Archive for the ‘Archived’ Category

Not a Good Week for Republicans

October 4th, 2003 Comments off

Wow. A triple double-whammy.

Bush is hit by a leak made by two of his senior officials which turns out to have been a federal felony, in addition to being an underhanded, slimy political attack. The Bush administration blames liberals for the scandal. On top of that, the official report on the search for WMD has come back: we found nothing, please give us another $600 million so we can try to find nothing some more. Less reported on are recent revelations that Colin Powell and Condi Rice made statements prior than 9/11 that Saddam was no threat and did not have serious WMD nor the ability to project them.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been hit not only by a detailed L. A. Times article on exactly how he groped, grabbed and harassed six women over the past few decades, but also has been again haunted by statements from his past, when the director of a film he appeared in claimed that the now-gubernatorial candidate expressed admiration and respect for Adolf Hitler. This on top of the revelations that he claimed to have gang-banged a black woman with other bodybuilders, and that his father was a member of the Nazi party. Schwarzenegger blames liberals for his troubles. And note that Arnold does not deny the Hitler remarks.

And finally, Rush Limbaugh, trying to get past his disgraceful slur on and resignation from ESPN (which Rush blames liberals for), was named in an investigation of drug rings, in which it was claimed that he illegally bought thousands of painkillers over a long period of time. And note that he does not deny that he bought the drugs.

All in all, not a superlative week for conservatives. Bush’s troubles will likely push his poll numbers further down their predictably falling track, making Americans question his character more, and “The Leak” may very well turn out to have legs (not to mention teeth). Schwarzenegger will likely be least affected by these 11th-hour revelations (despite our hopes), partly because of his star power, and partly because millions of absentee ballots have already been cast. Limbaugh, on the other hand, may be seeing his last days of being in favor with much of anyone; even conservatives will find it hard to excuse him of massive illegal drug abuse, even if he is not subsequently arrested and imprisoned.

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Rush, Quotas, and the Discriminatory Double Standard

October 3rd, 2003 4 comments

You undoubtedly have heard of Rush Limbaugh’s recent statement on ESPN that NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb is not talented, but is only considered so because he is black. The statement he made was not just racist, but represents a set of beliefs commonly held by staunch conservatives considering the innate abilities of blacks, and the effects of what they refer to as “affirmative action,” but more accurately should be named as “quotas.” In short, that belief says that any black person’s achievement must be questioned and their esteem diminished if there is even an outside chance that some sort of quota or special consideration may have been given them due to their race. It is this, and not Limbaugh’s own racism, his resignation from ESPN, nor the fact that he has been accused of drug abuse, that I would like to discuss here.

First off, it is necessary to define and explain two concepts which have been massively abused and mangled: “Affirmative Action” and “Quotas.” It is a standard tactic for conservatives to smear a popular, respectable idea or organization by finding something else even distantly related but much more easily attacked, re-defining that secondary item as being representative of the whole issue, and then smearing the hell out of it. That’s what happened with the ERA, when feminism was re-defined in the public eye, somewhat successfully, as being the domain of unattractive, arrogant lesbians seeking to overpower men; it is what is happening now with reproductive rights, with pro-lifers assiduously trying to frame the entire issue as a matter of the rare but far uglier late-term abortions. And that is what has happened with Affirmative Action, being framed as an issue of quotas. Thus the waters have been successfully muddied to the point that even proponents of Affirmative Action have come to use the terms interchangeably.

Affirmative Action is a set of guidelines for employers to follow in order to “overcome the discriminating effect of past or present practices, policies, or other barriers to equal employment opportunity,” according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For example, let’s say that you are hiring a hundred new workers for your company. Your business is within commuting distance of many towns, each with a different ethnic and socioeconomic makeup. Affirmative Action guidelines will tell you that you should advertise the position to all of these communities, rather than focusing on just one. In many cases, advertising for positions are concentrated in one area by making inquiries at one employment office rather than another, or by placing notices in ethnic- or class-specific journals or venues; this limits the opportunity for fair consideration for those who are not targeted. Affirmative Action explains issues such as this one and recommends how to avoid discriminatory actions–how to choose whom to hire based solely on ability, and thereafter administer that job in a fair and equal manner.

The quota, often identified as “Affirmative Action,” is, in fact, a completely different animal. Mandated either by courts or by executive order, quotas are a remedial resolution to repair proven or prevalent instances of discrimination. Executive orders by Kennedy and Johnson, for example, sought to correct blatantly obvious imbalances in hiring and contracting within the federal government. When a court orders a quota applied to an organization, it is in response to a specific and clearly demonstrable case of discrimination.

There are many misconceptions about quotas. These misconceptions, most often intentionally placed by opponents of quotas and Affirmative Action, are often the cause of the anecdotal evidence used to attack the quota system. For example, the idea that quotas are required where they are not. Many employers, fearing being sued for discrimination, use self-imposed quotas that are, in fact, completely unnecessary. They hear conservatives tell horror stories of businesses punished and forced to accept unreasonable quotas, and believe in them. This leads to the infamous “we’ve got to hire a black woman no matter what” mindset; and that, in turn, serves as anecdotal evidence for conservatives claiming that quotas require businesses to hire unqualified workers–a vicious, self-fulfilling cycle that has nothing to do with actual quotas.

The truth is, a company, as a statistical anomaly, could have a predominantly white, male workforce and yet still be clean; it is not the ethnic makeup of the company workforce that matters, but rather whether or not the hiring practices are fair. A company could employ white males almost exclusively and still be kosher, so long as it can demonstrate that its hiring practices were non-discriminatory. Ethnic composition only matters after racial discrimination has been proven and a quota mandated.

Another misconception is that quotas require an organization to hire people who are under-qualified. This is also patently untrue. Even under the strictest of quotas, if an organization can demonstrate that no qualified minority candidates were found despite a fair and determined recruitment campaign, they are off the hook. No one is forced to hire unqualified workers, though some people may unreasonably feel compelled to do so–again, most often because they hear the far-right rhetoric and believe in it as fact.

One more common misunderstanding is that quotas force employers to hire a similar percentage of minorities as is represented in the local population. This is untrue. Quotas mandate their percentages based upon the population of qualified minorities in the local workforce, “local” defined as living within a certain radius of the organization in question.

In fact, statistically speaking, a quota should never have any impact on hiring at all. If a hiring process is above-board and non-discriminatory, then the racial makeup of those hired will naturally follow the local makeup of the qualified workforce. The fact that a quota should force a hiring one way or another is in itself evidence that the hiring process may not be not functioning properly.

This ties in to yet another misconception, that discrimination is always conscious and intentional; it is not. We make final decisions to hire from a group of qualified applicants often based upon personal considerations (will this person get along with others in the workplace? How comfortable do I feel with this person?) that can easily be swayed by unconscious biases. It is my speculation that a majority of those who discriminate are unaware they are doing so, and most would be shocked and dismayed to know the truth. Instead, confronted with a quota, they resent the judgment because they see it as an accusation of a conscious act of racism, and having no such conscious intent, are insulted and respond with anger and denial.

The final misconception I would like to address is that of “preferential treatment.” A charge also leveled at women and gays, it is the idea that somehow minorities enjoy more advantages than whites and are unfairly benefited by things such as quotas. This misconception is rather easily dismissed by a quick glance at employment figures, which clearly show that white males are still largely over-represented in all areas relative to their numbers in the workforce, especially in higher-paying, higher-ranking positions. Far from demonstrating that quotas give minorities an advantage, it shows that there is a greater and more powerful force tilting the scales in favor of whites: racial discrimination. That is, after all, what Affirmative Action and quotas were intended to offset, and they have not been able to make more than a reasonable dent in that particular societal establishment. If some white males feel they have lost opportunities due to quotas, they probably have never even considered that they have in the past likely benefited from discrimination far more than they have been hit by its remedy. When we gain something, we tend to believe it is earned, not stolen; when we lose something, we do feel that a deserved reward has been taken from us. Similarly, white men are used to a superior position, and believe it is their due; when the scales are made more balanced, it feels to them as if something they have earned is being unfairly stolen and given to someone who does not deserve it.

This brings me to the point about the attitude held by Mr. Limbaugh and other conservatives concerning “preferential treatment.” It is the contention that minorities should resent quotas, and, by association, Affirmative Action, because it puts into question any achievement made by any minority member. In the case of Mr. McNabb, Limbaugh was asserting that he was under-qualified, and only achieved respect and recognition due to a social quota that gave him preferential status. Unfortunately, many minorities buy into this sham, believing that quotas are unfair and that all they have achieved is thereby tainted.

This is patently false, and can be checked by a quick look at how white males assess their own achievements. Racial discrimination clearly gives white males a far greater unfair advantage than even the most stringent of quotas gives to minorities–and yet I have yet to hear any white male seriously question the deservedness of his position or the merit of his achievements because of the likelihood that his path was smoothed by racial discrimination.

It is hypocrisy of the highest order for white men to question or denigrate the standing of minorities because of any possible benefits of Affirmative Action or quotas while not questioning their own standing in light of the far more powerful and widespread influence of racial discrimination.

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Arnold Gives the Truth a Try

October 3rd, 2003 Comments off

What the heck, right? Nip it in the bud, act like you’re an honest, up-front guy, and admit to “playfully” groping half a dozen women, at least. Take advantage of the opportunity to claim they weren’t serious incidents, while your aides smear the women and blame the opposition for dirty tricks.

The fact is, the women spoke to others about the incidents long before the campaign. None of them were directed by the Davis team, affirmed by the newspaper that broke the story. And this has just come out, we have yet to hear the gory details, as we likely will in the next few days. Admitting the charges have merit may be a workable strategy, but it’s also risky: if the women’s stories are graphic and sympathetic enough, and if this brings back to the surface the stories of gang-banging a woman, talking about “getting away with” dumping one head-first into a toilet, and making statements often about female anatomy–there might start to be enough of a tarnish to take the energy out of the right-wing get-out-the-vote drive.

The CNN poll that put Schwarzenegger in the lead and the recall at 63% went uncontested for several days, enough to create an impression of winnability, and even help influence the outcome of later polls; but it did not match the private tracking polls of either the Democrats or the GOP. A later poll by the L.A. Times was widely reported to confirm Schwarzenegger’s lock on the race, but in fact, it only showed 56% in favor of the recall, a 3% variance with pre-debate polls, a statistical lack of change when you count the margin of error. The CNN poll was flat-out wrong. The L.A. TImes poll also showed Schwarzenegger and Bustamante within 5 points of each other, close to previous polls; the CNN poll had Schwarzenegger leading by 15%.

Clearly, the media is giving a huge advantage to Schwarzenegger–including a lenient handling of the most recent sex scandal, with few news organizations carrying much of it until the candidate started his spin cycle. And the nonsense with the polls–there is some major media spin going on here, folks. But don’t buy into it; it ain’t over till it’s over.

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Putting on a Show

October 1st, 2003 Comments off

Well, it has been a busy few days in the Wilson-CIA scandal. The White House is trying to muddle the issue and attack both Democrats in Congress and Ambassador Wilson; a White House counsel who has made his career covering up after Bush scandals is acting like he’s interested in finding the culprit, which would make Bush look very bad; the conservative reporter who decided to shill for the administration attack and outed the illegal information is quoting sources that it wasn’t a crime, though his sources are notoriously shady and shaky; the Chief of the Justice Department is investigating a crime that was likely committed by a good friend of his, and Bush & co. are acting enraged that anyone would question his objectivity; and Ambassador Wilson himself pretty much has outed Karl Rove as the perpetrator of the federal crime, whom Bush Sr. indirectly called “the most insidious of traitors.”

First of all, the White House is trying to muddle the issue by not talking about Wilson specifically, but rather the far wider issue of leaks in general, which they have often blamed Congress for. Josh Marshall has good sources and examples of this obfuscation. Conservative spokespeople on the news shows are slipping in the comment whenever they can that the Bush White House doesn’t leak much; does anyone have the facts on that?

But quite frankly, I don’t trust the neo-cons when they cry about leaks coming from the other side. Remember Oliver North? Back in the days of Iran-Contra, North loudly and publicly accused the Congress of leaking information on how a plane with Achille Lauro hijackers bound for Tripoli was intercepted, claiming that the leaks compromised national security and condemning Congress for their disregard for the lives of our agents. Newsweek Magazine, which received the leaked information, later made public the fact that it was none other than Oliver North himself who leaked that information.

The Bush administration is also trying to make a big show with the “no stone unturned” act, by subpoenaing practically every piece of paper since Wilson went to Niger, including conversations with reporters not immediately connected with the story, and any and all documents that have their names (as if a White House staffer would be dumb enough to actually write down that they were leaking classified information). Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel leading the probe, seems intent on burying the investigation in worthless side-tracking.

Gonzales, by the way, has a history of covering up Bush scandals. In 1996, when Bush got the call for jury duty while governor in Texas, he made a big PR play of it, claiming that he was an ordinary guy and it would be “a feeble excuse” to say he’s too busy. Bush failed to fill out the section on “prior arrests” (a crime, but no one fussed), but was about to be pinned to the wall on his drunk driving rap when he got assigned to a DUI case–a case where lawyers were sure to ask Bush, under oath, if he’d been arrested for drunk driving before.

Alberto Gonzales to the rescue. He orchestrates a hasty exit for Bush, claiming (on rather lame legal grounds) that the governor should not serve on the jury of a defendant who might plead clemency with the governor later. I don’t know how many DUI’s ask for pardons from the governor, but I’d be willing to be the number is somewhere south of “one.”

Meanwhile, conservative pundits and politicians are using any variety of lame excuses–Wilson’s wife hasn’t been killed yet, it’s all a political gambit, what reason would there have been for the leak. None of it is relevant, of course, to the fact that a crime was committed, but the GOP will try their best to take everyone’s eyes off the ball over the next several days. Robert Novak, who was the only journalist who shilled for the Bushies in releasing the illegal information, claimed yet again that he has a reliable source in the CIA that says Mrs. Wilson was only an analyst, and not an operative. But then again, Novak also had it on reliable sources that major news of WMD found in Iraq would be released in mid-September, so there you go.

That already is shown up as political dissembling. A revised story is already making the rounds that Mrs. Wilson used to be an operative, but is now an analyst. Ambassador Wilson, appearing on Ted Koppel’s Nightline, spoke as candidly on the issue as security would allow, telling Ted Koppel to “check his sources” on that–suggesting that his wife was not at all an analyst, pointing to the fact that the CIA would not have made the referral to the Justice department had she been one.

His other revelation, and a much greater one, was that he was called by a reporter who told him that he’d just gotten off the phone with Karl Rove, who had told the reporter that Wilson’s wife was “fair game”–and Wilson said he’s be very willing to give the name of the reporter to investigators. He also pointed out that CIA information and political actions intersected at Rove’s office, and any investigation would naturally start there.

Which leads us to the Justice Department, headed by John Ashcroft, the man who lost an election to a dead man, couldn’t stand a bare-breasted statue of justice, and is campaigning to strip you of your civil rights in the name of security and under the cover of fear. Ashcroft is the head of the department which is poised to investigate Rove, and Rove has political ties to Ashcroft, having worked on his campaigns–and reportedly was instrumental in getting Ashcroft his job as Attorney General. How much more conflicted can you get without being directly related?

Only in the Bush White House could this cronyism and deep conflict of interest be not only withstood, but actively defended–a White House where a former CEO and present stockholder in Halliburton is vice-president, and his firm just “happens” to get awarded billions of taxpayer dollars in non-competitive contracts in Iraq, where Ken Lay, one of the most infamous criminals in recent business history not only was Bush’s financial mentor but was key in directing Bush’s energy policies, just happens to escape charges against him for the vast criminal acts he participated in.

The White House has already positively claimed that Rove did not make the calls, despite the fact that the investigation has hardly even started yet and that the president claims that he “wants to know” who did it. The White House also pooh-poohs claims of conflicts of interest, and says it is “appropriate” for Ashcroft to investigate his friend, client, and possibly the man who got him his job.

One would expect that the White House at least avoid the appearance of impropriety, but they’re not even close to that. Bush makes Clinton look like a boy scout, though a lecherous one; the only difference between the two is that Republicans forced investigations into Clinton’s peccadilloes, while the same Republicans are staunchly refusing to investigate massive fraud and corruption in an administration of their own party.

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The Most Insidious of Traitors

September 29th, 2003 1 comment

Josh Marshall found this rather interesting quote by George Bush Sr., which indirectly but clearly condemns his son’s administration:

“We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country. Even though I’m a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.”

George H.W. Bush
April 16th, 1999
Dedication Speech
George Bush Center for Intelligence

Meanwhile, Condi Rice and others are busy trying to quiet the whole thing down, saying that there was no White House “effort” to blow the cover of Wilson’s wife in the CIA. That’s pure spin, folks–it sounds like a denial that the leak came from the White House, while actually not saying that it didn’t come from the White House

And if an investigation ensues, will it be fair? Will the administration’s own Justice Department be able to investigate it’s own boss and his staff? With this administration’s record on internal oversight (can you say, “9/11 investigation”?), and Bush’s own long record of malfeasance covered up by his father’s own right-wing “enforcers,” it is highly doubtful that any Republican investigator within the administration will ever blow the whistle. More likely: the Justice Department will carry out a pro forma investigation as quietly and slowly as possible, then try to slip out a low-profile release after all interest has died saying that nothing could be found.

I hope I’m wrong–I hope the two White House staffers are caught and threatened with prison terms, causing then to fess up as to where they got their orders from. God forbid that a Bush White House staffer should actually do the moral thing and confess outright without any threat. But that’s not too likely to happen.

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Good Lord, Here We Go Again

September 28th, 2003 Comments off

President Bush, realizing that jobs are important to the American people, headed out to Indiana to lay out his master plan for revitalizing the job market for average Americans.

His first step: more tax cuts for the rich.

And no, I’m not kidding. I wish I were. And it gets worse: it’s a future tax cut, one that won’t even kick in until a decade from now. He plans to make the temporary, decade-long tax cuts permanent. Because we all know that future enrichment of the super-rich and endless budget deficits are exactly the stimulus the job market needs right now.

Next: Reducing government regulations on business. Yeah, that’ll help. Just like it did with Enron, Worldcom, the entire energy industry (ask Californians about that), and countless other examples, back to the Savings & Loan debacle and farther.

Next: Protecting companies from class-action lawsuits. Think of all the jobs that will create!

Also: Allowing companies to put less money into their employee pension plans. Yes, that will certainly–um… well, it will… uh… Wha?

Even Republicans are scratching their heads on this one. Bruce Bartlett, an economist who worked for Bush, Sr., said, “Basically, he’s just crossing his fingers and hoping for the best.” Well, that’s what he’s done from the start: get a far-right-wing agenda pushed through, claim it is due to [insert present crisis or agenda goal here] and it will fix [insert issue-of-the-day here], and then wait until some crisis abates naturally, and then jump all over it, saying, “See? I told you my plan would work!”

And his brother Jeb still has some great real estate in Florida to sell you.

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More Commentary on the News

September 27th, 2003 Comments off

Remain Afraid, Administration Encourages

The Bush administration’s State Department is telling Americans to remain fearful and worried of possible terrorist attacks. But really, tell me: are we truly any more at risk today than we were three years ago? The threat has neither increased or decreased. The terrorists are no more nor less capable of or committed to doing anything. But a fearful populace follows its leaders with less questioning, and more readily supports infringements on its own liberties. This is not a new idea or revelation; we have heard before that our own fear, and what it leads us to do, is the only thing we truly have to fear. So live your life calmly. Approve only what security you believe is truly necessary, remembering that security and freedom are always a trade-off.

A Political Culture Without Morality

When former ambassador Joseph Wilson had the temerity to point out that Bush lied to the American people about Saddam Hussein buying uranium from Niger, the administration did not admit its mistake. Nor did it even withdraw the assertion. It tried to shift blame, pin responsibility on lesser officials, claimed they relied on the British intelligence more than their own. Everything but admit to responsibility for the lie.

But the immorality did not stop there. Furious that Wilson would show up the president, White House officials sought out ultraconservative columnist and pundit Robert Novak, and illegally informed him that Wilson’s wife was a secret CIA operative who had suggested her husband be the one to investigate the Niger story.

Remember that the Bush administration keeps a great deal of information secret with the excuse that it protects people. People are arrested and detained, and yet are denied access to witnesses or information because the administration says it would put covert operatives at risk. But when a diplomat tells the truth that the president was lying to the American people to drag them into an unwise war? The administration unveils his wife’s covert status just out of spite.

While we’re watching the administration reveal information that should be classified, how about some information that should be unclassified, but it keeps secret anyway? What happened to flight 93 on 9/11? We don’t know; they won’t release the flight data recorder, severely limited access to the cockpit recorder, and have gagged witnesses to the event who contradict the administration’s story of what happened. Who sat on the president’s energy council and what did they say? Sorry, that’s confidential. You might find out that a swarm of Texas oil cronies of Bush practically dictated the nation’s energy agenda, and that would certainly hurt some people in the White House. What did Saudi Arabia have to do with 9/11? We won’t know more about that for any time soon, the Bush administration censored that part of the report on 9/11.

Bush’s people have their own morality in play, echoing the Nixonian sentiment that the White House can do whatever it pleases. We need a John Dean here, someone who will break down and do the right thing.

Meanwhile, Europe, Rest of World Mysteriously Unwilling to Help Bush

Go figure. You engineer a war to gain votes, win oil fields and please your party’s hawks, lie to your people and to the world, belittle and ridicule long-time allies and new friends who don’t want to go along, call the world’s foremost body to promote peace “irrelevant,” cut short their attempts to make peace, kill 6000 civilians, and destabilize an entire region. And then, when you get stuck in the mud and need help, you come before those same countries you made fun of, as arrogant and uncompromising as before, asking for them to give money and blood in return for no control and no business opportunities–what does the rest of the world do?

The say “no”! The ungrateful wretches! How dare they? Bring back “Freedom Fries!” We need to ridicule these ingrates some more!

One Step Closer to Privacy

After U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham in Denver put the kebosh on the FTC’s Do-Not-Call list, perhaps the single most popular initiative to come out of Washington D.C. in years, the high 10th Circuit court has given every indication that it will overturn the lower court’s ruling and allow the list to go into effect.

Meanwhile, Tim Searcy, executive director of the American Teleservices Association, argued on Crossfire that so many people would lose their jobs if the list was enforced. Crocodile tears, of course; the industry is perhaps most famous for using a mechanical calling device to contact people during dinner time and get them to listen to a recorded sales pitch, a device which had a single purpose: to allow the industry to fire as many of the people to whom they pay minimum wage as possible in order to hike their own profits. These people could care less about the people they hire, and if the list is indeed enforced, the telemarketers won’t be out of business, they’ll just have to find a less annoying way to do their business, and they will still need to hire people. But there is nothing new about megacorporations holding their employees hostage, using them as human shields to protect themselves against being fairly regulated, taxed, or held accountable for their misdeeds.

Side comment: have you ever been caught by one of those machine callers? They are extremely convincing; you would think that you could tell a marketer, or especially a machine, right away. But the recorded messages are carefully scripted to make you think that a neighbor is calling, or some other ruse. Only when you (a) try to interrupt, or (b) stay on long enough to see that it’s a sales pitch, and then interrupt, do you realize that you’ve been listening to a machine. If you’ve never gotten a really well-designed auto-caller, don’t scoff–it’s easier to be fooled at first than you might think.

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News Updates 9/27/2003

September 27th, 2003 Comments off

A major quake hit Japan yesterday, but no one here in Tokyo seemed too concerned–no one mentioned it to me all day long at work, I only found out by going to CNN that night. Yes, it was an 8.0 (followed by a 7.0), but the epicenter was about 100 kilometers off the coast of Hokkaido, which is a sparsely populated island. The closest major city, Sapporo, is at least 250 km. from the epicenter. Various reports have the number of injured up to as high as 500.

People (like Steve Forbes on CNN this morning) are talking about where George Bush’s poll numbers will be by whatever time frame, whether his popularity will jump or tank by Thanksgiving or by the end of the year. Don’t these people look at more than just the last few polls? For the past two months, I’ve been mentioning as much as possible the fact that Bush’s poll numbers follow an amazingly simple pattern: they jumped for 9/11 and the Iraq War, otherwise they have followed a highly regular and predictable downward trend since he took office in 2001.

In August, I plugged Bush’s poll numbers since the Iraq War into an Excel worksheet and produced a chart, and then extrapolated a linear trendline. That was two months ago. The trendline said that by the end of September, his poll ratings would be hovering around 49%. Well, by golly, that’s exactly where they are. So what does the trendline say for the future? Barring terrorist attacks or a new war, Bush should be at about 42% by Thanksgiving, and as low as 36% by the end of the year. At some point, Bush will have to bottom out (the trendline reaches zero by September 2004), and it will be interesting to see where that will be. But for now, with the predictions for this year on the record, let’s see what happens.

Davis challenged Schwarzenegger to a debate, head to head. Do you even need me or any news site to tell you Arnold’s response? No, of course you don’t. But then, it was an unlikely proposition; Schwarzenegger obviously wants to duck any non-controlled appearance he can get away with avoiding, and it probably would not do him much good–and it would lend publicity and popularity to Davis. On the grounds of principle, it was the Right Thing–the public deserves to hear as much debate as can be arranged, and after all, they are the real main contenders in the race, Arnold does take every chance he gets to smear Davis publicly, and since half the election is about recalling Davis, he should be allowed to face his challenger head-on. But then again, we know that principle is never allowed to get in the way of electability.

I‘m getting sick and tired of people slamming illegal immigrants in California and elsewhere, with a how-dare-they response to the desire to have things like driver licenses. We hear so often about illegal aliens arrested and being taken away, but we never hear about the people who hire them illegally being punished. The fact of the matter is, these people come to the U.S. because we offer them jobs. They’re not the problem. We are.

We need them, the California economy would collapse without them. The question is not why they come, the question is why don’t we offer enough work visas to accommodate the necessary immigrant workforce, and why don’t we crack down severely on employers who take advantage of these people? I get the very strong impression that the people who hire them want them to be illegal–that way, they can pay them less, and overall administration for the employer is reduced. It also means that we as a state or country can avoid giving them the benefits they deserve as residents, creating a virtual apartheid-like system.

We need to do a few things. We should determine the number of jobs these people fill and set up a temporary work visa program that would allow them to enter the country safely and legally, with the least administrative hassle and cost for employers. Perhaps general visas for an industry (farmworking, construction, etc.) could be granted, and then employers could recruit from that pool. Far better than doing so from the back of a truck. Finally, levy serious fines for anyone who employs illegal aliens more than once, with jail terms for the worst offenders. Once the illegal jobs dry up, so will the illegal aliens.

Another thing I’m getting tired of hearing is how election candidates can “win” debates simply by not losing them badly. On a CNN interview this morning, Peter Beinart of the New Republic mentioned that Howard Dean won the last debate by not stumbling. George W. Bush, who even called himself the “master of low expectations,” “won” his debates with Gore effectively by not self-destructing.

Now, I was never in debate club in high school, but I seem to recall hearing somewhere to the effect that the winner of a debate is the one who makes the best argument. But today it’s all spin and presentation. The thing is, it’s not the fault of the politicians or pundits for presenting these standards, it’s our fault for accepting them, for voting for anyone on those grounds.

Bush, responding to polls that he supposedly doesn’t follow, is beginning to back away from his preference for the U.S. paying for rebuilding Iraq, as opposed to doing it on loan, to be payed back by future Iraqi oil revenues. In a few weeks, we’ll likely be hearing about how loans were the president’s idea in the first place.

We’ve heard that before too many times. Remember when Bush first proposed invading Iraq? He said he didn’t need the approval of Congress, even went so far as to lay out legal grounds for making it an executive decision. But then he did a 180, and afterwards claimed that he never tried to do it without Congress. Then he said we didn’t need U.N. support. When that didn’t fly, he went to the U.N., and again, later acted like that was all part of his master plan from the start. Then he opposed U.N. weapons inspections, and cut them short with his premature invasion–and yet again, later claimed that he wanted inspections, but Saddam Hussein refused to even let them in.

This is the man who criticizes others for being “revisionist historians.”

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Come Again, Bob?

September 26th, 2003 Comments off

Back in early August, Bob Novak assured us that the Bush administration had found iron-clad proof of bio-weapons found in Iraq–they were just holding back until mid-September so even more damning evidence could be released along with it. I commented on it at the time, noting that this kind of thing had been claimed before by right-wingers, and was likely part of a general PR campaign to give the appearance of having found WMD while not actually finding them.

Well, guess what? Mid-September has passed us by, and no announcement. Also little hope for Bob Novak to claim they’re still holding it back–Bush would have had to have been a complete loon to not offer such evidence in his U.N. speech, and he most certainly did not. And I haven’t heard Novak speak of it since, either–no big surprise there.

Well, back to the old drawing board. How long before the next rumor comes out? And how long before this new set of fake reports cause 69% of the American people believe in the tripe?

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Debate Scorecard: My Rundown of Winners and Losers

September 25th, 2003 Comments off

I just watched my tape of the California debate; here’s my assessment of the winners and losers, from the best-performing to the worst:

1. Cruz Bustamante. He definitely won the evening for a few different reasons. First, he didn’t try to sugar-coat anything; he didn’t give the rather unbelievable lines given by others that they could balance the budget and increase value delivered without raising taxes. He made it clear that “the easy things have been done, and now it’s time to do the tough things” [paraphrase]. Second, he was humble; he admitted when there was something he’d done wrong, and outlined how things would change; he even accepted blame where blame was not fully his–after all, the lieutenant governor has less power and responsibility than the legislature or the governor. Third, he came across as reasonable and agreeable, being the only one not to lash out to anyone else, or to raise his voice. The only departure from that was when he was somewhat condescending to Huffington; even so, it was on a topic that rung true: he’s one of the only ones that realizes the realities of the system, and that you can’t just ride in to Sacramento and do anything you want; there’s a system, and you have to understand it to do anything.

2. Tom McClintock. This was a tough one, and Peter Camejo almost took the place. McClintock gets second place for clarity, for getting his message across, and for being the next-most-agreeable member of the panel. He stated his case with less glitz, jabs, and one-liners, and more with plainly stated views. That said, he also tended to go way over his allotted time, and breezed over budget-cutting proposals that were too fantastic to be true (obviously ignoring political realities). His line on illegal immigration rang hollow, saying that illegal immigrants “cut in line” in front of “millions” waiting in line to come here legally. The fact is, the industries that so badly need immigrant workers (as Bustamante made clear with his important stats on how California depends on these people) do not grant the visas needed for enough people to come in legally, so they can hire illegal workers whom they can pay less and for whom they can avoid paying benefits.

3. Peter Camejo. He winds up more in the honorable mention category, for making sense in many places, and pointing out a few real problems with the system–but at the same time, focusing too much on those few issues, and not realistically addressing a lot of other issues. Like McClintock and Schwarzenegger especially, he did not seem to recognize the political realities that do not allow a governor to do whatever he pleases. For example, he complained that corporations do not pay their fair share, and I completely agree with him on that. However, the fact remains that there is a bidding war for businesses to invest in states, and, as McClintock pointed out, if other states offer better terms and lower taxes, we could lose those businesses. He scored big points for pointing out the inequities, and for wanting to build in the right places rather than making the cuts McClintock and Schwarzenegger avoid mentioning but would have to do to avoid making things worse; but he loses points for not being realistic in how to accomplish these goals, coming in closely behind McClintock in that area.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He scores below average for the usual reasons: strong on flash, but low on substance. He gets honorable mention for one-liners, and will likely win applause for (a) showing up, (b) being famous, and (c) not self-destructing. Outside that, however, I believe he performed poorly. He was far too bellicose, interrupted and condescended to others, and had little substance behind his words. He was quick to point out what was wrong, and avoided cutting to the chase on the realities of actual solutions. For example, at one point he said, “… when we bring jobs back and the economy is booming, then we create more revenue and then we can afford some of the programs and are also able to pay off the debt….” Well, that’s fine. But how do we bring back the jobs? He sounds good by pointing out the problems and saying how nice things will be when the problems are fixed. But he fails badly at telling us how he realistically plans to get from point A to point B.

5. Arianna Huffington. This was disappointing, because when this whole thing started, she was my favorite. But she has continually disappointed me, and tonight was no different. She was even more flash-over-substance than Arnold, was the most combative, attacking just about everyone, jumped off-topic all over the place, and failed to really state the case as to how she would fix things. She relied more of flashy accusations, and referenced the Bush administration too many times, while failing to state the case as to how that was relevant. She may be right on many of the issues and I think she’d be way better than Schwarzenegger or McClintock, but she just did not come across well tonight–too combative, not constructive enough.

Other observations: McClintock did not criticize Schwarzenegger at all, and Schwarzenegger spoke (after the debate) of he and McClintock being a “team,” which leads to some worries for the left. One gets the strong impression that McClintock is staying in the race to become a known quantity, get his name and face out there, and have his day in the sun. But he’s too low in the numbers to have any chance of winning, and it is not hard to guess that he will agree to pulling out in exchange for major political concessions from Schwarzenegger and the GOP. If he does pull out of the race, likely in a week or so as I feel he will, and if Camejo and Huffington stay in (as they will) and pull votes away from Bustamante, this could mean a victory for Schwarzenegger. Not a good sign at all. Usually, I would not be too troubled by a moderate Republican with liberal social views, but Schwarzenegger comes across as not the person to fix the problems–and exactly the kind of person who would delegate important positions in the state government to people much more to the right than he is, to do a much greater damage, especially when it comes to turning the machinery of the state of California to help Bush win in 2004, like Jeb Bush’s people did so destructively in Florida in 2000.

A good transcript of the debate is available at the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Different Perspectives, Different Languages

September 23rd, 2003 Comments off

President Bush will be giving a speech at the U.N. tomorrow to ask them to come to our aid. Previously, he went before them, and threatened that they would become “irrelevant” if they did not go along with his unilateral decision. After charging toward war without consultation with our allies, he came to them instead (claiming credit for being “diplomatic” for doing so) and essentially said, “We want your rubber stamp, but if you don’t go with us, we’re going alone anyway.” This after his famous “you’re either with us or against us” speech about a year before.

Well, they stayed back and did not come with; and Bush charged ahead with a “screw you” thrown over his shoulder at them. Even Turkey did not agree to let us so much as use their borders, despite tens of billions in bribes that Bush offered. And when Bush did go in, despite the tremendous effort and heroic fighting done by our troops, we sank quickly into the quagmire. The WMD that Bush promised were there were not, which the U.N. might have discovered had not Bush’s invasion cut short their inspections; and while the Iraqi military was not nearly the force we thought it would be and the terrorist ties were found to be false, the guerilla afterfight wound up killing more than the war itself. The Iraqi people, far from cheering and welcoming us (minus the few staged ones) as Cheney was sure they would, they more resent us and in too many cases, fight us to the death. And now we either stay and pay a tremendous cost, or we leave and allow Saddam, anarchy, or religious fundamentalists come to rule. But the U.S. is already strapped financially, and Americans, disenchanted, are likely not going to tolerate the continued burden in deficit dollars and lost lives. And the U.N.’s participation would add great legitimacy to the rebuilding of the country.

This situation has forced Bush to go back to the U.N. to ask for their help. Now, when Bush campaigned to be president, he said that other nations would respect us only if we were “humble.” But, according to reports, Bush is not going to be very humble. Yes, the U.N. can help write a constitution, and yes, they can oversee the elections. But first, the war was right (forget all those lies we told you), the U.S. will retain control (if you send troops, they must be under our command, and don’t think of coming near the power base) and will hold on to the profits (give us your money, but U.S. companies get dibs on taking it).

In other words, he’ll throw out some bones and keep the meat, while asking the U.N., whom he insulted and berated before, to get their member nations, whom we ridiculed, to send their sons and daughters to fight and die for our cause and for our profit, to clean up the mistake we made despite their warning.

The only reason the U.N. would agree to this galling presentation would be because they are caught between Iraq and a hard place: refuse to accept Bush’s demands, and Iraq could fall apart and the region could become unstable, added to the deaths and misery the Iraqis themselves would suffer. Essentially, Bush holds them hostage.

But there may be reason for Bush to worry. 82% of Germans and 72% of the French believe that the U.S. invasion has made the world more dangerous, and similar number oppose their countries’ troops going in to Iraq to help the U.S. In the face of such strong opposition, will these countries really bow down before Bush’s demands?

I have the feeling that the U.N. may eventually go in, but they’re not going to accept Bush’s terms automatically; if they do, that will be what renders them “irrelevant.” With the known arrogance of the Bush people, I would not be surprised if they refuse to compromise, but then again, with an election coming up and even the most generous polls now dropping to 50% approval, Bush could be in even bigger trouble if he doesn’t get the U.N. to come in. So the U.N. seems to hold the stronger cards; the question is, will they risk Iraqi security to call Bush’s bluff?

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Judicial Politics

September 21st, 2003 1 comment

The executive and legislative branches we have always expected to be highly political, and although we have always known the judicial branch has its politics as well, he have, perhaps naively, expected that branch of government to be relatively objective in their rulings. We did not expect them to be outright party hacks. Yes, we have expected that their political biases to swing their judgment in an underlying, philosophical way; for instance, to favor Constitutional Constructionism as a way to justify conservative biases. This covert rule of bias at least allowed us to covet the belief that the judiciary was still above the fray, that we could count on the courts as being the final bastion of objective fairness.

That objectivity, whether true or simply a thin sheen, has been quickly evaporating over the past few years, and the judiciary has evolved into a political system all too much like the other two branches of government. It was doubtlessly energized by the standardization of court-stacking that evolved, in the 20th century, into the fine art conservatives have made of it (place young judges with known far-right leanings but little in the way of a paper trail, so as to control benches for decades). The overt politics-over-law trend, however, started to come fully out in the open with the 2000 elections, and the purely partisan ruling in Bush v. Gore, a ruling that had far more basis in politics than in actual law (read Vincent Bugliosi’s The Betrayal of America for further edification).

Another such outburst, lesser-known, was when the Fifth Circuit court, in 2001, used the case United States v. Emerson in an attempt to single-handedly re-interpret and reverse a long history of high-court decisions, including two Supreme Court decisions, on the nature of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Over a hundred high court decisions, including the two by the Supremes, had held steadfast in the interpretation that the Second Amendment applied only in militia, or military, situations, and did not guarantee an independent, individual right to keep and bear arms.

The Emerson case, interestingly enough, did not even touch on Second Amendment rights, but two of the three judges on the Fifth, both strongly right-wing, issued what is called a “dicta” ruling–essentially, a ruling on law that is unconnected to the case. In the dicta, these two justices rewrote more than 60 years of judicial history and unilaterally declared the Second Amendment an individual right.

This ultraconservative judicial coup prompted an opposite but more than equal response from the more liberal 9th Circuit, which ruled in Silveira v. Lockyer in 2002 that the 5th Circuit was incorrect, and re-instituted the long-standing legal rulings on the matter. A good, brief, and objective reading of the story can be found here.

But the politics had come out of the judicial closet. And in a manner very similar to all this, the hard-right-wing judgment from the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore was answered by a liberal trio from the 9th Circuit last week when it cited the 2000 decision in its ruling to delay the California elections until March of 2004. And now, a group of eleven conservative judges on the 9th is seeking to overturn their brethren early next week, in a move that is more of a political gunfight at the O.K. Corral than a stately, informed judicial proceeding.

We are beginning to see judges become outright politicians more and more often, as with judge Roy Moore in Alabama trying to force his own personal view of the First Amendment, and with the aforementioned 5th Circuit in Texas forcing their personal views on the Second.

Add this to John Ashcroft taking a partisan political stand on the law, and at the same time trying to rework several of the Amendments on his own, and we have a state of affairs which is truly dismal indeed. What used to be, at least, the outward appearance of judicial restraint and objectivity is breaking down into down-and-dirty politics. Of course, there are still quite a few fair judges out there, but they are at best being heard less above the political roar, and at worst, are being replaced by a new generation of political judges.

Lady Justice is taking off her blindfold, and choosing sides. Say goodbye to the balance, and watch out for the backswing on that sword.

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Faux News

September 19th, 2003 Comments off

Nightline had a piece on Hurricane Isobel today, and they showed a plethora of shots from newscasters following the hurricane “formula,” which include the broadcaster standing in the gale-force wind (I think Dan Rather was one of this style’s pioneers).

Most laughable was the Fox News broadcaster, who made it look like he was caught in the middle of, well, a hurricane, doing theatrics with the wind, staggering against the gales, even sitting down one time to keep from being swept away.

Then, at one point, his pants started getting blown off. So he walked just a few steps out of the way… into a completely windless area. Turns out the wind he’d been showing off in was a highly localized phenomenon, a kind of narrow wind tunnel created by a street.

About par for Fox.

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Fox Not Yet Ready for Prime Time Polling

September 19th, 2003 Comments off

Fox News is demonstrating that it has no idea how to conduct a poll with it’s just-released survey on people’s attitudes about downloading. They come to the conclusion that most people agree with the RIAA on music downloading, which is untrue.

Their evidence? They asked two questions:

1. Recently the recording industry has sued students and other individuals who have downloaded music over the Internet. Do you approve or disapprove of people downloading music over the Internet?

2. Have you personally downloaded music over the Internet without paying a fee?

First of all, it doesn’t take much to see that each question will influence the answer of the other. Some people who download, when asked the first question, will come out with a moral reply–they download, but they know it’s wrong, so they may say they disapprove. But then when they’re hit with the second question, would they admit to it after saying they disapprove? A similar effect would happen if the questions were reversed; if they admit to downloading, would they then say they disapprove of themselves?

These two questions, therefore, should never be asked to the same individual; it would only make sense to ask one question in one poll, and the other question in a separate poll.

Second, the questions are not well designed to produce the answer to the questions Fox seems to be asking. They suggest that the polls indicate approval of the RIAA’s position on the downloading issue. If they wanted to make that connection, then why not ask the question? They mention the industry, but do not ask if people approve or disapprove of it. They do not ask about what response to downloading is appropriate. Had they asked these questions, especially at the top of the poll, the results would hardly have “agreed” with the RIAA.

More effective questions would have been, “Do you agree with the RIAA’s decision to sue music downloaders?” or “What do you think of the RIAA’s tactics concerning people who download music without a fee? The answers would, almost without a doubt, have been far less in “agreement” with the RIAA.

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More on Clark

September 18th, 2003 Comments off

At first, any candidate you’ve never heard of before is naturally a blank canvas; before the media paints the picture, we ten to project our own hopes and desires onto it. Dean was that way. I’m still not too sure of him. He’s able to generate a groundswell and seems to have liberal enough leanings, but he’s also been conservative in the past. So I’m seeing an indeterminate canvas for him.

Retired general Wesley Clark is another new face, the details still largely absent. But unlike with Dean, the substantive things I learn about him are more positive, with fewer negatives so far. The main negative thing you’ll hear is how he’s bristly, a little arrogant, harsh, and not too friendly. But few commentators who mention these qualities seem to realize that these characterizations come from people who knew him as a general, and as the NATO commander. I mean, what else would you expect? Warm and fuzzy?

You also hear words like brilliant, talented, driven, brave–words that suggest both character and ability. Four-star general, NATO commander, Silver Star–not tokens you can pick up lightly. He was against the Iraq war from the get-go. He is for gun control, is firmly pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and is against Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. He would avoid war except where absolutely necessary, and feels it is vital to work together with our allies. He is still more a blank slate where domestic issues are concerned, but the “brilliant” and “driven” qualities will likely make up for that. I would presume that, after all this time looking at the prospects, that he has done his homework and has forged a base of stands on issues, both foreign and domestic.

We’ll have to wait and see how he does, if he can keep up a warm demeanor with the press and public, if the press takes kindly to him or starts shooting him down, if he stands up on the issues, if he can improve his oratory, and many other intangibles. But there is hope in this candidate.

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Conservative Half-Truths

September 17th, 2003 Comments off

On “Nightline” tonight, Condoleeza Rice said the Bush administration had never blamed Saddam Hussein for the September 11 attacks. “We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein … had either direction or control of 9/11,” she said.

Insofar as that statement is concerned, it is true, but it is a half-truth. Yes, the administration never actually said the words, “Hussein did 9/11.”

But the administration did say that Saddam Hussein gave his weapons and support to terrorists, that he supported al Qaeda terrorist camps in regions of Iraq that he controlled, and that Iraqi agents met with one of the hijackers–all of which were false, by the way. In addition, Bush has until this day pressed the idea that Iraq is the nexus of terrorism.

Today, 69% of the American people think Hussein was behind 9/11. Where do you suppose they got that idea? From Howard Dean?

So to try to claim that you never mislead the people because you only implied a lie by using smaller lies instead of actually stating the big lie outright is nothing less than a mealymouthed attempt to weasel yourself out of trouble.

The half-truth is a favorite pastime of conservatives. Remember Rush Limbaugh’s defense of trickle-down Reaganomics, where he told us “in the 1980’s, we cut taxes and revenue doubled”? Well, yes, we cut taxes, but we raised them a bit more. And yes, revenues double (almost), but when you factor inflation in (as any honest person would do), then revenue did not even come close to doubling. Two half-truths which amounted to a Big Lie.

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Cry Justice, and Let Slip the Dogs of War

September 17th, 2003 Comments off

The 9th Circuit’s decision to delay the election until March so that voting machines could be updated (else have 40,000 people be disenfranchised) was met with vitriolic vigor by Republicans today.

Representative Darrell Issa, who funded the recall petition drive, called today’s decision a “judicial hijacking of the electoral process.” Can you believe that? Here’s a guy who invoked a little-known century-old throwback to recall the governor, an effort which started only a few months after he was legally elected, blatantly for the purpose of overthrowing the election results (we don’t like that the other guy won, so we want a do-over). By getting the signatures of a tiny minority of the citizens of the state, he’s costing the state tens of millions, sabotaging the very core of our election system, and making us into a worldwide laughingstock. And he’s saying the judiciary is “hijacking” the process? Because they want to allow voting machines to be updated so tens of thousands of votes won’t be trashed like they were in Florida?

The GOP is crying foul, that this is an attempt to overturn the “will of the people.” What hypocrites. Do I even need to explain about Florida? The “will of the people of California”? A tiny minority of people, mostly conservatives, signing a sheet people shove under their noses outside of WalMart, and this is the “will of the people”? It’s the will of the Republicans, not the people. Benefit to Gray Davis or not, the core purpose of the appeal, to allow as many votes to count as possible, is valid. The GOP is only worried that after 5 months, people will vote based on their solid opinions and not on hype and publicity.

More than that, they’re worried because Arnold will not be able to say he’s “looking into” a solution for the budget crisis for that long. If the election is put off until March, Schwarzenegger will have no choice but to lay out a plan to fix the mess he blames Davis for–and the odds are he doesn’t have the slightest clue, and what he’ll present will be easily picked apart.

Gee, allowing more people to vote and forcing the candidates to tell the people what they intend to do when they are elected to office. What a travesty.

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And Then There Were Ten

September 17th, 2003 Comments off

CNN and others are now reporting that Clark is indeed throwing his hat into the ring. If the reports are correct, he’ll announce at 1pm local time in Arkansas on Wednesday.

Interestingly, he’s already got one endorsement that will count a lot to many if not most Americans, despite the derision of neo-cons: Michael Moore.

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Surrender Your Liberty or Be UnPatriotic

September 16th, 2003 Comments off

Lest we forget, the Patriot 2 Act is coming through Congress, with Herr Ashcroft making the rounds trying to frighten people into approving the act. While the original “USA Patriot” Act was enough of a hit to our civil rights, P2 stands to erode them even further. Here are a few highlights:

  • Increases surveillance of U.S. citizens and allows warrantless wiretaps, electronic eavesdropping, and searches;
  • Allows them to spy on you, collect all sorts of personal information, credit histories, etc., even when not connected with terrorism
  • Allows agencies to get your DNA and catalog it without your consent or a court order;
  • Expands legal definition of terrorism to include what is currently accepted as legal protesting;
  • Allows the government to convict U.S. citizens using “secret evidence” which the accused may not see or contest;
  • Allows the government to strip Americans of their citizenship simply by saying they belong to a “terrorist organization,” by whatever definition they please. After which, aforementioned Americans may be indefinitely imprisoned as undocumented aliens;
  • Allows spying on U.S. citizens for the benefit of foreign countries;
  • Allows the arrest and detention of immigrants without filing charges or allowing legal representation;
  • Allows the government to arrest citizens who aid “terrorist organizations,” even if the organization you are associated with is not identified as “terrorist”;

And lots, lots more. A full treatment of the oppressive legislation is provided by the ACLU. In short, the government can perform almost unlimited spying on you without warrant or cause, can try and convict you with evidence that cannot be challenged or even seen, and if the courts get too fussy about what rights of yours they’re trampling on, they can strip you of your citizenship at will and then do whatever they please with you.

This is absolutely terrifying. While we have “assurances” from the government (which I would value less than a pitcher of warm spit) that these dangerously expanded police powers would never be abused, the fact remains that police powers are always abused, sooner or later, more often than not. Look back at the 60’s and 70’s, when so many who protested the government or the status quo, including people like Martin Luther King, were spied on for political purposes.

The fact is, most of the ingredients for a fascist police state are contained in the bill; abuse would not only be possible, it would be completely legal.

Be a patriot–a real one–and let Ashcroft and his conservative cronies know exactly where they can stuff this bill. Tell your Congressional Representative that not only do we not need Patriot 2, we have to review the sweeping powers given under the first act. Remember “give me liberty, or give me death”? Well, now it’s “take my liberties, I’m frightened.”

There are better ways to protect our country than by surrendering our freedoms.

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Wisdom from the Bush VI: Firm Grasp of World Affairs

September 15th, 2003 Comments off

“For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times.”—Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 18, 2002; What’s a little thing like World War II between friends?

“We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.”—Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001; I’d like to joke about this, but the statement probably sums up how he looks at the continent.

“Do you have blacks, too?”—To Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001; Yeah, they’re everywhere, it seems. How did that happen?

“The suicide bombings have increased. There’s too many of them.”—Albuquerque, N.M., Aug. 15, 2001; When it was just once or twice a month, that was OK. But now….

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