Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, June 30, 2006

A New Kind of Peace

Those who claim we are "at war" cite Afghanistan, Iraq and the "war on Terror" (often as one entity). As for Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush assures us our troops are stationed in those nations at the request of their democratically elected, sovereign governments, and he insists there is no civil war in either place. So how can we be "at war" in Iraq or Afghanistan when there is no war there? Yes, our troops are in danger over there, but that does not mean our nation is at war.

As for Al Qaeda, it's not a country--it doesn't even have a structure. It has--at most--a few thousand adherents scattered around the world, and when we capture suspected members, we call them "detainees," not prisoners of war. In fact, they're so "irregular" that Bush says even the parts of the Geneva convention dealing with irregular forces do not apply to them. The situation with Al Qaeda is so different from a war that even Rumsfeld has to call it a "new kind" of war.

But it's not a new kind of war. It's a new kind of peace.

Was Great Britain "at war" in Northern Ireland? Were we "at war" with Timothy McVeigh? Are we still "at war" in Korea? We were truly "at war" with the USSR from 1945-1990? We can be attacked, remain under threat, and may deploy our troops to dangerous places far away--but that does not mean we are in a state of war. If we're going to prosper in this new era, we really need to lose the old 20th century "war" mentality altogether, because Al Qaeda cannot be defeated through military action.

It's not a matter of law enforcement either--because they go beyond domestic law, and don't fit international law that well either. We're in a new kind of peace, and exterminating Al Qaeda is a matter of international peace enforcement. Maybe those are better terms for our times...?


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

We finally have some checks on Presidential power. Thank goodness for that. But as Greenwald points out, Congress can undo everything the court did. So you know what to do in November.


Court Sells Out Voters

The US Supreme Court has decided in a 5-4 vote that the Texas redistricting plan is not unconstitutional. The Court, however, is wildly spit in its justification for its decision, which means that this may be challenged at a later date. That said however, it seems to me that it was a bad decision.

1. It may set off similar plans across the country.
2. Gerrymandering in general needs to be halted. I always learned that it was unconstitutional, but apparently it isn't and even the Court has a hard time defining what constitutes a gerrymander.
3. By allowing mid-term redistricting, i.e. districting not linked to the census, people may find themselves shuffled from district to district from election to election. This means that they can't hold their representatives accountable for anything. This would further divorce the voter from the democratic process.

This last point is the one that I find the most compelling and worrisome. So my question to the Citizens is what do you all think? Now that the Court session is wrapping up, what do we think of this newly constituted Court and what do we see coming in the future?


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Senate Protects Constitution from Desecration

The amendment to allow Congress to punish those who make unpopular political statements by burning the US flag failed by one vote, gaining 66, not 67. Dianne Feinstein again voted for this silly and un-American rule. The amendment would not have prohibited all flag burning; it only prohibits flag-burning if you have certain unpopular thoughts in mind. It would have remained lawful, fo example, to burn a flag as part of a patriotic (creepy) ceremony of disposing of a worn flag. No word yet on whether the amendment would have prohibited singeing, or burning mock-ups of the US flag (e.g., 12 stripes, 49 stars), or how much of the cloth would have to be destroyed, or how big the flag would have to be, before it became criminal. Still unresolved, also, is whether flag made of flame-proof fabric and flambeed - thus doused in flame, but not consumed, like the Burning Bush -- would be a crime. Or whether it would be a crime to burn the flag if you thought this was honoring the flag, much in the same way cross-burning by the Klan is not intended (by the Klan, anyway) as a desecration of the cross.

The interesting thing is that free speech here was saved by two REPUBLICANS- Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and... wait for it... Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Old boy has a conscience after all. Either that or the GOP wanted to keep the issue alive as a bloody shirt for the future, and those two drew the short straws.


Sign of the Times

From my inbox:

Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 19:59:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: First 500 Ticket Buyers Get Gasoline

The first 500 fans to purchase select seats in the field level outfield for Friday home games will not only have a chance to win a new GM vehicle with the GM Drive It Outta the Park Sweepstakes, but will receive a free $10 Chevron Gift Card!


Monday, June 26, 2006

Noblesse Oblige

Hi Gang,

You may have noticed a recent event that could be the landmark event of the young 21st Century. Warren Buffet has donated nearly $40 Billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This donation will nearly double the already enormous philanthropic organization. NPR reported today that the Gates Foundation already spends more money in Africa than the main United Nations aid/development organizations. Here we have a private foundation funded by two men that will do more to help man kind than all the states and all the intergovernmental organizations in the world. The days when states dominated the world utterly are long gone.

In other news, Mr. Buffet is also calling for Congress to retain the Estate Tax!!! It seems that the American who would most benefit from its repeal recognizes the need for it!


Saturday, June 24, 2006

...And formidable to Tyrants only

Dick Cheney went out to defend the latest Bush scandal. Bush told us in April 2002 that there would only be searches with warrants. In December '05, the press revealed that the Bush administration is listening in on every overseas call. That's all. Nothing more. Nothing to worry about unless you're Al Qaeda. Then, in April '06, it was revealed that they are keeping a database of every American's telephone calls. Again, that's all. Nothing more. No more secrets. Nothing to worry about unless you're Al Qaeda. Now we find out they're tracking the banking records of every single American. That's all. Nothing more. No more secrets. Just that. And, as always, the Bush administration is angry about the leak:

Here is Dick Cheney yesterday:
"What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people. That offends me."

The arrogance is astounding! The pattern should now be clear: there is no limit to their arrogance or lust for power. This administration is treating everyone one of us as a terrorism suspect, especially the free press, and is spying on all of us, our phones, banks, mail, everything. Tony Snow, press secretary, keeps saying you "have nothing to worry about unless you're Al Qaeda." That's what tyrants always say. Only bad people will be hurt. What are we, six year olds?

I get so angry when I hear numbskulls like the new CIA chief speaking of the need to "balance" liberty and security. And senators and newsmen nod sagely. It's a false choice. There's no balance. They aren't really all that related. The premise, rarely spoken but widely believed by the right wing, is that if we were a total police state, we would be totally safe, and everything else is a compromise, where we accept less safety in exchange for civil liberties. Of course, it never works. They have terrorism in Russia. They have it in Syria. In Egypt. Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian nightmare, but they have terrorists there. That's where most of the m--f--ckers come from!

Why doesn't a police state bring security? Because when the government treats everyone as a terrorist, it can't tell who the real terrorists are anymore. When you broaden the definition of suspicious activity to include the normal behavior of free people who want to mind their own business, every transaction looks suspect. And, on the flip side, every dangerous transaction or conversation become strangely normal, because people start behaving differently. Everyone starts talking in hushed tones around authority figures. People stop ratting on suspicious activity, because they know it will only turn the suspicion on them, too. Don't stick your neck out - a terrible lesson if you want citizen vigilance! The Soviet Union went to extremes of imprisoning tens of millions and killing as many. We can argue whether that "worked," but I don't feel like trying it. Or am I just soft on terrorism?

Security doesn't come from the spy-on-everyone-and-mine-data approach. Brute force isn't the answer. Intelligence is, in every sense of the word. We need a vigilant citizenry that cooperates with high-quality, targeted, and intelligent police investigations. We need ICE agents who pay attention, and don't give visas to dead people. We need people who are eagle-eyed, not bureaucrats. The answer isn't reorganizing existing bureaucrats to the Department of the Oogy-Boogy Homeland Security, but dramatically raising pay and recruiting the best and the brightest (even if they are gay, or - in the case of the Air Force, not Fundamentalist Christian).

Here's the score, Mr. Bush. Why do you hate freedom? Why are you afraid of it? The best defense we have is a free and vigilant people with a government that respects them, and vice versa. And how dare you lash out at oversight by press or Congress! Jefferson spoke of the revocation of his people's right of representation in legislatures thus, "a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only." Otherwise, what are we fighting for?

The response, from various Republican Senators is, "You can't have civil liberties if you're dead." So is that our only goal, then - stop attacks and save our own hides? Well, then we're WAY off! I mean, if it's that important to prevent terrorist attacks, why don't we just keep all our civil liberties and constitution as it is, but just withdraw all US troops from the middle east and stop supporting Israel. Or convert en masse to Islam. Cheap and effective. If there's more at stake than just our lives, stop trying to anything just by saying "it saves lives."


Friday, June 23, 2006


Atrios is, as usual, a bit harsh, but I can't say I really disagree with him on Iraq:

I wish we would abandon this "plan" frame. It's a mess, there's no good "plan." There's just a decision about how many people have to die because the president is too petty and too stupid to find a way to declare victory and go home.
The Republicans' plan is more of the same. That's it. That's all they have, that's all they've been saying. It looks like they just want to stay there forever. So why aren't Democrats saying "Look, the Republicans got us into this war, they screwed it up, now 2500 Americans are dead and a lot more injured, the insurgency is not going away. And their plan is to not change anything, as if everything is going great? Let's cut our losses, get those kids home and spend the money we'll save on more important things."


Take the Quiz!

Can you tell the difference between a Hitler quote and an Ann Coulter one? I only got 10 out of 14 right, and i was helped by Coulter citing "America" more than Hitler. So, I guess I don't read enough Ann Coulter.


True Colors - Confederate and Ugly

House Republicans, led by Southern Republicans, have squashed a vote to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an act designed to prevent the massive disenfranchisment of black voters by Southern states. Southerners claim their states are unfairly singled out. Not unfairly! Do we need another lesson in history, or have we forgotten already?

Have things changed in 40 years? Sure. Is it time to pretend that racial gerrymandering or other attempts to squeeze out blacks will not return? Not at all. In fact, that is the primary electoral strategy of Southern Republicans. In the South, the parties are fairly divided by race, with 90% of blacks voting Democrat, and lopsided 70%+ whites voting Republican. If given half a chance, expect Southerners to return to old habits. We have rules to prevent people from misbehaving - we don't remove the rules because we think they've stopped.

We always knew that the aim of Southern Republicans was to turn back the civil rights clock to the 1950s. As Trent Lott said in praise of Strom Thurmond, if he had been president in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." As Bill Clinton responded, "This is nothing Republican haven't been saying at church barbecues throughout the south for years."

Democrats need to humiliate the Republican party for this outrage.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Playing the Martyr Card

A bunch of Baptist pastors in Georgia made a movie about a violent sport (football), and adult issues like depression and dealing with infertility. Now they are pissed that the MPAA dared to give "Facing the Giants" a PG rating for "some thematic elements." Funny how social conservatives don't like media ratings systems--the same systems they whined so hard to get, and which they now want to make mandatory--when they are applied to their movies!

Since this is America, the strategy of the Baptist pastors has been--naturally--to try to play the victim. With no basis whatsoever, the pastors are claiming that it is the religious content of the movie that the MPAA balked at. (Faith plays a powerful role in the decisions of the young football players and their coach.) Feigning outrage, the pastors and their conservative allies are lambasting all of Hollywood as being anti-Christian, trying to strong-arm the MPAA into giving them a G rating. (Ironically, most experts believe the PG rating will actually enhance box office revenues.)

To claim that Christians are a persecuted minority in this country doesn't even pass the laugh test, but it seems that pretending to be the martyr is popular with religious fanatics everywhere. My, how things have changed. Used to be that Christians turned the other cheek... these days, it's the Christians who are throwing people to the lions.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Umpire, My Ass

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court overruled some of the existing wetlands protections in the Clean Water Act, but not did not give the anti-environmental ("property rights") activists the full victory they wanted. The court chose not to draw clear, sweeping limits to the power of the Army Corps of Engineers (those liberal hotheads?) to regulate use of privately owned wetlands.

This would appear to be in keeping with the Roberts court's policy of making as narrow rulings as they can. However, according to the NY Times, the only reason the conservative majority did not make the sweeping changes was Justice Kennedy wouldn't go along with Justice Scalia's broad brushtrokes. (Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion.) According to the NY Times, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. expressed disappointment the court had not reached agreement on the limits that Congress had placed on the reach of the Clean Water Act, he predicted much litigation ahead: "Lower courts and regulated entities will now have to feel their way on a case-by-case basis," he lamented.

Apparently, Chief Justice Roberts only likes to rule narrowly for liberal causes.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Primates and Politics

Earlier today, the Episcopal Church (the offshoot of the Church of England in America), meeting in its triennial general convention, elected the Bishop of Nevada to be the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church USA, to serve for nine years. Three years ago, the church made history, and many enemies, by electing an openly gay man in a committed relationship, Gene Robinson, to be the Bishop of New Hampshire. The Nevada Bishop's sexuality is not the issue. It's her sex. Jeffert Schori becomes the first female primate in the Anglican communion. Thirty years ago, the Episcopal church began ordaining women. Today, the Anglican churches in Canada, USA, and New Zealand ordain women as priests and bishops.

Conservatives within the church hate this. For those, this is the theological equivalent of throwing gas on an open flame. It may seem a trivial issue to most, in part because mainline protestant churches are not sexy and rarely on TV. Imagine if the Catholics made a woman pope. That's how big this is. It exposes a deep cultural chasm.

It also makes you reflect on what it means that, outside of reform Jews and a few Christian churches, women are systematically shut out of religious authority in virtually every place in the world. Women's liberation in the late 20th century was just the beginning. Steps, such as that taken by my fellow Christians at the general convention in Ohio, part of the journey for women to be treated as full human beings, are always met by anger, fear, and hatred from conservatives. That hatred, fear, and anger is what defines them as conservative, as I see it. Expect to see that anger spill over the airwaves and the net in the coming days and weeks.

I suppose the issue I want to raise is that the culture wars in America are not, as Pat Buchanan described them, between secular humanists on the one hand, and the faithful and traditionalists on the other. Rather, there are two very different views of humanity in contest, with religion and atheism on both sides, although in varying proportions. Indeed, the issue for me is that while religious fundamentalists dominate the latter, the truth is that the divide is not religious/secular, but liberal/reactionary. Progressives, both religious and secular, believe in human rights, peace, inclusion, tolerance, and speaking truth to power. Reactionaries believe in order, tradition, and the rightness of existing power relationships. I hope all liberals, including many among the Citizens hostile to religion, might look on this new Primate (yes, it's a funny name) and appreciate anew that the problems we face as society will not be solved by attacking and destroying religion -- ask the Chinese or Russians, but by confronting tyranny.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it "When we look at modern man we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance, we've learned to fly the air like birds, we've learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven't learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters."


Thursday, June 15, 2006

From Barbara Boxer

I wrote my Senators about the situation with voting in this country. This is the response that I received.


Thank you for writing to express your view about voting in our country. Americans believe that voting counts and that all votes should be counted. Yet, many question whether all votes actually get counted. While technology brings us almost instant vote counts, we have to ask whether that technology can be tampered with, changing election outcomes.

To address this critical issue, I have joined Senator Hillary Clinton in introducing the Count Every Vote Act (S.450) in the Senate. Our bill would establish a voter-verified paper trail for use by all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters, and voters with disabilities. It would also mandate national standards in a variety of areas, including the registration of voters and the counting of provisional ballots.

The Count Every Vote Act designates Election Day a federal holiday and requires early voting in each state to encourage more citizens to vote. It also improves the security measures for voting machines and enables citizens to cast "no-excuse" absentee ballots. All provisions of this legislation would take effect no later than the November 2006 federal election.

The integrity of our nation = s elections is the most fundamental necessity for the functioning of our democracy. The strength and success of America = s democracy depends on fair and accurate elections. When I stood with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones to protest the Ohio vote count, our goal was to reiterate this point -- that every vote counts and should be counted. The Count Every Vote Act is an important step in our continuing effort to create a more perfect union.

Again, thank you for sharing your views on this important issue. Please, do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or any other issue that concerns you.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Josh Marshall, on what "real conservatism" is really about:

Take the movement on its own terms and even be generous about it. What's it about? And has it delivered?

Aggressive defense policy? Check.

Privatization of government services? Check.

Regulatory regimes favoring big business? Check.

Government support for traditional mores and values on sex and marriage? Check.

That about covers it. And Bush has delivered. The results just aren't good.
Take the time to read the whole post. Definitely worth it.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Lessons from Bangladesh

Fatah forces have attacked the Palestinian parliament building and burned down a cabinet office; Hamas has deployed its own militia in Gaza and attacked Fatah forces there. I'll bet Likud is raising a toast in Tel-Aviv.

Every time they touch one of ours in Gaza, we will get ten of theirs in the West Bank.
-Armed Fatah supporter (as quoted in NY Times)

There now are civil wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the nascent Palestinian state. Maybe the neo-cons will finally learn that elections do not a democracy make--that elections mean little when competing political factions maintain their own armed militias. But perhaps also those who wish for Palestinian statehood will realize reluctantly that a non-contiguous Palestinian state will work no better than the original non-contiguous Pakistan did.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Three Prisoners "Released"

Three prisoners held at Guantanamo apparently committed suicide yesterday, amid ongoing prisoner protests against their 4 to 5 year detentions without charge or even a ghost of due process. The Navy is investigating the nature of their deaths. Guantanamo will go down in history along with the Japanese Internment and the Trail of Tears as one of the worst stains on America's history.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the international chorus calling for the U.S. to close its camp. When the Germans think your detention camp is too harsh, that should be the sign that you have gone too far.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ostriches and the One-Two Punch

I am feeling despondent this morning. Maybe it is fatigue after yesterday, but NPR reported this morning that the Senate Judiciary Committee has cut a deal with the White House over the NSA listening flap. Senator Spector will not subpoena telephone execs. In exchange for White House consideration of a Congressional resolution that would give it more "oversight" over the program. (See comments from Senator Leahy below.)Yeah, since when has the White House allowed oversight of anything?

Then, the a One two punch, NPR Reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Journalists who report classified information were no more than a demonstration of stonewalling. In questioning the Mathew Friedrich (a smallish functionary from Justice), Senator Leahy (D-VT) likened the responses to POW interrogation. "This is what happens, whether you come from the Dept. Of Justice, FBI, or anything else. Any time you ask anything where there might have been a screw up by this Administration, [you get] 'I don't think I can answer that.' I mean there is this arrogance in this Administration against ANY KIND OF OVERSIGHT [my emphasis added. Leahy later asked Friedrich if he had been sent up to be a "punching bag". He apologized for this comment, but then continued, "Is there any questions you guys are allowed to answer other than your title, time of day? I mean is this sort of like a prisoner of war type of thing?" One is lead to wonder.

My frustration overflows. Congress is no more than a costly body of talking heads. Leahy said as much. Listen to his comments.


Regardless of the Outcome

I served as a poll worker in yesterday's midterms in CA. My district is solidly Democrat and our Congressman is always unopposed. But there were many other things on yesterday's ballot, local measures, state propositions, and all the state offices in additional to the selection for gubernatorial candidates for November's elections.

I worked a 14 hour day yesterday and the flow was slow, but steady. It would have been slower had we not been the hot spot for disgruntled voters who arrived at their usual precinct location only to find it closed. My county elections office closed 4 voter precincts, precincts that had been in operation for over 30 years, without telling the local residents in that area.

These folks were simply sent absentee ballots and not reassigned to a new precinct. Many didn't understand why they had gotten ballots in the mail and used them as practice ballots, expecting to show up at their normal polling place to vote. The county elections office would not allow us to put signs on the doors of the old polling places to let people know where they could go vote. So we finally, a disgruntled voters from the closed precincts put signs on the doors instead with locations for other precincts.

Many people in these precincts are Senior Citizens who, when arriving at their normal polling place and seeing it closed just went home. Those who arrived in the precinct where I was working were allowed to vote a provisional ballot and w gave them information cards with the phone number of the County Elections office and encouraged them to call and complain. Those who actually made it to our place told us that they had driven all over looking for a polling place, some coming from as far away as the next town. It made me mad to think that voters were being disenfranchised in such a way. And the county elections office was aware of the problem because apparently precinct captains had complained about it loudly after the last elections. No one seemed to care. I work elections to help make sure that people get to vote and it makes me hopping mad when complaints like these go unaddressed.

My second issue is with the damn media, as usual. I was loading up my car with ballots last night to take them over to the court house. It was 9 pm. Polls closed at 8 pm. Once dropped off, the elections truck has a 45 minute commute to election headquarters. Then stuff has to be unloaded and inventoried before the counting can begin. That means, nothing will get counted at least until 1-2 am. The whole state is this way. So no one has returns before 2 am. Yet, at 9 pm media is reporting on results, most likely based on exit polls and early voting. Absentees, I have been told, get counted last. When will the media learn? It is complaint after every election, and again, no one listens and responds. I don't want to hear about results for 2 days after an election. I want to know the outcome based on the ballots cast.


Daily Show

I can't say it any better than they say it at Crooks and Liars (with video)

I think for most of us-we're so used to these right wing talking heads debating against lame duck liberals on television that always get bull dozed by personalities such as Bennett; we are then amazed how effortlessly Stewart handles these guys. Jon always boils the debate down to its simplest form which usually causes people like Bennett to look foolish. It doesn't say much for the class of pundits representing Democratic values when Stewart so easily defeats them.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A fleeting thought

How weird is it that a bisexual male prostitute working for a phony news organization was able to get White House press credentials under a fake name to lob softball questions at the President, and yet this is an event that hardly registered on anyone's radar screens at all? Isn't this slightly newsworthy?

Read all about it, in case this is the first you've heard of this.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Why I Support Gay Marriage Now

A few years ago, I was against the idea of gay marriage. I thought it would cause too much fuss. I thought all that mattered were equivalent rights. "What's in a name?" I used to think. "Call it a life commitment, call it a quasi-spousal relationship--call it an ice cream cone for all I care. The important thing is to secure hospital visitation rights, to file income taxes jointly, and to make inheritance easier."

But then I saw the ceremonies in San Francisco and Massachussetts on TV--I saw all the tears and the joy--and I realized how much it meant to those couples to get married. After that, I began to support the idea of gay marriage in principle, but I still thought it was just too soon for the American public. I thought it would be better for the Democratic party to support civil unions instead. I thought that would be fair enough for now.

Then my boyfriend proposed to me. And suddenly I understood what it was all about.


A great question

It's been brought up on several other blogs, but worth mentioning again:

Bush says courts shouldn't be permitted to decide who can marry who. That's exactly what happened in Loving v. Virginia, and the public was NOT happy about it. So, rather than pull some cute argument about how blacks aren't like gays, Bush needs to tell us directly - if the courts aren't empowered to decide who can marry whom, then is the Loving v. VA decision wrong since an activist court overruled the will of the people?


Expunging Geneva

So here is the latest from the L.A. Times . The Pentagon wants to remove Geneva Convention prohibitions on prisoner humiliation from the basic guide to soldier conduct. So there is now a pitched battle between the Pentagon and the State Department. This is despite attempts by Congress to reform the Army Field Manuel so as to ensure that torture is banned and that all detainees are treated in a standardized manner. Furthermore, having conflicting standards in military doctrine will confuse soldiers and create loopholes that will make it either very difficult to punish those who cross the line, or very easy depending on which tact the JAG takes. That may well be the intent of the Pentagon. If you can't beat them one way, daze them with confusion and beat them another. But this is contrary to the very nature of the military.

1. It violates the solider-military contract in that it fails to properly protect the solider. You cannot ask men to go into battle and then fail to protect them with clear rules of conduct. Further more, it exposes our troops to poor treatment if they are captured.

2. It fails to protect against chaos. Unclear rules make for an anything goes "attitude" and we have already seen the results of this. Soldiers are practical people and they will be the first to tell you that they need clarity and cohesion from their leadership.

3. It degenerates any moral high ground (or what is left of it) that U.S. troops have traditionally maintained. US Soldiers carry copies of the Geneva Conventions in their helmets. That isn't to say that violations don't occur, but it does mean that troops knew what the Conventions said and that they made efforts to follow them. Everyone, including Arab countries have signed on to these conventions.

I understand that language like "humiliation" is broad and difficult to enforce. And I understand the Pentagon's concern since it takes little to offend Arabs. But this is weakness of the Convention that must be addressed with our UN partners, including Arab states, rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Since everyone, including many Americans, are convinced that we are torturing people, this doesn't help.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

See this movie.

When I was a teaching fellow at UCLA I helped teach a course that ended with a discussion of global climate change. We used many of the exact same graphs and charts that Al Gore shows--but this movie has much more material than we had access to, and the presentation is excellent. The comparison pictures of glaciers from the 1920s and today is worth the price of admission alone.

Al Gore makes the point that global climate change is both a scientific and political issue. Perhaps the most effective moment is when he shows the World Trade Center memorial site being drowned by rising water and asks, "Shouldn't we be working to stop threats other than terrorism too?" The science and politics Gore described changed how I think about global warming, and I had thought I had understood it all before.

See this movie. And see for more information.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rolling Stone Article on 2004 Fraud

Hi Everyone,

I found an article today on yahoo news (originally from Rolling Stone) about the election fraud in the 2004 election. The article, by Robert Kennedy Jr., details an enormous amount of evidence that Republicans stole not only the 2000 election but the 2004 election as well. The main point of the article is that the reason the exit polls (that showed Kerry winning big) and the vote counts (that handed the victory to Bush) differed is because the vote counts were fraudulent. Kennedy provides an enormous amount of evidence - most of it collected from non-partisan sources - that support the view that the Bush campaign perpetrated massive election fraud nation wide but especially in Ohio.

In particular, Kennedy discusses the illegal activities of the self described "Mighty Texas Strike Force." These people were veterans of the 2000 "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Florida. This group was put up in a Holliday Inn next door to the RNC headquarters for Ohio and their bills were paid by the RNC.

I'd like to point out here that on election day 2004, we posted comments from friends who were hearing from Ohio about turnout in Columbus was very high. Columbus voted for Kerry and 2004 was the first case that I'm aware of in which a state wide result went against the restult for Columbus (the swing city in a swing state). I had been making comments on this blog for weeks before the election that polls were showing that Bush was in trouble in Columbus (normally a slightly Republican area) and that would be his doom in Ohio.

For many of us, this is old news. But I'm hoping this brings up the outrage again. Democrats need to get fired up. It is clear that they need to overcome not just their own apathy but the outright tyranny of a Republican party gone mad with power and delusions of divine favor. We need not only to be aware of this, we need Democratic leaders to make a huge stink about it. We need them to demand that the press pay attention to it. In effect, the Democrats won in both 2000 and 2004 but conceded defeat because they didn't want a public fight over Republican perversion of the election. They must not have seen the stakes in the election as being worth the damage such a fight would cause. In the context of the NSA, FBI abuses and FEMA bungling, not to mention that war(s), it is now clear that the stakes are as high as they can get.

November 2006 may just be the last chance for American democracy.