Friday, November 24

Steven Heller: Diebold can not be Trusted

As reported by BradBlog, Diebold Whistleblower Steven Heller has reached a plea deal with LA District Attorney Steve Cooley - and has decided to speak out.

In my view, Diebold has shown they cannot be trusted to run elections in America. We must not allow a private corporation to run our elections for us in secret, using secret machines and secret software. The only thing secret about our elections should be the secret ballot.

I urge all Americans to insist Congress enact Federal legislation requiring that all voting machines must have a voter verifiable paper ballot, be run on open source software code, be subject to inspection by independent computer experts, and that each election have a random sample ballot recount. Only then will we have a chance of restoring true integrity to American elections.

Last February I wrote a highly recommended and contentious Diary on the Heller case, based on a Huffingtonpost article which discussed actions to be taken in his defense.

. Don't prosecute Stephen Heller. He's a whistleblower, not a criminal, and he should not be prosecuted.

. Diebold is the criminal here. Stephen Heller is alleged to have exposed Diebold's criminal activity, and that makes him a whistleblower. He should not be prosecuted.

. Diebold's election malfeasance strikes at the very heart of our democratic republic. Without clean elections, we don't have democracy anymore. Those who expose such crimes are whistleblowers and should not be prosecuted.

. America has a long history of whistleblowers exposing criminal activity, and prosecuting them is wrong; it puts a chilling effect on others who might see criminal activity and want to expose it.

I have no idea weather the Huffingtonpost or Dkos had any impact on the eventual decision make by the LADA, but I have to consider outcome to be a victory for Whistleblowers and Democracy.

Heller pled guilty yesterday in an agreement with Los Angeles prosecutors, after his arrest earlier this year on felony charges related to his release of attorney-client privileged documents he obtained while working as a temporary word-processor at Diebold's law firm, Jones Day.

The agreement, which required him to sign an apology, pay $10,000 in restitution, and not discuss the documents he released, may also allow Heller's felony conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor charge after one year of "good behavior."

As well, in exchange for Heller's signed apology and commitment not to discuss the documents themselves (which are already publicly available since he released them originally to both the media and Election Integrity activists), Jones Day signed an agreement that they would not sue him in civil court in the matter.

Still, it's quite interesting that Heller was ever in this position since California has a Whistleblower Law...

... which prevents employers from exacting retribution against an employee who "has reasonable cause to believe that the information [being released] discloses a violation of state or federal
statute."

That law was used to protect Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org who received the Jones-Day documents from Heller and provided them to then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and the CA Attorney General. These events led to the Decertification of Diebold in California as was documented in the recent HBO Film "Hacking Democracy".

Apparently because of his opposition to the Voting company Shelley soon found himself defrocked and replaced by a Republican who quickly recertified Diebold.

Generally speaking Whistleblowers have been taking it in the shorts lately.

Government whistle-blowers are facing increased retaliation for speaking out. "In the four years before the terrorist attacks, whistle-blowers filed an average of 690 reprisal complaints...annually. Since the attacks, an average of 835 complaints have been filed each year, a 21% increase.”

Even with this crackdown - the words seems to be getting out - Lou Dobbs dared to take a few moments away from bashing immigrants to notice.

Electronic voting machines are placing our democracy at risk.” This dire warning on the eve of the election came not from MoveOn.org or Air America, but CNN anchor and lifelong Republican Lou Dobbs.

Dobbs was hardly alone in sounding the alarm, as in Maryland both gubernatorial candidates urged voters to use absentee ballots rather than rely on the state’s Diebold voting machines, and nationwide, 66 percent of registered voters believed it to be likely that hackers would tamper with the vote count. While it is encouraging that last week’s election does not appear to have been marred by major allegations of electoral theft, the alarm is still ringing and must be addressed prior to 2008.
In the past six years, the use of electronic voting machines has tripled and is now used by nearly 40 percent of registered voters.

Democrats have been generally mum, considering how well they did two weeks ago, but there is still very strong evidence that the FL-13 race was hacked and stolen.

The group of nearly 18,000 voters that registered no choice in Sarasota's disputed congressional election solidly backed Democratic candidates in all five of Florida's statewide races, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of ballot data shows.

Among these voters, even the weakest Democrat -- agriculture-commissioner candidate Eric Copeland -- outpaced a much-better-known Republican incumbent by 551 votes.

The trend, which continues up the ticket to the race for governor and U.S. Senate, suggests that if votes were truly cast and lost -- as Democrat Christine Jennings maintains -- they were votes that likely cost her the congressional election.

Republican Vern Buchanan's 369-vote victory was certified by state officials Monday. His camp says that, although people may have skipped the race -- intentionally or not -- there is no evidence that votes went missing.

But the results of the Sentinel analysis, two experts said, warrant additional investigation.

"Wow," University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said. "That's very suggestive -- I'd even say strongly suggestive -- that if there had been votes recorded, she [Jennings] would have won that House seat."

The fact that Democrats did so well this year is no excuse to sweep these issues under the rug. Fortunately, the issue hasn't been completely ignored by some newly empowered Dems. Pat Leahy has called for Laura Ingraham's Phone Jamming Suggestions to be investigated, and Harry Reid is beginning to ,talk tough.

"The Senate Democratic leadership team plans a long, laborious slog for the Senate next year even as party leaders continue to formalize their legislative agenda for the 110th Congress — an agenda that already includes a couple of surprises.

"At a breakfast with reporters Tuesday, incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] warned that the “do-nothing” Congress, as his party has labeled recent Republican rule in the chamber, will soon be over....

"Principally, Reid said that would mean passing a bill to create criminal penalties for election fraud, including offenses such as voter misinformation campaigns carried out by robo-calls and misleading flyers.

"Noting that such tactics were used in both the Missouri and Maryland Senate races, Schumer said, “I think the person or people who authorized that should go to jail for 10 years.” Currently, civil fines usually are the most serious penalty assessed for such ploys. Schumer added that a separate unit should be created within the Justice Department to deal with cases of election fraud."

Even if these reforms are enacted we still should consider the job incomplete, we've all seen how well a partisan agenda can completely neuter the DOJ's existing Civil Rights Division which under the Voting Rights Act already has jurisdiction on these matters.

It's a step in the right direction, but we still need to ask - No, Demand - more and better safeguards for our vote. Our Democracy depends on it.

Vyan

Thursday, November 23

Masters of War

T2P Music Club.

Making Peace and Charity a Crime!

Thinkprogress has a wonderful list of 21 Reasons to be Thankful. Some of the best gems are:

We’re thankful Rick Santorum will have more free time to find the WMD.

We’re thankful Maf54 isn’t online right now.

I echo their sentiment. I'm Thankful for the 110th Congress, and also Hopeful that the act of Peacefully Demostrating and/or Giving Money to Legitmate Charitable Organizations will no longer be treated as a Criminal Offense.
Here's some more Thinkprogress Holiday Cheer before we get to the depressing stuff...

We’re thankful for “the Google” and “the email” (and the “series of tubes” that make them possible) — but not iPods, which are endangering our nation.

We’re thankful Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who calls climate change the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” will no longer chair the Senate environmental committee.

We’re thankful Bill O’Reilly does not resort to name calling - well, besides labeling ThinkProgress as “far left loons,” “kool-aid zombies,” “hired guns,” “vile,” “haters,” a “far left smear website,” and “a very well-oiled, effective character assassination machine.”

We’re thankful Ted Haggard bought the meth but never used it.


Amen.

Ok, on to business...

As we enter this Holiday Season, I wanted to take today to point out a series of articles which address how being a Peaceful and Giving Citizen just might land you in Gitmo. First we have the issue of the Pentagon tracking Peace Protestors:

Washington - An antiterrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks against military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show.

One tip in the database in February 2005, for instance, noted that "a church service for peace" would be held in the New York City area the next month. Another entry noted that antiwar protesters would be holding "nonviolence training" sessions at unidentified churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Fortunately, all this hypersensitivity by the Pentagon is all in the past. Right?

The Defense Department tightened its procedures earlier this year to ensure that only material related to actual terrorist threats - and not peaceable First Amendment activity - was included in the database.

The head of the office that runs the military database, which is known as Talon, said Monday that material on antiwar protests should not have been collected in the first place.

"I don't want it, we shouldn't have had it, not interested in it," said Daniel J. Baur, the acting director of the counterintelligence field activity unit, which runs the Talon program at the Defense Department. "I don't want to deal with it."

Mr. Baur said that those operating the database had misinterpreted their mandate and that what was intended as an antiterrorist database became, in some respects, a catch-all for leads on possible disruptions and threats against military installations in the United States, including protests against the military presence in Iraq.

Whew - glad that's over. We shouldn't have people who attend church services being spied upon without probable cause and one of those warrant things.

But then again, is it really? Did they ever mention how this information was gathered in the first place - or that they've stopped gathering it? All they said was it's no longer being kept in the database.

The Government couldn't still be targeting people who engage in "peaceable First Amendment activity" could they?

Uh oh...

In May 2005, David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown University, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the constitutional implications of a series of "anti-terrorism" laws rushed through Congress after 9/11. Cole said [emphasis mine]:

The statutes described above prohibit virtually all associational support to selected political organizations, while granting executive branch officials effectively unreviewable discretion to target disfavored groups. These laws make it a crime to write an op-ed, provide legal advice, volunteer one's time, or distribute a magazine of any "designated" group, even if there is no connection whatsoever between the individual's support and any illegal activity of the proscribed group.

Guess I better shelve that "Go Hezbollah Go!" Blog I was considering, eh?

But all joking aside this is serious business.

Under these statutes, an American citizen who sends a treatise on nonviolence to the Kurdistan Workers' Party to encourage it to forgo violence for peace can be sent to prison for 15 years. This is so even if he proves that he intended the treatise to be used only for peaceful ends, and that it was in fact used solely for that purpose. Such a moral innocent can be said to be "guilty" by association. [1]

If you think this is an exaggeration and couldn't happen, think again. This is precisely the situation in which Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir found himself.

In response to the humanitarian crisis caused by years of sanctions against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Dr. Dhafir - an Iraqi who has been an American Citizen for the past 30 years - started an organization called "Help the Needy".

For 13 years, Dhafir worked tirelessly to help publicize the plight of the Iraqi people and to raise funds to help them.[7] According to the government, Dhafir donated $1.25 million of his own money over the years.[8] As an oncologist, he was also concerned about the effects of depleted uranium on the Iraqi population, which was experiencing skyrocketing cancer rates.[9]

For the crime of breaking the U.S. and U.K.-sponsored U.N. sanctions on Iraq and sending humanitarian aid to sick and starving civilians, Dhafir was held without bail for 31 months and then sentenced to 22 years in prison. By implication, his were terrorist acts.

Democrats led by Senator Patrick Leahy have demanded a closer look at the contents of the Pentagon Peace Activist Database.

"I fully intend to ask what's in those databanks, because many of them go way beyond any legitimate needs for our security," says Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Congress wants to know not just what data was collected, but why and how it was to be used.

As well he should because it's clear that simply monitoring isn't what they did with Dr. Dhafir and Help the Needy.

Since the day of Dhafir's arrest, February 26, 2003, when 85 (!) agents went to his home, government officials at national and state levels have portrayed Dhafir's humanitarian work as support of terrorism.[26] Simultaneous to Dhafir's arrest, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., others associated with HTN were arrested in Syracuse, New York; Boise, Idaho; and Amman, Jordan. At the same time, about 150 mainly Muslim families who had donated to HTN were interrogated by government agents.[27] On the same day, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that "supporters of terrorism" had been apprehended - a completely unfounded assertion that was reiterated by New York Governor George Pataki in August 2004, just prior to the start of Dhafir's trial.[28]

At the same time, and throughout the trial, local government officials - the prosecutors and the District Attorney - denied that the case had any connection to terrorism. Instead they portrayed Dhafir as a common thief.[29] District Attorney Glenn Suddaby said, "[T]here's no evidence that any of the Help the Needy money went to al Qaida, the Iraqi government, or to buy arms and bullets that could be used against U.S. soldiers."

The likelyhood of more Dr. Dhafir's remains quite strong. In October the Military Commissions Act (pdf) expanded the definition of an "Enemy Combatant" to include not only American Citizens but also any persons who have "materially supported" terrorists.

‘‘§ 948a. Definitions
‘‘In this chapter:
‘‘(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.—(A) The term ‘unlaw-ful
enemy combatant’ means—
‘‘(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who
has purposefully and materially supported hostilities
against the United States
or its co-belligerents who is
not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who
is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces);

The act makes a clear distinction between U.S. Citizens and "Aliens". Alien Enemy Combatants are denied Habeas relief, Citizens are not. Alien Enemy Combatants are to be tried by Military Commissions, Lawful Combatants are to be Court Marshalled, but exactly what is supposed to happen to Citizen Enemy Combatants such as Dr Dhafir is not made clear.

I for one am Thankful that Sen Chris Dodd has already introduced legislated to restore Habeas and narrow the definition of "Enemy Combatant" to someone who is an actual Combatant.

Still it's clear we have some miles left to travel before we can all sleep easily in our beds. But Halliburton has nothing to worry about.

Neither Breinholt nor West stated that these "powerful prosecution tools" are being used mostly against Muslim charities and individuals associated with those charities, while violations by large corporations like Halliburton, which did billions of dollars worth of business in defiance of [the exact same statutes used against Dhafir - 50 U.S.C. ss 1701,1702] IEEPA, go largely unpunished. At the most these corporations have gotten a slap on the wrist and a fine, but no individual board member or officer has ever faced prosecution. [60] And although many non-Muslim charities work in the same troubled regions of the world as Muslim charities, not a single non-Muslim charity has been closed.[61] None of this was mentioned at the lecture.

By now it should be obvious that Dr. Dhafir and his co-defendants in HTN were nothing more than scapegoats. Terrorism Trophies and Scalps for John Ashcroft and George Pataki's collection while genuine terrorists and international money laundering by companies such as KBR continues unabatted. I'll let the words of Dr. Laila al-Marayati from a 2004 Pace University Law School symposium be final.

The ever-present threat of a "terrorist designation" by the Treasury Department functions based on the principle of "guilty until proven innocent." The use of secret evidence, hearsay, erroneous translations, guilt by association and press reports in recent court cases further erodes the ability of charities to rely on basic assumptions regarding their constitutional rights, especially when the courts ultimately favor the government when "national security" is allegedly at stake. Overzealous surveillance tactics of the intelligence community such as wiretapping, infiltrating organizations by bribing employees to work as spies (thereby disrupting normal and lawful humanitarian activities), and engaging in other forms of harassment - when added to the above bleak picture - will not only chill, but will freeze completely American Muslim charitable giving overseas. Perhaps this is the goal of the U.S. government. However, no one should be fooled into thinking that America or the American people will be much safer as a result.

This Holiday Season all of us who continue to be able to excersize our Constitutionally Protected Rights with impunity and confidence have so very much to be thankful for.

Never take your Freedom for Granted.

Vyan

Wednesday, November 22

Our Last, Best Hope in Iraq is slipping away...

So far over 300,000 Iraqi Troops have been trained on our watch, yet the death tolls in Iraq last month reach it's highest rate yet with over 3,700 Civilians killed. We've committed well over $200 Billion to this grand enterprise, yet the results continue to worsen.

The dilemna that faces us now, is that we can't. just. walk. away. We have to leave an Iraq that is capable of defending itself. It's not just about ramping up or ramping down our own troops - it should be about Ramping Up the Iraqi troops. Getting them on the front line. Rotating our own guys back into the rear areas.

We need one thing - an effective Force Transition Plan.

It's not withdrawal or redeployment, it's replacement.

Unfortunately Bush and the Gang That Can't Shoot Straight (except for Cheney who shoots Lawyers just fine) - seemed to have mucked another one up.

The U.S. military's effort to train Iraqi forces has been rife with problems, from officers being sent in with poor preparation to a lack of basic necessities such as interpreters and office materials, according to internal Army documents.

The shortcomings have plagued a program that is central to the U.S. strategy in Iraq and is growing in importance. A Pentagon effort to rethink policies in Iraq is likely to suggest placing less emphasis on combat and more on training and advising, sources say.

More emphasis on training - ya think? After three years they're just figuring this one out?

John McCain has been making tons of noise about increasing our troop levels by 20 or 40,000 - when what we really need is 400,000. Charlie Rangel - in a move eriely reminicent of a West Wing Plot Line - has been calling for a New Draft.

What I've been screaming for months has been - what about 200,000+ Iraqi Troops we've already trained?

Apparently I've finally got my answer and it's not pleasant.

In dozens of official interviews compiled by the Army for its oral history archives, officers who had been involved in training and advising Iraqis bluntly criticized almost every aspect of the effort. Some officers thought that team members were often selected poorly. Others fretted that the soldiers who prepared them had never served in Iraq and lacked understanding of the tasks of training and advising. Many said they felt insufficiently supported by the Army while in Iraq, with intermittent shipments of supplies and interpreters who often did not seem to understand English.

The Iraqi officers interviewed by an Army team also had complaints; the top one was that they were being advised by officers far junior to them who had never seen combat.

Some of the American officers even faulted their own lack of understanding of the task. "If I had to do it again, I know I'd do it completely different," reported Maj. Mike Sullivan, who advised an Iraqi army battalion in 2004. "I went there with the wrong attitude and I thought I understood Iraq and the history because I had seen PowerPoint slides, but I really didn't."

Powerpoint slides? Oh. My. God.

What the hell is wrong with making Training the last leg of each soldiers regular combat rotation? We can train our own guys, but we can't get this done for the Iraqis? This is the master cluster-fuck right here.

There is the allegations that the loyalties of the Iraqis we train have been more with their own religious sect than to the national government. That some of the Shia militia and death squad members who've been causing much of the violence were actually trained by us.

Many worried that the Iraqi units being advised contained insurgents. An Iraqi National Guard battalion "was infiltrated by the enemy," said Maj. Michael Monti, a Marine who was an adviser in the Upper Euphrates Valley in 2004 and 2005.

Some advisers reported being personally targeted by infiltrators. "We had insurgents that we detected and arrested in the battalion that were planning an operation against me and my team," Allen said.

But Iraqi officers may have had even more to fear, because their families were also vulnerable. "I went through seven battalion commanders in eight weeks," Allen noted. Dixon reported that in Samarra both his battalion commander and intelligence officer deserted just before a major operation.

At this point in time the Iraqi people overwhelmingly wish us to leave.

“Seven out of ten Iraqis overall–including both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)–say they want the United States to leave within a year.” Note: less than 10% of Iraqis nationwide support a U.S. withdrawal only as “the security situation improves,” the current policy of the Bush administration.

Similarly 61% of Iraqis beleive the violence will decrease once our forces have departed, and 53% beleive our setting a timetable would strengthen their Government. On 23% disagree.

It seems clear that our attempts quell the violence in Bahgdad by beefing-up the American presence only managed to accomplish the reverse.

Perhaps we really do need to pull some of our Combat guys off the front line and have them focus on one thing and one thing only - Training their Iraqi Replacements, and training them Well.

According to everything we've heard for months - there are only about 1000 Al Qeada Fighters in Iraq.

At a certain point, the Iraqis are going to have to take care of Al Qaeda and themselves. We should have a Laser-Like focus on getting them to that point - step by step.

We only lose - if we continue to Fuck That Process Up, exact as BushGov has done so far.

Vyan

Tuesday, November 21

KY OP-ed: Hippies still trying to ruin the Country

Yeah, I did a double take and almost covered my 17" monitor with coffee when I saw this blurb on Thinkprogress, following it to Huffington Post and eventually the source, where I discovered that no - this is not a joke. At least not an intentional one. It's a Guest Op-ed by one Jenean McBrearty.

America won't win another war until the 1960s flower children are pushing up petunias.

Radicalized, the flower children morphed into lefty loonies who now masquerade as social progressives. No matter what they rename themselves, however, their agenda hasn't changed.

Won't win a War? Seems to me we did pretty good in Bosnia and Kosova.

Yeah, I know that taking down Wing-nuts is a bit like shooting a 70-year old lawyer in the face at a Quail Ranch. (ie. Not very sporting) Their mental wings have been clipped. They tend to flop around rather than actually make sense. Facts and History are as maleable as Origami, easily redefined into a broach or a swan. But that doesn't mean that it isn't fun to fill their logical loopholes full of sand.

They still want utopia, and it wouldn't be worth mentioning except that their naivetŽ has aged into a persistent denial of reality that may have devastating consequences.

A Persistent Denial of Reality? Oh, more fitting worlds could not have been chosen.

For example, consider their continued belief that America's armed forces are neo-Nazi stormtroopers who delight in burning babies to further the aims of imperialistic corporations.

"Delight?" Who ever said anything about delight? I don't think anybody is about to have how-down in the middle of a free-fire zone.

My Lai was not a fever dream fantasy of the left. It is fact. As were hundreds of other incidents, the documention of which were recently discovered and reported by the LA Times.

The records were declassified in 1994, after 20 years as required by law, and moved to the National Archives in College Park, Md., where they went largely unnoticed.

The Times examined most of the files and obtained copies of about 3,000 pages -- about a third of the total -- before government officials removed them from the public shelves, saying they contained personal information that was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

In addition to the 320 substantiated incidents, the records contain material related to more than 500 alleged atrocities that Army investigators could not prove or that they discounted.

....

Abuses were not confined to a few rogue units, a Times review of the files found. They were uncovered in every Army division that operated in Vietnam.

I have much more detail on this LA Times Article here, which recounts the murder of a 19-year old naked Vietnamese Girl, the Winter Soldier Conference and then Lt. John Kerry's testimony about it before Congress. No need to rehash all of that now.

But I do want to say that I don't think these events were "fun or delightful" for anyone involved, and that this very suggestion is seriously demented.

Back to Wingerville.

Such nonsense, now treated as legitimate by the left-leaning media, denigrates the patriotic values and sincerity of half the nation.

Half? Or just the 23 Percenters?

It undermines the war effort, insults the dead and the survivors of battle and their families, and supports the aims of the enemy.

I think that the actions of few individual solders in Moumoudiya - where a 15-year old Iraqi girl was stalked, raped and murdered along with her entire family to cover up the crime, is what insults our dead, the survivors of battle and their families - not the people who talk about it and admit that it is true reality. I think the denial of the fact that soldiers acting in our name killed 14 unarmed civilians in Haditha is an insult to all of our soldiers who bravely stand up against these acts at great risk to their careers and lives.

Translated into immigration or national defense policy, it is an invitation to the world to destroy our country.

Anyone else follow her around the bend? I didn't. Pointing out that a small percentage of our soldiers may very well have committed War Crimes invites the world to destroy our country while pretending they haven't -- when just about everyone knows better - does not? Eh?

Yet, this Vietnam-era idŽe fixe about the military, despite 40-plus years of proof to the contrary, is understandable when analyzed in the context of the flower children's religious zealotry.

Religious zealotry? You mean like Devout Athiesm? Radical Agnostics? This next bit is going to get good - I can tell...

To renounce their military fictions would mean facing bigger, more important truths: Marxism doesn't work.

Fascism doesn't work either.

Love is not all you need.

Love isn't all you need, but it's a better start than greed.

Western culture is worth defending because it protects freedom, tolerance and the greatest material good for the greatest number.

Western culture doesn't defend freedom, the Rule of Law Does - and it's goal isn't simply to provide material goods, it is to protect the most vulnerable from being denied access to those materials.

Government can't solve every problem.

Neither can industry or the Military.

The American taxpayer has no obligation to support the rest of the world's exploding population.

No obligation other than their own conscience and moral compass, and the fact that those who can afford to provide support are more likely to succeed than those who can not. The strong do not need to prey upon the weak, they can - if they so choose - use their strength to help them get onto their own feet.

P.S. Gluttony is a Sin - Aint it?

Without the military-industrial complex to blame for humanity's ills, the lefty loonies lose their basis for faith in a socialist utopia. Terrorism is tortuous for them only because it forces them to pursue the political goals that will allow them to redistribute America's wealth by pulling the nation together and relying on the hated military for protection.

Oh, the unfairness of irony.

Oh, the insanity.

Thus, lefty loonies deny that terrorists have declared war on America, while insisting that we can win the war through negotiation. They seem to believe the terrorists will spare them because they are nice.

The truth is that there is no way out of our modern warfare dilemmas.

Is it possible to protect non-combatants, given modern weaponry in total war?

Are people who make weapons innocent citizens of their warring governments, or integral non-uniformed soldiers and legitimate targets?

Must we surrender our country to our enemies because our weapons are too terrible to use?

Whose life is more important: the 12-year-old Iraqi firing an Uzi or a soldier from Kentucky?

Which is more sacred: a mosque hiding a weapons cache or a plane of tourists?

Do we want a military strong enough to protect our homeland? Are we willing to pay the price of survival?

Are we doing a Rumsfeld for any particular reason or just for the fun of it?

These are all questions which have already been answered for the most part within the Laws of War and the rules of engagement. For the most part these are false dichotomies. The ticking time bomb scenario which pretty much never happens in real life.

Speaking of ticking time bomb fantasies - it's not exactly a co-inky-dink that "24" executive producer Joel Surnow is teaming with Fox News to create a Right-Wing Daily Show. “The way I look at it, almost every comedy show or satire show I see uses the same talking points against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney,” “24″ co-creator Joel Surnow said. “The other side hasn’t been skewered in a fair and balanced way.

It hasn't? Have you ever like watched The Fox News? Oh wait, you mean they aren't funny? Well, I really don't think that's Joel Surnow's going to change that fact much.

But anyway - I digress.

Yes, Terrorist have declared War on America. Loony lefties like Bill Clinton and Richard Clarke seemed to know that long before Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush ever had a clue. Not that they weren't told - they were.

It's also true that "terrorist organizations" such as Hamas have become the duly elected government of Palestine, while Hezbollah maintains a great deal of influence in both Lebanon and Iran. Sometimes there are things that can be done in the interests of peace that fall far short of total war, even with enemies this deadly and grave.

This is something we seemed to well understand during the Cold War. Talk, Communication, Discussion and Diplomacy are not Appeasment.

The War among the terrorist of the NRA in Northern Ireland would never have ended without talkin to Jerry Adams.

Oh and where the Hell would we be if Kennedy hadn't talked to Kruschev? (Oh wait, that's a rhetorical question now isn't it?)

Obviously it's possible to talk, to negotiate, and resist the temptation for violence and still be strong. Sometimes doing so is the very definition of strength.

Didn't most of us learn that in grade school?

The world has changed, terrorists aren't just a bunch of random thugs - they run governments now. Certainly we can not afford to just give in and become "weak", but as the world has changed so must our tactics and tools become more nuanced. Meeting thuggery with MORE thuggery is not a solution.

It's crucial that we come to terms with war questions because we will have war with Iran and North Korea. It will come down to their children or ours, their soldiers or ours, their countries or ours.

It's crucial that we come to terms with what it takes to implement genuine diplomacy or else it won't be our children or their's - in the glowing fog of a nuclear winter (if China or Russia get into the mix) it'll be neither!

For aging hippies, it's easier to keep blaming old enemies than to confront new ones, especially the young and ruthless. Hating a military-industrial complex is safer and less tiring. It's less complicated -- and less dangerous.

Sure, and hating hippies is far less dangerous than facing facts.

Abstract institutions neither bleed nor shoot back. Demonstrations, marches and sign-carrying don't accomplish much these days, but they are a lot more fun and allow the fiction of activist moral superiority to persist.

Seems to me that we just managed to change the balance of power in the House and Senate with our "Demonstrations, marches, and sign-carrying" (as well as organizing, fundrasing and strategizing from the Netroots to the Grass Roots). But I digress again.

Their BAWL (Buddha-Allah-Wicca-Lenin) is better than some old Judeo-Christian God.

SPIT-TAKE!!!! What?!?! (Again... pardon me while I whipe this screen off)

In their heart of hearts, lefty loonies do want America to lose in Iraq and every military theater. They want outside enemies to accomplish quickly the demolition of American capitalism, using the violence the lefty loonies are too old, too scared and too well-invested to use.

Really? We want to lose in our heart of hearts? We're too scared to use violence? This is why over 50 veterans - including many from the Iraq conflict - ran for Congress this year as Democrats!

If we hate the Military so much - it seems rather odd that the Military Loves Us ole' Liberals since the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association Rates the Following "Hippies" with an "A".

And the following Conservatives with an "F".

    (Former FBI Director) Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

    Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
    Rep. Lynn Wesmoreland (R-GA)
    Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)

How's that for Irony?

After all, lefty loonies want their social justice and their pensions, too.

And that's bad because... social injustice makes sure all the retirement checks clear?

Luckily, no one lives forever. Luckily, there is Generation Jones to take up their slack. America is too great to go down without a fight.

Yet, please be compassionate toward aging, albeit dangerous, erstwhile flower folks. Understand their pain when communism failed. Understand their desire to enforce perfect harmony. Understand their insistence that we love humanity except those in uniforms.

Just don't vote for them in 2008.

This is going to be the big GOP/Conservo mantra for 2008? Don't Vote for the Hippies!

Yeah, that's right - if you vote for all those aging hippies (y'know like Senators-Elect John Tester and Jim Webb) running for Congress and possibly President in 2008 then those in uniform might not be sent into pointless unjustified wars without a plan, without proper armor and without clean drinking water and without being required by law not to Commit War Crimes or Torture.

Cuz all those loony zany crazy-eyed tree-huggin' berkenstock-wearing tofu-eating hippie liberal Hate-America-First scum - just hate to see our soldiers die and kill for no damn good reason.

But Kentucky Conservatives apparently don't give a rat's ass?

If you're from Kentucky and you'd like to let Jenean McBrearty have a peice of your mind - her email is jeneanmacb@hotmail.com.

Tell her Dkos sent cha.

Vyan

Monday, November 20

Raw Story: Dems going BIG on Oversight

Uh oh, I think Bushgov is in deep deep trouble...

Democrats are "thinking big" on Bush oversight, according to a Capitol Hill newspaper.

"Senate Democrats’ plans to significantly beef up the chamber’s oversight of the Bush administration will go well beyond intelligence-gathering activities and President Bush’s prosecution of the Iraq War to include investigations into the Medicare program, alleged censorship of scientists, climate change and potential manipulation of energy markets, according to aides and lobbyists," John Stanton reports for Roll Call.

So we're finally going to ask what the "F" is up with Dick Cheney's secret meeting with Energy Companies just before the California Rolling Blackouts? We're finally to get that lying weasal Abu Gonzales under oath?

Hallu-fraking-lujah!

But, I wonder and worry, if this just might be too much of a good thing?

As I've noted previously the Wing-Nuts and Neo-Con/Artists are salivating like an overheated dog at the prospects of "Libruls Run Amok" in the Congress.

They're already framing Speaker Pelosi as a "Shrew" and "Wicked Witch of the West".

In her New York Post column -- "Call Her 'Nancy Shrew'?" -- also addressing Pelosi's handling of the Hoyer/Murtha contest, Orin-Eilbeck wrote: "Forget 'The Devil Wears Prada['] the hot show in Washington is 'The Shrew Adores Armani.' In just a few short days, House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has turned into a caricature of the shrill, petty woman boss."

Then you've got O'Leilly on Nov 9th.

Now the unintended consequence of the power shift in D.C. is that some Democrats will try to impose a secular-progressive agenda on the country.

First, there will be an attempt to raise taxes — Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel will lead that.

Second, new speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will encourage investigations of the Bush administration, seeking to create a scandal which would help the Democrat presidential nominee in 2008.

But that could backfire on the Democrats as most Americans do not want Mr. Bush attacked. They want to see if the Democrats can do better. They do not want to see their government ripped apart in a time of war.

I'll say again what I said before.

"Create a Scandal?" Democrats don't have to "make up a scandal" - they have a all you can eat buffet of scandals laid out right in front of them.

However -- I will with heavy heart and a lump in my throat admit one. true. fact. We shouldn't try to eat the entire buffet all in one sitting!

That's just plain gluttony.

All of these issues should be looked at, the Congress should absolutely perform oversight. The Senate still hasn't finished Phase II of the original WMD investigation. We have multiple sets of Downing Street Memos that still haven't been addressed. We got Torture. We got Illegal Surveillance. We got Katrina and it's aftermath. We're still missing that pesky Habeas Corpus thingy ("I knew I saw it on the countertop just last week...") The people who vowed to "Restore Honor and Integrity the the White House" have instead repeatedly had shoplifters, hookers, pedophiles and not-so-closeted gay drug-addict homophobe preachers in the White House, not to mention the Watergate Hotel and the Congress.

There's serious work here that needs a-doin.

But still - O'Reilly. Actually. Said. Something. True.

(Cue the Shock and Awe Musical montage - with the obligatory FEAR Font!)

IMO if we go hog-wild like a bunch of teenages girls on spring break with way too many video cameras around we'll most likely find we just lined up in a circular firing squad.

I believe strongly that this is why Speaker Pelosi has taken Impeachment "Off the Table". What Democrats do now that they've regained power in Congress can not be seen as payback or a witchhunt. We could spend the next decade investigating all the things that BushCo have totally fracked up, and in all likelyhood we probably will.

Congressional Dems have to do their jobs, they have to do it well - and they have to do them smart - or we'll be crying in our latte's about yet another Stealth Wing-Nut President (like McCain - shiver) in '08.

We have to be in this for the long-haul, not just the quick win.

Or is it just me that feels that way?

Vyan

Sunday, November 19

Kristol: Republican Support for Iraq will Crumble in 3 Months

From Thinkprogress:

This morning on Fox New Sunday, Bill Kristol said that that the current Iraq strategy of “Iraqification” is “failing” and has been “discredited.” Noting that CentCom commander Gen. John Abizaid said he finds “despair” about Iraq when he comes to Washington, Kristol said he was “very worried” that if conditions in Iraq did not improve within 2 to 3 months, “political support will crumble not among Democrats, but among Republicans. Gone.

Now we all know just how wonderful PNAC luminaries such as Kristol have been at predicting anything, but for once I think they just might be onto something. Particularly since Bush's own semi-secret advisor at steerings us smack-dab into Vietnam Redux, Henry Kissinger has already jumped the shark.

Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq.

Well, duh!

The Neo-con's 19th nervous breakdown continues in the Washington Post.

..Heading into the final chapter of his presidency, fresh from the sting of a midterm election defeat, Bush finds himself with fewer and fewer friends. Some of the strongest supporters of the war have grown disenchanted, former insiders are registering public dissent and Republicans on Capitol Hill blame him for losing Congress....The sense of Bush abandonment accelerated during the final weeks of the campaign with the publication of a former aide's book accusing the White House of moral hypocrisy and with Vanity Fair quoting (Kenneth) Adelman, Richard N. Perle and other neoconservatives assailing White House leadership of the war....

Some insiders said the White House invited the backlash. "Anytime anyone holds themselves up as holy, they're judged by a different standard," said David Kuo, a former deputy White House director of faith-based initiatives who wrote "Tempting Faith," a book that accused the White House of pandering to Christian conservatives. "And at the end of the day, this was a White House that held itself up as holy."...

And has apparenlty lost it's own Holy War.

And what does Bush's Bestest Brit Buddy Tony Blair say? Iraq has been a "disaster"

Tony Blair has publicly agreed with the opinion that the violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has been a disaster.

The UK prime minister was responding to a question by Sir David Frost in an interview on the new al-Jazeera English-language Arabic TV channel.

The Liberal Democrats said Mr Blair had finally accepted the enormity of his decision to go to war in Iraq.

Of course a little piling on from the Left starting with Helen Thomas, doesn't make the picture any prettier.

It's over for them and their big dreams of pre-emptive wars and conquest of the Middle East. If anything, this group has left America weakened by the tragic military misadventure in Iraq. They convinced President Bush it would be a "cakewalk" to invade and occupy Iraq but it has turned out otherwise. Those power-driven ideologues have learned that the price for their dream was high -- too high.

So much for their calamitous "Project for A New American Century," which laid out the agenda to transform several Arab nations to their liking. It also meant sending Americans to kill and die for reasons yet to be explained by the president.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says ending the War is her Highest Priority.

This morning, I visited our brave men and women at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. It is a place of prayers, of honor, of respect, and reflection. And I left there more committed than ever to bringing the war to an end.

I told my colleagues yesterday that the biggest ethical issue facing our country for the past three and a half years is the war in Iraq.
This unnecessary pre-emptive war has come at great cost. Nearly 2,900 of our brave troops have lost their lives and more than 21,000 more have suffered lasting wounds. Since the war began, Congress has appropriated more than $350 billion, and the United States has suffered devastating damage to our reputation in the eyes of the world.

I'm beginning to think Ap-IPSOS might have to start polling Laura and Barney soon, everyone else seems to be getting the picture.

"Do you think the U.S. made the right decision or the wrong decision in using military force against Iraq?"

Right Decision? 41% Wrong Decision? 51%

"Do you think the U.S. should keep military troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized, or do you think the U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible?"

Keep Troops? 46$ Bring them Home? 48%

"Do you think George W. Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion, or don't you think so?"

Has Clear Plan? 19% No Clear Plan? 71%

Many had thought that the ouster of Rumself on the day after the election signalled a change in direction on Iraq - but with Gen Abizaid arguing to Congress that we can't add troops, and we can't leave - exactly where does that leave our nation and troops other than being trapped in the cross-fire between Sunni's fearful of Shiite political influence and Shias sick and tired of Sunni violence?

But with Bush recent comments in Vietnam - "We'll succeed unless we quit." - it doesn't exactly look like the Prez is really getting the message of all those beating drums in the distance.

The real irony is that we could have won Iraq. Bringing Peace and Democracy to a region of the world that had been devasted by roving death squads, sectarian and religious violence while combating the influence of Al Qeada is something we've done before... in Bosnia.

Despite years of ethnic cleansing and the growing influence of Muslim Radicals - we the U.S. in equal partnership with Europe and Russian ended the violence. The former killing fields of Bosnia are now a thriving and rich Democracy - thanks largely to President William Jefferson Clinton who had to fight tooth and nail with a Republican Congress to accomplish the mission.

The real question is can a similar solution from the Baker-Hamilton group, involving regional powers such as Syria and Iran, a political accomodation between Shia, Sunni and Kurd, and a credible Force Transition Plan to give the Iraqis their country back fom our ongoing occupation be something that that President Bush can either get behind or most importantly - Implement with any Competence What-So-Ever?

My best guess would be... Hell No.

He's going to do nothing be stonewall, completely ignoring the recommendations of Baker-Hamilton just as he's ignored 90% of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Congress will attempt to force the President to comply, he'll fight back and Veto, then they'll fail to override and the War will trundle on, the bodies will pile higher, the blood trail will thicken for the next two years until the next President comes into office and either gets serious about cleaning this mess up with some genuine good faith diplomacy or simply runs from Iraq like a scared rabbit.

Either option is better than what we have now, but the former is far more desirable than the latter.

The one thing we can count on: is that we'll get neither from Bush.

Vyan