Sunday, July 31, 2005
Election Reform 2005 (Part 2)
Hat tip to Jesse at Loaded Mouth for linking to the latest Matt Taibbi article: "HIGHLY IRREGULAR: The Ohio election story is going to come back." Jesse notes that Taibbi "is finally convinced that something foul happened on November 2nd in Ohio."
Taibbi - who previously "had refused even to look at any of the news stories surrounding the Ohio vote" - reluctantly attended the July 21st forum hosted by Harper's Magazine held "in the basement of the Capitol building" in Washington D.C. entitled "What Happened In Ohio?" which included the following Congressional Democrats as panelists: John Conyers, Jr., Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Sherrod Brown.
Taibbi writes of his former misgivings:
"[T]here is a part of me that did not want to be associated with any sore-loser hysteria of the political margins, and in particular with this story, the great conspiratorial Snuffleupagus of the defeated left."
But it wasn't just the as-left-as-you-can-get NY Press columnist who felt that way:
"The media, I knew, would dismiss the Ohio story in exactly the casually vicious manner described above—as hysteria, as the delusional work of professional conspiracy theorists, as the behavior of sore losers unable to accept George Bush's clear popular victory."
"That last part, incidentally, was the formulation most journalists used when picking their official excuse for ignoring the '04 Ohio story. Because Bush really did win the popular vote, they argued, there was no point in investigating a possible electoral fraud in Ohio, because no one had really been cheated out of office."
"That idea allowed the media simply sidestep the entire issue, and escape having to make a pronouncement about the legitimacy of the Ohio elections—something they seemed hell bent on avoiding."
But Taibbi learned a lot in that basement. It's too bad that more journalists didn't attend that meeting.
Taibbi plans on following up this column next week, now that he has awakened from his paranoid stupor.
"Here's the thing about Ohio. Until you really look at it, you won't understand its significance, which is this: the techniques used in this particular theft have the capacity to alter elections not by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of votes, but by tens of thousands."
"And if we ignore this now, we're putting proven methods for easily ripping off major elections in the hands of the same party that had no qualms whatsoever about lying its way into a war in Iraq. In the hands of a merely corrupt political party, a bad election or two would be no big deal. But these clowns we have in power now imagine themselves to be revolutionaries, and their psychology is a lot like that of the leadership of Enron, pre-meltdown—with each passing day that they get away with it, they become more convinced by a delusion of righteousness."
But as I wrote about in Part 1, when the fuck are the a list bloggers on the left side of the blogosphere going to wake the fuck up? (hopefully, some will on Wednesday, after the pre-results are confirmed for the Ohio special election that blogosphere favorite Paul Hackett is running in).
Thanks for finally joining the tin foil party, Matt Taibbi; there's plenty of room for more of you.
Aside from the voluminous Conyers Report (pdf file), another great source of info is the incredible work done the last nine months at Brad Blog. So if you're one of those Democrats who "had refused even to look at any of the news stories surrounding the Ohio vote" it's about freaking time you got with the program.
(Jesse, the infamous biofuel blogger, formerly of In Search For Telford and Republican Sinners, is now blogging at Loaded Mouth. Tas turned Loaded Mouth into a great group blog that includes Michael Hussey from Last Day of My Life, Kathy from Citizen's Rent, Worldmaker from Worldmaker.net, gonzo cartoonist Zencomix, along with Mark, Leslie, and Kryten42. A great blog has gotten even greater.)
Friday, July 29, 2005
Election Reform 2005
The title of this post is a lie. There has been no election reform in 2005.
Why hasn't there been any significant or even insignificant election reform in 2005?
Not enough people have demanded it.
I don't think we can blame Congress for this; many Democrats such as Rep. John Conyers, Senator John Kerry, and Senator Hillary Clinton have spoken out about the urgent need for it.
Why not ask the Blogpac bloggers?
The Blogpac bloggers have not only hardly blogged at all about the pressing need for significant election reform, they've also done their damnedest to hurt the movement by calling us tin foil heads and worse.
But now the Blogpac bloggers want their readers to contribute money to a candidate in Ohio running for Congress. The candidate, Paul Hackett, is someone that deserves support. He's fought for this country in a war that he didn't support, and he's right there on most of the issues that liberals and progressives care about such as social security, abortion rights, and affordable healthcare.
But will these same Blogpac bloggers still be blogging about Paul Hackett if the same sort of stuff that happened in November of 2004 happens again in August of 2005?
Paul Hackett is running for Congress in District 2 of Ohio. District 2 of Ohio contains parts of Warren County, including Lebanon, Ohio.
Do you remember Warren County?
That's where the lockdown occurred on election night in 2004. On December 2nd, 2004, Congressman Conyers wrote a letter to Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell which partially focussed on the Warren County lockdown:
"On election night, Warren County locked down its administration building and barred reporters from observing the counting. When that decision was questioned, County officials claimed they were responding to a terrorist threat that ranked a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10, and that this information was received from an FBI agent. Despite repeated requests, County officials have declined to name that agent, however, and the FBI has stated that they had no information about a terror threat in Warren County. Your office has stated that it does not know of any other county that took these drastic measures."
"In addition to these contradictions, Warren County officials have given conflicting accounts of when the decision was made to lock down the building. While the County Commissioner has stated that the decision to lockdown the building was made during an October 28 closed-door meeting, emailed memos - dated October 25 and 26 - indicate that preparations for the lockdown were already underway."
"This lockdown must be viewed in the context of the aberrational results in Warren County. In the 2000 Presidential election, the Democratic Presidential candidate, Al Gore, stopped running television commercials and pulled resources out of Ohio weeks before the election. He won 28% of the vote in Warren County. In 2004, the Democratic Presidential candidate, John Kerry, fiercely contested Ohio and independent groups put considerable resources into getting out the Democratic vote. Moreover, unlike in 2000, independent candidate Ralph Nader was not on the Ohio ballot in 2004. Yet, the tallies reflect John Kerry receiving exactly the same percentage in Warren County as Gore received, 28%."
"We hope you agree that transparent election procedures are vital to public confidence in electoral results. Moreover, such aberrant procedures only create suspicion and doubt that the counting of votes was manipulated. As part of your decision to certify the election, we hope you have investigated these concerns and found them without merit. To assist us in reaching a similar conclusion, we ask the following":
1. "Have you, in fact, conducted an investigation of the lockdown? What procedures have you or would you recommend be put into place to avoid a recurrence of this situation?"
2. "Have you ascertained whether County officials were advised of terrorist activity by an FBI agent and, if so, the identity of that agent?"
3. "If County officials were not advised of terrorist activity by an FBI agent, have you inquired as to why they misrepresented this fact? If the lockdown was not as a response to a terrorist threat, why did it take place? Did any manipulation of vote tallies occur?"
We still don't have answers to those questions. The Blogpac bloggers certainly haven't been any help in getting answers because they refuse to blog about it!
Why do they refuse to blog about it?
Perhaps Bob Brigham knows the answer to that, since he seems to be the man that the Blogpac bloggers all swarm around, and he's been involved with the "There Is No Crisis" campaign and the bloggers' political action committee, itself (two other questions: why don't most of the bloggers in Blogpac carry disclaimers on their blogs which mention their involvement in a political action committee, and why don't the bloggers mention that sometimes their blog posts are coordinated around Blogpac conference calls?).
Bob Brigham recently celebrated Blogosphere Day on July 19th. Blogosphere Day has nothing to do with the work so many bloggers do in reporting on politics and the media or conducting original research and breaking original stories. No. Blogosphere Day is all about getting readers to contribute money to the Democrat Party. And many Blogpac bloggers celebrated Blogosphere Day by collecting more money for candidates such as Paul Hackett: MyDD, Eschaton, and AmericaBlog.
I don't know. It seems stupid to me.
The Blogpac bloggers have done nothing to bring about significant election reform but they want your money.
But we probably have nothing to worry about in the second district of Ohio. I'm sure there won't be any chance that fraud or disenfranchisement will take place during the August election.
Why do I say this? Because the candidate that Hackett is trying to replace said it about the last election (The Enquirer):
"Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, a friend of Bush, said no election is perfect. But there was no widespread fraud in Ohio. "I know. I was there," he said."
There's at least one Republican that is concerned about our election system: Jim March, who is a member of the board of directors of Black Box Voting.
On July 26th, Jim March got himself arrested for "trying to observe the Diebold central tabulator (vote tallying machine) as the votes were being counted in San Diego's mayoral election": link.
Some people might think that Jim March was just trying to draw attention to himself (and Black Box Voting), and that his action was a foolish publicity stunt. Jim March responds to those accusations and explains his actions at the Black Box Voting Website: link.
I'm not 100 percent sure that I agree with Jim March's actions, but I am glad that it's not just Democrats and third party members that are concerned about our election system.
It's too bad that the partisan Blogpac bloggers don't share those concerns.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Ari Fleischer Lied About Bush's SOTU Speech
The latest article by ePluribus Media hit the blogosphere a few hours ago, and it may just be the biggest story that we've worked on, so far.
A few weeks ago, the brilliant writer and researcher Todd Johnston started a thread at the ePluribus research Website that blew all of us away. Many of us had studied the July 11th press gaggle with Condoleezza Rice and Ari Fleischer, which is strangely missing from the Whitehouse.gov Website and has become a focus of intention for the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation into the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame leak, over and over and over again, but Todd Johnston was the one who realized that there was something really significant about it: that Condi told the truth about how the infamous 16 words were inserted into President Bush's State of the Union speech and that a few days later Ari Fleischer lied about it in a press briefing.
The official ePluribus Website hasn't been launched yet (soon, I'm told), but - for now - "Ari's Lies/Condi's Truth Telling: An Analysis" can be read at Daily Kos and Booman Tribune (special thanks to Booman for front paging it).
Here's a list of the other incredible people at ePluribus Media who contributed research to this story, and who I'm psyched to have worked with for...jeez...five months now: Susie Dow, Zan, silence, intranets, luaptifer, kfred, irishsprite, jeninRI, sawcielackey, wanderindiana, biblio, bronxdem, SusanG, madhat, Cho, standingup, NYBri, Penny Century, DEFuning, Sue.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Markos' Secret Affair
Markos of Daily Kos wrote this yesterday.
In a fortuitious coincidence, I have just finished interviewing a long-time California political writer here in Berkeley who says that Kos is absolutely having an affair with Joe Trippi.
Both are married, but I sure as hell would never bring their children into it.
Well, quite obviously, this is not true, and even if it were I wouldn't take the word of a gossip column and a undisclosed source and confuse that with evidence, and I probably wouldn't blog about it in the first place.
My only question is: Will Markos' blogger friends that form his political action committee, Blogpac, ignore him, defend him, or - yeah, right - condemn him?
What a despicable thing to post. What a lack of responsibility. What a fine way to make the left look like the looney right wingers who used the politics of personal destruction to try to impeach President Clinton.
This is the kind of shit that Karl Rove does.
I hope Turd Blossom sues him.
(I want to give mad props to all the people at Daily Kos who have criticized Markos for posting this drivel. And, just to be clear, it's not the gossip link that's way out of bounds, it's Markos' words at the end. Hopefully, the Kossacks who complained won't get purged from the site, like other Kos critics have.)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Thomas Friedman Is Stupid (Part 42)
The following graphics may be unsuitable for children.
Parental discretion is advised.
These graphics are also unsuitable for illustrious men who sport silly moustaches, believe the earth is flat, and are experts in the field of fast food restaurant based military theory.
Those with weak hearts, constitutions or handshakes may also want to step away from the computer.
You are about to see something so terrifying, so heart-stopping, so horrorificulous, that if you happen to be an op ed columnist for The New York Times you might want to warn the world about it.
Shocking isn't it?
This is not your eight-year-old nephew's video game. This is not Grand Theft Auto: Karl Rove's Fault. This is not Pak Man.
This is - according to Pulitzer Prize winning and metaphor killing Thomas Friedman - the product of hatemongers designed to warp children's minds and "turn one of the world's great religions into a death cult."
Last Friday, Thomas L. (the L's not for liberal) Friedman wrote a column entitled "Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide" which was the same silly shit that we've all come to expect from Thomas Friedman (who is really a great man!) so there's not really any need to go into great detail about it (suffice to say, that it's as tortured and half-ass argued as usual).
Friedman learned about the quaint-looking video game depicted above from a July 18th Wall Street Journal article, and obviously failed to conduct any research into it, since it's not anything like the way he portrays it. Hell, all he does is quote from WSJ; here's the full paragraph from the July 19th article about a bookstore that some of the alleged July 7th bombers supposedly hung out at ($5.00 WSJ link that definitely ain't worth it):
"They also have seized computer files from a community center in Leeds, where they believe some of the suspects used to meet, and have cordoned off a bookstore, Iqra Learning Centre, that offered Islamist doomsday literature. According to the bookstore's Web site, it is the sole distributor for Islamgames, a U.S. company that made videogames featuring apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and their opponents. The company no longer is operating from its listed address in Illinois, based on visits to the site, and couldn't be located. No one associated with the bookstore could be reached for comment."
Now, I don't know for sure, since I'm not paying five bucks to read the WSJ, but it seems to me that before I go any further I should point out that Friedman is incorrectly quoting from the WSJ. Because this is how he puts it:
"Iqra not only sold hatemongering Islamist literature, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, was "the sole distributor of Islamgames, a U.S.-based company that makes video games. The video games feature apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and opponents. One game, Ummah Defense I, has the world 'finally united under the Banner of Islam' in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player's goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers.""
That's a no-no for a columnist at The New York Times, since the lines don't appear simultaneously like that in the WSJ.
Simple, bloody, freaking research also appears to be a no-no at The New York Times these days. Because it doesn't take much to type www.islamgames.com into your browser and check out the hate that hatemongers produce for yourself.
At Islam Games you can read all about the video game called Ummah Defense 1: Attack of the Flying Robots.
Okay. So if the graphics and the cover art don't scare you, maybe this description will send shivers up your spine:
"It's the year 2114 and the Earth is finally united under the Banner of Islam. As a member of the Intergalactic Muslim Council (IGMC), your job is to help coordinate Dawa efforts on other planets. You couldn't be happier with your work, until the Flying Evil Robot Armada (FERM) attacks your home planet of Earth. It seems there was one disbeliever, known as Abu Lahab XVIII, left on Earth, and in his desperate attempt to deny the truth of Islam, he has constructed a whole army of robots to destroy the Earth and all of its Muslims. (He needs to use robots because all the humans had embraced Islam)."
Now. What the fig does Thomas Friedman or The Wall Street Journal find scary about this video game? And I wonder if Joe Lieberman is working on a speech about this right now.
You fight freaking evil robots! The robots are disbelievers because they're freaking robots!
Why does Thomas freaking Friedman have a problem with destroying freaking robots?
Hasn't he seen that Will Smith flick?
Well, I missed that one, too, but I saw Star Wars and Blade Runner and Alien and The Black Hole so I know a little something about robots and I can assure the world that some robots are bad and they sometimes must be destroyed.
All joking aside, I guess that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ and not Thomas Friedman because I doubt he even checked the Website) has a problem with the part about "and the Earth is finally united under the Banner of Islam."
For crying out loud! It's a fantastical video game! Would it be less scary if the world were finally united under Donkey Kong?
A blog called Game Politics has more on this silliness. On Friday they also visited the not-hard-to-find (I guess unless you're a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The New York Times) game publishers' Website and reported:
"The website registration for IslamGames, created in April, 2004, lists their administrative contact at an address in River Forest, Illinois. Their company goals are":
"...to provide you with quality, Islamic entertainment for you as well as your children...video games are actually a great learning tool, but unfortunately, many of the games available teach things contrary to the teachings of Islam...""
Game Politics also linked to an article written on Saturday by Mohamed A. Faraj at Media Monitors Network called "Putting the Spotlight on Friedman." Faraj's article destroys robot-loving Friedman; here are some choice excerpts (quoted in the proper way that partial quotes should be quoted, again, I guess unless you're a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The New York Times):
"In today's New York Times article "Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide" (July 22, 2005), Thomas L Friedman simply continues on his long path of doing what he does best, i.e. acting as self-declared and passionate mouthpiece of the U.S. government.".....
"Now this is where most mainstream academics and journalists in the West get all tangled up and a bit hazy. This is precisely where they began to lose their consistency and fall into that shady world of hypocrisy and double standards. For unless Friedman himself is childless and therefore hasn't ventured much into the world of video games, one cannot understand exactly how he overlooks the virulent video game culture in the West that promotes and incites hatred against Arabs and/or Muslims.".....
"Any twelve-year old with an X-Box or PS2 or computer with a competent video card and a fast processor must have been exposed to the likes of these games at some point or other. The shooting and killing of rag-headed Afghans or Iraqis (especially after the first Gulf War) in video games ideally should fall under the umbrella of "inciting violence against others".".....
"Yet it is worth noting that Friedman chooses to simply ignore the flip side of the coin, as all well-trained hypocrites are apt to do. Inciting hatred only bears value when it is "them" inciting hatred against "us". Their video games and literature must thus be analyzed thoroughly, "exposed" and "spotlighted", according to Friedman, so that they know that the world is listening to and watching them vigilantly. In doing so, we may conveniently ignore our own forms of inciting hatred and our own crimes."
(Even though I took a lot from Faraj's article, there's plenty more fun Friedman bashing to be read, so here's the link again for you to follow)
I kind of feel guilty about this post. I feel like I've misled my readers when I warned that there would be something scary to see. So I guess there's only one way to finish this article to prove that I'm a blogger of my word.
Maybe it's just me...but that photograph always does the trick for me.
Now, excuse me while I return to my game of Socom U.S. Navy Seals paused on my Playstation 2 and go back to killing...oh...never mind.
(Hat tip to my buddy, Luke, from the robot-hating blog, wotisitgood4, for convincing me to read the latest Friedman)
Judge Roberts, See Ya!
I first wrote about Judge John G. Roberts a week ago (Judge John 'Guarded' Roberts), but I believe that this will be the last time I ever have to write about him again.
Judge Roberts is done. Finished. Kaput. Not gonna happen.
At the LA Times, Jonathan Turley has written an editorial entitled "The Faith of John Roberts" which will pretty much destroy his chance to be nominated to the Supreme Court to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
Faith-based judges can not be "strict constitutionalists" no matter how the GOP tries to spin it.
From Turley's op-ed:
"Judge John G. Roberts Jr. has been called the stealth nominee for the Supreme Court — a nominee specifically selected because he has few public positions on controversial issues such as abortion. However, in a meeting last week, Roberts briefly lifted the carefully maintained curtain over his personal views. In so doing, he raised a question that could not only undermine the White House strategy for confirmation but could raise a question of his fitness to serve as the 109th Supreme Court justice."
"The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist.".....
"Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself."
I guess Judge Roberts let down his guard for a minute and lost his stealth.
Who got next?
(I owe someone a hat tip but I can't remember who, I think I may have found this link at Daily Kos but I'm clueless as to exactly where)
Monday, July 25, 2005
Lord Stevens Is A Monster
This is a horrible, horrible man:
This horrible, horrible man is Lord Stevens, the ex-commissioner for the London police.
This horrible, horrible man penned a column for Sunday's News of the World called "Shooting to kill saves lives..one tragedy will not change that."
An innocent Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot five times in the head by the London police on Friday under circumstances that the police have already repeatedly lied about. The full facts aren't known (and may never be told). Perhaps the death of the 27-year-old man was justified, but until an investigation is completed, and until the British police stop lying, it's wrong to say one thing or the other about it.
But this monster, Lord Stevens, has written a disgusting op-ed justifying the murder and warning of future murders, which may or may not include the deaths of more innocents.
This monster, Lord Stevens, writes this of the policeman who shot an innocent man five times in the head:
"My heart goes out to the officer who killed the man in Stockwell Tube station....How horrifying, how terrifying...and, yes, despite the way events unfolded, how brave."
Lord Stevens doesn't give a shit about Jean Charles de Menezes. The name of Jean Charles de Menezes doesn't even appear in his horrible, horrible op-ed. This monster instituted the "shoot-to-kill-to-protect" policy. This monster sent "teams to Israel" to learn this lunatic policy, which adapts terrorism to fight back against terrorism:
"There is only one sure way to stop a suicide bomber determined to fulfil his mission: Destroy his brain instantly, utterly."
Lord Stevens has no shame. Lord Stevens has no regrets. Lord Stevens is the hate that hate produced; a man who became a monster while hunting monsters.
I did not intend to write a post like this. I wanted to wait until more facts were established before defending or condemning the police actions. But an article in today's New York Times by Elaine Sciolino entitled "Regrets, but No Apology, in London Subway Shooting" mentioned the Lord Stevens article which made my blood curl. Lord Stevens has issued a rush to judgement to protect his monstrous policy which has killed one hundred percent more people than the second bombing attack did. Lord Stevens writes of "security at home" but glosses over the unsecurity that may result from his bloodthirsty policies.
Until the facts are known, I will not condemn the actions of the London police officers involved in this horrible tragedy, but Lord Stevens is a monster for advocating terrorism to combat against terrorism. The proper thing to do is complete the investigation before justifying it. The proper thing to do is to tell monsters like Lord Stevens that they let the terrorists win if the accidental killing of civilians is applauded and taken for granted.
In a law and order sociey, just like the cops who fired 41 bullets and executed Amadou Diallo on February 4th, 1999, the police who shot Jean Charles de Menezes have proven themselves unqualified for their jobs. While it's arguable whether or not the four police officers from the now-defunct NYPD Street Crimes Unit should have gone to prison, there's no doubt that they should have lost the right to carry guns on the streets.
Police officers have tough jobs. Police officers need to be tough and brave. Police officers that shoot innocent civilians out of fear - or possibly racism - should be immediately remanded to desk duty or drummed out of the police force. Police officers that shoot innocent civilians should not get a second chance. Police officers that shoot innocent civilians don't deserve unreasonable job protection that wouldn't apply to any other industry. Police officers that shoot innocent civilians may not be found guilty of a crime or may be tragic participants worthy of support and consolation, but they do not deserve to keep their jobs.
Let's get this straight.
If it's true that Jean Charles de Menezes was singled out because he left a house under watch by the British police, then it is absolutely monstrous that the police allowed him to reach a crowded subway before they acted. Are the scared and unsuspecting British subway riders being used as live bait by the police? To save innocents, are the British authorities willing to sacrifice innocents?
The police should not act as death squads. The police should not act as judge, jury and executioner.
No British citizen is going to get the chance to say "Give me liberty or give me death" if the police seem to be acting in fear and shooting people in the head indiscriminately.
The Bush and Blair Administrations decided they would rather invade an oil-rich country than, with full force, pursue the wicked terrorists responsible for 9/11. The Bush and Blair Administrations have decided that they would rather cozy up to a dictator who took over his country in a military coup, harbors terrorists, and sold nuclear weapons to who-knows-how-many terrorist groups and rogue nations. The Bush and Blair Administrations kiss the ass of President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan while they oversee the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens.
One last question.
Have NYPD teams also been dispatched to Israel to learn barbaric law enforcement practices used to justify and defend occupation?
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Is David Wurmser Keyzer Soze?
Poor David Wurmser.
Why doesn't he get the attention that other Bush Administration neocons like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz do?
Heck, what's a neglected neocon to do? He even wrote a book in 1999 about America's "failure" to defeat Saddam Hussein and called it "Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein" which will cost you less than five bucks at Amazon.com.
Who did David Wurmser want to replace Saddam's government with?
You probably guessed it. Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
Speaking of Chalabi, a few bloggers are speculating that poor, neglected David Wurmser might be a source for a certain imprisoned "journalist" from The New York Times and who may be a person of interest in the Patrick Fitzgerald led investigation of the Valerie Plame leak.
Richard Perle, Wurmser's wife, Meyrav, and Judith Miller - along with Miller's former co-author, the right wing conspiracist Laurie Mylroie - all share an agent, Eleana Benador, who arranges their "TV appearances and speaking engagements." Many of Benador's clients are affilliated with the American Enterprise Institute, where Wurmser was once the director of Middle East studies. Wurmser once worked as a senior adviser to John Bolton, during his tenure as the Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, and now works under Dick Cheney with the long title of Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs.
Check out Source Watch for more fun facts about neocon David Wurmser, and maybe it's about time we begin giving him the attention he deserves. Because if Wurmser gets frogmarched, too, it will be nice to know a little about him.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
'Who Is Accountable?' Was The Question
On the way into the town hall meeting held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture center in Manhattan today, four members of Billionaires For Bush were there to greet attendees decked out in top hats, pass out invites for a "yacht party", and chant slogans from the signs they carried such as "Sure The War Was Just - For The Rich!"
Bob Fertik, the founder of Democrats.com moderated the event called "Torture, Lies and Treason: Who Is Accountable?" to a standing room only crowd on a hot summer day in the city. Former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman and upstate New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey were two of the speakers, but Air America's Randi Rhodes received the biggest cheers and a number of "We love you, Randis" from the mixed age, multicultural audience.
Fertik started things by explaining why we were all here today:
"First, we are here to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Downing Street Minutes, the smoking gun which proves the Bush administration deliberately lied to Congress, the American people, and the world, to justify their long-planned invasion of Iraq...But more broadly, we are here to discuss the highest crimes imaginable in our democracy: Torture, Lies, and possibly even Treason."
Liz Holtzman talked to the crowd about a recent article that she wrote for The Nation entitled "Torture and Accountability" and reminded the crowd:
"I'm the only one in the room who actually voted for the impeachment of a President of the United States."
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress - at 31 in 1972 - was also the author of a resolution to impeach President Richard M. Nixon for the secret bombing of Cambodia in July of 1974 though it was rejected. Most of the people in the room probably never heard of the War Crimes Act of 1996; but there's no doubt they know about it now.
Saying that she always "gives credit where credit is due" Holtzman thanked Alberto Gonzales for her "understanding" of the War Crimes Act and that she was a "disciple of his analysis of it."
On January 25th, 2002, the future Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wrote a memorandum for President Bush advising him on the positives to be gained by not applying "the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war [GPW] to the conflict with Al Quaeda and the Taliban." Besides the fact that no GPW "preserves flexibility," Gonzales pointed out a second reason which was pretty much ignored by the mainstream media:
"Substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441)"
But Holtzman pointed out that President Bush did apply the Geneva Conventions to Iraqi prisoners of wars, so the torture or "inhuman treatment" committed at prisons in Iraq like Abu Ghraib could be possible grounds for prosecution of Administration and DoD officials who allowed it to happen, provoked it or even ordered it. We don't need a world court like the Hague, Holtzman explained, we just need a "special prosecutor or an independent counsel" to hold an investigation. But that could only happen if the Attorney General makes it happen, and since Alberto Gonzales could be indicted it's something that won't happen unless the people push Congress to push for it, just like the public's outcry over the Saturday Massacre during the Nixon Administration which was the last straw.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey spoke about the Downing Street memos which since they were "official documents of the British Government" were "critically clear" and "profoundly important" in that they proved that President Bush lied when he claimed that he went to war only as a "last resort." Hinchey went on to condemn the Bush Administration because many of "their activities are criminal" and that we all should "do everything in our power to make sure that this administration comes to an end."
In between jokes that cracked up the crowd, Randi Rhodes spoke at length about a timeline created by Congressman John Conyers (with help from the left side of the blogosphere) of the march to war (PDF file and Conyers' summary).
Rather than transcribe parts of Randi's speech on the timeline (which you should all read and study for yourself), I've decided to post my two favorite jokes. After reciting the criminal past of Bush Administration officials such as John Poindexter and Elliot Abrams, Randi joked:
"I think they put their criminal activity at the top of their resumes now."The best joke came after Randi set it up by mentioning that President Clinton had been impeached for lying and sex, and while most of us thought President Bush was only guilty of lying:
"Bush is having sex, Bush is fucking the world!"
The meeting ran a little long, so the question and answer portion was shortened to two quick questions (Fertik said something about posting them all at Democrats.com along with answers from the guest speakers). Fertik, himself, had a question: "Could we get Patrick Fitzgerald to expand the investigation" of the Plame leak to include all the possible war crimes committed in Iraq?
Yes. We hope.
Friday, July 22, 2005
The Daily Howler on Joe Wilson
Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler continues his one-dem assault on Joe Wilson's credibility (see my last post on this: "The Iraq/Niger Claims") which seems to be based mostly on a bipartisan Senate report, released on July 7th, 2004 ("U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq" table of contents and 500 page pdf file).
But was the "debunking" of Wilson's claims a bipartisan consensus? Perhaps Wilson detractors on the left like Bob Somerby should take the time to read the Additional Views part of the report, especially the one written by Chairman Pat Roberts, joined by Senator Christopher S.Bond, and Senator Orrin G.Hatch (all Republicans):
"Despite our hard and successful work to deliver a unanimous report, however, there were two issues on which the Republicans and Democrats could not agree: 1) whether the Committee should conclude that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s public statements were not based on knowledge he actually possessed, and 2) whether the Committee should conclude that it was the former ambassador’s wife who recommended him for his trip to Niger."
On Wednesday, Bob Somerby criticized Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times - directly - and Atrios - non-directly - for linking to an article that was posted at Washington Monthly. Somerby objected to one paragraph in Hiltzik's article (that Atrios hadn't quoted from) and he highlighted the "tangy words" that he took issue with:
"Matt Cooper wrote over the weekend that one reason he made his fateful call to Rove was to learn why the administration (i.e., Rove) was smearing Wilson. Under the cover of anonymity, Rove then proceeded to smear Wilson. What did Cooper gain from this conversation that warranted bestowing the journalist’s most precious gift, the promise of confidentiality? (He certainly didn’t get an answer to his question.) Sure, if not for “double super secret backround” Rove would not have taken the call. With all we know now, we can ask, So what? Rove used the gift to point Cooper down a road that led, inevitably, to a lie."
Somerby believes that Hiltzik "spun [Matt Cooper's] language up for him." Perhaps. Matt Cooper certainly hasn't used those exact words, and he's even backtracked a little bit on whether or not Rove outed a CIA operative since he filed his recent Time story.
I can't speak for Michael Hiltzik and explain why he used those words, but I have no problem at all using those same words myself to describe what Karl Rove engaged in.
Karl Rove did smear Joe Wilson and it has led to a lie (or two or three).
Joe Wilson wrote a letter to the Senate last year which addressed many of the so-called inconsistencies in his op-ed article for The New York Times and numerous media interviews compared to the evidence contained in the Senate Report, and just as it was ignored by the Senate it's also been ignored by his detractors.
Excerpts from Joe Wilson's letter to the Senate (Alternet):
"I read with great surprise and consternation the Niger portion of Senators Roberts, Bond and Hatch "additional comments to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Assessment on Iraq. I am taking this opportunity to clarify some of the issues raised in these comments."
"First conclusion: "The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee."
"That is not true. The conclusion is apparently based on one anodyne quote from a memo Valerie Plame, my wife sent to her superiors that says "my husband has good relations with the PM (prime minister) and the former Minister of Mines, (not to mention lots of French contacts) both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip. Indeed, it is little more than a recitation of my contacts and bona fides. The conclusion is reinforced by comments in the body of the report that a CPD reports officer stated the "the former ambassador's wife 'offered up his name'" (page 39) and a State Department Intelligence and Research officer that the "meeting was 'apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch him to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue."
"In fact, Valerie was not in the meeting at which the subject of my trip was raised. Neither was the CPD Reports officer. After having escorted me into the room, she departed the meeting to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. It was at that meeting where the question of my traveling to Niger was broached with me for the first time and came only after a thorough discussion of what the participants did and did not know about the subject. My bona fides justifying the invitation to the meeting were the trip I had previously taken to Niger to look at other uranium related questions as well as 20 years living and working in Africa, and personal contacts throughout the Niger government. Neither the CPD reports officer nor the State analyst were in the chain of command to know who, or how, the decision was made. The interpretations attributed to them are not the full story. In fact, it is my understanding that the Reports Officer has a different conclusion about Valerie's role than the one offered in the "additional comments.' I urge the committee to re-interview the officer and publicly publish his statement."
Wilson also cites an article written by Tim Phelps and Knut Royce for Newsday in July of 2003 and a report by CNN correspondent David Ensor on July 13th, 2004 which quote unnamed senior CIA officials who insist that Plame "did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." More on this can be found in former CIA agent Larry Johnson's testimony before a joint session of congressional Democrats held earlier today which The Raw Story and others have posted transcripts from (Larry C. Johnson also served as "Deputy Director in the U.S. State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism" from 1989-1993):
"The decision to send Joe Wilson on the mission to Niger was made by Valerie's bosses. She did not have the authority to sign travel vouchers, issue travel orders, or expend one dime of U.S. taxpayer dollars on her own. Yet, she has been singled out by the Republican National Committee and its partisans as a legitimate target of attack."
Also, in December of 2003 a Washington Post article written by Mike Allen and Dana Milbank raised some questions about the memo and the agency officer mentioned in the Senate report:
"Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it."
"CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting."
Aside from wrongly asserting that Valerie Plame picked her husband to take the trip to Niger, Karl Rove also told Cooper that Vice President Cheney's office had absolutely nothing to do with the mission and never even heard about it until Wilson went public.
For now, the simple truth is that we don't know for sure whether or not the CIA was acting on a request by Cheney's office. But there have been numerous articles in the media which hint at it, and it has been reported that the State Department had a representative at the CIA meeting in which the trip was proposed.
Somerby uses Matthew Cooper's original article about the Wilson/Plame affair from July 17th, 2003 to attack Hiltzik, so I think I'll use the same piece to attack back ("A War on Wilson?"):
"A source close to the matter says that Wilson was dispatched to Niger because Vice President Dick Cheney had questions about an intelligence report about Iraq seeking uranium and that he asked that the CIA get back to him with answers."
I have absolutely no problem with any pundit - from the right, left, or anywhere else - when it comes to opining about a story such as this when all the facts haven't been presented and unnamed sources and speculation are a big part of the entire affair, but I think pundits like Bob Somerby go too far when they use selected data to attack a person's credibility.
Bob Somerby is wrong to continuously refer to Joe Wilson as a liar, and in my opinion, the only credibility at stake is his.
Afterword or "More Reasons For A-list Bloggers to Hate Me."
Jay Rosen wrote an article last week at Press Think called "Rollback." As usual, it's a great read and an excellent dissection of the ongoing war between the White House and the press (which started well before Bush 43 and will undoubtedly continue through any future Administrations which may or may not include other members of the Bush clan), but I left a comment last weekend complaining about the link to a Daily Howler article about Joe Wilson embedded within these words in paranthesis: "who is no truthtelling hero."
Rosen recommended that I should do a post to refute Somerby's articles, and even offered to add it to his After section. I had already posted one article about this (linked to above), but I've been too busy this week to respond in the comments section, which is now closed.
But this is my last article on Somerby. What's the point? I wrote Somerby months ago respectfully taking him to task for his dismissal of the Jeff Gannon/Talon News investigation, and he never bothered to respond. A month later, I blogged about an unoriginal article that Somerby wrote and Atrios linked to (link), and it's not the only unoriginal article that I've read at The Daily Howler.
Bob Somerby doesn't give a shit what I have to say or report. Neither do any of the circle jerk a-list bloggers who belong to BlogPac who sometimes coordinate their blog posts but neglect to mention their political action committee, and - in my never humble, possibly paranoiac opinion - seem to blacklist bloggers on the left who dare to criticize any of them.
But Jay Rosen is my absolute favorite blogger and someone who has taught me an awful lot over the last few months, plus he isn't afraid to go against the liberal grain (Rosen's left-leaning, for sure, but he's fairer to both sides than nearly any other blogger I can think of) and we've agreed to disagree on certain things in the past so, aside from the two posts I've written, I'd like to respond to this comment Jay left for me:
"Wilson seems to me a very poor choice for lionization, Ron. (This was Somerby's point.) If you're Wilson and you say repeatedly and with great indignation that your wife did not "authorize" your trip or send you to Niger, but then fail to mention that she did in some way recommend you for it, then you're an ass. Wilson knows how the discrediting game works. He should have known his wife's recommendation would come out. What was he thinking? "I know how to stonewall too"? If you have an explanation I would love to hear it."
It's my belief that Wilson failed to mention Plame's bit role in the affair because he refuses to reveal his wife's CIA activities as a whole. So far, most of the known facts show that Plame did not "authorize" the trip, and that the email referred to in the Senate report was written in response to a superior officer's request for her husband's background. Wilson can't speak about his wife's role - however small it is - because it is a sensitive intelligence matter.
Of course, it's possible that Wilson may have told a lie or two. Anything's possible. But it's wrong to insist that that's the case when so much is only half known or not known, at all.
I like Joe Wilson. I think "lionization" is too strong a word to describe my feelings for him (though it might come close to how I feel about Jay Rosen), but I've spent countless days (weeks, months) researching this entire affair, and I've yet to find something that Wilson wrote or said that I would consider unequivocally false.
But I should probably say that my anger at Somerby regarding his Wilson lied posts is more personal than political or blogical.
Joe Wilson has been a good friend to liberal bloggers. And he's been in contact with a few bloggers that I consider good friends, who he has provided exclusives to before he spoke to the mainstream media. I consider Somerby's attacks on Wilson to be an attack on my friends (Somerby's referred to liberals who believe and trust Wilson as "pleasing blowhards" and "happy but dumb") , as well. And I don't take that shit lightly.
To sum it all up. I think Bob Somerby's an ass. Fuck him.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Mindy Kleinberg Deserves Answers!
Today, Raw Story, among other things, reports on more London bombings, more investigation details that will undoubtedly be revised over and over again the next few days, and that the NYPD is checking bags and backpacks at the subways, perhaps at the turnstiles.
But there's another article at Raw Story that I'd like to highlight: "Families who fought for 9/11 commission declare it a failure."
Raw Story reports:
"Several widows whose husbands were killed on 9/11 have excoriated the report issued by the 9/11 Commission on the first anniversary of the commission's report, and have joined with other activists to call for a more thorough investigation. They plan a press conference in the National Press Club Friday afternoon, particularly aimed at independent media and the foreign press corps."
The Raw Story also posted a press release about the D.C. Emergency Truth Convergence. Here's the "what" from the urgent ad hoc group, formed by "key players from 9/11 family and advocate groups" with "planning advisors" such as Dr. Bob Bowman of Veterans for Peace, Steve Cobble of afterdowningstreet.org, and Former Oklahoma Representative Charles Key of the Oklahoma City Bombing Commission:
"A historic convergence of truth groups, whistle-blowers, indie media and the foreign press to expose and counter the government's most lethal lies and mainstream media complicity. The event series is designed to play off and maximize the impact of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's 7/22 informal congressional briefing "The 9/11 Commission Report One Year Later: A Citizens Response - Did They Get It Right?" and the 7/23 third anniversary of the Downing Street Memo. Our events will include National Press Club presentations, a Lafayette Park 911/war deceit rally, a dance/concert, and a strategy summit among truth movement leaders, veteran & victim family groups, indie media activists and international journalists."
Mindy Kleinberg is one of the 9/11 widows involved with this event, so I'm reposting this part of an article that I wrote a few weeks ago:
On March 23, 2003, Mindy Kleinberg spoke at the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which was investigating the 9/11 attacks. Kleinberg's husband, Alan, worked in the north tower of the World Trade Center for Cantor Fitzgerald and was killed on September 11th. As it says at the bottom of the transcript of her statement (cache link):
"Mindy Kleinberg is a founding member of September 11th Advocates, a family advocacy group that spearheaded the grassroots effort for the establishment of the independent commission on September 11th."
Mindy Kleinberg's testimony didn't get much airtime in the media, but she raised many questions surrounding the events of 9/11 that have yet to be answered to this day. In particular, Kleinberg mentioned one of the "war games" scheduled for that fateful morning (there were as many as four that were due to take place across the country) in relation to the still unexplained collapse of N.O.R.A.D.:
"Prior to 9/11, FAA and Department of Defense Manuals gave clear, comprehensive instructions on how to handle everything from minor emergencies to full blown hijackings."
"These "protocols" were in place and were practiced regularly for a good reason--with heavily trafficked air space; airliners without radio and transponder contact are collisions and/or calamities waiting to happen."
"Those protocols dictate that in the event of an emergency, the FAA is to notify NORAD. Once that notification takes place, it is then the responsibility of NORAD to scramble fighter-jets to intercept the errant plane(s). It is a matter of routine procedure for fighter-jets to "intercept" commercial airliners in order to regain contact with the pilot."
"If that weren't protection enough, on September 11th, NEADS (or the North East Air Defense System dept of NORAD) was several days into a semiannual exercise known as "Vigilant Guardian". This meant that our North East Air Defense system was fully staffed. In short, key officers were manning the operation battle center, "fighter jets were cocked, loaded, and carrying extra gas on board.""
"Lucky for the terrorists none of this mattered on the morning of September 11th."
"Let me illustrate using just flight 11 as an example."
"American Airline Flight 11 departed from Boston Logan Airport at 7:45 a.m. The last routine communication between ground control and the plane occurred at 8:13 a.m. Between 8:13 and 8:20 a.m. Flight 11 became unresponsive to ground control. Additionally, radar indicated that the plane had deviated from its assigned path of flight. Soon thereafter, transponder contact was lost - (although planes can still be seen on radar - even without their transponders)."
"Two Flight 11 airline attendants had separately called American Airlines reporting a hijacking, the presence of weapons, and the infliction of injuries on passengers and crew. At this point, it would seem abundantly clear that Flight 11 was an emergency."
"Yet, according to NORAD's official timeline, NORAD was not contacted until 20 minutes later at 8:40 a.m. Tragically the fighter jets were not deployed until 8:52 a.m. -- a full 32 minutes after the loss of contact with flight 11."
"Why was there a delay in the FAA notifying NORAD? Why was there a delay in NORAD scrambling fighter jets? How is this possible when NEADS was fully staffed with planes at the ready and monitoring our Northeast airspace?"
"Flight's 175, 77 and 93 all had this same repeat pattern of delays in notification and delays in scrambling fighter jets. Delays that are unimaginable considering a plane had, by this time, already hit the WTC."
"Even more baffling for us is the fact that the fighter jets were not scrambled from the closest air force bases. For example, for the flight that hit the Pentagon, the jets were scrambled from Langley Air Force in Hampton, Virginia rather than Andrews Air Force Base right outside D.C. As a result, Washington skies remained wholly unprotected on the morning of September 11th. At 9:41 a.m. one hour and 11 minutes after the first plane was hijack confirmed by NORAD, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The fighter jets were still miles away. Why?"
"So the hijackers luck had continued. On September 11th both the FAA and NORAD deviated from standard emergency operating procedures .Who were the people that delayed the notification? Have they been questioned? In addition, the interceptor planes or fighter jets did not fly at their maximum speed."
"Had the belatedly scrambled fighter jets flown at their maximum speed of engagement, MACH-2, they would have reached NYC and the Pentagon within moments of their deployment, intercepted the hijacked airliners before they could have hit their targets, and undoubtedly saved lives."
Too many Americans are afraid to ask questions. So are too many journalists and bloggers.
For some unexplained reason, there have been no major investigations on the hundreds of sidestories in the mainstream media since a few months after the attacks. Aside from stories that some might say are "conspiracy theories", there are many other things that the press can look at, but choose not to.
Mindy Kleinberg deserves answers to her questions. So does the world.
Judge John 'Guarded' Roberts
Tuesday night at 9:00 PM EST, the Frogmarch Karl Rove Show was temporarily preempted to allow President Bush to reward his conservative base by nominating Judge John G. Roberts - who currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit - to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's open slot.
What does the G. stand for?
Evidently, G. stands for "Guarded" especially when it comes to Judge John Roberts' personal feelings on abortion.
Here are excerpts from some of the "Guarded" follow-up answers that Judge John Roberts provided to a few Democrat Senators on the Committee for Judiciary on February 5th, 2003 in regards to women's choice in connection with his "pending nomination" to the U.S. Court of Appeals (pdf file):
Senator Biden: "In Rust v. Sullivan (1990), even though the only question before the Supreme Court involved whether the government could censor recipients of government funding for family planning services from discussing abortion, you argued in a brief as Deputy Solicitor General that "[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." You further argued that "the Court's conclusions in Roe...find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution." Intervening in a case such as this is at the discretion of the Solicitor General. Were you involved in the decision to intervene? If so, what role did you play and what position did you advocate?"
Judge Roberts: "Rust v. Sullivan did not involve a discretionary decision to intervene. The respondent in the case was Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Petitioners had succeeded in securing Supreme Court review of a decision in the Secretary's favor by the Second Circuit, and it was the obligation of the Office of the Soliciter General to represent the Secretary before the Supreme Court."
Senator Biden: "In Bray v. Alexandria, you argued on the Bush Administration's behalf that Operation Rescue protestors, who acknowledged that their goal was to "rescue" fetuses by physically preventing women from entering family planning clinics that provided abortions, could not possibly be considered to be engaging in invidious discrimination. Do you believe that to be true? If so, at what point do acts that affect only one segment - a protected segment - of the population, count as such discrimination?"
Judge Roberts: "Bray concerned the scope of 42 U.S.C. 1985 (3). In Griffin v. Breckinridge, 403 U.S. 88,102 (1971), the Supreme Court had prviously held that 1985 (3) requires "some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirators' action." As the brief for the United States explained, that issue implicated the interests of the United States, both because various Acts of Congress excluding abortion services from federal programs would be subject to equal protection challenge if the Court were to rule that opposition to abortion is a form of gender-based discrimination, and because federal officers and employees are sued under 42 U.S.C. 1985 (3).".....
"If confirmed as a circuit judge, I would be bound to follow Supreme Court precedent in this area, without regard to my personal views. Nothing about my personal views would prevent me from doing so."
Senator Biden: "You also argued that such acts did not violate women's right to freely travel from state to state, even though many of the women involved had come from other states only to obtain abortions at the blocked clinics. Do you personally agree with this position? What is your reason for taking such a position? At what point would that type of activity cross the line into violating the right to travel freely? Would you take the same position if a group of KKK members physically blocked the entrance to a hotel on the borders of Mississippi, preventing African Americans from Alabama from staying there? Why?"
Judge Roberts: "In Bray, the brief for the Federal Government argued that the right to interstate travel is not violated simply because the actions of a private individual incidentally affect a party who has engaged in interstate travel. Instead, the brief explained that the right to travel is implicated only where there is an unequal distribution of rights and benefits among residents and nonresidents, or where it is proven that "a defendant intended to violate the [right to travel] as one of his principal goals." Because the abortion protestors attepted to disrupt the abortion activities related to residents and nonresidents alike, the Federal Government argued that the right to interstate travel was not implicated in that case.".....
"If I were to be confirmed as a circuit judge, I would follow the Supreme Court precedent in this area. Nothing about my personal views could prevent me from doing so. I do not think I should answer hypothetical questions in areas that may come before me were I to be confirmed."
Senator Biden: "I'd like to ask you about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, passed by Congress on the heels of the Bray decision to protect clinics from the sort of harrassment at issue in the Bray decision. At the time FACE passed, about a year after the Supreme Court decision in Bray, did you have an opinion as to its constitutionality? If so, what was that opinion?"
Judge Roberts: "I do not recall having any opinion concerning the constitutionality of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), 18 U.S.C. 248, at the time that it was passed.".....
"However given that particular constitutional challenges to the FACE Act could come before me as a judge if I were to be confirmed, I do not believe I should express any views on the Act other than to note that I would apply the binding precedent of the Supreme Court in assessing any such challenge."
Senator Biden: "Do you continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided? Why or why not?"
Judge Roberts: "I do not believe that it is proper to infer a lawyer's personal views from the positions that lawyer may advocate on behalf of a client in litigation. To the extent the question about my "continuing" belief is based on the Federal Government's brief in Rust v. Sullivan, nothing about what my personal views were or are should be inferred from the fact that my name appears on the Federal Government's brief, as one of nine lawyers, in that case."
"The Supreme Court's decision in Roe is binding precedent, and if I were to be confirmed as a circuit judge, I would be bound to follow it, regardless of any personal views. Nothing about my personal views would prevent me from doing so."
Senator Feinstein: "In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right to privacey. It went ono to reaffirm and expand this right in Eisenstadt v. Baird. Following from these decisions, the Supreme Court then recognized constitutional protections for a woman's right to choose in Roe v. Wade.
(a) "Do you believe in and support a constitutional right to privacy?"
(b) "Please explain your understanding of a constitutional right to privacy."
(c) "Do you believe the constitutional right to privacy encompasses a woman's right to have an abortion?"
Judge Roberts: "If confirmed as a circuit judge, I would be bound by Supreme Court precedent recognizing the constitutional right to privacy. Nothing in my personal views or beliefs would prevent me from applying that precedent fully and faithfully."
"The Supreme Court's cases have recognized the right to privacy in a variety of contexts. The Court explained in Griswold v. Connecticut that the First Amendment "has a penumbra where privacy is protected from governmental intrusion....."
[Judge Roberts cites a number of court decisions up until Planned Parenthood v. Casey that recognize that "the Constitution places limits on a State's right to interfere with a person's most basic decisions about family and parenthood."]
Senator Feinstein: "In Rust v. Sullivan, even though the question before the Supreme Court involved government funding for family planning services, you argued in a brief as Deputy Solicitor General that "[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." You further argued that "the Court's conclusions in Roe...find no support in the test structure, or history of the Constititution."
(a) "Mr. Roberts, do you continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided?"
(b) "Do you continue to believe that Roe should be overruled?"
(c) "Do you continue to believe that the Supreme Court's decision in Roe have no support in the text, structure or history of the constitution?"
(d) "Do you believe the holding of Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land?"
Judge Roberts: "I do not believe that it is proper to infer a lawyer's personal views or beliefs from the arguments advanced by that lawyer on behalf of a client. The argument advanced in the Rust brief reflected the existing position of the Federal Government as reflected in briefs filed in five previous cases. The Rust brief noted that the views expressed in those briefs continued to be the position of the Administratino. If that position were accepted, the challenge to the federal program in Rust would fail, which was why the position was noted in that case by the attorneys charged with the responsibility to defend the challenged federal program."
"Roe is the settled law of the land. If I am confirmed as a circuit judge, I would be bound to follow it. Nothing about my personal beliefs would prevent me from doing so."
Senator Kennedy: "In Rust v. Sullivan, although the only question before the Supreme Court pertained to government funding for family planning services, as Deputy Solicitor General, you argued in a brief that "[w]e continue t believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." You went on to argue taht "the court's conclusions in Roe...find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."
"Mr. Roberts, the question of Roe's constitutionality was not before the Court - the issue was the constitutionality of implementing regulations governing Title X grant recipients put forth by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. It appears that you could have addressed the core issue without making the argument that Roe should be overturned."
"Why did you feel it necessary to make that argument?"
"Do you continue to believe that Roe should be overturned?"
Judge Roberts: "I appeared as one of nine government attorneys on the brief for the federal respondent in Rust v. Sullivan. The purpose of that brief was to defend the challenged Health and Human Services program. The program was challenged on the ground that regulations issued under the program impermissably burdened the abortion right. It was the position of the Federal Government at that time, as expressed in briefs filed in five previous cases cited in the Rust brief, "[i]f Roe is overturned, petitioner's contention that that....regulations burden the right announced in Roe falls with it." Br. for Resp. at 13."
"I do not believe it is proper to infer a lawyer's personal views from the position taken on behalf of a client. Roe is binding precedent and, if I were confirmed as a circuit judge, I would be bound to follow it. Nothing in my personal views would prevent me from doing so."
Over and over and over again, Judge Roberts insists that "nothing in [his} personal views would prevent" him from enforcing the "settled law of the land" regarding Roe v. Wade. Yet those "personal views" are never revealed. But over and over and over again, Judge Roberts also insists that it is not "proper to infer a lawyer's personal views from the position taken on behalf of a client."
Why is he hiding his "personal views"? Why can't he just answer the freaking question? There are many judges and politicians that are against abortion because of religious or personal beliefs - such as former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Senator John Kerry, and even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - but who have had no problem upholding or affirming the "settled" laws of the land.
What's this judge hiding?
One thing is for sure. Not everyone in Judge Roberts' immediate family is so guarded.
Think Progress reports that Judge Roberts' wife:
"Jane Sullivan Roberts has extensive ties to the conservative group Feminists for Life. As late as 1998, Mrs. Roberts was the group’s Executive Vice President. In 2001, she was identified as the “FFL board counsel,” and in the Summer 2002 FFL quarterly, The American Feminist, Roberts is listed as a member of the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton Circle” of fundraisers, who have raised between $1,000-$2,499 for the organization."
Don't be fooled. Judge John G. Roberts' biography may claim that the G. stands for Glover, but "Guarded" it is.
(Slightly off topic, included in the pdf are questions regarding Judge Roberts' "Financial Data and Conflicts of Interests." Judge Roberts responds that he was a member of Lawyers for Bush-Cheney and the Executive Committee of D.C. Lawyers for Bush-Quayle '88 though he claims that he "did not have any substantive responsibilities.")
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Ann Coulter Writes Like Jeff Gannon
A few weeks ago, the Rude Pundit accused conservative columnist Ann Coulter of filching for a syndicated column (I should mention that I'm not at all crazy about the title of The Rude Pundit's post but, after all, he is rude: link) from a 1993 source, but the plagiarized material goes further back then that, and seems to be more than just the work of a lazy pundit. Rather, it is part and parcel of a long propaganda campaign waged by the American Family Association, and other conservative religious groups, to end public funding of the Arts.
Ann Coulter's article, "Thou Shalt Not Commit Religion," was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate and can be read on multiple places on the net including Human Events Online, a Conservative weekly, and townhall.com, and Yahoo News, and World Net Daily, and, of course, at Anncoulter.org. The crux of the article, which was written to protest the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that elaborate Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky courtrooms and outside the Texas Capitol violated the separation between church and state, contained “a small sampling of other speech that has been funded in whole or in part by taxpayers.”
To start with, an article written by Jeff Jacoby for The Boston Globe on January 24, 1995, "How The NEA Pollutes American Culture," included two similarly worded examples of “offensive” art (Jacoby seems pretty obsessed with this subject; the link contains a number of articles written on it):
Coulter: "...inserting a speculum into her vagina and inviting audience members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."
Jacoby: "...inserted a speculum into her vagina and called up audience members to examine her cervix with a flashlight..."
Coulter: "Christ submerged in a jar of urine."
Jacoby: "...photographs of a crucifix submerged in his urine..."
Going back even further, to August of 1992, a magazine called "Counterpoint" which attracted mostly student, faculty and alumni subscribers from the MIT/Wellesley college community, also used similar items. “Counterpoint” contained a list on page 10 that was included in a section entitled "From The Arena" (pdf file and html cache link).
Two of the items from T.R.P's post, which he attributed to a 1993 source appeared a year earlier in "Counterpoint":
Coulter: "A photo of a newborn infant with its mouth open titled to suggest the infant was available for oral sex."
Counterpoint: 3. (1984) "The title of a photo of a newborn infant suggested the infant was available for oral sex."
Coulter: "A show titled 'DEGENERATE WITH A CAPITAL D' featuring a display of the remains of the artist's own aborted baby."
Counterpoint: 7. (1990) "...a show called Degenerate With a Capital D...featuring the remains of the artist's own baby."
Here are two more that Coulter copy-and-pasted:
Coulter: "A novel depicting the sexual molestation of a group of 10 children in a pedophile's garage, including acts of bestiality, with the children commenting on how much they enjoyed the pedophilia."
Counterpoint: 4. (1985) "...a novel titled Saturday Night at San Marcos relates the sexual molestation of 10 children in a pedophile's garage, including acts of bestiality, and how much they enjoyed the pedophile's games."
Coulter: "A female performer inserting a speculum into her vagina and inviting audience members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."
Counterpoint: 6. (1989-1990) "Annie Sprinkle...inserting a speculum into her vagina, invites members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."
Out of seven examples listed in “Counterpoint,” Coulter directly regurgitated four of them. Andres Serrano's Piss Christ was number five on the list, but the word "submerged" wasn't employed as it was in Jeff Jacoby's article (Note: The conservative magazine “National Review” regularly runs a column entitle “The Arena” but this researcher was unable to track down the exact issue that it may have originated from).
Aside from the fact that all of Coulter’s examples are more than fifteen to thirty-five years old, what does this mean? Is this to imply that Ann Coulter cribbed her items from a magazine that came out in 1990?
In a nutshell, this is what they do.
It seems very likely that instead of Googling, Ann Coulter received one such press release and worked off of it. There's a very good chance that she didn't think it was wrong to crib off of a press release, especially since after Jeff Gannon not many people batted an eyelash. It's also very likely that this list didn't originate at "Counterpoint," and that it's passed along through the years collecting newer examples along the way.
Then have a gander at the "Phoenix Project Journal" (pdf file link and cache html link), which was published on September 25th, 2002, and sold for three bucks. On page 24 of the "Phoenix Project Journal" it is written that it has "been written to assist man to become aware of long-standing deceptions and other matters critical to his survival as a species at this time."
Turn to page 13 of the journal and notice that the exact same examples cited above from "Counterpoint" are tacked on to an essay entitled "All Will Receive According To Their Level of Understanding" which is attributed to Gyeorgos Ceres Hatonn and was published on April 13, 1990. The NEA section is qualified by the word "quoting" but no source is cited.
The first example was also used in The Rude Pundit's post:
Coulter: "A photo of a woman breastfeeding an infant, titled "Jesus Sucks.""
Phoenix Project: "...a collection of drawings which included one entitled Jesus Sucks depicting a mammoth woman breast-feeding an infant."
Coulter: "Essay describing then-New York Cardinal John O'Connor as a "fat cannibal from that house of walking swastikas up on Fifth Avenue.""
Phoenix Project: "...an exhibit in which angry homosexuals denounced Catholic John Cardinal O’Connor, calling him “a fat cannibal” and a “creep in black skirts”..."
And then there's also these repeated items:
Phoenix Project: "...Christ submerged in Serrano's urine."
Phoenix Project: "...Miss Sprinkle opened her vaginal canal with a gynecological tool known as a speculum, and invited the audience to the stage to inspect her cervix with a flashlight."
Note that drawings are confused with photos, and that an exhibition is referred to as an essay in Coulter's column.
The Rude Pundit reported that Flummery gave credit to Alice Goldfarb Marquis' "Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding" published in 1995 as the source for the list. Sure enough, items from Coulter’s list appeared in Marquis’ book as well (Marquis, “Art Lessons”, pp. 212-214):
Marquis: “The show exhibited explicit photographs of group sex, of priests in sadomasochistic poses, and of an infant at the breast titled Jesus Sucks.”
Marquis: “Various performances in “Carnival Knowledge” included a lesbian inserting her foot into another lesbian’s vagina, an eighty-six-year-old woman boasting of sexual adventures with teenagers, and two women discussing fellatio and swallowing human semen.”
Marquis: “In 1985, Thunder’s Mouth Press received $25,000 to publish experimental novels, including Saturday Night at San Marcos, which described a pedophile molesting ten children in his garage and the victims’ pleasure in sex games.”
Marquis: “Johanna Went was funded in 1983, 1985, and 1987 for a series of performances with props such as dildos, giant bloody tampons, and three-foot turds.”
“The Pro-Life Encyclopedia” published in 1995 also incorporates the same reoccurring examples of “offensive art;” most of which can be found in Chapter 136 which sports the catchy title, “The Mass Media: Soft-Core Porn Peddlers” (link).
The entire propaganda campaign seems to derive from an assault on the National Endowment for the Arts mounted by Reverend Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association starting in 1989. Soon after Wildmon held a few press conferences against the funding of works from artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, former Senator Jesse Helms (Rep. N. Carolina) inserted the following language into an amendment which sailed through the Senate but was blocked in the House (link):
“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to this Act may be used to promote, discriminate, or produce materials that are obscene or that depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual or excretory activities or organs, including but not limited to obscene depictions of sadomasochism, homo-eroticism, the sexual exploitation of children, or individuals engaged in sexual intercourse.”
In 1990, the American Family Associated purchased advertisement space in a number of newspapers, including USA Today on March 28th, 1990 and The Washington Times on February 13th, 1990, which included most of the aforementioned “offensive” art samplings, as detailed in the press.
This line was attributed to the now defunct New York City Tribune on March 2nd, 1984 (the fomer editor of the Tribune, Christopher Ruddy, later founded the conservative Newsmax Website and the former editor-in-chief, Robert Morton, is behind WorldTribune.com):
N.Y.C. Tribune: “In New York, NEA funds helped pay for an exhibit which included booklets depicting one woman inserting an object into another, a photo album of group sex, a collection of crude drawings including one titled “Jesus S----” in which a woman is breast-feeding an infant. Another photo is of a man asking, “Is it a sin to ---- a priest?”
Earlier, when noted that Coulter may not realize that reusing these items and changing very little to the sentence structures constituted theft, it shouldn’t be misunderstood that this exonerates her. Because, to this writer, copying from press releases and passing it off as your own work without giving credit – and, especially, profiting from it - is propagandistic plagiarism at its worst.
And since Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe article wasn't published until 1994, the record shows that he plagiarized the two examples cited, and other ones that have appeared elsewhere using almost precisely the same language, as well.
Congratulations, Jeff Gannon. You're not alone. You now have a recent cover girl for Time Magazine and a journalist from the Boston Globe to share in your infamy.
Although, so far, there doesn't appear to be any pornographic Websites that feature Ann Coulter in all of her glory out there waiting to be discovered by some enterprising blogger. You only get so lucky when it comes to these fake journalists.
Written by Ron Brynaert, in conjunction with The Raw Story.
(Special Thanks to The Rude Pundit for catching Coulter in the first place, The Raw Story for linking to The Rude Pundit's story, my buddy, Tas from the kick-ass Loaded Mouth blog for helping me do a little digging, and the staff at the 5 New York Public Libraries that it took to visit to research this story.)
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Monday, July 18, 2005
From Karl Rove To Downing Street To Iraq
Downing Street memos.
Illegal invasion of Iraq.
These are not separate stories; everything is related.
Just as Karl Rove and others worked behind the scenes to discredit a vocal critic of the Bush Administration's practice of manipulating intelligence to try and get the world to support the assault and occupation of a sovereign country, the documents known as the Downing Street memos prove the same sort of "fixing."
On September 29th, 2002, James Carney wrote an article for Time Magazine called "General Karl Rove, Reporting for Duty" which speculated on whether or not "Rove, President Bush's chief strategist, was manipulating the war on terror to Republicans' political advantage." Carney didn't come to any conclusions and Rove pooh-poohed the very idea but this part of the article is very, very interesting:
"When friends ask whether Bush really plans to invade Iraq, Rove has been known to reply, "Let me put it this way: If you want to see Baghdad, you'd better visit soon.""
For your listening pleasure, download this audio reenactment of the Downing Street meeting held three years ago. Lou Grant's Ed Asner portrays the former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, Lawrence Pressman, who played Dick Cheney in the science fiction tv movie, DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, tackles Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, John Rafter Lee, voice actor for many anime films such as Princess Mononoke and Vampire Hunter D, plays Sir Richard Dearlove, the Chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), along with other talented actors make up the cast.
Larisa Alexandrovna and John Byrne of The Raw Story got their hands on yet another Downing Street document. This time, it's "a copy of the Mar. 18, 2002 letter dispatched from then-British ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher Meyer to Tony Blair's chief foreign policy advisor, David Manning."
Here's a highlight:
"On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe. The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam. I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SORs and the critical importance of the MEPP as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy. If all this could be accomplished skilfully, [sic] we were fairly confident that a number of countries would come on board."
It's too bad - for the Bush Administration - that Karl Rove hasn't done a very good job of sticking very closely to the script. Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten of the LA Times have a must-read article entitled "Top Aides Reportedly Set Sights on Wilson." Too much great stuff in the article (linked at The Raw Story) to single out but here's one noteworthy sampling:
"A source directly familiar with information provided to prosecutors said Rove's interest was so strong that it prompted questions in the White House. When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: "He's a Democrat." Rove then cited Wilson's campaign donations, which leaned toward Democrats, the person familiar with the case said."
Just in case you've missed a Downing Street document or two, After Downing Street's David Swanson posted a list with links: complete set.
Back to the Plame leak, it's not just Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, who are involved in this possibly treacherous act of retribution. The Common Ills turns the spotlight on to Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security advisor at the time, and his former boss, Condoleezza Rice in two great posts: "NYT: Rove's latest talking point implodes but the Times doesn't notice" and ""Editorial: What did Hadley know and what did he do?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review)." Richard Stevenson of The New York Times broke the Rove-Hadley subplot a few days ago ("State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer"), but The Common Ills shows that this might be more damaging than helpful for the Bush Administration.
On July 16th, The Times reported:
"After his conversation with Mr. Cooper, The Associated Press reported Friday, Mr. Rove sent an e-mail message to Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, saying he "didn't take the bait" when Mr. Cooper suggested that Mr. Wilson's criticisms had been damaging to the administration."
Later that same day, The Common Ills retorted:
"Rove talked to Cooper before Novak's column was published. Rove told Hadley about the conversation. Let's say Rove just confirmed Plame to Cooper. (That's just as bad and it is identifying, but let's move on to a larger point that I don't think they see in this latest talking point). When Rove sent that e-mail (if he did) to Hadley, we have someone in national security that knows a CIA agent is on the verge of being outed."....
"How did Hadley follow up? Did he report it to his superior? (Condi Rice.) What measures did they take to protect Plame? She wasn't assigned body guards at the time. Wilson's made no reference to her getting a call that said, "Hey Val, just a heads up, the press are talking about you, you're probably going to be the topic of a story and be named. Those friends and neighbors that don't know anything about who you really work for -- you might want to break it to them."
And this is an important announcement from After Downing Street:
"On July 23, over 250 events around the United States will mark the three-year anniversary of the meeting at #10 Downing Street in London, England, that was recorded in the now infamous minutes known as the "Downing Street Memo." At least nine events will be hosted by or participated in by Members of Congress, including John Conyers in Detroit, Jim McDermott in Seattle, Barbara Lee in Oakland, Maxine Waters in Los Angeles, Maurice Hinchey in New York, and Tom Udall in New Mexico. Congressman Charles Rangel will host an electronic town-hall meeting, answering questions from his New York constituents on the internet, from noon to 1 p.m., July 22. Congressman Xavier Becerra will host an event in Los Angeles on July 30, and Congressman Barney Frank in Boston on July 31. Co-Founder of the After Downing Street Coalition, constitutional attorney John Bonifaz will speak at a town hall meeting on July 23rd in Northampton, Mass."
"In over 250 towns and cities, prominent speakers and ordinary citizens will hold public forums, perform dramatic recreations of the Downing Street meeting, and host house parties and study circles. Ninety-two events and counting are listed online at AfterDowningStreet.org. For details on events in any part of the country, see this map: link. Another 18 events on surrounding days are also listed on the site. In addition, Congressman Conyers' office has organized over 150 house parties through their website. See John Conyers.com."
I'll be blogging for After Downing Street on the New York City events including this discussion entitled "Torture and Lies - Who Is Accountable?" which will include Rep. Maurice Hinchey, Hon. Liz Holtzman and Randi Rhodes as guest speakers and will be moderated by Bob Fertik of Democrats.com. So if you live in the NYC area, maybe I'll see you there or, if not, read about it next Saturday night at After Downing Street.
Bob Fertik has an article at Democrats.com called "FLIPFLOPALOOOOOZA" (link). Fertik begins with this:
"Mark your calendar: today, July 18, 2005, marks the beginning of the end of the Bush administration.
Here are the 13 words Bush said today that sealed his fate":
"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."
Unfortunately that's not what Bush has been saying for the past two years, particularly on June 20, 2004":
Q. "Do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have [leaked Valerie Plame's name]?"
THE PRESIDENT: "Yes."
"Everyone in the blogosphere knows this. Everyone in the press corps knows this.
Bush just flip-flopped. You know how it goes: "First I was against leaking, before I was for it."
But this was no ordinary flip-flop, because he did it right in the face of the entire press corps, which was hanging on every word.
This flip-flop is in a class all by itself. I hereby christen it: FLIPFLOPALOOOOOZA!"
Read the rest of Fertik's article, it's all good.