Friday, June 29, 2007

Democrats Should Use Nuclear Option

Remember the days when Tom DeLay and Bill Frist ruled Congress with an iron fist? They demanded up or down votes on Bush's horrific judges. They threatened to use the "nuclear option" to end use of the filibuster if the "obstructionist" Democrats didn't roll over for every item on the agenda, including putting Sam Alito on the Supreme Court.

Well, the Democrats peed their pants and rarely used the filibuster.

Now the Democrats are in the majority and guess who all of a sudden hates up or down votes? That's right, the minority party. Republicans are in a state of perpetual filibuster.

From The Nation:
It was not so long ago that Republicans threatened to "nuke" the Senate if Democrats employed the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial nominees, particularly those to the Supreme Court (which in light of recent decisions, they clearly should have).

Fast forward two years later, with Democrats narrowly in control, and the Senate is in a state of permanent filibuster. It takes 60 votes to get "cloture" and pass just about anything.

Do it! Become wrath.

Even if Democrats don't pull the trigger on the nuclear option, they should at least threaten to do it. With more losses projected for Republicans in 2008 (two-thirds of Senate seats in the 2008 election are held by Republicans), and the likelihood that Republicans are going to get sympathy for any reason very low, I fail to see what the Democrats have to lose.

Granted, the filibuster is an important part of a functional democracy, so when and if we ever have a functional democracy, we should restore it.

RELATED: "Latest Filibuster Blocks Free Choice" by Bill Scher.

Crossposted at Ice Station Tango.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

That Goddamn Piece of Paper

...Some More Historical Perspective

Maybe as the only Canadian member of the unruly mob, I shouldn't be the one writing this essay - but maybe my outsider's perspective will bring something new to the table.

You be the judge.

At some early time in my life, probably in public school, I became aware that Canada did not have anything equivalent to your Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights. Canada as a nation was defined by an act of BRITISH Parliament called the BNA (British North America) Act of 1867. Frankly, I have always found that to be outrageous, and somewhat shameful. Some of these concerns were addressed with the Canada Act of 1982, with its attendant Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While this 'repatriated' the Constitution in Canada, I still feel your documents are better than ours.

And I'll tell you why.

Prior to the founding of the United States, legal systems were based on the theory of Divine Right. The law was all about the government telling the people what they could and couldn't do. The U.S. Constitution set that premise on its ear, declaring that the will of the people should limit what government could and couldn't do. That is a radical and some may say sublime departure from what went before. OK, some would argue that the Magna Carta did that, but the premise of the Great Charter was still that power flowed from above, so it's not the same thing at all. Most importantly, in my view at least, the U.S. Constitution denied the leader the ability to claim authority based on a special connection to God. And hey, ya gotta love that strong opening, "We The People."

So what the heck went wrong? The government is now regularly doing exactly those things that the constitution supposedly prevents them from doing. President Bush loudly and proudly claims that his decisions ARE based on some special communication with God, and therefore beyond questioning. Shouldn't this trigger some corrective mechanism? Shouldn't something be happening to reverse this? Why isn't SOMEbody doing someTHING?

The situation brings to mind a quote from one of the most cynical men of the twentieth century, Joseph Stalin. "The Pope? How many divisions has he got?" One might well ask how many divisions the Constitution brings to the fight. And the answer, in theory, would be all the divisions in the country. The President, Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and every commissioned officer in the United States Armed Services must take an oath to 'uphold and defend' the Constitution against 'all enemies foreign and domestic.' That, one would imagine, should be more than enough, in theory. Sadly, as some sage said, "In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice they are very different."

In practice, the honorable men that the Founders assumed would be taking all these oaths are not as abundant anymore as one would wish. I feel certain that George W. Bush, who is know to have referred to the Constitution as 'That Goddamn piece of paper', cannot be believed to have given serious consideration to his oath to defend and uphold same. Other oath-takers who have drop-kicked their Constitutional obligations into the nearest drainage ditch sit on the Supreme Court, fill seats in both houses of the legislature (and on both sides of the aisle in those houses), and fill key positions like, say, the Attorney General for example. I would say the majority of posts on this blog contain concrete demonstrations of how these men have dishonored themselves and their positions in all three branches of government.

Checks and balances my ass!

To their credit, the framers of The Constitution of The United States of America created a layered defense for liberty and the rights of man. One can readily see though how the assumptions that they made are no longer pertinent. The first assumption Is that the Chief Executive would recognize his position as a sworn servant of the people. Puh-leeese!! The Chimpster has shown no respect for any one of the 300,000,000 citizens of the country he is destroying.

The one thing the framers never considered when writing the Constitution was the idea that all three branches of government could ever become complicit in the same highjacking of democratic values. It rather erodes the layered defense that they provided with the model of checks and balances.

American fascism really became a fait accompli with the appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice. The two then Republican-controlled branches of the government had effectively conspired to subvert the third. Worse, they did so in a manner that could not be corrected even when the Democrats regained the majority in the legislature. Worst, John Roberts being a young man this could have an impact extending into the next thirty or forty years. Any hope that democracy can be restored through the ballot box during the next election, even with an overwhelming Democratic majority ignores this depressing fact.

And oh, what abundant rewards the fascist bastards have already reaped from their subversion of the Justice System.

As I pointed out earlier, the administration, when they had Republican control of both houses, pushed legislation that is overtly unconstitutional (For example: the USA PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions Act, etc, or any of the dozens of signing statements through which pResident Bush intrudes on legislative authority.) - secure in the knowledge that the US Supreme Court could simply do what they did in the case of the MCA 'torture bill.' They didn't stick their necks out and rule to let the offending law stand. That would be a patent and obvious abuse of authority, and quite likely impeachable. Any law student, or for that matter any high school civics student could see through such an act. This would leave FIVE conservative justices vulnerable.

No, what they did was in its own way even more odious. They simply refused to even consider any test case. In such an instance, where the Supreme Court has not declared a law to be unconstitutional, said law remains in full force. Not a bad play, really - treason by sin of ommission.

Similarly, much Republican wrongdoing has been overlooked by the Gonzales Department of Justice. There are quite likely a number of Republican Congressmen, and at least a couple of Senators who would be in jail today if not for the inaction and outright OBSTRUCTION of justice represented most prominently by the Prosecutors' Purge affair. Again, treason by sin of ommission.

Anyone who doesn't see malice aforethought in this is simply not paying attention. Or more likely, they have been grotesquely misinformed by the mainstream media - which by the way was considered to be the last layer in the layered defense of democracy envisioned by Jefferson, Madison, et. al. Or more precisely, they saw a general population ("We The People") properly informed by a free press to be that last layer. And they most certainly saw the final remedy for the subversion of the Constitution and Justice System to be the same remedy they had taken against the intolerable actions of King George, and beautifully expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
If the people of the United States of America don't rise up against their oppressors, and soon, very soon, it may be too late - not only for your country, but for the rest of the world as well. It's time to ask yourself the question, "how many defenders does the Constitution have?"

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hunger and Injustice

A Guest Post,
by "Flatulence"

This summer the Congress considers reauthorization of the “Farm Bill.” This legislation is the umbrella that shapes rural policies to a very large degree and provides for Food Stamps as well. Parts of the Farm Bill are essentially American policy about hunger. Some important facts from the ”Hunger in America 2006” study:
  • Food Banks served approximately 25 million people in 2006
  • In any given week, 4.5 million people receive emergency food assistance
  • On average, about 36% of those people are children
It is bad enough that McDonald’s, Burger King and Yum! Brands are attempting to influence this bill such that they receive what they perceive as more favorable economic conditions. Big AgriBusiness does well too, and the family farmer? Not so well. Maddeningly in the most productive farming country on the planet, 4.5 million this week will seek emergency food aid from a food bank or pantry. In Lincoln Nebraska, the food bank there distributed over 2.6 million pounds of food in 2005. Lincoln Nebraska, right smack in the heart of farm country, and 2.6 million pounds of food.

There are many talented and caring people who are pushing back against the corporate lobbyist efforts, making entirely sound moral arguments to the Senators and Representatives. There’s some real progress being made. There’s a sense of progressiveness that the Congressional leadership is listening, and some headway is being made. The shame of it is this: as a people, we probably can make Congress deliver a reasonable bill. The problem is that it will be accompanied by a “signing statement” much like this one regarding the 2003 Omnibus Spending Bill:

The bill also includes $3.3 billion in unrequested drought and other assistance, which is only minimally offset by real reductions in existing farm spending. Ninety-five percent of purported savings are scheduled to come several years from now, after the expiration of todays farm bill, and may prove illusory. That’s Bush code-speak for “I will direct the USDA to spend this money or not spend it, however I see fit.” You can thank the author – Alberto Gonzales.

This administration prattles endlessly about “Homeland;” they have entirely dismissed the “Heartland” and continue to perpetuate the injustice of hunger, with more injustice.


Flat lives in Denver and is a helluva good guy.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The Iraq News

Embassy to Cost $1 Billion in 2007, Pentagon Likely to Lower Troop Levels in Spring '08, ISG Reunion, Troops to Walk, More

Neocons fancied post-Saddam Iraq as a Democracy petri dish. Iraqi society, they imagined, could be made in the image of our democracy.... or at least the neocons' warped version of our democracy.

How's that working out for you, neocons?

Things are so bad in Iraq that the approval of both Congress and President Bush have hit all time lows. It's so bad that some believe that maybe America should go into the petri dish and the American system of governance should be revised or even reset with an Article V Constitutional Convention.

With that in mind, here's The Iraq News:
  • U.S. Military deaths now total 3,547.
  • Our massive city-state embassy in Iraq will cost American tax payers over a billion dollars this year. Not very much of that money will be going to Arabic speaking employees.
  • Looks like the troop levels in Iraq will be reduced in Spring, that way we'll all forget about the war by the time we vote in November.
  • The House voted overwhelmingly to bring back the Iraq Study group. No word on whether Rudy Giuliani will be invited this time around. I'm thinking... not likely.
  • Veterans often cited in their memoirs endless walking as one of the great horrors of the Vietnam War experience. Now, soldiers in Iraq will get the desert version of that experience. According to Friday's LA Times, the commander of day-to-day military operations, urges Iraqi and American troops to 'get out and walk.' The logic behind the decision appears sound, though clearly this choice is an example of the lesser of two evils.
  • Fascinating article from The Independent on Tony Blair's religious beliefs and the resignation of three Catholics during the early stages of the Iraq War. Blair will soon visit the new Pope. He's still the New Pope to me. By the way something, Blair's likely to convert to Catholicism soon.
  • You pro-war types plan to support this troop?
  • Much work remains on passing a law to distribute oil revenues in Iraq, but some progress was made today as a tentative agreement was reached.
VIDEO: Parliament is running out of chances to bang on Tony Blair and his ridiculous foreign policy.
VIDEO: Based on this trailer, War Made Easy looks like a combination of The Power of Nightmares and Why We Fight, two of the finest documentaries of the Iraq War era.

Crossposted at Ice Station Tango.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

World Refugee Day

Iraqi children eat melon at a refugee camp for internally displaced people outside Najaf, Iraq, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Saturday, June 16, 2007. Some 1200 people took refuge here fleeing sectarian violence in central Iraq. (Photo: AP / Alaa al-Marjani)

As we observe the UN World Refugee Day today, the number of refugees has increased globally for the first time since 2002 to some 10 million persons, largely as a result of the crisis in Iraq. Considering that Sudan did fairly well last year—it was among the five nations with the most people voluntarily returning home, according to the U.N. report—Iraq may be well placed to take over the throne at the top of next year's FP Failed States Index.

I blogged about the plight of the thousands of new widows who have fled Iraq only to be forced or tricked into prostitution in order to feed their children here.

Visit Quaker Dave who regularly updates us on the plight of Darfur refugees.

A moment for meditation or prayer:

We take a walk because we choose to walk.
Refugees take a walk because they are forced to flee.
We drive on roads hoping not to hit pot holes.
Refugees drive on roads hoping not to hit land mines.
We dream of taking a leisurely boat ride.
Refugees dream of finding a safe landing.
We desire ice in our diet drink.
Refugees desire clean water to drink.
We are concerned about what to cook for dinner.
Refugees are concerned about where to find a scrap of food.
We worry about our closets getting too full.
Refugees worry about having only the clothes on their back.
We don't like having our toothpase squeezed in the middle.
Refugees don't like having no way to keep clean.
We despair that we will someday bury a relative.
Refugees despair that they have left a relative unburied.
We look forward to returning home after a long journey.
Refugees look forward to never being forced to return home.
We want to find protection for our standard of living.
Refugees want to find protection to live.
Lord, we ask for the faith and strength to bring an end to injustice. Credit:


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rumsfeld's Knowledge of Abu Ghraib

Top Military Investigator: "He's Trying to Acquit Himself"
The General who conducted the investigation into the Abu Ghraib torture scandal admits that he was told not to investigate anyone with a higher rank than the MPs involved in the scandal.

The article is simply Seymour Hersh at his history making best. General Antonio Taguba has some very interesting insights about the military and civilian leadership he wasn't allowed to investigate.
  • "Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves."
  • "The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects—‘We’re here to protect the nation from terrorism’—is an oxymoron. He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they’ve dragged a lot of officers with them."
  • "These M.P. troops were not that creative. Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box."
Hersh tells how General Abizaid once warned Taguba that his report would make him a target.
A few weeks after his report became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait, was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with Abizaid. Abizaid’s driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: “You and your report will be investigated.”

“I wasn’t angry about what he said but disappointed that he would say that to me,” Taguba said. “I’d been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”

The White House denies Taguba's assertion that Bush probably knew, reiterating it's prior statement that Bush learned about Abu Ghraib from media reports.

Doesn't matter what Bush knew. Rumsfeld clearly knew plenty. Perhaps we'll hear echoes of this article in testimony before the Arms Services Committee from General Taguba in advance of a subpoena to Rumsfeld.

Oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling.

UPDATE: Thanks to Wordsmith for pointing out that Crooks and Liars has the video of Wolf Blitzer interviewing Sy Hersh on CNN Sunday.

RELATED: "The Seymour Hersh Mystery" by Tom Engleheardt.

VIDEO: Hersch's explosive scoop from last month--U.S. funding Fatah.

Crossposted at IST.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Pardon Everyone

If I had the kind of health care that our politicians have, I'm sure my doctor would tell me not to watch cable news anymore. It wouldn't stop me, because I have this delusional fantasy that one day, things will, all of a sudden, change.

One day I'll turn on CBS Evening News and all of a sudden it's 1987, and Dan Rather's there reporting on the impeachment of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush for their involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and everything that's happened since has been a bad dream.

Our current reality is not reality. It can't be. Jon Stewart, only a decent comedian before Indecision 2000, looks like a founding father now for merely describing things accurately. The biggest audience goes to the biggest liar. That would be Bill O'Reilly. There's only two camps regarding O'Reilly, those who watch his show loyally and adhere to his every word as if it were the Gospel, and those who want to throw up at the site of his face and the sound of his voice. Talking about this guy is a waste of time. He's become a hollow signifier for the Cooperate Owned Media as a whole. Like Coulter before him, O'Reilly bashing has no remaining currency, even in the liberal blogosphere. He sucks, we get it. It's been illustrated every way possible.

Yet he persists. He lives. He's still there cashing checks and farting through his mouth into the microphone. We know he's a liar. He had as much to do with this bogus neocon adventure as the people who did it, because without some media cover, they never could have managed to start this illegal war.

Earlier this week O' Reilly put the cherry on his legacy when he claimed that his show doesn't cover Iraq very much because correspondents in Iraq can't get the real story and by the way, no one cares. "Do you care," he asked, "if another bomb if another bomb went off in Tikrit? Does it mean anything? No, it doesn't mean anything."

You would think after seeing that steaming slab of ignominy plastered on my TV that I would not soon feed at the troth of cable news. But like Al Gore says, television's seductive. How could I not tune in last night and see what the talking heads had to say about the judge's ruling that Scooter had to go to prison pending his appeal? This case is so straight forward that a Republican prosecutor appointed by John Ashcroft, a Bush-appointed judge and a jury all agreed that Scooter obstructed justice and perjured himself. No pro-Libby spinning can possibly happen without tossing out our legal system and reality itself.

I decided not to go to O'Reilly on this one. After the Iraq display, I'm done monitoring that noise. Media Matters has a stronger stomach than I do. No, this was a job for MSNBC.

If the media suddenly decided to be based on, I don't know--JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS--the most likely candidate to start that trend would probably be MSNBC. These people allow a lot of truth to come out of Keith Olbermann's mouth. Chris Matthews has his moments of clarity and he's never been a cheerleader for the war.

At 7pm, I turned on Hardball. Matthews, however, wasn't there. In his place--no one. Oh, there was a body there, but it was a cold, dead man with no personality or presence at all. Someone named Mike Barnicle. Probably a good guy, but why he's on TV I have no idea.

Who does Barnicle bring on to discuss the possible pardon of Scooter Libby? Pat Buchanan and some random, high powered neocon lobbyist named Ron Christie. He used to work for Libby. Want some idea of the nonsense Christie was slinging? Take a look at this blogpost he wrote praising Joe Lieberman's courage.

Some diligent YouTuber posted much of what ensued on Hardball. The Christie-Buchanan debate begins about three minutes into this clip.

You'll notice that the one making sense in this clip is Pat Buchanan. The lifelong conservative supervillian is now representing the "left" side of this crucial political debate.

After seeing that, I give up. Let's do it Ron Christy's way. Pardon Libby. Go for it. While you're at it, go ahead an pick out anyone you'd like and stick them in prison--Plame, Wilson, Fitzgerald, that Al Gore has been a real nuisance. You guys are already going after Michael Moore. End the pretense of rule of law and democracy and lets just do this the neocon way.

Pardon Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Rice, bin Laden, the whole family. Pardon Tim Griffin, Karl Rove, Sara Taylor and Kyle Samson. We can dissolve Congress and you can just appoint whoever you want to any position you like. Then there's no need for these elaborate election stealing schemes.

And you don't need to wait for the next natural or unnatural disaster to activate your slimy little sleeper provision to take power. Do it now.

What sleeper provision?

From WorldNetDaily:
President Bush President Bush has signed a directive granting extraordinary powers to the office of the president in the event of a declared national emergency, apparently without congressional approval or oversight.

The "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive" was signed May 9, notes Jerome R. Corsi in a WND column.

It was issued with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive.

The directive establishes under the office of the president a new national continuity coordinator whose job is to make plans for "National Essential Functions" of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president's directives in the event of a national emergency.

"Catastrophic emergency" is loosely defined as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

Here's the catastrophic emergency: Bush is President. It's the worst national catastrophe yet. Thousands of Americans are dead because of that fact and Bush's next victim is Democracy itself. So, spare us the sneak attack and just do it.

Pardon us. Pardon us so we don't have to live through the agonizing lies of the COM. Most importantly, pardon us from our responsibility to stop you. The founders of this country lived up to that responsibility, but things are different now.

Joel Hirshhorn of OpEdNews wrote a piece called, "Americans Unready to Revolt, Despite Revolting Conditions":
For a nation that was built on a revolt against oppressive governance by the British, something has been lost from our political DNA. We apparently no longer have the gene for political rebellion. It has been bred out of most of us. And those of us that urge a Second American Revolution are seen as fringe, nutty subversives.

So, go ahead, W. Call off the media. Cancel the news. Fire the actors posing as anchors because we don't need them anymore and just put on jugglers, sword swallowers, belly dancers, dancing bears, clowns stuffed into Volkswagens and magicians sawing hot chicks in half.

Oh, and get Paris Hilton out of jail, we need something to pay attention to while Bush, Cheney and Grover Norquist are drowning the constitution in the bathtub.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who will Watch Out for the Widows?

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” I Kings 8:9-10

This essay is adapted from my Sunday sermon preached June 10, 2007.

I always find it interesting how God's call moves from the general to the particular. In this case, God is calling the prophet Elijah to go to Sidon, a dangerous place for Jews in enemy territory. And in Sidon, go to a village called Zarephath that nobody ever heard of where there are no important people and no media cameras. But then God gets quite particular...a widow there.

How odd to focus on a foreign, unnamed nobody of a woman. With all the politicians and talk about comprehensive immigration reform these days, with all the political rhetoric around the war in Iraq... but we never hear how these things affect a nameless widow from an unknown village in enemy territory. How much would we really know about widows and mothers in Guatemala if it wasn't for DR's missionary work there? How many of you have heard about the tens of thousands of new Iraqi widows who are now forced to turn to prostitution to support their children? You're not going to hear about it on your evening news. It's in the Bible that we hear about the daily struggles of unnamed widows and their children who just happen to live in enemy (whose enemy?) territory.

For purposes of this essay, I want to focus on the plight of Iraqi widows, tens of thousands of widows that we are creating every day that our occupation of their land continues. Please - PLEASE - click on the links, read the articles, get angry, and then do something.

For stats on Iraqi refugees go to the UNHRC website. They estimate as many as 2 million Iraqis have left their country since the war began and another 1.7 million have moved within Iraq as a result of increased sectarian violence. As The Ground Truth in Iraq notes, a high proportion of these are female-headed households and unaccompanied women. With Iraqi men being killed off and kidnapped at alarming rates, many women find themselves not only refugees dealing with unimaginable losses, but also seeking work outside the home for the first time in countries with already high unemployment. In Syria alone, thousands of these women are smuggled, tricked or forced into prostitution. Some just have no other means of supporting their families. Salon wrote about teenage prostitutes (and I shamelessly lifted the pic below from their story). The NYTimes covered this recently. If you can't get past their firewall, Sexual Terrorism.Org has excerpts.

Sexual Terrorism.Org also reminds us that rape and war go hand-in-hand. It is perhaps the cruelest irony of Bushco's illegal and immoral invasion that life was suppose to get better for Iraqi women. But as the Guardian reported last month, the reality has been rocketing rates of rape, murder, domestic violence and infant mortality. See the other "benefits" liberation has brought to Iraqi women at V-Day and read about so-called honor killings at The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq. If you don't click on any other links, please check out V-Day and OWFI.

And how has Bushco responded to this crisis? The headlines say it all. Iraqi Refugees Not Welcome in U.S. Iraqi Refugees Find No Haven in US. Maybe a reader with a mind for math can tell me what perpcentage 701 is of 2,000,000. Oh wait, make that 7,000.

Yesterday the Washington Post decried the administration's failed attempts to address their responsibility (although rather weakly). They did note that Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation to help more Iraqi refugees. Of course, only one rep from the war party has signed on as a co-sponsor (Christopher Shays of Conn.).

Please contact your reps. and sens. and ask them if they believe the prostitution of Iraqi women and girls is acceptable. Tell them that U.S. policy on Iraqi refugees makes us a silent partner with the pimps. Tell them 701 out of 2,000,000 is a pitiful drop in the bucket.

Contact all of those God fearing presidential candidates and ask them what Jesus would do about refugees forced to prostitute themselves to feed their children. And just in case they're not sure what Jesus would do, you can remind them:
Mark 12:38-40 Jesus said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."

Luke 18:3-5 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, "Grant me justice against my opponent.' For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, "Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming. (Hey, it's the least comfy established Washington can do.)

Isaiah 10:1-4 1 Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the calamity that will come from far away? (Oh, if Fred Phelps was as concerned about this wickedness.)
Finally, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq has established two Women’s Shelters in Iraq as a first appropriate step to defend women’s rights and protect them against all kinds of degradation, abuse, and violence including the random killing of women. These shelters, which are safe havens for women in Iraq, are a crucial tool and an endeavor to fight the oppression against women and violation of their rights. They will be humanist and progressive symbols in the society, their priority is to protect women’s dignity. Read about the shelters here and give them some love here.

The UN World Refugee Day is June 20th. Please act now to shine the spotlight on what Ground Truth is calling the worst humanitarian disaster in the Middle East in 60 years.

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Holy Crap!

Creationism Trumps Common Sense

A couple of posts over at Crooks and Liars have really got me shaking my head. What's the point of trying to explain anything to the American public if they are just plain too stupid to understand it?

Item 1:

With three admitted skeptics of modern biology seeking the Republican presidential nomination (Huckabee, Brownback, and Tancredo), there’s far more interest than usual in evolution and politics. USA Today added to the interest late last week with a report that showed two-thirds of Americans believe “creationism, the idea that God created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years, is definitely or probably true.”

Gallup followed up today with some pertinent details — including the partisan breakdown.

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution adequately explains where humans came from.

The problem isn’t just that Americans in general are confused, but rather that the GOP is throwing off the curve.
Item 2:

Jonah Goldberg offers a new talking point for the GOP: close public schools.

Here’s a good question for you: Why have public schools at all?

OK, cue the marching music. We need public schools because blah blah blah and yada yada yada. We could say blah is common culture and yada is the government’s interest in promoting the general welfare. Or that children are the future. And a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Because we can’t leave any child behind.

The problem with all these bromides is that they leave out the simple fact that one of the surest ways to leave a kid “behind” is to hand him over to the government. Americans want universal education, just as they want universally safe food. But nobody believes that the government should run 90% of the restaurants, farms and supermarkets. Why should it run 90% of the schools — particularly when it gets terrible results?

Let’s do all we can to share Goldberg’s words of wisdom to American families from coast to coast — the right wants to shut down your local public school and privatize education. That ought to go over well.

What's got me particularly freaked out about this second story is that Goldberg's conclusion that public schools get 'terrible results' is probably based on the fact that they don't teach creationism. They idea (from the first story) that someone even more antediluvian than the current pResident could be running the country in Jan., 2009 certainly gives one pause as well.

Stories like this one from our own RevPhat do not bode well for the future. If anything the fight for the minds of today's children and tomorrow's citizens is going even further in the direction of dumbing the country down. As she pointed out, "The bottom line is that the Bible was never meant to be read literally. And the Bible is not a history book. Nor is it a science book." I for one seriously question the 'rights' of parents to shove this kind of propaganda down the unwilling throats of their own children. Worst case scenarios like this one, of the infamous 'Jesus Camp' show how close it comes to intellectual child abuse.

Only a few decades ago America was the most educated country on the planet, an unabashedly secular society that was putting men on the moon. The edge in technology gave the country the unprecedented prosperity it is now losing, having fallen to 36th in education worldwide.

The American public seems to think that they can continue to enjoy the world's highest standard of living while exporting little more than one very narrow interpretation of The Gospel, abstinence only programs, and surplus weaponry. I for one rather doubt it.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Iraq News

War Czar Lukewarm on Surge, Bush's Poll Numbers Blow, Kokesh, Romney, Moyers, More

The war sucks. There's no overarching narrative to contextualize it anymore. Never was really. It needs to end and everyone knows it, but our political process and our President with shit for brains continue to stand in the way.

Here's the Iraq War News:
  • 28 percent of Americans approve of President Bush's performance leading the Iraq War. I would like to see these people. I don't believe they exist.
  • Today war czar nominee Douglas Lute expressed his skepticism for the surge. I am expressing my skepticism about his skepticism. Somehow this made up job requires Senate confirmation, so, it seems pretty likely that the would-be czar's quandary is a convenient and temporary front.
  • Today Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the Iraqi military to surround striking oil workers blocking a pipeline near the city of Basrain in southern Iraq.
  • Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh lost his honorable discharge status from the Marine Corps for protesting in uniform. Kokesh has a lot of charisma and doesn't mind telling people where he's coming from. As Cindy Sheehan recently reminded us when she, as one of the only national anti-war leaders, stepped away from the movement, leadership is a vital commodity. Perhaps Kokesh will grow into that role.
  • Guess who said it:
    If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?
    Answer here.
  • Point of order: Someone tell Mitt Romney that Saddam never kicked out the weapons inspectors.
  • New York's Wilton High School's Principal banned students from preforming an anti-war play. Well, the play has finally hit the stage, sort of. The students did a dramatic reading of the script of Voices in Conflict for a packed house at a nearby theater.
VIDEO: Bill Moyers looks at the cost of the Iraq War.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Iglesias Makes a Strong Case

Finally, Someone Who Can Handle the Truth

This Interview with David Iglesias at is very interesting. Iglesias talks about what questions he thinks should have been asked of Monica Goodling in her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and why. Then he goes into the circumstantial evidence that answers the most important question, which thus far has been dodged by the administration so much they are starting to resemble a game of Whack-A-Mole.

Why Were These Prosecutors Fired? And by whom?

Iglesias, of New Mexico, is perhaps the most prominent of the US Attorneys asked to resign on Dec. 7, 2006. This is because he blew the whistle on Sen. Pete Domenici (R-otten to the core) and Rep. Heather Wilson for improper contacts they made over voter fraud cases they wanted filed before the 2006 mid-term elections. Using the timing of four of the dismissals, including his own, he shows that the real reason for them was that they made someone in the West Wing of the White House angry. And he seems to have formed a solid opinion of who that someone might be.
Iglesias told me that, while we still do not know how he and his colleagues were placed on the termination list, he does believe a "smoking gun" exists that will lead directly to Karl Rove and blow the scandal wide open.

"I believe somewhere on an RNC computer - on some server somewhere - there's an email from Karl Rove stating why we need to be axed," Iglesias told me in an hour-long interview.

Iglesias said Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and perhaps other officials are likely responsible for placing his name and the names of his colleagues on a list of US attorneys to be fired, because he had refused to launch federal investigations and prosecute individuals purely for partisan reasons.

"If the Justice Department didn't have anything to do with placing presidential appointees such as me and my colleagues on a list to be terminated, the only other possible place would be the White House," Iglesias said. "Harriet Miers, Karl Rove or some of their underlings."
That last paragraph shows a nice, clean use of the process of elimination. If the list didn't originate in the DoJ, there is only one other possibility. The West Wing. Not only does Iglesias put together a good circumstantial case that shows where this investigation should be directed, but in doing so he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt one other thing. He sure as hell wasn't fired for being stupid. It would be such delicious irony if he could be allowed to prosecute Rove - but it ain't gonna happen, because Iglesias has more integrity than the entire administration put together.

About the subtitle: I presume you know that Commander David Iglesias was the Navy JAG that the Tom Cruise character in A Few Good Men was based on. If not, you know now.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Charges Against Khadr Dropped

...But He Will Still Remain in Guantanamo

Well, this is one for the books. According to this report from CBC News,
An American military judge abruptly dropped all charges on Monday against Omar Khadr, although it's unlikely to mean freedom for the only Canadian at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
A bit of background is in order. Khadr is the only Canadian citizen in Guantanamo. He was arrested FIVE YEARS AGO in Afghanistan, and accused of throwing a hand grenade that killed Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer, described by the CBC as a Marine medic. Sounds fishy to me. The Marines don't have their own medics, and rely on Navy Corpsmen for that function. But I won't distract you further with what is probably just an honest mistake by the CBC.

Khadr was wounded in the firefight that led to his, mmm, what do you call it exactly? Arrest? Capture? Detention? Anyway, it looks like the judge couldn't find a way to shoehorn a claim of jurisdiction over the prisoner.
When Khadr arrived at Guantanamo five years ago, he was classified by a military panel as an "enemy combatant."

But under the new Military Commission Act, revised and passed by the U.S. Congress in October 2006, the military commissions only have jurisdiction to try "unlawful enemy combatants."

CBC News's Bill Gillespie, reporting from Guantanamo, said Khadr's classification as an enemy combatant means he was a fighting on the battlefield, but not necessarily acting unlawfully.

Gillespie said it is unclear what will happen to Khadr now, although it is unlikely he will be released.

"A greater possibility is that he will be sent back to another panel who will again review his status and perhaps then come up with a definition that gives the court jurisdiction," Gillespie said.

Khadr's sister said she is still holding out hope Khadr will be able to return to Canada.
What is one to make of this? On one hand, it's almost as if the rule of law has emerged to exert its authority over the proceedings of the military commissions created to deal with these 380 'prisoners' (only a handful of whom have ever been charged with anything.) There seems to be some repudiation of Bu$hCo™'s unconstitutional and vile creation of new law to deal with these people somewhere in this.

On the other hand, this dropping of the charges seems to be yet another instance of the government avoiding any possibility of this being tested in a Supreme Court showdown, because they KNOW they would lose. The treatment of these prisoners has been unlawful and unconstitutional since day one on a number of counts. The Bush solution to this hinges on their designation being as ill-defined as possible. They are not acknowledged as enemy soldiers, because that would bring in the authority of the Geneva Conventions. Nor are they criminal defendants, because they would then clearly enjoy habeas corpus rights. And of course, whatever rights they might have are nullified by the fact that Guantanamo is not on US soil, but in Cuba. It's the most elaborate legal shell game to come along since the Soviet gulags.

One thing is certain - no ruling, even total exoneration for these Guantanamo kidnap victims (cause that's what they are if you think about it) ever results in any of them actually being released. That just stinks.

Did you ever think that they are just practicing techniques on these people that they fully intend to apply to everybody?

UPDATE: By now you probably know that a very similar ruling has been made in the case of Salim Hamdan, another Guantanamo detainee. It was the Supreme Court's ruling against the government in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that led to the infamous and unconstitutional Military Commissions Act. Among the odious provisions of the MCA was the effective suspension of habeas corpus in US law. The US Supreme Court's refusal to consider the constitutionality of the MCA was a clear breach of their duty under the law, IMO. Holding people prisoners without legal justification is a practice that was repudiated by the Constitution, and moreover by English Common Law going back centuries.

Hamdan and Khadr are the only two inmates charged with any offense since the passing of the MCA. Reactions to the decision - from Patrick Leahy, via Think Progress; from the White House via MSNBC.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Greg Palast Turns Over Smokin' Rove Emails to Rep. Conyers

If you've been following the story of the U.S. Attorneys Purge, you know it is a complicated network of scandals spider-webbing across the country.

Recently explosive emails obtained by BBC reporter Greg Palast--and supported by testimony given by Monica Goodling--implicated Karl Rove disciple and tainted appointee (by way of legislation sneaked into the Patriot Act) to the position of U.S. Attorney, Tim Griffin, in voter caging--a felony offense.

Air America's Randi Rhodes spoke to Palast last week, and that interview got the attention of House Judiciary Committee Chair, John Conyers. Palast met with Conyers since then, and Palast went on the air with Rhodes again yesterday to tell the tale.

By the way, Tim Griffin? He resigned.

Here's Randi Rhodes recounting the recent developments.
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Later, Randi was joined by Palast, who discussed his meeting with John Conyers.
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Crossposted at Ice Station Tango.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Prosecution of Alabama Governor Work of Rove?

When the U.S. Attorney purge story began to clarify a couple months ago, one of the most chilling observations was that the real problem with the firings of nine fair-minded attorneys so they could be replaced by cronies, was the implication that among the other 84 USAs not fired, a lot of dirty deeds were being done at the behest of the White House.

Well, Alabama's former governor is in jail and a Republican whistle blower has fingered Karl Rove.

From Time Magazine:
At the moment, [Alabama's] former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.

Now Karl Rove, the President's top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove "had spoken with the Department of Justice" about "pursuing" Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys.

The allegation was made by Dana Jill Simpson, a lifelong Republican and lawyer who practices in Alabama. She made the charges in a May 21 affidavit, obtained by TIME, in which she describes a conference call on November 18, 2002, which involved a group of senior aides to Bob Riley, who had just narrowly defeated Siegelman in a bitterly contested election for governor. Though Republican Riley, a former Congressman, initially found himself behind by several thousand votes, he had pulled ahead at the last minute when disputed ballots were tallied in his favor. After the abrupt vote turnaround, Siegelman sought a recount. The Simpson affidavit says the conference call focused on how the Riley campaign could get Siegelman to withdraw his challenge.

According to Simpson's statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said "not to worry about Don Siegelman" because "'his girls' would take care of" the governor. Canary then made clear that "his girls" was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

There's so much corruption going on here, that it's difficult to boil it down to a simple narrative for mass consumption. If Rove had an affair with an intern, we'd be golden.

Rove has troubles on another front today--or, like so many of these scandals, maybe it's connected. His former executive assistant Susan Ralston asked for immunity before giving testimony to Henry Waxman's House Oversight Committee on contacts between The White House and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Waxman said he's in no rush and he'd get back to her.

By the way something, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett resigned today, effective July 4. Adios, Dan. Effective July 4 though? What's that about? Shouldn't that be effective July 3? Is he going in on the 4th? Are they having a cookout? Is Bush grilling up some brats?

Furthermore, Bartlett's not the only Republican on the way out.

VIDEO: A couple weeks ago, Keith Olbermann covered Karl Rove's role in Gonzogate.

(Part 2)

Crossposted at IST.

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