Saturday, March 31, 2007

We need impeachment proceedings, not Kabuki dances

Matt Tiabbi explains why the latest Iraq bill is nothing but a dance, which I have personally phrased as a Kabuki dance, i.e. a stylized, elaborate ritual style of dancing and acting.

It is time for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to announce impeachment proceedings for Bush and Cheney. There is no alternative if we truly wish to remove our troops from Iraq. None. And for those who think this is beyond the mainstream of America, then what further polling do you need than polls like this and this, which show most Americans want a definite and relatively short timetable to leave Iraq. That is the true center--which is a place I thought all politicians and corporate media pundits always tell us they want to be.

Bush and Cheney, who misled this nation into war and have committed any number of acts that are at least arguably "crimes or misdemeanors," continue to prosecute this war without end. These horrible leaders must be stopped. In some nations, there would be a coup or revolution. We don't do that here. We have legal methods to remove horrendous leadership, either by elections or impeachment. Every soldier who dies in Iraq is too great a loss for our nation, which means we must impeach Bush and Cheney.

Once impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, the dynamic will quickly turn from "what if" they get impeached to "when." This will finally put Bush and Cheney on notice that the nation has had enough of their misleading statements and actions, and their incompetence. "Elections have consequences," said Barbara Boxer last week. Well, on the issue of Iraq, this election has merely created an elaborate, stylized dance routine thus far--and we as citizens demand concrete consequences, of which impeachment is perhaps the most effective concrete action for Democrats to take. The only surprise to the Beltway corporate media pundits who see impeachment and troop removal from Iraq as too "extreme" will be how quickly the Republican leaders will recognize impeaching Bush and Cheney is in their own best interest for the 2008 elections.

Last year and the year before, I was willing to accept "President" Hastert, who was then Speaker of the House under Republican leadership, if Bush and Cheney were impeached at that time. "President" Pelosi sounds much better than that, but she would need to state she is a temporary president designed to heal the nation--and to give that statement true meaning, create a temporary bi-partisan Cabinet. There are various policy matters that may await the outcome of the 2008 election. Removing American troops from Iraq is not a policy matter that can await the outcome of the next presidential and congressional elections.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Crimes of Alberto Gonzalez, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and GW Bush

I love it how Fox News continues its wall to wall coverage of Anna Nicole Smith and anything else they can dredge (or is it Drudge) up to avoid talking about the firing of the various assistant attorney generals around the nation. Then, you have Glenn Beck saying "There's no crime here. Nothing to see here..."

Sorry Fox News and Beck. The evidence is enough to at least indict, if not convict Alberto Gonzalez, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and GW Bush for the following statutory violations:

18 United States Code section 1505, which states in part:

"Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress..."

18 United States Code section 111:

"(a) In General.— Whoever—

(1) forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties; or

(2) forcibly assaults or intimidates any person who formerly served as a person designated in section 1114 on account of the performance of official duties during such person’s term of service,

shall, where the acts in violation of this section constitute only simple assault, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, and in all other cases, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both."

Also, lying to Congress, as US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has appeared to have done, is its own crime, as noted in the last portion of the above quote from 18 USC section 1505.

There is something going on here, and it is called obstruction of justice. The evidence continues to get stronger that Carol Lam, US Assistant Attorney General in San Diego, was primarily replaced for her attempt to continue to prosecute crimes committed by Republicans and their lobbyist friends.

Finally, the pressure brought to bear on the US Assistant Attorney General in New Mexico because Republican leaders did not like the fact that the Assistant Attorney General would not use his office to abusively file criminal charges against a Democrat because he did not think there was a violation of the law is at least an example of ethical misconduct by those Republican leaders.

In short, there is plenty to see here--and, as I have said earlier, this conduct fits a general Republican pattern of attacking professionals in government.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Robert Rubin: A nice banker who belongs in the Republican Party

Robert Kuttner nails it in this must-read article.

In another era, say, the period of the late 1940s through the late 1970s, Robert Rubin would be a Republican. His influence in the Democratic Party is presently more toxic than helpful.

Plus, if Rubin really wanted to make a positive impact in our society, he would join the Republican Party and help out people like California's Governor Schwarzenegger in the effort to reclaim the party from the nut-case supply siders--who think you can cut taxes, not cut spending, and allow international corporations to hollow out the American economic landscape. And perhaps Rubin could also drive back to the margins idiots who follow the theoretical nostrums of Milton Friedman.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why we have a Bill of Rights

This article in today's New York Times explains indirectly why our Founders created the Bill of Rights. It is always easier for official law enforcement to go after unarmed activists who seek reform than to go after people with violent intent and tendencies.

This is also why the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, for example, had a file on the blind and deaf Helen Keller--and, during Hoover's tenure, minimized and often ignored the existence of the Mob.

Most people talk about the fight between Robert F. Kennedy, as Attorney General, with Hoover in terms of President John Kennedy's trysts. What is missing from these discussions is a significant policy difference between the two men: RFK wanted to prosecute and did prosecute Mob figures and Hoover, who may well have been blackmailed by Mobsters for Hoover's homosexual conduct his long-term relationship with his assistant, Clyde Tolson, was not interested in such prosecutions. See here for a summary of a more recent book that denies the homosexual angle, but reenforces the point that Hoover had no interest in prosecuting the Mob--and hung out at nightclubs frequented by Mobsters.

The point remains the same: The Founders placed the Bill of Rights in our Constitution because they understood the use of police forces to abuse the civil liberties of our citizens. My only complaint against those who focus on the issue of police misconduct is when such persons become so cynical about the police forces they forget the largely excellent work police personnel do, and how many police officers are truly dedicated to doing well by their community; to protect the people in their community.

ADDENDUM: As I have written recently, I believe it is more likely than not that the assassination of JFK was a Mob hit. And see here for even more recent evidence of the Mob's interest in killing JFK during November 1963. RFK's prosecutions against the Mob were a double-cross against the Mob (the Mob had worked fairly closely with the CIA in trying to overthrow Castro in Cuba), and the prosecutions were proving so effective the Mob felt it needed to kill Kennedy to survive. The evidence of Mob involvement in the RFK assassination five years later, in 1968, however, remains tenuous at best. One may also note RFK, when running for president, barely mentioned going after the Mob.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

George Soros takes on AIPAC


Enough said.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Howard Hunt and the JFK assassination

Here is an interesting story on E. Howard Hunt and the JFK assassination. My take is there is more sizzle than steak here.

The best information on the JFK assassination still comes from Dan Moldea* and his investigation into JFK's murder being a Mob-hit for reasons similar to the "CIA did it" thesis, i.e. the Mob felt double crossed about Cuba. See also this book by former Mob lawyer, now deceased, Frank Ragano.

* Disclosure: Dan Moldea endorsed my novel, "A Disturbance of Fate".

Still not convinced? Then, consider Robert Blakey, the lead counsel for the House investigation into the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, Jr. in 1978. Blakey has said he finds it probable that JFK was the victim of a Mob hit.

If some rogue CIA guys were involved, it would be in connection with the Mob, is how one may view this new information.

One interesting tidbit in the LA Times article is E. Howard Hunt's son saying his Dad asked him to vouch for him, starting in 1974, as to his whereabouts on the day JFK was murdered. Here is why that might be true--though here is a reason not believe Hunt was one of the three tramps suspiciously found near the grassy knoll on November 22, 1963 when JFK was shot.

One so-called conspiracy writer, now deceased, who I had great respect for was Harold Weisberg, who read through the Warren Commission record of interviews, transcripts, etc. and actually spoke to many of the witnesses. His analysis for many years (he started stating his "conclusions" at the end of his life, saying there was a government conspiracy to kill JFK) was that nobody would ever know who killed JFK (or why), but that the "single bullet" theory was not persuasive and that more than one gunman was probably involved. Admittedly, though, Weisberg is hard to read as he rarely had an editor for most of his books--and it showed.

And so it goes.

Addendum: Here is a summary of a Gore Vidal theory that Hunt had written the "diary" of Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace in 1972.

Here is the link for the original article, which appeared in New York Review of Books. The essay is also one of the essays in this wonderful book of essays by Vidal. Do I buy Vidal theory? No. It does, however, make some interesting reading...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Diplomacy has its benefits

What is fairly clear in between the lines of this article is that South Korea, through diplomacy, helped convince North Korea to shut down its nuclear development for at least awhile. The Bush administration, desperate for some success somewhere, has grudgingly agreed to go along.

Score one more for the brave peacemakers against the cowardly war mongers.

We should also recall that, in 1993, North Korea was on the verge of having a nuclear bomb, perhaps as many as 10 bombs. Unlike the current White House administration, then-US President Bill Clinton (with whom I certainly had some policy disagreements, notably the NAFTA and WTO), understood the importance of and need for diplomacy. Through Clinton's efforts, the US and international community, in 1994, secured an agreement from the North Koreans to stop developing plutonium for its nuclear program. Subsequent events, notably Clinton's failure to follow through with the promised monies to the North Koreans (this may have been more the fault of the Republican Congressional leadership in the late 1990s) and Bush II's bungling, starting in the fall of 2001, led the North Koreans to resume their program. My slightly more detailed summary of these events is here.

With the Cheney-Rove* administration in disarray this month, it appears someone in the US executive branch diplomacy service (the article identifies Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill) was able to do his job. As I said, score one more for the peacemakers against the war mongers.

* There is now little doubt that George W. Bush is a mere puppet--and we should no longer even give Bush the dignity of saying there is a "Bush" administration, unless we wish to say the administration is strictly "bush league."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Why Chomsky matters

Here is an in-depth interview with Chomsky. Not much new for the serious Chomsky reader, but I always find Chomsky's point about national development compelling:

"So [economists like to talk about] this notion called 'comparative advantage', you should produce what you're good at, but the way countries develop is by rejecting that principle and acting in order to shift their comparative advantage.

"So let's take the United States. 200 years ago the comparative advantage of the United States was exporting fish and fur, and maybe cotton, thanks to slavery. If the U.S. had followed the principles that are dictated to the poor countries, we'd be a sparsely populated, pretty poor country, exporting primary resources. Instead, the United States violated all of the rules--the rules of the economists and the neo-liberal principles. It imposed extremely high tariffs on imports from Britain, textiles at first, later steel and others, and it had the highest tariffs in the world, the highest protection in the world in the 19th century. As a result, it was able to shift its comparative advantage from primary resource exports to manufacturing, finally high-tech technology and so on, and that goes on right until today. Only the poor countries are supposed to follow the principles that economists dictate. In the United States there's a state sector of the economy, which is the core of high-technology advanced production. That's where computers come from, and the Internet, and lasers, and containers for trade; civilian aircraft are mostly an offshoot of the military industry, right now moving on to genetic engineering, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, and so on. Research and development--which are the risky, costly parts of development--those costs are imposed on the public by funding through the state sector and development in the state sector. When there are profits to be made it's handed over to private corporations and that's the basic structure of the advanced economy.

"That's one reason why the U.S. simply can't enter into the free trade agreement--it just doesn't accept market systems internally. So going back to East Asia and Latin America, Latin America followed the rules and became impoverished; East Asia ignored the rules, and was able to grow and develop pretty much the way the rich countries had themselves...

"It's in this context that the Venezuelan phenomenon surfaces. Venezuela is indeed now, under Chavez, using its oil wealth to accelerate these processes--both the international integration and the internal integration. It's helped countries of the region free themselves from U.S. controls, exercised in part through the traditional threat of violence, which has been much weakened, and in part through economic controls. That's why country after country is kicking out the IMF, restructuring their debts, or refusing to pay them, often with the specific help of Venezuela. In Argentina particularly, Venezuela bought about a third of the debt and enabled Argentina to 'rid herself of the IMF' as the President [Nestor Kirchner] put it. The international integration is also proceeding, not just through Venezuela. It doesn't get reported here because it's sort of not the right story, but a lot of things are happening. So in early December for example, there was a meeting of all South American leaders in Cochabamba, Bolivia--which is right at the heart of Morales territory, Indian territory--and they proposed, they had constructive ideas and suggestions which could lead towards sort of a European Union type structure for South America."

Tell me again about the "liberal" corporate-owned media that gives so much air time to Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck, but ignores or maligns Chomsky. Maybe the corporate owned media is "neo-liberal", a phrase heard more in non-American (more European) circles--which would then mean Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton are "neo-liberals." Both politicians are certainly not "liberal" in any New Deal sense.


Not a mistake, a policy of hyperpartisanship

This article from the journal, Legal Times, on the mass firings of various regional Assistant US Attorneys General tilts toward saying the Bush administration's conduct was merely an example of the administration being "asleep" while some bad things happened or an isolated departure from ethical behavior on the part of some in the administration that requires a "trip to the woodshed."

This mass firing, however, was no mistake. Further, this was not an isolated instance that can be resolved with a trip to the woodshed.

The mass firing of these professionals is, instead, the latest example of the Bush administration's attack on professionals throughout the federal government, whether it be the CIA, the military, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the State Department, the National Institutes of Health, you name it.

With regard to the Attorney General's office, the Bush administration's conduct tells us what they really want in a professional: A person who is suseptible to their partisan political pressure, perhaps like this particular Assistant Attorney General.

Just as bad, when the Bush administration is not seeking to remove intelligent and professional people from the government (often replacing them with hacks), it is handing over important public policy rule making duties to private entities who are acting on behalf of the most wealthy and powerful people in the nation.

PS: As Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly noted, the mass firing of Assistant US Attorneys General points to something rather ironic: The various attorneys general around the nation seemed to have a preference for investigating Democrats, not Republicans. This should be less surprising than it seems because so many of the professionals who were purged from the State Department, military, CIA, etc. were Republicans or people who began their government careers under Ronald Reagan. Just check the backgrounds of people like Richard Clarke, to pick just one example.

PPS: Just as I was starting to think Newt Gingrich would not have done what Bush has done in this regard, Digby reminds me why Bush's actions are a continuation of an overall pattern and the tactics of modern Republican Party leaders going back to Newt himself. Also, fellow San Diego blogger, Scoobie Davis, reminds us why even Newt's private life is based upon a pattern of betrayal and callousness. While I continue to believe a person's private life should remain private, it is important to remember that it was leaders such as Newt Gingrich who politicized the private conduct of our leaders--and our nation still suffers from the effects of that decision.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Right winger with a left leg blood clot

As readers know, I had a blood clot form (a partial occlusion, the docs called it) after driving too many hours back and forth from my son's latest Boy Scout camping trip.

Dick Cheney also had a blood clot after his long plane trip to the Far East.

Seems the right wing Cheney developed a blood clot in his left leg. He probably joked to himself, "Damned left wing always causes me trouble!"

Of course, the blood clot I developed was in my right leg. Hmmm...does that make me a left winger? Or is it just the fact that I support unions and revere Michael Harrington?

A friend emailed me yesterday who says this is all a portent of Cheney resigning as president of vice...oops, vice president. My take is this: If the jury in DC convicts Libby, and Fitzgerald decides to set his sights on Cheney, Cheney may be forced to resign if Fitzgerald is confident enough to indict him. If the jury acquits Libby, then I would expect Cheney to ride out the term--unless his health deteriorates further. But, hey, I wrongly believed Bush would follow the Iraq Study Group recommendations once Saddam was dead and gone...So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut likes to say.

UPDATE: Libby convicted on four of five counts. I was definitely concerned that the jury was out too long. Still, Fitzgerald did a great job and deserves respect and credit for limiting leaks from his office--and executing a professional and ethical prosecution.

UPDATE II: This link shows what I had been concerned about, namely that a DC jury would reasonably put themselves in Libby's position of being a fall guy for a political boss, whether it be Cheney or, as this juror said, Rove.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Edwards nails it: The battle for unions is the next stage for civil rights

Edwards continues to impress me with his ability to understand the big picture facing our nation.

That is why the odious Ann Coulter could only sputter a deeply offensive and personal insult against Edwards.

As to Coulter, notice the various Republican candidates merely denounced her comments, but not her personna overall. Coulter's record of insulting, vulgar and personal attacks on people, and calling for prominent Democrats and Supreme Court Justices to be killed in various ways, should make her as welcome as Ward Churchill.

These candidates would have not merely denounced the "comments" of a person identified as a "liberal" or "leftist" that way.

The real problem I have with Coulter is that her continued presence on television and radio reveals the double standard at work in the corporate media that too many people continue to tell me is "liberal." Just what does it take for a right winger to say that would get them banned from corporate radio and television airwaves the way Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore have been? And, unlike Coulter, these two men do not have anywhere near Coulter's track record in making statements that are insulting to people on the right. That's the real point for outrage, not just another Coulter personal attack on a prominent Democratic Party candidate.

Still, nice to hear Edwards make a connection that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy drew in 1967 and 1968. Such understanding has too often eluded too many other prominent national Democratic Party candidates for president these past few decades.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Democrats in Congress find their New Deal spirit

This is great news. Labor law reform is so overdue it's maddening that we still have to beg the Senate to pass this bill, too.

Maybe, just maybe, though, we'll see some corporate media coverage on this bill...Nah, they'd rather speculate about Anna Nicole's funeral and burial.

And speaking of passing, it is sad to learn Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. has passed away at the spritely age of 89. In his later years, Schlesinger had learned why Henry Wallace's, Gore Vidal's or Noam Chomsky's critiques of Cold War rhetoric and policies were not so off the mark after all. To read Schlesinger's arguments against the Bush War in Iraq, one might think so, anyway. Good for Arthur.

Anyway, Arthur was always a great New Dealer on domestic policy, and he would be rejoicing at the news that the House of Representative has passed the Employee Free Choice Act. Now, it is time for the US Senate to remember why New Deal was the best set of policies for American workers ever and pass this Act as well. Slap it on Bush's desk and tell Bush and the Republicans: Sign it, or reveal yourselves to be traitors to American working people--again.