QUESTION: Dana, can I follow on that? This weekend, The New Yorker magazine came out with an article claiming that this summer the president, or at least the White House in general, asked the Joint Chiefs to redraw plans to attack Iran. Is that true?
PERINO: Look, you know, I’m glad you brought it up. Every two months or so, Sy Hersh writes an article in The New Yorker magazine and CNN provides him a forum in which to talk about his article and all the anonymous sources that are quoted in it.
PERINO: Look, the president has said that he believes there is a diplomatic solution that we can use to solve the Iranian problem. And that’s why we’re working with our allies to get there.
QUESTION: That’s what he said before we went to Iraq, too.
QUESTION: But what’s the — can you answer as to the substance of whether or not the White House asked? I mean, if it’s not true, then you can say Sy Hersh is wrong and CNN was wrong to air it. You can say it.
PERINO: We don’t discuss such things.
PERINO: We don’t discuss such thing. What we have said and what we are working toward is a diplomatic solution in Iran. What the president has also said is that as a president, as a commander in chief — and any commander in chief would not take any option off the table — but the option that we are pursuing right now is diplomacy.
QUESTION: But the article very specifically said that this summer in a video conference, a secure video conference, with Ambassador Crocker, the president said that he was thinking about, quote, hitting Iran, and also that…
PERINO: I’m not going to comment on that. One, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have been at that type of meeting. I don’t know. I’m not going to comment on any possible — any possible scenario that an anonymous source continues to feed into Sy Hersh. I’m just not going to do it.
QUESTION: Why should anybody believe that the president wants a diplomatic solution. He said that before he went to Iraq. PERINO: Because he’s sought a diplomatic solution in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein defied the U.N. Security Council 17 times.
QUESTION: Well, the history we’ve learned since suggests otherwise.
PERINO: That the president didn’t — that Saddam Hussein defied 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions?
QUESTION: No. The president was intent on going to war in Iraq in any case.
PERINO: No, the president has pursued a diplomatic option. He went to the U.N. Security Council, and then we proceeded.
QUESTION: Would he consult — would he tell Congress before he attacked Iran — before he attacks Iran?
PERINO: We are pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran.
The underlying theme in Sy Hersh's latest article about BushCo's More!And!Bigger!Wars! is not really a discussion amongst Village Insiders whether or not it is a good idea, but how to get it done.
Having been told in no uncertain terms that the Iranian Nuclear ambitions are years away from being realized, the marketing strategery has shifted from counter-proliferation to counter-terrorism.
From the "mushroom cloud" scenario, to the "they're killin' our boys" victimization. Bottom line, they have come to realize the winners in our invasion and occupation of Iraq has been Iran, and they feel the need to soften them up a bit.
Norman Podhoretz, the "Godfather of neoconservatism, met privately with President Bush and begged him for 45 minutes to attack Iran, and is convinced he will do it.
The Senate recently passed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment which gives BushCo a "sense of the Senate" nod and wink to pursue Iran militarily.
So the table is set. The Decider is resolute and the big money boys who really run things are slavering in glee. I have no confidence that congress will stop BushCo from hammering Iran, and even less confidence in our chattering classes to investigate and demand answers. Here is one possible outcome that I came across via Wolcott who led me to Arthur Silber's most disturbing predictions:
...one of the standard objections to the likelihood of an attack on Iran is that it will put American troops in Iraq in grave peril. If you make that objection, I have only one thing to say to you: Wake the hell up. Of course it will put American troops in Iraq in grave peril. A great many of them will probably be killed. But -- and please try as earnestly as you can to get this -- the administration is counting on exactly that happening. [Added, to clarify: this must be true, given the logic of the situation, at least implicitly. In individual cases, it might also be true explicitly, in the sense that a particular person is consciously aware of what must happen.] I'm sorry to be rude, but honest to God, how stupid are some of you? Imagine that 500, or a thousand, or even several thousand, American soldiers are killed in a single engagement, or over several days or a week. What do you think would happen?
The administration would immediately blame "Iranian interference" and "Iranian meddling." They do that now. Every major media outlet would repeat the charge; almost no one would question it. Pictures of the slaughtered Americans would be played on television 24 hours a day. The outrage would grow by the minute. Within a day, and probably within hours, certain parties would be calling for nuclear weapons to be dropped on Tehran. Almost everyone would be baying for blood, and for the blood of Iran in particular.
No one, and certainly no prominent politician, would dare to remind Americans that we have no right to be in Iraq in the first place. They won't say that now. Who would point it out after 800 Americans have been killed? And what Democrat would dare to oppose the tide, especially with a presidential election looming? Not one. Everyone with a national voice would be demanding the destruction of the current regime in Iran. No one would oppose such a course.
And Congress would begin impeachment proceedings in this atmosphere? Please tell me you're kidding.
This was Sibler's reasoning against the possibility of stopping BushCo with impeachment. Here we are again wondering around as if we were underwater, seeing all this happen and all of our loudest protestations fall muted, as they die on our very lips.