Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tom Tomorrow - Great Moments in Punditry

Tom Tomorrow nails it again with this great exclusive cartoon he posted to Huffingtonpost.
Using nothing more than than the facts, he exposes the rightwing's kneejerk support for the Bush Administration's lies. The fact he is reinforcing is that the Left has been absolutely correct about the invasion of Iraq all along. The right has been dead wrong about every important point along the way.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The 1st Democratic Presidential Debate

Ok, first thing I want to say is, Mike Gravel for President!

I consider myself quite the civics nerd and I had never heard of Mike Gravel before. He is a former Senator from Alaska whom I had no idea was even running for President. He was fantastic! It was like an actual person found their way up there on stage with all the manufactured creations of our media driven political system. It was like their outspoken uncle was up there on stage calling bullshit on all of them. He managed to make Dennis Kucinich look like a moderate! Thank God for that! I fully support Congressman Kucinich's effort to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. I think there is overwhelming evidence to support this action and it is long overdo. It is simply the right thing to do, morally and politcially.

I especially loved it when Mr. Gravel was asked a question about who he felt was the biggest threat to America and he called out the entire Military Industrial Complex for perpetuating a state of fear and all the other cantidates for being complicit in perpatuating it. He even brought up that this was exactly what President Eisenhower warned us about! And he was right!

The Media are going to call him a nut and claim he is on the "fringe" but in my opinion Mike Gravel is absolutely right. I think he represents a large portion of Americans who seem to have no voice and no representation in the new America.

Mike Gravel's contempt for the people he was sharing the stage with was palpable and some are going to suggest it was inappropriate or out of line, but the thing is, I share it. When he contemptuously waved his arm at them as he was speaking, I could empathize more with Mike Gravel and his frustration with the whole system than with anyone else on stage. He was speaking that way because he is the extreme underdog and he knows it. When people like me have never heard of him before, you know that he is a longshot. He knows perfectly well that he has no chance in hell and you can feel the rightous anger and frustration at this system which favors certain concentric inner circles of power among politics, media and wealthy special interests.

Ok, that said, I have a couple other comments about the other cantidates. First, I was impressed by Hillary Clinton. She seemed very sincere. I realized something while watching her. Even though she is not my favorite cantidate by a long shot, I realized that she would still be far superior to George W. Bush.

I thought Joe Biden's one word answer to the question of whether he had the discipline to limit his verbocity... was brilliant.

The Media is making a big deal of Barak Obama's reaction to being confronted by Dennis Kucinich about funding the war. He was strong and very diplomatic. He came off very "Presidential". But personally, I agreed with Dennis Kucinich, they didn't have to fund the war. They could have ended it now by voting no but they all perpetuated it anyway because they were afraid of supposed political repercussions.

All in all it was a very cordial event, with no major attacks against each other to speak of.
The overall impression I got, which was noticably different from usual, was that it was a Democratic Party unified, for now at least, and organized against George W. Bush and his lack of a strategy for Iraq.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What would Barbara Jordan say about Bush?

I was over at AmericanRhetoric this morning, listening to the top 100 speeches of all time and I listened to Barbara Jordan's statement to the House Judiciary Committee's panel to impeach Richard Nixon. That woman was larger than life. She was intelligent, articulate and tough as nails. I wonder if she was any inspiration for the DC Comics character Amanda Waller.

We could really use Barbara Jordan today. If she were still around I imagine her address to Mr. Conyers or Mr. Waxman might sound something like this:

"Who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves?" "The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men." And that's what we're talking about. In other words, [the jurisdiction comes] from the abuse or violation of some public trust.

It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office. The Constitution doesn't say that. The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of the body of the legislature against and upon the encroachments of the executive. The division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute. They did not make the accusers and the judgers -- and the judges the same person.

We know the nature of impeachment. We've been talking about it awhile now. It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account. It is designed to "bridle" the executive if he engages in excesses. "It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men." The framers confided in the Congress the power if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the executive.

The nature of impeachment: a narrowly channeled exception to the separation-of-powers maxim. The Federal Convention of 1787 said that. It limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term "maladministration." "It is to be used only for great misdemeanors," so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention. And in the Virginia ratification convention: "We do not trust our liberty to a particular branch. We need one branch to check the other."

"No one need be afraid" -- the North Carolina ratification convention -- "No one need be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity." "Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community," said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, number 65. "We divide into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused." I do not mean political parties in that sense.

The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term "high crime[s] and misdemeanors." Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that "Nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness. Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can."

Common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons. Congress has a lot to do: Appropriations, Tax Reform, Health Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, Housing, Environmental Protection, Energy Sufficiency, Mass Transportation. Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems. So today we are not being petty. We are trying to be big, because the task we have before us is a big one.

At this point, I would like to juxtapose a few of the impeachment criteria with some of the actions the President has engaged in. Impeachment criteria: James Madison, from the Virginia ratification convention. "If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter him, he may be impeached."

We have heard time and again that the evidence reflects President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney had known ties to former lobbyist and convicted felon, Jack Abramoff. We know that the White House had over 200 contacts with Mr. Abramoff to discuss matters related to the lobbying activities of Mr. Abramoff. We know that Mr. Cheney met with the heads of the oil companies as part of his Secret Energy Task Force and almost immediately thereafter we invaded and occupied a critical oil producing country and the oil companies began seeing record windfall profits. We know that convicted criminal Scooter Libby was a close confident of Vice President Cheney and it is widely understood that Mr. Libby is protecting Mr. Cheney and in return President Bush is expected to pardon Scooter Libby at any time before the end of his term as President. The words are: "If the President is connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter that person, he may be impeached."

Justice Story: "Impeachment" is attended -- "is intended for occasional and extraordinary cases where a superior power acting for the whole people is put into operation to protect their rights and rescue their liberties from violations." We know about the Patriot Act. We know about the secret invasions of our homes. We know about the warrentless wiretapping. We know about the loss of Habeas Corpus. We know about the loss of Posse Comitatus. We know about the Secret Prisons. We know what they did to American citizens like Jose Padilla. We know about the water-boarding, the sensory deprivation, the isolation, the stress positions and the dogs. We know about the Military Commissions Act. We know that George W. Bush has led the greatest attack upon our Constitutional Liberties in the history of our nation.

The Carolina ratification convention impeachment criteria: those are impeachable "who behave amiss or betray their public trust." Beginning shortly after the attacks on September 11th, 2001 and continuing to the present time, the President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to mislead the people and Congress of the United States into invading and occupying the sovereign nation of Iraq. Moreover, the President and Vice President have made public announcements and assertions bearing on alleged connections between the attacks of 9-11 and the nation of Iraq and on alleged attempts by Iraq to purchase “yellowcake” from Niger, which the evidence will show they knew to be false. These assertions, false assertions, impeachable, those who misbehave. Those who "behave amiss or betray the public trust."

James Madison again at the Constitutional Convention: "A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution." The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet this President has unlawfully wiretapped millions of Americans without warrants. This President has willfully disregarded numerous laws, including the Federal Information and Surveillance Act and the Presidential Records Act. This President has imposed partisan, political litmus-tests on the Justice Department, crippling its ability to function with credibility. This President has taken American citizens off the streets and held them in violation of their constitutional rights. This President has allowed the torture of American citizens. This President has declared, through speech and through signing statements, that he has the personal prerogative to ignore the Constitution and the laws of the land when he sees fit. "A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution."

If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 21st-century paper shredder.

Has the President committed offenses, and planned, and directed, and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate? That's the question. We know that. We know the question. We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question. It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Thoughts About the Virginia Tech Shootings

Of course it is a tragic situation and my prayers go out to the families of the victims and the students and faculty at Virginia Tech.

That said, to put this in some context, 33 people were killed and this was the worst civilian shooting in the history of the country.

However the day before in Iraq, 43 people were killed in a bombing in Baghdad. Over 60 people alltogether were killed in Iraq that day.

And that was a normal day in Iraq.

The shock and horror we feel at the situation at VT is a daily occurance in Iraq and yet we Americans seem to be completely desensitized to that. Only when it happens in our own backyards, to our own Children does this kind of violence actually, finally touch us.

Anyone who knows me knows that I consider the Amish in Lancaster, PA to be a great example of how real Christians should react in the face of a tradegy like this.

I am reminded of something Bobby Kennedy said when he spoke to a crowd from the back of a pickup truck on a street corner in Indianappolis, IN the day Martin Luther King was shot. He quoted the poet Aeschylus:

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Joe Biden Really Know His Stuff On Iraq

This Video of an interview with Joe Biden really highlights the fact that he knows what he is talking about regarding Iraq. He makes some really interesting points. He continues his call to decentralize the Iraqi government.

Biden suggests that there are only four realistic possibilities for Iraq:

1. Let them fight it out until one side kills or defeats the other.
2. Impose a dictator on Iraq. (ultimate irony)
3. Occupy Iraq for at least a generation.
4. Seperate the Parties. Give them some breathing room and autonomy to pacify them. (Most importantly, give them JOBS. Start allowing Iraq to invest in Iraq instead of giving it's oil industry's profits to foriegn multinational corporations.)

I think he is spot on. I believe that in the end, it will be one of those four things that happens.

George Doesn't Wanna Be a War President Anymore

It looks like Dubya doesn't have any confidence in his ability as Commander in Chief either!

He appears to be trying to outsource his position as Commander in Chief to some other poor schmuck.

He says he is looking for a "War Czar".

Wisely, nobody has taken him up on his offer to become the scapegoat for Bush's failed policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Maybe John Murtha should volunteer for the position and then just impliment the plan he has been suggesting for 2 years (and that the Iraq Study group agreed with).

Halliburton Doing Business in Iran???

So I read this story the other day, Halliburton Closes up Shop in Iran.
I know... What the hell?
What was Halliburton doing in Iran in the first place?!? Isn't Iran part of the supervillan group, the "Axis of Evil"? So at the same time that they are supposed to be supporting our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Halliburton was also doing business with The Axis of Evil??!?

Talk about playing both sides.

So then the thought hits me... why are they leaving now?

Do they know something?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What are they using Iran to distract us from?

Firstly, could it have anything to do with the five Iranian Diplomats that we "arrested" back in December and are still holding? That's one theory.

Could it be from the fact that the Taliban has regrouped in Afghanistan and is making a resurgence?

The Corporate Media are making a big deal about Iran capturing 15 british sailors, but they are pardoning them and sending them home.

What they are not reporting is that the Taliban in Afghanistan captured 3 British "spies" and hung them.

Why aren't they reporting that story? My guess is that they don't want Americans reminded that the Taliban has made a resurgence in Afghanistan. They don't want Americans realizing that while we have been distracted by Iraq, Afghanistan is also slipping through our fingers.
News about Afghanistan is generally eclipsed by Iraq in the American corporate media. One has to wonder if it is coincidence that all this rhetoric about Iran happens to coincide with the resurgence of the Taliban in Afganistan.

Perhaps we are surging in the wrong place.

Perhaps our attention should return to the real war on terror for a while.

John McCain's "Dukakis in a Tank" Moment

John McCain, in a desperate quest for political power, endangered the lives of 100 U.S. Soldiers so he could put on a shameless spectacle, wandering around an open air market outside the green zone, surrounded by 100 solders, 3 Blackhawks and 2 Apache Gunships, all to convince the Fox News viewers that the escalation in Iraq is making things safer.

CNN's Michael Ware, who has been the correspondent in Baghdad for years, completely refutes John McCain's claims in this video.

John McCain's credibility on Iraq is shot after this disgraceful stunt.

You really want to prove how safe it is John?

Put on your bulletproof vest and go for a walk with only a couple guys instead.

Better yet, do it like the Reporters do every day, with you, a cameraman and maybe one or two Bodyguards. Thats it. No Blackhawks, sorry.

Lets see how safe it really is.