Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Democrats fail to learn how to fight from GOP

While a lot of what the GOP is doing is illegal and immoral, there are a lot of valuable lessons our elected officials could easily be learning from them.

These fall into two broad categories, what the right does themselves and what they tell democrats NOT to do.

What they do themselves:

  • they have a few simple, understandable talking points/ goals.

  • The goals are concrete enough that any idiot could see how they would be translated into actions.

  • there are coherent principles under their talking points:

    Business is good and needs to be unchained.

    In fact, you can tell what they care about by applying their own principles:

    If you love it, set it free. If you hate it, regulate it to death.

    If you love it, give it money (budget funding, tax breaks, subsidies, or contracts). If you hate it, starve it of money (Norquist's 'starve the beast').

    Therefore, they love oil companies and hate education. (but they don't ever say this)

  • they repeat them ad nauseum for DECADES until they become conventional wisdom.

    One of their biggest successes at this was the 'Social Security isn't going to be there when you retire' meme. They repeated this so often that people under 40 actually believe it, which is why the Bushies had some hope of passing their privatization scam.

  • they actually work toward these as goals (with the glaring exception of balancing the budget)

  • they scream loudly when they suffer a setback on these goals.

  • They do not fear public, even emotional, conflict in pursuit of these goals.

    Conflict is what makes people pay attention and get emotionally involved.

    If you just say something nice in a nice way, you make about as much of an impression as that Hallmark birthday card your grandma sends you with calligraphy and a water color duck pond on the front--none.

    If the opposition starts to complain or criticize, that means you have done something right, not wrong.

  • They do not pre-compromise.

    They start with what they actually want and make the other side demand that they water it down. Then they compromise only grudgingly. Democrats often start with a compromise position and by the time negotiations are over, nothing is left.

  • They understand that EVERY vote communicates their values

    Even if you are going to lose, you should vote your core values. Even if the other side complains about it, they are doing you a favor by telling voters what you will fight for.

  • They figure out where their opposition is getting support and destroy that financial base.

    Grover Norquist has said this explicitly. Making lawsuits more difficult not only does business a direct, obvious favor, but it starves trials lawyers of funds and trial lawyers give money to democrats. Anti-labor laws and the complimentary DLC effort to shed union money from the Democrats has a similar effect; with that money gone, the Democrats either shrivel or turn to corporate donors who they then become beholden to.

    Democrats should do the same. An ethical way to do this is with public funding of campaigns, and requiring TV to carry a set number of campaign commercials for free in exchange for their broadcast licenses. This would choke corporate money out of the GOP, and leave them with just the religious right (who would actually agree with us on a lot of economic issues like trade).

  • They treat communication as a primary tool, not an afterthought or a way to reward loyal flunkies with a job (that's what FEMA is for).

    If there was a GOP equivalent of Bob Shrum who ran the kind of shitty, dickless, forgetable commercials and gave the advice to a Republican he gave to John Kerry, we would not know his name because he wouldn't have made it to the presidential level. He would be the janitor at GOP headquarters.

  • They energize their base.

    We saw this most clearly in Kerry v. Bush. Kerry was aiming for the middle, to pick up undecided votes, and Bush was aiming to excite his base to get them out to the polls. While Kerry may have won some the middle, his base went to the polls more to vote against Bush than for him. If he had a less obviously dangerous opponent like Papa Bush, the base would have stayed home.

    The GOP does this with hot button issues like abortion or gay marriage, and put them on the ballot when they want people to show up at the polls. The Democrats could easily find a couple of substantive issues to drive people to the polls too, like raising the minimum wage or anti-corruption initiatives.

    If there was a 'No More Dick Cheney/Halliburton style cronyism' propositon ont he ballot, I'm going to the polls, and I'd probably vote for the Democrat too, no matter how bland or weak-kneed.

  • they talk about morals

    It is immoral to let people die so drug companies and insurance companies can make greater profits.

    It is immoral that a smart kid takes ten years to get through college because he has to flip burgers full time to pay for it, or go to Iraq and get a leg blown off to qualify for government assistance to pay for school.

    It is immoral to invade other countries to give the oil to corporations as we did in Iraq, or try to over-throw fairly elected presidents to give the oil to corporations as we tried to do in Venezuela.

    It is immoral that corporations that send our jobs overseas often pay no taxes and get subsidies.

    It is immoral for elected officials to go to work for businesses they should have been policing when they were in office, or letting corporations pick the heads of the agencies that regulate them.

    It is immoral to take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich.
The other category where Democrats fail to learn from the GOP is the advice they give us, or at least Democrats learn the wrong lesson--they actually take it as sincere advice. We should do the opposite in nearly every case. When they say:
  • 'Don't be seen as obstructionist,' we should be obstructionist. Think about it. You are out of power and don't control the media. If you do nothing, it sends the message that you agree with what's going on, or worse, that you don't even exist.

    If you consistently opposed the other side, even when that other side is popular, you have at least established a recognizable brand. People would know what you stand for and when they get sick of the party in power, they already know what you would do.

    The current 'rope a dope' strategy at best sends the message that Democrats would be less obviously corrupt. It also plays into the GOP meme that we are weak on defense. If you don't fight for your ideas, why should I believe you will fight for our safety?

    The GOP meme of the Dems being the 'mommy party' is largely reinforced, and the 'daddy party' is a nasty drunk and wife beater. If you run to mom for protection a couple of times and she just gets the belt for dad, you stop going to her and either kiss up to dad or just hide.

    That's why the right feared Howard Dean so much--he fought back and didn't look like a coward.

  • Don't engage in class warfare. Rush Limbaugh says this so loudly and at the slightest provocation that it should be a clue that it's an achilles heel for the right. Even Bush himself asked Cheney if they needed to give the rich ANOTHER tax cut.

    It is possible to say the right is pandering to the rich without being anti-wealth and success. We are simply asking them to make a fair contribution and play by the same rules as the rest of us.

  • Don't be partisan. This is just asinine. When someone says this, repeat the core values you are fighting for, and ask the public if you want someone to fight for those or not, then don't address it again.

  • Don't go too far left. Remember Paul Wellstone, the most liberal member of the Senate? This would have been Paul Wellstone’s final election ad:

    "I don’t represent the big oil companies. I don’t represent the big pharmaceutical companies. I don’t represent the Enrons of this world. But you know what? They already have great representation in Washington. It’s the rest of the people that need it.”

    That was such a losing message that the only way he was removed from office was a plane crash.

    He not only had a distinctly different message than the GOP, it was simple, obvious, and right.

    That’s what they are afraid of, and why they are laughing at us when we put up half-assed DLC candidates—because even if the DLCers win, we lose and nothing changes.
There are probably more that I’m forgetting. Feel free to add them.

public relations

Friday, January 27, 2006

SONG: Will watching Brokeback Mountain make me gay?

NOTE: Apologies to any gays or cowboys This is not in any way meant to imply that you are more likely than heterosexuals to be football players, fraternity members, or golfers.

Will brokeback mountain turn me gay?
make me love the cowboy way
and see every plumber's crack
as something I'd like to attack...

Now I know that I aint gay
as I told my football team each day
as we showered and played
snapping towels at each other's wangs...

and my frat brothers told me so
that I aint no homo
as they beat my naked ass
with a wooden cricket bat
while other brothers watched
and next said spill your seed...

will brokeback mountain turn me gay?
make me love the cowboy way
and see every plumber's crack
as something I'd like to attack...

Now every morning I play golf
leave my wife and I sneak off
cause manly men
like hitting tiny balls
and smoking big cigars
without no women who would just get in the way...

and after we have played a round,
I lay my naked body down
and get a full massage
from Bruce, or Buck or Rod
and if there's a happy ending,
it sure wasn't planned that way...

will brokeback mountain turn me gay?
make me love the cowboy way
and see every plumber's crack
as something I'd like to attack...

But looking back at all I sang,
I guess the only thing I'd change
Is I would wear a cowboy hat
with my team, at golf, or frat...

will brokeback mountain turn me gay?
make me love the cowboy way
and see every plumber's crack
as something I'd like to attack...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

RIVETING: Brit ambassador to our ally who BOILS ALIVE dissidents

CRAIG MURRAY: I think it’s just what any decent person would do, I mean, when you come across people being boiled and their fingernails pulled out or having their children raped in front of them, you just can't go along with it and sleep at night.
The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan was so disturbed by the brutality of the regime there and the United States used that in the "War on Terror" that he made public secret memos of protest he sent to his government and the replies he got back.

He spoke to DemocracyNow the other day.

Among his revelations:

As previously reported, the Stalinist dictator of the country BOILS ALIVE dissidents. The mother of one smuggled photos of his body out of the country:

Additionally, torture is used in the same way it was in the Spanish Inquisition: members of the secular democratic opposition are tortured until the admit they are members of al Qaeda and trained in Afghanistan with bin Laden, a charge the ambassador found ludicrous.

The Bush administration cozied up to this thug because they wanted their natural gas reserves for an Enron pipeline and so they could send detainees there to be tortured.

The ambassador matter-of-factly said that the War on Terror is a cover for seizing other nations' gas and oil. Tony Blair's former environmental minister said the same.

I've just excerpted some of this, leaving out how it ties in with our torture policy, and more on the broader nature of the regime. The whole thing is worth a read though.



CRAIG MURRAY: Well, I should say that one thing, which completely astonished me, was, as we went into the Iraq war, I saw George Bush on CNN, making a speech the day the real fighting started, where he said we are going in basically to dismantle the torture chambers and the rape rooms. And yet, the United States was subsidizing the torture chambers and the rape rooms in Uzbekistan. The sheer hypocrisy of that led me to write another one of the telegrams, which we've published on the web.


CRAIG MURRAY: Well, it goes back to before George Bush became President. In 1997 or 1998, George Bush, as Governor of Texas, had a meeting with the Uzbek ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Safayev, which was actually organized and set up by Kenneth Lay of Enron. And if you go to my website, you can find a facsimile of Kenneth Lay's letter to George Bush, telling him to meet Ambassador Safayev in order to conclude a billion-dollar gas deal between Uzbekistan and Enron. And that was the start of the Bush relationship with the Karimov regime.

Karimov is one of the most vicious dictators in the world, a man who is responsible for the death of thousands of people. Prisoners are boiled to death in Uzbek jails. And he was a guest in the White House in 2002. It's very easy to find photos of George Bush shaking Karimov's hand. Rumsfeld is particularly chummy with Karimov, so –


AMY GOODMAN: Boiled to death?

CRAIG MURRAY: Yeah, it was one of the first cases I came across, back in August or September of 2002. Two Muslim prisoners in Jaslyk gulag, which is an old Soviet gulag in the middle of the Karakum Desert, a sort of forced-labor camp, a terrible place where people are sent to die, effectively, two Islamic prisoners were boiled to death. They died of immersion in boiling water. The mother of one of the prisoners received her son's body back in a sealed casket, was ordered not to open the casket, and just to bury it the next morning. Despite being in her sixties, she managed to get the casket open in the middle of the night, even though police were guarding the house outside.

She got the body onto the kitchen table and took a series of detailed photos, which she got to the British embassy. I sent them back to London -- or, in fact, to Scotland, to the University of Glasgow, the pathology department. On the basis of these detailed photos, they did an autopsy report, in which they said that he had had his fingernails extracted, he had been severely beaten, particularly about the face, and he died of immersion in boiling liquid. And it was immersion, rather than splashing, because there is a clear tide mark around the upper torso and arms,
which gives you some idea of the level of brutality of this regime.


I had been there for two or three months, which was long enough to know that, effectively, any Uzbek political or religious detainee is going to be tortured. There's no question of definition here. You know, we're not talking about ‘Is that or is that not torture?’ We're talking about people having their fingernails pulled, having their teeth smashed with hammers, having their limbs broken, and being raped with objects, including broken bottles; both male and female rape, extremely common in Uzbek prisons. And from the security service, which was operating right alongside the C.I.A., we were getting this intelligence.

I mean, the intelligence itself was nonsense. The purpose of the intelligence was to say that all the Uzbek opposition were related to al-Qaeda, that the democratic Uzbek opposition were all Islamic terrorists, that they'd traveled to Afghanistan, held meetings with Osama bin Laden. It was designed to promote the myth that Uzbekistan was, in total, part of the war on terror, and that by aligning himself with Karimov, Bush and the Bush Administration were backing or improving United States security, which wasn't true at all. I mean, the intelligence was false. If you torture people, they will say anything. I couldn't believe that the C.I.A. was working so closely with these dreadful security services and then were accepting intelligence which was obviously untrue...


AMY GOODMAN: Now, you say that this president, President Bush's relationship with Karimov in the Uzbek regime goes way back, and one of the links is Enron. Can you elaborate more on this?

CRAIG MURRAY: Yes. Enron cut a deal with Uzbekistan to exploit Uzbekistan's natural gas reserves. Central Asia has the largest untapped reserves of oil and gas in the world. Uzbekistan doesn’t have much oil; it has a terrific amount of natural gas. And Uzbekistan dominates Central Asia. It has half the population of the whole region. It has, by far, the biggest army and the most muscle. So Uzbekistan was key to the energy policy, and that's why Enron and Halliburton and all of the companies you very much associate with the Bush administration were in there plugging this policy of staying close to Karimov. And that’s why he was such a welcome guest in the White House.

The war on terror, if you like, was a cover for these activities. And that's why they needed this false intelligence, saying that the Uzbek opposition was all Islamic terrorists. I mean, it’s quite astonishing. Again, the White House spokesman in that clip was saying that the prison break in Andijan would have released terrorists. The majority of people in Andijan jail -- and I’ve been to Andijan; I knew two people who were killed in the massacre -- the majority of people in Andijan jail were perfectly peaceful political and religious prisoners. There were also some petty criminals who released, too. But the wellspring of the whole policy of the United States was the ruthless pursuit of sectional oil and gas interests, and that originated with Enron. Obviously, once Enron collapsed, those interests passed on to other U.S. companies.


CRAIG MURRAY: Basically other major oil companies. But the sad thing, or the ironic thing, I suppose is the way to put it, is that ultimately the policy didn't work, because having given probably about $1 billion over a three-year period and having even supported the Uzbek government at the time of the Andijan massacre, when the rest of the world was expressing outrage. The Uzbeks eventually cut a deal with Gazprom of Russia, and the United States then got kicked out of Uzbekistan very unceremoniously. They didn't leave....


Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org

public relations

Al Gore calls Bush abuses tyranny and threat to democracy

NOTE: I sent the post below as an email a couple of days ago and for some reason it bounced from every yahoo address on my list even though it went through to others.
Ironically, Gore mentions how essential the free exchange of information on the internet is in this speech, and about the same time it was revealed that Yahoo was sharing data on searches with the Bush administration.

Let's hope they aren't doing them any favors with mail.

When he isn't running for office, Gore speaks with an honesty and passion few other Democrats can match, and none with his prominence.

In his speech a few days ago, he said out loud what most of you reading this have felt the last couple of years--that the Bush presidency is not one of the regular swings of power from left to right and back, but a threat to the structure of democracy itself.

The most obvious evidence is claiming war powers excuse his abuses, and the war he has in mind is the "War on Terror" which he says will last the rest of our lives. Therefore, his abuses or those of his successors could last just as long.

It is also worth noting that far right Republican Bob Barr, one of those who brought impeachment charges against Bill Clinton, endorsed these comments by Gore.

This is a long speech but well worth reading beyond what I excerpt. Since my cuts are longer than usual, I've broke them up into a couple of headings:


The speech as whole is a good overview of how the Bush administration has done business and a reminder of what an aberration it has been.

I hope other Democrats follow Gore's example in speaking plainly.

We'll see.



On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.


During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."


The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.

A commitment to openness, truthfulness and accountability also helps our country avoid many serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned from recently classified declassified documents that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false information. We now know that the decision by Congress to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also based on false information. America would have been better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.


It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution. And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.

For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.

This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then - until now. These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.

The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.

Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by these new practices on the part of our nation. The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those nations with the worst reputations for torture in its prisons - registered a complaint to his home office about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S. practice: "This material is useless - we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful."


In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.

Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.

Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.

It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given still more power. Often, the request itself it used to mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has.



I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.

Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration of the health of our democracy.

It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected against either the encroachment of government or the efforts at control by large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.



In Martin Luther King Day address, Gore compares wiretapping of Americans to surveillance of King
01/16/2006 @ 12:08 pm
Filed by RAW STORY

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Will Ferrel as Bush on Global Warming

Bush tries to explain global warming and is forced to consult a book, albeit a pop up one.

Someone pointed out that it was almost criminal incompetence for the Democrats or sympathetic interests groups to NOT have run the earlier Will Ferrell as Bush as a campaign commercial in the 2004 presidential election, not just because it is funny and memorable, but because it is honest about something that the mainstream press bends over backward to avoid saying:

that Bush is willfully ignorant and possibly retarded apart from his skills as a political and business con man.

Democrats and those further left have an advantage of having smart creative people on their side, but instead rely on the same tired load of consultants the GOP does. Try to remember any of Kerry's campaign commercials compared to this, and it would be hard to argue against tying a rock around the necks of Democratic campaign consultants and throwing them in a pond.

ZOGBY POLL: 52% say impeach Bush for wiretaps (and past impeachment polls)

The question:

"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
The answer:

The poll, commissioned by afterdowningstreet.org, mirrors the results of earlier polls by mainstream pollsters Zogby and IPSOS on whether Bush should be impeached if he lied about the reasons for going to war in Iraq.

Ironically, both polls show higher support for impeaching Bush without either party talking about it seriously than the peak of support for impeaching Clinton during the impeachment, which rarely broke 40% and the majority didn't even support hearings on Clinton's lying about sex.


Afterdowningstreet.org's links on their impeachment polls:


The other element this story touches on is emerging evidence that Bush began this practice before 9/11, tearing away the other half of his figleaf for this, the first half being the lie that he needed to act fast to tap terrorists (American ones?) even though they have up to three days AFTER the tap is started to get the warrant.

If the public wants something, the media ignores it, and Congress waits until the president admits to committing a crime (wiretapping) before investigating or exercising any oversight, what does that say about the quality of our democracy?

Whatever party your representatives are, you must hold their feet to the fire.

When people pay attention to politics and make noise, politicians wet their pants, which is why BOTH parties bend over backwards to be nice to old folks--they vote and notice when they get screwed (which is why Bush's prescription drug scam is going to hurt the GOP more than anything else).


Zogby Poll: Americans Support Impeaching Bush for Wiretapping
Submitted by Bob Fertik on January 13, 2006
For Release: January 16, 2006

By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Recently White House spokesman Scott McClellan cited a Rasmussen poll that found 64% believe the NSA "should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects." Of course, that is exactly what Congress authorized when it created the FISA courts to issue special expedited secret warrants for terrorism suspects. But Bush defied the FISA law and authorized warrantless wiretaps of Americans, which has outraged Americans to the point that a majority believe Congress should consider Bush's impeachment.

"Bush admits he ordered illegal warantless wiretapping, but says it began in response to 9/11 and was limited to a small number of calls to or from Al Qaeda," Fertik said. "But recent reports suggest wiretapping affected a much larger number of Americans, and a report in Friday's Truthout says the wiretapping began before 9/11."

The Truthout article



Republican head of judiciary committee says IMPEACHMENT remedy for Bush

For a Republican leader in Congress to talk about this even in the hypothetical shows some degree of return to sane discourse (though Specter has always been more moderate and even voted against far right Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork).

Democrats are sending only cautious signals on pursuing impeachment because they think it will hurt their chances in the 2006 election, which means the rest of us have to pursue two paths to get Bush and Cheney away from the levers of power:

1) Elect enough Democrats to Congress to get majorities in house and Senate, then bust their balls until they impeach

2) Make Bush such an albatross and embarrassment to the GOP that they see impeaching him as helping their odds or being re-elected rather than harming it. That's a steep hill to climb, but just a handful of Republicans in the House have to feel that way to bring charges.
This article also mentions the non-partisan Congressional Research Service report that found their was no legal basis for Bush to do warrantless searches on American citizens.

Of course they have held two American citizens without warrant for several years even though our courts were perfectly capable of giving the so-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh a trial and putting him in prison. The Bushies can't seem to tolerate even show trials for the other two. Either they think their evidence is so flimsy it will be laughed out of court (which is likely since the terrorists are more valuable as shadowy boogey men), or they hold even the pretense of their actions being reviewed in contempt.

On this detention issue, it should be remembered that over a thousand people were detained without warrant, charges, contact with a lawyer, or even contact with their family after 9/11. No terrorist related charges have been brought against any of those people, just immigration violations.

Article on CRS report

(I haven't found the actual report yet. Congressmen and Senators ask for them, but the public can only get them if a member of Congress releases it).


Specter: If Bush Broke The Law With Warrantless Spying, Impeachment Is A Remedy

Today on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) — who plans to hold hearings on Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program — upped the ante. He said that if it is determined that Bush broke the law, both impeachment and criminal prosecution are legitimate remedies:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, if the president did break the law or circumvent the law, what’s the remedy?

SPECTER: Well, the remedy could be a variety of things. A president — and I’m not suggesting remotely that there’s any basis, but you’re asking, really, theory, what’s the remedy? Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy, George, under our society is to pay a political price.

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded “that the administration’s justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.”



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Friday, January 13, 2006

Bush accidentally told the truth about the Iraq War the other day

Bush on debating the Iraq War:
January 11, 2006

President Participates in Discussion on the Global War on Terror

Kentucky International Convention Center
Louisville, Kentucky

What I don't like is when somebody said, he lied. Or, they're in there for oil. Or they're doing it because of Israel. That's the kind of debate that basically says the mission and the sacrifice were based on false premise. It's one thing to have a philosophical difference -- and I can understand people being abhorrent about war. War is terrible. But one way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections, is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way, and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy.


Bush claims his critics are saying three things that are false:

  • the war is based on lies

  • the war is for oil

  • the war benefits Israel

A good reporter would follow up on each of these since the first one is proven true, a pile of under-reported evidence exists for the second, and until Bush said it WASN'T to benefit Israel,I wasn't sure if it was a factor. Now I know it is.

The right in Israel obviously wanted to see Saddam deposed, but I think they are regretting how sloppily Bush did it.

The other truth he let slip is that he ties the 2006 election and Iraq in his thinking (or at least in the thinking of the people who tell him what to think).

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

President can torture suspect's CHILD says torture memo author

I thought these guys were losing their ability to shock me, but they did it again.

John Yoo wrote the torture memo for the White House that said it wasn't torture unless it resulted in death, organ failure, or impairment of a major bodily function.

The issue raised in this debate are not hypothetical.

Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker has said he seen tapes of children being raped at Abu Ghraib, and former prisoners and guards have separately told similar stories of children abused there.


The author of this piece says the true purpose of torture is to terrorize Iraqis into obedience, and more broadly as an example to those who might resist us in the future. That sounds harsh, but think about how Stalin used torture. He grabbed people at random, including the wife and son of one of his closest lieutenants. Stalin personally told the guy of their arrest and that they were on their way to a work camp in Siberia and asked him what he thought about it. He unhesitatingly said, "They must have done something to deserve it." Stalin had them released.

The guy in the famous Abu Ghraib Christ pose photo confirmed the purpose, and his release proves that he was no threat to the occupation. This is from an interview with him:

What did they ask you during the interrogations?

\"They wanted to know if I was fighting against the occupation. But also if I knew people in the area in which I lived: I had the impression that they were searching for someone who would become a collaborator, they wanted information. They wanted me to become \"their eyes\" in the region.


If they use force and police powers to coerce obedience overseas, it is not hard to see them taking the additional steps to do the same here, and the recent revelations about warrantless wiretaps on Americans shows that they are not restrained by law or morality here either--only by what the American people will take before they say enough and stop it.



John Yoo – Presidential Powers Extend to Ordering Torture of Suspect's Child

by Philip Watts

December 30, 2005, posted at revcom.us

John Yoo publicly argued there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.

This came out in response to a question in a December 1st debate in Chicago with Notre Dame professor and international human rights scholar Doug Cassel.

What is particularly chilling and revealing about this is that John Yoo was a key architect post-9/11 Bush Administration legal policy. As a deputy assistant to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, John Yoo authored a number of legal memos arguing for unlimited presidential powers to order torture of captive suspects, and to declare war anytime, any where, and on anyone the President deemed a threat.


[relevant portion of the debate]

Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty.

Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

[audio of this exchange: http://rwor.org/downloads/file_info/download1.php?file=yoo_on_torture.mp3 ]


This fascist logic has nothing to do with “getting information” as Yoo has argued. The legal theory developed by Yoo and a few others and adopted by the Administration has resulted in thousands being abducted from their homes in Afghanistan, Iraq or other parts of the world, mostly at random. People have been raped, electrocuted, nearly drowned and tortured literally to death in U.S.-run torture centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo Bay. And there is much still to come out. What about the secret centers in Europe or the many still-suppressed photos from Abu Ghraib? What can explain this sadistic, indiscriminate, barbaric brutality except a need to instill widespread fear among people all over the world?



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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Smartass hard questions for candidates

NOTE: I originally posted this on democraticunderground.com, but it could apply just as well if not more so to the blogosphere in general. (you can see a poll and the replies to this idea HERE).

DU has over 80,000 members, and probably many of us email news clippings and our opinions to even more people.

I have seen ideas discussed here finally bubble up into the mainstream discussion.

In short, we can shape the political discourse.

One way to do this is to ask questions of candidates so we can either endorse them, post a DU score for them, or at least post their answers. Ideally, this would be on questions that webpages like project vote smart don't cover.

Some possible questions:


  • If you voted for the Iraq War Resolution, why did you do so? (please do NOT mention terrorism, WMD, or spreading democracy. DU members are generally not retarded)

  • How should consistent poll results showing that 60-80% of Iraqis want us to pull out our troops as soon as possible effect our Iraq policy?

  • Do you think that cancelling Iraq's oil contracts with Russia and France and replacing them with American companies, denationalizing their oil industry and restructuring it to suit the demands of our oil companies is a war crime?

    Do you think that doing this and putting Bush stooge Ahmed Chalabi in the oil ministry is likely to increase or decrease animosity toward the US in Iraq and the Middle East?

  • Do you support using our military to gain hegemony over the world's oil supply?

  • Would you support prosecuting as war criminals the boards of directors and corporate officers of businesses that successfully lobby Congress and the White House to commit military actions so they can profit?

  • Which uses of our military to invade or attack other countries in the last 50 years were probably not justifiable in your opinion and why?

  • In the last 50 years, which uses of our intelligence services to overthrow democratically elected governments were justified, which were not, and why? (you can just give an example of one each if you want)

  • In the last 50 years, which dictators were we justified in supporting and which do you think were unjustifiable?

  • Why would a country with a handful of nuclear weapons attack detonate one in the United States or give one to a terrorist group that would do so when they know that doing so would trigger overwhelming retaliation from our arsenal of 10,000 warheads? How do you sift legitimate security concerns against opportunistic scare tactics that have been used against the American public?

  • Do you support the use of mercenaries to interrogate prisoners and provide security as has been done in Bosnia and now Iraq? How do we hold these people responsible for their actions as we do the military with the UCMJ?

    9/11 & TERRORISM

  • Which of the changes to our intelligence services, military procedures, and civil rights would have prevented 9/11 if they had been in place before the attack? Please be very specific about both changes to policy and the relevant details of the 9/11 attack and planning.

  • No public statement has been made about who sold stock short before 9/11. Will you demand that those parties be investigated, prosecuted, and the results made public?

  • Would you support another 9/11 investigation conducted people NOT connected to Wall Street, the defense industry, oil companies, and others who profited from the attack?

    In particular, would you support public testimony from NORAD pilots and others on any change in scramble procedures and wargames that were going on the day of 9/11?

    Our F-15 and F-16s, can get off the ground with a few minutes notice from a cold start, climb to 50,000 feet in a minute, and travel at up to twice the speed of sound.

    The hijacked airliners on 9/11 flew unmolested for nearly two hours in the most densely populated part of the United States and what should be the most heavily guarded areas including Washington, DC.

    The only two fighters sent to intercept them were traveling at between 400-500 mph, slower than most commercial airliners fly.

  • In addition to killing or arresting those who commit acts of terrorism, what can we do to make people less likely to join terrorist groups?


  • Do you believe that our oil supply is finite, and must be replaced with other forms of energy? If so, which energy alternatives do you support and what concrete steps will you take toward making those happen?


  • Do you support neoliberalism (bankrupting Third World countries to make them vulnerable to forced privatization of government services and forcing severe cuts in social services) as a foreign policy? If not, what concrete steps have you taken to oppose it?

  • What would you do to make our trade agreements more beneficial to American workers and protect the rights of workers and farmers in other countries? How would you structure trade agreements so that they don't negate democracy in the countries affected including ours?


  • Would you be willing to anger big pharma and insurance companies in order to control costs and make medical care accessible to all Americans? What would you do to rein in those two industries?

  • What would you do to counter the trend of businesses, especially corporations, relying on underpaid part time workers and temps who often get no benefits or job security?

  • How would you reduce the influence of corporate America on our political process or at least balance it with the interest of average Americans?

  • How will you restructure our tax system to make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share?


  • Do you support smaller class size and better pay for teachers as the bare minimum for beginning to fix our K-12 education system?

    If you supported No Child Left behind or other right wing education "reforms" how did you think testing kids endlessly without giving them or their teachers the money to correct problems would work? How did you think demanding higher standards for teachers and micromanaging their work would help when schools are already having a hard time attracting smart, motivated people?

  • What will you do to make higher education more accessible and affordable?


  • What should be done to stop the revolving door between Congress & the Pentagon and the lobbying firms and corporations they work with?

  • Do you believe that government agencies should be allowed to hire union busting lawyers and consultants with our tax dollars? What will you do to stop this?

  • Do you support public financing of political campaigns? If not, what steps would you take to curb the severe corruption of elected officials at all levels of government?

  • Would you support the GAO or another independent oversight agency analyzing legislation to see which businesses profit from it, who they lobbied, who they donated money to, and whether they actually wrote portions of the legislation?

  • Would you support mandatory labeling on legislation written by lobbyists, including aides and elected officials who worked as lobbyists?

  • What would you do to curb the cronyism that occurs at all levels of government in both parties, particularly in the awarding of contracts?


  • What would you do to make us confident that our votes will be counted accurately, and that no one is unfairly barred from voting?

    Do you support paper ballots, hand counted or at least open source, inspectable software for any electronic voting equipment used?

  • What will you do to restore the due process rights of Americans such as habeas corpus and requiring warrants for wiretaps? What should be done with government officials who violated these?


  • What would you do to strengthen enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act?

  • What would you do to curb the arbitrary use of classifying documents?

  • Obviously, this is far from exhaustive, and includes some idiosyncratic stuff, but you could add to it.

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