Best Viewed with IE or Opera. Sorry, Firefox works, but loses some sidebar layout,
'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Are you a Republican?

by Larry C Johnson


Tammy_duckworth_1


I once considered myself a
Republican. In light of the record of the Bush Administration and the
Republican controlled congress, I can no longer claim to be a
Republican. Now we have George “AWOL” Bush and his
sidekick, Dick “Five-Deferment” Cheney calling Democrats
who question their failed Iraq strategy, “cut and runners”.



Meet
Tammy Duckworth, Democratic candidate for Congress from Illinois and
combat veteran. Tammy lost both legs in a helicopter crash. Hearing the
charge that she wanted to cut and run, Tammy said:

"Well, I didn't cut and run, Mr. President. Like so many others, I proudly fought and
sacrificed,; Duckworth said. "My helicopter was shot down long after
you proclaimed 'mission accomplished."



Ask yourself the following questions and decide, “Are you a Republican?”   (and my apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)



If you enjoy shoplifting while working at the White House, you might be a Republican.





You
may not recognize Claude Allen's name, but you've probably seen his
face in photos, a little off to the side, a few steps away from the
president. As George W. Bush's top domestic-policy adviser, Allen stuck
close to the boss. He was Bush's frequent companion on Air Force One,
and helped stage-manage issues like Social Security and education. A
born-again Christian (his wife home-schools their four kids) and
credentialed conservative (he got his start as an aide to Sen. Jesse
Helms), the 45-year-old lawyer was regarded as a man on his way up in
Republican politics. Party leaders, always on the lookout for
conservative black candidates, pegged Allen as a future congressman or
senator. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11786648/site/newsweek/
(Note: Allen pled guilty in September 2006-- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/04/AR2006080400919.html) 


If you enjoy soliciting teenagers and children for sex over the internet, you might be a Republican:


Congressman
Mark Foley. Republican Rep. Mark Foley resigned yesterday after the
exposure of several sexually suggestive messages he sent to underage
boys.  Mr. Foley, a Florida Republican and chairman
of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, led efforts to overhaul
sex-offender laws, apologized in a brief statement that did not mention
the electronic correspondence with the former congressional pages. (http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060930-010821-5764r.htm) 


Randall
Casseday.  Metropolitan Police today charged the director of human
resources at The Washington Times with one count of attempting to
entice a minor on the Internet.  Randall Casseday, 53, was
arrested at 9:45 p.m. yesterday in the 1300 block of  Brentwood
Road NE, where police said he had arranged to meet who he thought was a
13-year-old girl. He had actually exchanged Internet messages and
photographs with a male police officer posing as a girl. (http://washingtontimes.com/metro/20060927-054303-9103r.htm) 



Brian J. Doyle. 
The deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
was arrested Tuesday for using the Internet to seduce what he thought
was a teenage girl, authorities said. Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested
in Maryland where he lives on charges of use of a computer to seduce a
child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. The charges were
issued out of Polk County Fla. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/04/05/department-of-homeland-se_n_18517.html)



If you
enjoy sending other people’s children to war while your kids go
to college and hang out in bars, you might be a Republican



On
August 2, day two of the summer terror scare, Jenna and Barbara Bush
had to go to midtown. . . .Later, Miller invited the whole group, about
a dozen of them by now, back to his loft farther down Bond Street,
where they drank wine that someone had brought from their dad’s
wine cellar. The party continued till 3 a.m. or so, which made it kind
of an early night for the twins, who have been known to shut down
meatpacking-district clubs like the tiny, exclusive Bungalow 8. Once,
at that club, Jenna saw Joey co-star Jennifer Coolidge and a few
friends in a banquette across the way. “I loved you in Legally
Blonde 2,” gushed Jenna (Coolidge played Reese
Witherspoon’s hairdresser confidante). http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/rnc/9699/ 


If you start a war in Iraq while
lying to the American people that Saddam was tied to Osama Bin Laden, you might be a Republican.



If you failed to complete your own National Guard
service
and your Vice President received five deferments to avoid service in Vietnam, but accuse
political opponents who challenge your failed foreign policy in
Iraq of being
cowards
, you might be a Republican.



If you call dark skinned people Macacas and Niggers,
you might be a Republican.



If you ignore intelligence community warnings that
Bin Laden is determined to strike inside the
United
  States, you might be a Republican.



If you follow policies that squander a budget surplus
and create an $8.5 trillion dollar budget deficit, you might be a
Republican.



If you expose the identity of an undercover CIA officer in
charge of tracking down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, you might be a
Republican.



If you believe the President should be entitled to jail, without recourse to Habeus Corpus, anyone he decides is a threat, you might be a Republican.



After
careful consideration, I realize that I lack the moral bankruptcy,
cowardice, and fiscal recklessness to call my self a Republican. 
I've decided, I am an American.



 



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Dream world a strange, scary place for liberals

Meanwhile, conservatives dream of mundane events and monogamous sex, writes Chris Lackner.

Chris Lackner - The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

If you've recently dreamed about sex with a stranger, flying or the dead coming back to life, chances are you're probably a liberal instead of a conservative.

A dream researcher from John F. Kennedy University in California has discovered fundamental differences between the dream worlds of people on the ideological left and the ideological right.

Among his findings, Kelly Bulkeley discovered that liberals are more restless sleepers and have a higher number of bizarre, surreal dreams -- including fantasy settings and a wide variety of sexual encounters. Conservatives' dreams were, on average, far more mundane and focused on realistic people, situations and settings.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

"Conservatives seem to have more of a focus on the here and now and the material world whereas liberals, in contrast, seem to have a much wider sphere of imaginative activity," he said.

"They don't just dream about what is, but what could be or what they wish could be," Mr. Bulkeley said.

His research is being published in an upcoming issue of Dreams, a journal published by the American Psychological Association.

Out of the 134 liberals who participated in the study, 91 per cent said they recently dreamed about sex; only 76 per cent of 100 conservative subjects admitted the same.

But Mr. Bulkeley said the two political stripes showed very different tastes in dream partners.

Liberals were far more likely to have sexual dreams about strangers and a variety of partners, while liberal women showed a greater tendency towards same-sex fantasies than their conservative counterparts (24 versus four per cent).

"Especially for liberal women, there was a far greater variety in sexual partners and incidents of homosexuality," Mr. Bulkeley said. "Liberals tended to show a greater willingness to experiment with different things."

Conservatives, by comparison, were far more likely to report having sexual dreams about their spouse or current partner.

While left-wingers might be more adventurous in the subconscious bedroom, they're also more likely to wake up in a cold sweat.

Liberals showed slightly higher levels of nightmares than conservatives -- a statistic at odds with a similar dream study Mr. Bulkeley conducted in the late 1990s.

He said the ideology of the United States' governing party may affect the dream patterns of Republicans and Democrats.

While conservatives deplored former president Bill Clinton's reign in the 1990s, liberals are currently both furious and fearful of the Bush administration, he said.

"With the change from the Clinton to the Bush administrations, there are waking world reasons for liberals to be more concerned and stressed, and conservatives to be less concerned," Mr. Bulkeley said.

"Dreams are like political cartoons of the mind -- mental op-ed columns. Sometimes dreams reflect internal commentaries on the state of things."

The study includes some of the dreams recounted by liberals, such as the following nightmare: "I was at a presidential rally where George W. Bush was speaking. There was so much red, white and blue. Bush speaks: 'There are those who say that we are giving up our civil liberties. But I say, we should be proud to sacrifice our freedoms for America!' The crowd went wild, clapping, cheering and waving flags. I awoke in a cold sweat."

Not surprisingly, Republicans had much more benign dreams about their commander-in-chief: "I was friends with George W. Bush and we were working together on his ranch. I was happy to be there."

Mr. Bulkeley said that the most surprising result in his study is that conservatives showed a higher tendency for lucid dreaming -- being aware they were asleep. Conservatives largely reported using their "dream awareness" to wake themselves up from uncomfortable situations and nightmares, he said.

Overall, conservative males appear to sleep the most soundly and remember the fewest dreams, while liberal women are the most restless sleepers and fantastical dreamers.

"While some of my colleagues think my research reinforces the stereotype of repressed, uptight conservatives, it also shows that many liberals may he hanging on the edge of mental well-being," Mr. Bulkeley said. "There may be a lot of hidden distress and unpleasantness in the liberal mind."
© The Ottawa Citizen 2006
----------------------------
SOURCE:


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State of Denial: Two months before 9/11, Rice gave the 'brush-off' to 'impending terrorist attack' warning

The Raw Story | Video: Congressman 'tolerated' forced abortions, sex slavery

Appropriately named congressman, no? --pseudolus
======================================================================

Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) knew of and tolerated forced abortions, sex slavery and sweatshop conditions in the Northern Marianas Islands, says his challenger.

Retired Lt. Col. Charlie Brown, Democratic candidate for California's 4th District, asserts Doolittle was aware of the abuses while he helped, with the aid of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, to fund the islands' government that allegedly exploited its workers.

In a debate on KCRA 3 TV News in Sacramento, Brown faced off against former Rep. Doug Ose, acting as a spokesman on behalf of incumbent Congressman Doolittle. Brown at one point says that Doolittle "got $10,000 from Abramoff's firm, the largest ever paid by Abramoff to a congressman."

Ose twice belittled the original accusations, saying, "[T]o suggest that John Doolittle advocated for sexual slavery and forced abortions is just poppycock."

The Raw Story | Video: Congressman 'tolerated' forced abortions, sex slavery

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The Keyboard Kommandos - Episode 16

Eat The Press | Stephen Colbert, Internet Pied Piper | The Huffington Post



This is in no way to imply that hordes of "Colbert Report" viewers are rats, but it is truly amazing what Stephen Colbert has been able to inspire with his "Stephen Colbert's Greenscreen Challenge," wherein viewers are invited to take this footage of Colbert rockin' the light saber Jedi-style and use it as the centerpiece for their own "bold depictions of my heroic fight," as Colbert called it last month when he announced the Challenge on-air. The results have been stunning — all manner of creativity unleashed via YouTube, including the one shown here which Colbert aired last night (note: They seem to be identical but this version has different music than what's linked at Colbert Nation). YouTube has 36 results for the search for "greenscreen challenge colbert" including his one of Stephen fighting his arch-nemesis, bears, and this one of "Obi-Wan Colbertno" which cleverly incorporates other moments from the Report.

This is fan fiction taken to a whole new level — as we've noted before, the genius of Colbert is that he knows how to use this content and drive the quality up by providing an incredible platform. This is quality stuff, really really funny, and if it doesn't represent an experiment in a new form of content-generation for Comedy Central, it should. They've got plenty of open timeslots, and clearly there's some good stuff out there.

In other news, we also noted last month that Colbert had kind of Vulcan-like ears, and noticed that yet again last night. So we're issuing the "Stephen Colbert Vulcan Ears Challenge" and inviting viewers to email us photos and video of Colbert's ears looking particularly cute and Vulcan-like. Extra points if you can somehow figure out how to superimpose him into that ultra-hot makeout with Lieutenant Uhuru. Or maybe just rubbing Patrick Stewart's adorable bald head. We'd like to see that.



Eat The Press | Stephen Colbert, Internet Pied Piper | The Huffington Post

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Bad Reporter for 9-29-06.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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You know what a piddling mandatory minimum means? If the boss could pay you less, he would..........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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This vandal belongs in prison.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Another 'tradition' that's got to go..........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Musical chairs...you lose 'W'.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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"Anyone with a love of sausage or the law should never watch either being made."

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Mob Rule of Law.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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See "Bats Left Throws Right: Pangloss School of Economics Quarterly Report" Below.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Hey, Mr. Stamity! They are your 'tax-cut and spend' republicans...surely that's what you prefer to democrats.

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The Butterfly Effect meets the Chewbacca Defense...

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E. J. Dionne Jr. - Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back - washingtonpost.com

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, September 29, 2006; A21

Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.

By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right. The conservative movement understands the political value of controlling the interpretation of history. Now its control is finally being contested.

How long have Clinton's resentments been simmering? We remember the period immediately after Sept. 11 as a time when partisanship melted away. That is largely true, especially because Democrats rallied behind President Bush. For months after the attacks, Democrats did not raise questions about why they had happened on Bush's watch.

But not everyone was nonpartisan. On Oct. 4, 2001, a mere three weeks and a couple of days after the twin towers fell and the Pentagon was hit, there was Rush Limbaugh arguing on the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page: "If we're serious about avoiding past mistakes and improving national security, we can't duck some serious questions about Mr. Clinton's presidency."

To this day I remain astonished at Limbaugh's gall -- and at his shrewdness. Republicans were arguing simultaneously that it was treasonous finger-pointing to question what Bush did or failed to do to prevent the attacks, but patriotic to go after Clinton. Thus did they build up a mythology that cast Bush as the tough hero in confronting the terrorist threat and Clinton as the shirker. Bad history. Smart politics.

Moreover, when Democrats, notably former House minority leader Richard Gephardt, finally put their heads up in the late spring of 2002 to ask questions about that Aug. 6, 2001, memo warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks, the Republican pushback was furious.

Vice President Cheney, addressing his Democratic "friends" in Congress, said on May 16, 2002, that "they need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions, as were made by some today, that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9/11. Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war."

Boy, that was defensive, wasn't it? Funny that Cheney didn't respond that way when Limbaugh made his incendiary attack on Clinton. Opportunistic and inconsistent? Sure, but again, smart politics.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

This is just a fragment of a long history of evasion and blame-shifting by the administration and its supporters. And the polemical distortions of history came roaring back earlier this month in ABC's fictionalized account of the Sept. 11 events that butchered the Clinton record.

This history-as-attack-ad approach won praise from none other than Limbaugh, who described the film's screenwriter as a friend. Limbaugh was pleased that the film was "just devastating to the Clinton administration" and attacked its critics as "just a bunch of thin-skinned bullies." Pot-and-kettle metaphors don't begin to do justice to the hilarity of Limbaugh's saying such a thing.

And so Clinton exploded. My canvassing of Clinton insiders suggests two things about his outburst on "Fox News Sunday." First, he did not go into the studio knowing he would do it. There was, they say, a spontaneity to his anger. But, second, he had thought long and hard about comparisons between his record on terrorism and Bush's. He had his lines down pat from private musing about how he had been turned into a punching bag by the right. Something like this, one adviser said, was bound to happen eventually.

Sober, moderate opinion will say what sober, moderate opinion always says about an episode of this sort: Tut tut, Clinton looked unpresidential, we should worry about the future, not the past, blah, blah, blah.

But sober, moderate opinion was largely silent as the right wing slashed and distorted Clinton's record on terrorism. It largely stood by as the Bush administration tried to intimidate its own critics into silence. As a result, the day-to-day political conversation was tilted toward a distorted view of the past. All the sins of omission and commission were piled onto Clinton while Bush was cast as the nation's angelic avenger. And as conservatives understand, our view of the past greatly influences what we do in the present.

A genuinely sober and moderate view would recognize that it's time the scales of history were righted. Propagandistic accounts need to be challenged, systematically and consistently. The debate needed a very hard shove. Clinton delivered it.

postchat@aol.com
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
----------------------------
SOURCE:
E. J. Dionne Jr. - Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back - washingtonpost.com


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grumpy old man: HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION BUT WHO WILL NEXT TIME?

Having just finished reading the wonderfully enlightening book by Thomas Cahill, How the Irish saved Civilization, I can only recommend it to one and all. But I believe it my duty to at the same time, warn one and all that you might find, as I did, that it is a sure fire prediction of what is to become, and in the very near future is my belief, of the United States and with it, most of the Western world.

With the first chapter the most gloomy of all seeing as it gives a short version of the fall of the Roman Empire and the causes that led to it that reads exactly like the script the Bushites are using to destroy the Western World of today. The massive corruption in all levels of society. The total lack of respect for learning. The total dedication of a majority of the populace to their own pleasures and pursuits, forgetting in their entirety the rest of the population who are left to go hungry or at best, suffer ever increasing poverty. And worst of all in my opinion, the total destruction of the military.
----------------------------
read it all here:
grumpy old man: HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION BUT WHO WILL NEXT TIME?

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Friday, September 29, 2006

It's a sad, sad day...

Today, Soviet America is born.

Hear that distant rumbling? That's the "Greatest Generation" and earlier patriots who died for American ideals spinning in their graves.

Our Founding Fathers weep.

America's shame covers us like a veil. The world mourns.
--pseudolus

======================================================================
From our friends at BLAH3.COM:

Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 05:11 EDT
Contributed by: Stranger
Views: 11 ActivismTime to bring this relic out again (thanks to my friend blm at Democratic Underground for reminding me).



And to go with it, a song by the late Michael O'Donohue:

Don't Tread on Me

In some old dusty attic, undisturbed for many years
There lies a tattered banner that is stained with blood and tears
By men who knew that freedom must be fought for by the free
And died to save a ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me

Don't Tread on Me
I'm a rattlesnake with Diamonds down my back
When other men retreat that's just the time that I attack
Because a dream that's worth defending is a dream that's bound to be
A ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me

Two hundred years of glory and the glory's just begun
We may have lost some battles but these colors never run
We drew the line at Valley Forge, we held at Bunker Hill
The cannon smoke is lifting - I can see that banner still

Don't Tread on me
I'm a mountain lion and courage is my name
I tamed a wild country but I'm wild just the same
And from that rocky Boston harbor to the California Sea
A ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me

This nation isn't what we've done, it's what we've got to do
Remember that United States can only start with you
We better be recalling what this country's all about
And rally round that ragged flag and hear the people shout

Don't Tread on Me
I'm a grizzly bear that's not afraid to bite
I don't look for trouble but when trouble comes I fight
Because my daddy taught me freedom has no lifetime guarantee
A ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me

The winds of change are blowing and they're sure to shake this land
We stood all we can take and now it's time to take a stand
Let's tell the men who make the laws in Washington D.C.
Unfurl again That ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me

Don't Tread on me
I'm an eagle who is clawing at the sky
I want that banner waving up where eagles dare to fly
And blazing in the sunlight so that friend and foe can see
A ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me

Don't Tread on us
We're Americans and we were born to lead
Our skin is every color and our faith is every creed
We are 300 million people but on one thing we agree
A ragged flag that said Don't Tread on Me



MF Adds: Stranger, perhaps it's time to redo your This Is Not America Flash... I just watched it again, and shed a bit of a tear. Now that the deed is done, I hoisted my Gadsden Flag, and am now flying my American Flag upside down right above it. I never thought I'd see this day.

Blah3 - Life In The Shadow Of Empire...

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Diebold Added Secret Patch to Georgia E-Voting Systems in 2002, Whistleblowers Say - Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) ATLANTA – Top Diebold corporation officials ordered workers to install secret files to Georgia’s electronic voting machines shortly before the 2002 Elections, at least two whistleblowers are now asserting, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Former Diebold official Chris Hood told his story concerning the secret “patch” to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for Kennedy’s second article on electronic voting in this week’s Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hood’s claims corroborate a second whistleblower who spoke with Black Box Voting and Wired News in 2003.

Whistleblower Accounts

“With the primaries looming, [Chief of Diebold’s Election Division] Urosevich was personally distributing a ‘patch,’ a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program,” Rolling Stone Magazine reported.

"We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood told Rolling Stone. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."

"It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told Rolling Stone.

"We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level,” Hood told Rolling Stone.

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

The “patch” was applied to about 5,000 polling places in Fulton and DeKalb Counties in 2002, Rolling Stone reported.

Hood did not immediately return a text message from Atlanta Progressive News and his voicemail was not operational.

The second whistleblower, Rob Behler, was contracted to work with Diebold in the lead up to the 2002 Elections.

Two patches were applied in June and July 2002 respectively while Behler worked in the Diebold warehouse; another patch was applied in August 2002 after Behler left the warehouse, Wired News reported.

“Behler said Diebold programmers posted patches to a file-transfer-protocol site for him and his colleagues to apply to the machines,” Wired News reported.

Diebold officials first denied any patches were applied in an interview with Salon in 2003, according to Wired News.

"We have analyzed that situation and have no indication of that happening at all," Joseph Richardson, Diebold spokesperson, is reported to have told Salon at the time.

This story later changed.

Activists Speak Out

Elections integrity activists are outraged by the relevations, although they say the apparent secretive nature of “the patch” has only confirmed the things they already suspected and feared.

“The fact that they were doing any patch of any kind is very disturbing,” Garland Favorito of VoterGA, an organization that is suing the State of Georgia over the meaningless nature of elections here, told Atlanta Progressive News.

“It raises the distinct possibility the machines might have counted [in a] different [manner] on Election Night than when certified,” Favorito said.

“It corroborates two of our key points of the suit. One, machines can count differently on Election Night than when certified. So, the only way is to verify on Election Night. Two, it’s another example of how people have been removed from the counting of the votes,” Favorito said.

“I’m not surprised people are playing tricks. As far as the patch, I say ‘time out’ for that,” Donzella James, who is contesting her purported loss in the Democratic Primary in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District to US Rep. David Scott (D-GA), told Atlanta Progressive News.

“I’m definitely going to look into it. I’m glad there’s a credible person–Kennedy–who has brought this information forward,” James said.

An outspoken advocate for a voter verified paper trail since her days in the Georgia State Senate, James said she is getting ready to run again in 2008 whatever the outcome of her lawsuit.

“It immediately shows Diebold has not been telling the truth, has been covering up facts, in state after state, year after year. This is someone who knows. He has insider knowledge,” Brad Friedman of BradBlog told Atlanta Progressive News.

“These are things people suspected. He confirmed it. Diebold never gave a damn about security, accuracy, or transparency,” Friedman said.

What is worse, the use of last-minute patches on electronic voting machines are routine, Friedman said.

“It has happened all over the country. Because they find out about security issues at the last minute and apply them without going through the proper procedures,” Friedman said.

At a recent press conference called by Donzella James, poll watchers say one county official locked herself in a room with the machine for three unexplained minutes during the recent Primary.

Cathy Cox’s Role

Where was Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox during all this?

Apparently, Diebold leadership asked employees to not let her office know about the patch or patches.

And Diebold first alleged this application of patches wasn’t going on.

However, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox appears to have found out anyway.

And Diebold appears to have at some point acknowledged the patches existed.

At least one patch was approved by Kennesaw State University, who got a state contract to do so, according to Wired News.

And Diebold admitted to the Elections Assistance Commission about the “0808" patch, Garland Favorito said.

Cox wrote a letter after the 2002 Elections, asking Diebold to address a total of 29 problems with the functioning of their E-voting machines, technology, and procedures, Rolling Stone reported.

This list of 29 items was also brought up in a press conference by US Rep. Cynthia McKinney, her first major press conference on electronic voting.

Cox referred to the item of the mysterious patch as “The application/implication of the 0808 patch.”

“The state was seeking confirmation that the patch did not require that the system ‘be recertified at national and state level’ as well as ‘verifiable analysis of overall impact of patch to the voting system,’” Rolling Stone Magazine reports.

But shouldn’t they be seeking her confirmation and not the other way around?

Diebold’s reply to Cox’s letter, if one exists, has not been made publicly available, according to Rolling Stone.

“She [Cox] should be the one confirming it, not the vendor. She’s the one responsible for running elections in Georgia,” Favorito told Atlanta Progressive News.

“She appears to be trying to privatize the election system to the point where she’s trying to ask the vendor to determine if they’re in compliance, rather that using their own resources,” within the Office of the Secretary of State, Favorito said.

“They claim [as an excuse] to have changed the operating system and not the tabulating software. We believe the law says the systems have to be re-certified with a patch of any kind. The State did not certify those patches. The State took Diebold’s word,” Favorito said.

“However, State Law does not seem to support Diebold’s testimony,” Favorito said.

Atlanta Progressive News will be looking more into how Diebold was, or was not, able to satisfy Cox’s 2002 concerns.

“Atlanta Progressive News is the only media outlet in Georgia that’s covering this story,” Garland Favorito of VoterGA said.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

Syndication policy:

This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.
----------------------------
SOURCE:
Atlanta Progressive News


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Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006) - by Molly Ivins

With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.

AUSTIN, Texas - Oh dear. I’m sure he didn’t mean it. In Illinois’ Sixth Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, of planning to “cut and run” on Iraq.

Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. “I just could not believe he would say that to me,” said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?

Continued...to "Read More" click link below

CONTINUED:

The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill now being passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last Thursday between the White House and Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of “technical fixes” that were the point of the putative “compromise.” It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.

This bill is not a national security issue—this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.

Death by torture by Americans was first reported in 2003 in a New York Times article by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The “heart attack” came after he had been beaten so often on this legs that they had “basically been pulpified,” according to the coroner.

The story of why and how it took the Times so long to print this information is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. The press in general has been late and slow in reporting torture, so very few Americans have any idea how far it has spread. As is often true in hierarchical, top-down institutions, the orders get passed on in what I call the downward communications exaggeration spiral.

For example, on a newspaper, a top editor may remark casually, “Let’s give the new mayor a chance to see what he can do before we start attacking him.”

This gets passed on as “Don’t touch the mayor unless he really screws up.”

And it ultimately arrives at the reporter level as “We can’t say anything negative about the mayor.”

The version of the detainee bill now in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration’s first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to “examine and respond to” all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill has now dropped the word “examine” and left only “respond to.”

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words “outside the United States,” which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” Quick, define “purposefully and materially.” One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon “degenerates into a playground for sadists.” But not unbridled sadism—you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving “severe pain” and substituted “serious pain,” which is defined as “bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain.”

In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: “The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit.”

Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary—these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.

I’d like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and see works by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2006 TruthDig


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SOURCE:


Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)


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Antiterrorism Bill on Detainees, Geneva Conventions: Rushing Off a Cliff

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

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It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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SOURCE:
Antiterrorism Bill on Detainees, Geneva Conventions: Rushing Off a Cliff


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Ripping Off A Democracy Is As Old As Ancient Athens - by Mary Liz Thomson

Same as it ever was - lessons to be learned here. Does any of this ring a bell, people? We are witnessing the death of democracy in the USA and the abettors are people who "go along to get along", people who think "it can't happen here." --pseudolus
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Part of the American psyche likes to think that whatever the people at the top do to be successful must be good for everyone. This isn't always so. Getting rich can also lead to extraordinary abuses of power. Aristocratic tyranny might sound quaint, but nearly every generation of leaders have warned us of the dangers. From Madison to Jefferson, Lincoln and Eisenhower, in their own ways they told us that money power corrupts and that it could be the death of our republic.

Times of war are crucial moments for the survival of democracies. Giving up too much power to secretive leaders can end up doing more harm than the enemy. That's what happened to the first recorded democracy ever, in Ancient Athens. After flourishing for nearly 200 years, their democracy was taken over from within by its own most prominent civic leaders. Few of us know the story of Athens fall into tyranny and how eerily similar to our own current times. It is a potent reminder of how wartime fears can be used to con a free society into giving up everything.

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(The dates of Athens democracy were roughly from the times of Solon in 600 BCE to the end of the Spartan war in 401 BCE. Athens was somewhat democratic until 346 BCE. )

Athenians saw themselves as invincible warriors for freedom when they went off to Syracuse in 413 BCE. They were shocked when victory did not come. The reasons for the war turned out to be a complete lie and the situation much more complex. In a stunning defeat, their entire Navy got trapped in the middle of a civil war and slaughtered. A few rich aristocratic families, the Tyrants, (as they were called) exploited this horrifying loss and convinced Athenians to change the constitution to give them power. Once in power, in the name of patriotism and security this small group of tyrants sold their people out to Sparta, looted the public treasury, and left Athens broke. The educated middle class was destroyed and over time the rule of kings returned.

Athenians made two big mistakes that we modern Americans can learn from. First, they believed that a decisive victory could restore their glory. … Second, they believed that the rich rulers who took power during wartime had the people's best interests at heart.

When Ancient Athenians voted to hand over the people's assembly to tyrants in 411 and 404 BCE, they had suffered many years of war with Sparta. A generation earlier, Athens had won a heroic war much like our WWII, against the brutal dictatorship of the Persians. They became a beacon for free thought across Greece and their army fought for other democratic city-states to establish themselves. It was said proudly of Athenians, "Of no man are they the slaves or subjects" (Aeschylus).

They built the Parthenon and fostered the first advanced system of courts where citizens were paid to be jurors. All the best poets, singers, and plays were from Athens and bohemians could travel Greece reciting Athenian writers for their fare. There were four words for "freedom of speech" in Ancient Greek, more than any other language. The city was known for being talkative, it was a cosmopolitan place where you could say and do what you wanted.

In this free climate there were also a few vocal philosophers that despised democracy and believed in authoritarian rule. Socrates was one of them. He once called the public assembly an audience of dunces and weaklings, and his followers openly promoted oligarchy. They believed only the very elite, "those who know" should be rulers, and many of them were directly involved in the overthrow of the democracy.

Certainly Athens was no utopian society. They did have the contradiction of slavery; although it was a form you could buy your way out of. Women played a large role in religion, yet they could not vote. Still, the ancient Greeks did believe in dignity for the common person and this sense of equity carried over into economics as well. Solon not only held the first elections, he also divided up the large aristocratic land holdings of the past and kept a check on monopoly. Over time though, as Athens power grew, this sense of social balance eroded.

When Athenians sent their fleet to Syracuse they had been fighting a long protracted war with Sparta and people were eager for some kind of heroic victory. Military generals advised against the plan. Still, the citizens seemed to be genuinely stirred by the idea (a lie) that they could once again come to the aid of a democracy asking for their help. They were told that their host would be able to pay for their ships. The truth was that both sides in the battle were actually somewhat democratic and the money was never there. More than anything it appears to have been a power struggle that merchants wanted to exploit to gain control of shipping routes.

After the loss of their entire fleet, the very real danger of more attacks from Sparta loomed over Athens. In this time of fear, Aristocrats argued that commoners had made a mess of the war. Supporters of tyranny started taking over allied city-states and overthrowing their democracies. In Athens they set up secret groups that plotted to overthrow the assembly, (known as Synomosiai, or conspiracies), and they started their own gangs of assassins. Prominent members of the opposition party began to disappear and as intimidation spread people became afraid to speak out.

Like today's leaders that fawn over Arab royalty, elite Athenians openly admired the disciplined Spartan society that was based on a structure of "noble lords". They found a bond of aristocracy and hoped to be Sparta's proxies after the war. In secret they also plotted with Spartan generals to help them attack Athens. There was even a shady port deal that didn't go through. They were trying to build a harbor wall that would have helped Spartan ships invade.

Eventually the tyrants became so brazen that they brought armed guards with them to the public assembly of 5000 Athenian citizens for the final showdown. The guards snapped whips at the Athenian delegates as the vote was taken. In fear and under duress, the ancient democratic assembly voted themselves out of power for a wartime dictatorship.

Unfortunately for Athenians, these tyrants did not win the war with Sparta and it is doubtful that they ever wanted to. Instead of dealing with the real crisis of holding off the Spartan Army and getting food supplies into Athens, what they did was redistribute the whole of the Athenian treasury into their own hands. When that wasn't enough, they took their mercenary guards directly to major Athenian businesses and demanded cash.

This totalitarian mafia-like movement was led by well known leaders of Athens; friends of Socrates, (Criteas), relatives of Plato (Charmides), famous philosophers and businessmen who wanted to take the power of government out of the hands of the common man. Historians of the time period such as Thucydides commented on how shocked Athenians were by the behavior of these elites once they were in power, and by stature of the people who joined them, "There were among them, men whom one would never have expected to change over and favor oligarchy".

It was the so-called "best men" of Athens, inside the assembly, who brought the democracy down. They acted patriotic, wore nice robes, went to the best schools, and gave money to the temples of Athena. All as they used their positions of power to spy on and murder their opponents, steal with impunity, and plot the death of democracy.

Athenian resisters went into exile and did return to fight back. In a stunning victory in the streets, women and elder civilians came out to support them and ended the battle with the tyrants. A much weaker form of democracy was restored, but so much damage had been done that it didn't survive long. The tyrants had stolen so much money that the social structure of Athens changed and the middle class was gone. Over the next thirty years the nobility controlled a much smaller assembly. Without the base of an educated middle class, the strength of the opposition to dictatorship eroded, and the democratic dream of Athens faded into the old style of totalitarian kings.

What happened in Ancient Athens illustrates the danger of letting a small group of people take too much financial control of society through the government. In I.F. Stone's fascinating book The Trial of Socrates, he says, "In 411 and 404 democracy was not overthrown by popular revulsion, but a handful of conspirators. They had to use violence and deceit and to work hand in glove with the Spartan enemy because they had so little support at home". According to Thucydides the tyrants numbers were few, but people became afraid to speak out, fearing that the conspiracy was much larger than it was.

Our current society stands at a crossroads where we could chose to create new paths to environmentally sustainable prosperity, freedom, and security or let our collective wealth become so consolidated into a few elite hands that we no longer have any real voice. Under the Bush administration one might say we've seen the work of thieves masquerading as conservatives. Through their outrageous corruption and graft in government spending, tax cuts to the rich, and huge rises in corporate executive pay they've managed to transfer billions of dollars out of the middle class and into a few key industry leader's hands. Census statistics tell us that the average person has seen little gain in real wages in thirty years, while defense contactors and oil industry executives have enjoyed record profits since 9/11 .

We live at a time when the health of the planet and human survival depends on investing in new sources of non-carbon energy. For oils companies there's a huge incentive to block progress on alternatives. There may have been a past era when Americans sat back and let the grand industrialists lay the foundations of our financial system and direct our wars. Today, we need to make sure that they serve the broader interests of the public. Lets stop pretending that corporate leaders aren't already using the government to control the economy ("Free Trade" agreements often have over 9000 pages of special deals), and get more involved in the debate over who benefits from our money and our military.

In this process lets also re-embrace the value of integrating different points of views together in order to solve our problems. In doing so perhaps we can find the mutuality of respect for our neighbor again (red, green, pink, or blue), and reject the kind of unquestioning consolidation of power in a "king like" executive presidency that the Bush administration has pushed for. The stakes are high. The Ancient Greeks developed an incredible democratic culture but in the end their willingness to fight for freedom was twisted into a tool for the very elite. Let us be watchful for the secretive authoritarians that could be our own modern tyrants.

Mary Liz Thomson lives in North Hollywood, CA. ravenswood@earthlink.net
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SOURCE:
Ripping Off A Democracy Is As Old As Ancient Athens


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Economy Booming for Billionaires - by Holly Sklar

Millionaires are so last millennium. The new Forbes 400 list of richest Americans is billionaires only.

If you're net worth is a mere $999 million, forget it. A billion means a thousand million, and that's the Forbes 400 minimum -- up from $900 million in 2005.

Donald Trump and two of his kids grace the Forbes 400 cover, but ranked No. 94 with $2.9 billion, Trump's a long way from No. 1 Bill Gates with $53 billion.

The combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans is a record-breaking $1.25 trillion. That's about the same amount of combined wealth held by the 57 million households who make up half the U.S. population.

The economy is booming for billionaires. It's a bust for many other Americans.

A record 400 Americans are billionaires -- and a record 47 million Americans have no health insurance.

America has 400 billionaires -- and 37 million people below the official poverty line.

The official poverty line for one person was just $9,973 in 2005 (latest data). That wouldn't cover the custom-made men's shoes ($4,128) and Hermes purse ($6,250) on the Forbes Cost of Living Extremely Well Index. The official poverty line of $15,577 for a three-person family is lower than the cost of the Patek Philippe men's gold watch ($17,600).

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The Forbes 400 minimum is up $100 million since 2005, but the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour -- just $10,712 a year -- since 1997. GOP leaders in Congress have been holding a raise for minimum wage workers hostage to more giant tax cuts for wealthy inheritors.

Wealth isn't trickling down. It's flooding up -- from workers to bosses, small investors to big, poorer to richer.

The heirs to Wal-Mart founders Sam and Bud Walton have a combined $82.5 billion -- while the children of Wal-Mart workers swell the ranks of state health insurance programs for the neediest.

In today's corporate America, workers see gutted paychecks and pensions despite rising worker productivity, while CEOs get golden pay, perks, pensions and parachutes. The pay gap between average workers and CEOs has grown nine times wider since the 1970s.

The number of billionaires is a record high, but the share of national income going to wages and salaries is at a record low.

U.S. corporate profits increased 21 percent in the past year, Market Watch reported in March. "Profits have been so high because almost all of the benefits from productivity improvements are flowing to the owners of capital rather than to the workers," said Market Watch.

The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (minimum net worth $6 million) owned 62 percent of the nation's business assets, 51 percent of stocks and 70 percent of bonds as of 2004, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances -- which excludes the Forbes 400. That's way up from 1989, when the wealthiest 1 percent owned 54 percent of business assets, 41 percent of stocks and 52 percent of bonds.

Our growing economy is not producing a growing middle class, but a richer aristocracy.

The high point for median household income -- the income of the household in the middle -- was $47,671 in 1999, adjusted for inflation. In 2005, median household income was $1,345 less at $46,326. In the same period, the Forbes 400 gained more than 100 billionaires.

Government policies are fueling rising inequality. Taxpayers with incomes above $1 million will see their after-tax income grow by about 6 percent this year thanks to tax cuts the nation can't afford.

In an economy where money is flowing up to the very top, even college-educated workers are going backward. Inflation-adjusted median household income was lower in 2005 than 1999 even when the householder had a bachelor's degree, master's degree, professional degree or doctorate.

The problem is much bigger than the rich getting richer, while the poor get poorer. The really rich are getting richer at the expense of most everyone else.

Solutions include restoring the link between rising worker productivity and pay, raising the miserly minimum wage, narrowing the obscene pay gap between workers and CEOs, rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy -- and stop taxing income from work more than income from capital gains.

Holly Sklar is co-author of "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future" (www.letjusticeroll.org) and "Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies That Work for All of Us." She can be reached at hsklar@aol.com.

Copyright © 2006 Holly Sklar
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SOURCE:
Economy Booming for Billionaires


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Bush and Co. Incompetent? Not Really - by Arthur Cannon

The Bush administration and its supporters are widely perceived as incompetent.

Actually, they are very competent. But that competence is limited to furthering their own secret agenda, an agenda that seldom coincides with the national interest and is most often at odds with it. What's more, like the legendary crazy fox, they actively encourage the misperception of incompetence; it gives them cover for what they're really up to.

Could an "incompetent" administration have gotten itself in power twice, enabled the election of a rubber-stamp Congress and increased its margin of power three times (so far)? Start two major wars, one with lies and waged contrary to expert military recommendations? Engineer passage of massive tax cuts — during wartime — and other welfare for the rich programs? Get other controversial legislation passed, like a Medicare drug bill written by and for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, the Patriot Act, and Orwellian-titled laws like the Clear Skies Act that achieve the opposite effect? Gut provisions of environmental and other basic protection laws by placing industry leaders to head the regulatory agencies? Perpetuate their policies by getting far-right Supreme Court justices and lower federal court judges confirmed?

The list can go on and on, but all of their very real accomplishments required great skill and dedication; all have or will be detrimental to the nation.

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But selling the war in Iraq is — so far — the ultimate example of their supreme competence in furthering their own agenda, while causing grave harm to the nation.

They were obsessed with this war even before taking office, and were prepared to do whatever it took to achieve it. Sept. 11 was their opportunity and they seized it. But they needed to sell it to a skeptical Congress and public, and quickly; the U.N. inspectors were on the verge of announcing that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and the anti-war movement was fast gaining momentum; every day's delay further jeopardized their war.

Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida were the most logical selling points. But they needed more; they also had to convince the public and Congress that it would be easy, quick and cheap. Hence the talk about our invincible military enjoying a cakewalk, our troops welcomed as liberators, lowball costs to be paid out of Iraqi oil revenues, etc.

Those lies were their competence, not incompetence, at work; they were the only way to meet their goal: starting the war. But they also made it necessary to attack prematurely, with inadequate planning, troop levels, training and equipment, dooming it to failure from the beginning.

When Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki and other military experts argued that at least 300,000 troops would be needed, not for military victory but to maintain stability in Iraq afterward, they had to be squelched — not because they were wrong but because deploying that number of troops would not only have delayed the start of the war; it would have raised serious questions about how easy, quick and cheap it would be, and about the welcome our troops could expect from the defeated Iraqis.

The State Department had spent a year preparing detailed plans for the aftermath of military victory, its Future of Iraq Project. Dealing with the predictable aftermath of military victory was also a significant part of contingency war plans against Iraq prepared by the military since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Both plans were ignored; to even acknowledge either would have raised serious questions about the war's feasibility.

Any honest prewar assessment of the costs, risks and benefits of the war would also have raised serious doubts about its feasibility, so none was ever made. Besides, only wimps do such things.

They were extremely competent at getting the war they wanted. They just had no more concern for the consequences than a dog chasing a truck.

Not surprisingly, following an initial military victory that culminated on "Mission Accomplished" day, the initial mistakes, compounded by an utter unwillingness to govern wisely, led to a complete debacle, with literally everything turning out the opposite of what was intended.

Yet, as a further measure of their supreme competence and impotence of their opposition, they are still in charge, still fooling a sizable albeit shrinking segment of Congress and the public into accepting their sorry-about-that response: We might have misjudged the difficulty, but "stuff happens" in war and no one could have anticipated the resulting problems; but the war in Iraq was necessary to fight terrorism; we must "stay the course" until "victory" is achieved, and we're the only ones who can achieve it; but we need another Republican Congress to do it.

An incompetent administration would have been laughed out of existence, or impeached, long ago. And they still have their opposition believing they are incompetent.

Arthur Cannon lives and writes in Bath,Maine and considers himself an equal opportunity cynic. E-mail acannon2@verizon.net.

Copyright 2006 Times Record
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SOURCE:
Bush and Co. Incompetent? Not Really


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Snapshot of a Plutocracy - by Nicholas von Hoffman

We can thank moronic editors, who know the hotsie-totsiest places to eat but not the important things of life that ought to go into their publications, for list journalism. To call this genre low-grade filler is to overpraise it. But there are exceptions, and the most valuable is the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the United States.

The Forbes 400, present and past, constitutes the largest and most reliable trove of data on who owns how much of America. The government does not collect information on wealth, only on income, so the annual Forbes effort is unique. I have been told by IRS people off the record that they have found the 400 a useful tool.

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The list is also a useful tool for anyone interested in power, the most important of the blessings great wealth confers. How much money, how much power? These 400 possess an aggregate $1.25 trillion. Imagine how many Congressmen that will buy.

If the first 400 have that kind of money, it looks to me as if the first 4,000 rich people, which includes all those at $900 million and $800 million levels, could presumably own and control most of the wealth in America. This is a disturbing snapshot of plutocracy. It could well be that a nation of 300 million people is run by about 1 percent of its population.

A quick look at this list and there goes the Republican eyewash about the death tax. Four of the ten richest human beings in America inherited their money. Scores of these billionaires got that way thanks to the exertion of their ancestors.

By the same token the income tax, which purportedly has been such a dead weight on entrepreneurial initiative, seems to have no effect on these billionaires. How, pray tell, did Bill Gates amass a fortune of more than $53 billion and Warren Buffett do nearly as well on a confiscatory tax system?

If the income tax is so painfully high, why is it that only twelve of the people on the list live abroad? And of these twelve, how many are tax refugees? How many prefer being someplace else, where it is not so easy to serve a summons?

There are only nineteen billionaire manufacturers on the list, but there are twenty-five from the finance category. And how many billionaires in agriculture? There are seven, six of whom inherited their money. Forbes also has a category for food billionaires. There are twenty-five of them making or inheriting money from fast food (Chick-fil-A), candy, soft drinks, chewing gum and Campbell's soup. All of that tells you something about America. The fact that there are sixteen health business billionaires, including the Frist family, tells you something else about America and the high cost of health insurance.

Some states are too poor, too dull, too much on the decline to harbor a billionaire. You won't find one in New Mexico or North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi. What about the states with one or two billionaires? Try Idaho, where the Simplot Family, with $3.2 billion in their sporran, rules. Do they practice droit du seigneur there? On the other hand, there are eighty-nine billionaires in California, enough perchance that they might have a falling out and, once divided, give the impecunious masses a chance to make their will known. However, even at the risk of sounding a trifle Marxist, there is such a thing as class solidarity, and if there ever were a class that had reason to band together and stick it to the rest of us, it is the billionaire class and its lesser millionaire allies.

Unlike compiling a list of the ten most eligible bachelors or the ten best or worst doctors to go to for a facelift, compiling the Forbes list is an expensive, exhaustive and impressive work of journalism. It requires sending reporters of judgment, experience and ingenuity to track the super-rich in all corners of the United States.

The Forbes list is not compiled by calling up the Big Rich and asking, "Just how big rich are you?" A lot of these people would shoot a reporter sooner than talk to one. Many of them live in fear of kidnapping, burglary and assassination. The crown of gold does not necessarily ride easy on the head. These people do not pay untold sums for fences, guards and alarm systems only to give it away to some reporter whose shoes are scuffed and whose billfold is flat.

Conversely, some people--probably because they want to impress their bankers--seek to exaggerate their money. Such a one may be Donald Trump, about whom the magazine says, "He's lately put his fortune at $6 billion. We say it's $2.9 billion. We've never faulted Trump for showing a salesman's enthusiasm in his estimate; he's been sporting about our more skeptical one.... While not based on an audited statement, it's the result of many hours of research, fact-gathering and consultation with real estate professionals who've got nothing to gain from helping Trump inflate his wealth."

This is the twenty-fourth edition of the Forbes 400. The longer this list goes, the more valuable it becomes. Someday the Forbes people will surely do a retrospective in which they include the crates of unpublished notes and backup material that goes into creating the list each year. Such a longitudinal look will be hugely worthwhile, but in the meantime we have the annual list, and that gives a look at money and power we cannot get anywhere else.

Copyright © 2006 The Nation
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SOURCE:
Snapshot of a Plutocracy


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Whiskey Bar: Help is on the Way

Help is on the Way
For eight years, Clinton and Gore have extended our military commitments while depleting our military power. Rarely has so much been demanded of our armed forces, and so little given to them in return. George W. Bush and I are going to change that, too. I have seen our military at its finest, with the best equipment, the best training, and the best leadership. I'm proud of them. I have had the responsibility for their well-being. And I can promise them now, help is on the way.

Dick Cheney
Acceptance speech to the GOP national convention
August 2, 2000

_____________________


Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker told congressional staffers last week he is worried that the Army cannot repair vital equipment fast enough because supplemental budget requests have been too little, too late . . . The service has a backlog of thousands of pieces of equipment awaiting repair because there is not enough money to pay for the repairs more quickly, Schoomaker said. None of the Army's five major depots, where damaged and worn out equipment is refurbished, is operating above 50 percent capacity, he said.

Government Executive magazine
Funding shortfalls jeopardize Army operations, chief says
July 17, 2006


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go read the rest:
Whiskey Bar: Help is on the Way

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David Corn - This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like

As Congress has debated legislation that would set up military tribunals and govern the questioning of suspected terrorists (whom the Bush administration would like to be able to detain indefinitely), at issue has been what interrogation techniques can be employed and whether information obtained during torture can be used against those deemed unlawful enemy combatants. One interrogation practice central to this debate is waterboarding. It's usually described in the media in a matter-of-fact manner. The Washington Post simply referred to waterboarding a few days ago as an interrogation measure that "simulates drowning." But what does waterboarding look like?

Below are photographs taken by Jonah Blank last month at Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The prison is now a museum that documents Khymer Rouge atrocities. Blank, an anthropologist and former Senior Editor of US News & World Report, is author of the books Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God and Mullahs on the Mainframe. He is a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and has taught at Harvard and Georgetown. He currently is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic staff in the Senate, but the views expressed here are his own observations.

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CONTINUED...

His photos show one of the actual waterboards used by the Khymer Rouge. Here's the first:

Waterboard1-small.jpg

Here's another view:

Waterboard2-small.jpg

How were they used? Here's a painting by a former prisoner that shows the waterboard in action:

Waterboard3-small.jpg

In an email to me, Blank explained the significance of the photos. He wrote:

The crux of the issue before Congress can be boiled down to a simple question: Is waterboarding torture? Anybody who considers this practice to be "torture lite" or merely a "tough technique" might want to take a trip to Phnom Penh. The Khymer Rouge were adept at torture, and there was nothing "lite" about their methods. Incidentally, the waterboard in these photo wasn't merely one among many torture devices highlighted at the prison museum. It was one of only two devices singled out for highlighting (the other was another form of water-torture--a tank that could be filled with water or other liquids; I have photos of that too.) There was an outdoor device as well, one the Khymer Rouge didn't have to construct: chin-up bars. (The prison where the museum is located had been a school before the Khymer Rouge took over). These bars were used for "stress positions"-- another practice employed under current US guidelines. At the Khymer Rouge prison, there is a tank of water next to the bars. It was used to revive prisoners for more torture when they passed out after being placed in stress positions.

The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge and those currently being debated by Congress isn't a coincidence. As has been amply documented ("The New Yorker" had an excellent piece, and there have been others), many of the "enhanced techniques" came to the CIA and military interrogators via the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools, where US military personnel are trained to resist torture if they are captured by the enemy. The specific types of abuse they're taught to withstand are those that were used by our Cold War adversaries. Why is this relevant to the current debate? Because the torture techniques of North Korea, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and its proxies--the states where US military personnel might have faced torture--were NOT designed to elicit truthful information. These techniques were designed to elicit CONFESSIONS. That's what the Khymer Rouge et al were after with their waterboarding, not truthful information.

Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they're also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn't a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it's sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.

These photos are important because most of us have never seen an actual, real-life waterboard. The press typically describes it in the most anodyne ways: a device meant to "simulate drowning" or to "make the prisoner believe he might drown." But the Khymer Rouge were no jokesters, and they didn't tailor their abuse to the dictates of the Geneva Convention. They-- like so many brutal regimes--made waterboarding one of their primary tools for a simple reason: it is one of the most viciously effective forms of torture ever devised.

The legislation backed by Bush and congressional Republicans would explicitly permit the use of evidence obtained through waterboarding and other forms of torture. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and other top al Qaeda leaders have reportedly been subjected to this technique. They would certainly note--or try to note--that at any trial. But with this legislation, the White House is seeking to declare the use of waterboarding (at least in the past) as a legitimate practice of the US government.

The House of Representatives voted for Bush's bill on Thursday, 253 to 168 (with 34 Democrats siding with the president and only seven Republicans breaking with their party's leader). The Senate is expected to vote on the bill today. Its members should consider Blank's photos and arguments before they, too, go off the deep end.

******

To comment on this item--or read comments about this item--click on the time stamp at the end of the posting...Scratch that. I'm told that someone is actively trying to shut down this site by bombarding it with comments. "I think this is not coincidental with the release of your book," my web wizard says. Nearly 300,000 came in last night from the perp--in a massive attempt to crash the site. Consequently, comments are off, and we're figuring out what to do next.

Posted by David Corn at September 28, 2006 02:09 PM



David Corn

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Facial hair rulz!.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Crikey! They've done ENOUGH damage, we shouldn't hope for more.

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Hmmm...hmmm...good!.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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The 'rents are crazy! I tells ya..........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Yeah, Republicans are the "good guys"

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House Report Details 485 Contacts Between Abramoff Team and White House Officials

DIRTY - DIRTY - DIRTY! Hah, who thinks these were benign contacts to arrange garden parties and tea socials? A couple of hundred million bucks to investigate Clinton and his administration and what came of it? ONE MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION! While 2 Republican admins before were rife with felonious convictions and this one will rival the all time greats if they are ever properly investigated. War crimes, embezzlement, war profiteering, treason and more. --pseudolus
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Update: 9-29-06
More dirt here:
TPM Muckraker
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By John Bresnahan and Paul Kane
Roll Call

Thursday, Sept. 28; 7:10 pm

A House committee has documented hundreds of contacts between top White House officials and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates, as well as tens of thousands of dollors worth of meals and tickets to sporting events and concerts that were offered to these officials during a three-year period starting in early 2001.

A 95-page report, which was released by the House Government Reform Committee on Thursday evening, includes an analysis of more than 14,000 pages of documents provided to the panel by Abramoff's former lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig.

Democrats and Republicans on the committee immediately began to fight over the report's findings, with each side portraying the results in the context of its own political needs.

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Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, released a statement portraying Abramoff’s efforts to lobby the Bush administration as largely ineffective.

Davis also pointed out that Abramoff’s billing records and e-mail exchanges do not mean that events unfolded as he claimed to either his firm or his clients.

“These records are just one side of what was often a multi-party conversation,” Davis said in a statement released by his office. “The almost complete absence of reply e-mails from Abramoff’s lobbying targets in the White House has to be seen as telling. In an environment that lives and breathes on e-mail exchanges, that silence speaks volumes about how seriously most people in the White House took Jack Abramoff’s schemes.”

“A number of individuals appear to have been offered tickets to sporting events and concerts,” said the statement from Davis’ office. "The Committee does not know in all cases if executive branch employees accepted them, if they were allowed to accept them without paying for them, or if they indeed paid for them themselves. The Committee is confident the appropriate authorities will examine whether the tickets were accepted, required to be paid for, and if so, whether they were paid for.”

A summary prepared for Democratic leaders by staffers for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of Government Reform, stated that the information provided by the Abramoff documents may show wrongdoing on the part of top White House officials.

Democrats suggested that the documents obtained by the committee “raised serious questions about the legality and ethics of the actions of multiple White House officials.”

The Government Reform Committee report singled out two of President Bush’s top lieutenants, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, as having been offered expensive meals and exclusive tickets to premier sporting events and concerts by Abramoff and his associates.

In total, the committee was able to document 485 contacts between White House officials and Abramoff and his lobbying team at the firm Greenberg Traurig from January 2001 to March 2004, with 82 of those contacts occurring in Rove¹s office, including 10 with Rove personally. The panel also said that Abramoff billed his clients nearly $25,000 for meals and drinks with White House officials during that period.

Rove, Mehlman, and other White House officials have denied having any close relationship with Abramoff, despite the fact that Abramoff was a “Pioneer” who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Bush’s White House campaigns.

Democratic committee staff wrote in a three-page summary that accompanied the report: “The documents depict a much closer relationship between Mr. Abramoff and White House officials than the White House has previously acknowledged.” Davis and Waxman this summer subpoenaed e-mails and billing records from Greenberg Traurig and other firms, including Alexander Strategy Group, which was run by one-time aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). They examined more than 14,000 pages of documents from Greenberg Traurig, including 6,600 pages of billing records and 7,700 pages of e-mail.

During the period examined by the committee, Bush administration officials repeatedly intervened on behalf of Abramoff’s clients, including helping a Mississippi Indian tribe obtain $16 million in federal funds for a jail the tribe wanted to build.

Abramoff was able to block the nomination of one Interior Department official using Christian conservative Ralph Reed as a go-between with Rove, according to e-mails between Abramoff and Reed.

Abramoff also tried to oust a State Department employee who interfered with their efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, one of Abramoff’s most lucrative clients.

White House officials were allowed to view the draft report on Wednesday evening.

Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, dismissed Abramoff’s claim of pull with the Bush administration. She also noted that Abramoff has pleaded guilty to a number of felonies during the last year, including fraud and conspiracy to bribe public officials.

“The billing records that are the basis of this report are widely regarded as fraudulent in how they misrepresented the activities and influence of Abramoff,” Perino said. “There’s no reason those records should be suddenly viewed as credible.”

Perino added that she was unaware of any link between Abramoff’s lobbying and White House intervention in policy or personnel matters affecting his clients. “Not that I’m aware of as a result of a direct contact,” Perino said.

Perino did not specifically address whether White House officials ever accepted meals or tickets from Abramoff.

“We have high standards and expect them to be met,” she said.

In a bipartisan executive summary of the new report, committee staff said that “there are certain caveats” about Abramoff’s actions that are impossible to verify because the report is based solely on the records of Abramoff and Greenberg Traurig employees.

“There is little or no corroboration of the events described in the documents,” the summary states. “In other instances, the documents are vague about who was lobbied and what was said. While the documents described in this report are authentic, that does not mean that the events actually transpired or that Abramoff and his associates did not exaggerate or misrepresent their actions.”

Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, which Mehlman now chairs, said Mehlman and Abramoff would have interacted when Mehlman served as White House political director.

“In his capacity as Political Director of the White House, it is not unusual that Mr. Mehlman would be in contact with supporters who had interest in Administration policy,” Schmitt said in a statement.

The committee was able to uncover numerous times when Abramoff and his associates attended social events with senior White House aides using tickets or passes supplied by Abramoff. For instance, Abramoff attended an NCAA Tournament college basketball game with Rove in March 2002. Afterward, Abramoff told an associate that Rove was “a great guy” who told him “anytime we need something, just let him know” via Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston. Ralston worked for Abramoff before moving over to the White House.

In June 2001, while he was still working at the White House, Mehlman was offered two tickets to a U2 concert by Abramoff. The documents do not indicate whether Mehlman paid for the tickets or attended the concert.

“If White House officials failed to pay for these meals and tickets, their actions would be a violation of these legal requirements,” Democratic committee staff wrote in their summary, noting a ban on gifts from lobbyists worth more than $20 to executive branch officials.

The committee said its investigation is continuing.
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SOURCE:

House Report Details 485 Contacts Between Abramoff Team and White House Officials


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