Friday, August 31, 2007

For (small d) democrats Impeachment Is the Issue of the Day

Why should you care? Well, because in a democracy the People are sovereign. Think about that. It means that there is no king, queen, nobility, or anyone who has a greater authority to say what kind of nation we will be. You are as equally in control of this country as any other voter. Sure your control is "diluted" in ratio to the number of voters, but it is still your control.

It is the apathy and disorganized mental condition that propaganda creates that allows people like George Bush and Nancy Pelosi to take your sovereign control from you, because you are isolated in your thinking processes. We are only one election away from a change in any direction! If overnight, a majority got tuned-in to the same thought waves and voted for real change, real honesty, real compassion, then the country would change. But fear prevents it, and the fear is created by the propaganda system that is maintained and supported by both the Republicans and the Democratic parties.

The Democratic leadership, like Pelosi, need to be spanked. It is not that they "don't get it." They get it quite nicely, thank you. They get it that they can keep in power by distraction, by pretense, so they never have to deliver the goods. If they keep the big bad Republicans as the fall guy then they can keep the show going. And the political show they perform is no more real than professional wrestling. Sure they get real bruises, but it is all choreographed with the gentleman's agreement that at the end of the day the system won't be changed so that the program can continue next week.

Here is a hopeful sign that the grassroots are awakening. Dave Lindorff in his Counterpunch column titled "Excuse Us, Nancy Pelosi" passed along a letter from Kathy Ember, a Democratic Committee member in Pennsylvania, and president of the Kutztown Democratic Club.

I am the president of a very active grassroots Democratic club just outside Philadelphia in PA. Recently, I got an email from Nancy Pelosi, asking all of us to help build the grassroots.

EXCUSE me Nancy, but we have been working our butts off out here for years trying to do just that. WE are the ones that put that Democrats back in power in Congress. We've been there for you, but you have let us down by not holding the current administration responsible for their crimes.

Not only are you losing are making it impossible for us to "build the grassroots". Do you know how people look at you now when you ask them to join the Democrats? They laugh in your face. Why, they want to know, should we join or support a party that has done nothing toward getting out of Iraq or impeaching this president?

I am in contact with other Democratic clubs across PA. Some have recently changed the word "Democrats" in their name to a lower case "d". Others have abandoned their association with the Democrats altogether and have formed instead "citizen action groups."

When will the Democrats in Washington wake up and realize that it's not impeachment that will hurt the is the lack of it.

That's clear enough. But the Democratic leadership still believes it can ride the tiger's tail and not be accountable to the grassroots.

Look at the numbers. After being elected in sea change of party control, the Democratic leadership has now steered Congress into an historically low approval rating!

August 21, 2007
Congress Approval Rating Matches Historical Low
Just 18% approve of job Congress is doing

by Jeffrey M. Jones


PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.

We have to assume the Democratic Party leadership is not "stupid." So why don't they "seem" to care? As I see it, their tunnel vision fixation on maintaining the two-party power sharing system with the Republicans means that they will not dare to do anything that would rock the structural boat. Of course, as the Clinton impeachment showed, the Republicans have no such qualms when it comes to exercising power. In fact the Republicans relish in such power plays because they know that as long as they can maintain that they are acting on their principles, that their base won't abandon them. They know that like a battered wife, the Democrats are too frightened to pull the plug on the two-party marriage of convenience. The Democrats on the other hand do not have any clear "principles" and would not assert them if they did because to do so would threaten the marriage.

So why should you care? Because if you don't care you are letting your country be ruled by people who don't care about your freedom. When the principle of the rule of law becomes a mere political expedient, then every other principle is a mere sham. If you don't care, then you are supporting the two-party dictatorship that has usurped the sovereignty of the people every bit as much as the one-party dictatorships do. Because in the end, while the two-party dictatorship allows for more "play" or "slack" in the totalitarian control, it maintains the limits of that control just as rigorously.

So when the grassroots can be manipulated to put the Democrats into majority in Congress, still the Democrats will do nothing to support the principles of democracy held by the grassroots if it looks like to do so would rock the boat of political bureaucracy. To say it another way, the Clinton impeachment achieved its purpose to hamstring Clinton without hamstringing the money behind the presidency and Congress. If Bush were to be impeached, the situation is different, because that would threaten the money behind the Congress and the presidency. It would threaten the war profits, the oil profits, and the political profits that profit the Democrats just as much as the Republicans.

Now let's look at how this factors into the excuses that John Conyers says publicly. I believe that Conyers, if left to decide for himself, would put impeachment on the table, but I also believe that Conyers is,if nothing else, a loyal person and his loyalty extends directly to the Democratic Party leadership who has stated clearly that impeachment is off the table. In that situation, Conyers won't contradict Pelosi, and instead he provides her with excuses.

So what does Conyers say? In his recent interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, Conyers offers up once again the usual lame excuses.

We also are trying to make sure that we don’t bring resolutions or hearings that would put the election in jeopardy.

This is their key strategy point. They actually argue that the Democrats have a better chance in the 2008 elections if they do not pursue impeachment. I think Ember's letter and the Gallup Poll approval ratings demonstrate how hollow that strategy is.

We could close down the Congress -- I have been in more impeachment hearings than anybody in the House or the Senate. And our legislative attempts to reverse so many things would come to a stop.

Well, actually, until the Iraq war is closed down, the Congress too should be closed down for other business. That's not hyperbole. We are in the midst of perpetrating an ongoing criminal enterprise in Iraq. It is bad enough that we are stealing their resources and high jacking their vehicle of democratic self-determination, but we, by our presence as a hostile invading and occupying force, are the primary proximate cause of the thousands of thousands of civilian deaths, whether or not our troops are pulling the trigger.

Instead of reversing the war, the Democrats have continued to fund the war. Instead of reversing the Patriot Act Democrats have supported continuing unAmerican surveillance of citizens. Instead of reversing the flight of business, Democrats have supported enhanced trade with China. The list goes on and on. One wonders what the Democrats are crowing about when they claim to have reversed anything?

AMY GOODMAN: Why would impeachment hearings put the election in jeopardy?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, because unless I’ve got the Constitution in one hand and a calculator in the other, so I’ve got any kind of hearings on removing both the President and the Vice President -- or putting it in reverse, remove the Vice President and then the President -- within the months remaining, would require 218 votes in the House of Representatives. That’s my calculator giving me this information. And then, in the Senate we need two-thirds to convict. Notwithstanding all of my progressive friends that would love to see me start impeachment hearings, those votes I do not think exist in the House of Representatives or in the US Senate.

This question about counting votes prior to impeachment investigation has not been clarified by Conyers. Is he actually talking about the 218 votes necessary to simply refer the matter of impeachment to his committee or is he talking about the 218 votes needed to adopt articles of impeachment after they might be recommended by the committee?

If the latter then it is a red herring at best, because then Conyers is pretending that the Nixon precedent has no educational value. Impeachment proceedings led to Nixon's resignation without the House ever voting on the bill of impeachment. Why? Because it was the hearings themselves that became convincing. More recently, we have seen Rove and Gonzales resign when the heat of investigations got too close. Impeachment hearings would shed light on the facts and create the opportunity for people to see the truth and identify why impeachment is warranted.

In our system of impeachment, the impeachment investigation is not supposed to start out with 218 votes in favor of impeachment itself. If Conyers is using this line of "not having 218 votes" as not having 218 votes in favor of impeachment, then Conyers is deliberately misleading the American people about the fundamental purpose of impeachment hearings which are to hear and decide whether to recommend or dismiss any action on impeachment to the full House.

The committee hearings should begin when there is simply enough probable cause to believe the president might have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Under usual House Practice (see Section 6, page 540):
In most cases, impeachment proceedings in the House have been initiated either by introducing resolutions of impeachment by placing them in the hopper, or by offering charges in a resolution on the floor of the House under a question of constitutional privilege. Deschler Ch.14 Sec.5.

The House website on how bills work describes the usual hopper method in this way:
Introduction and Referral to Committee

Any Member in the House of Representatives may introduce a bill at any time while the House is in session by simply placing it in the "hopper" provided for the purpose at the side of the Clerk's desk in the House Chamber. The sponsor's signature must appear on the bill. A public bill may have an unlimited number of co-sponsoring Members. The bill is assigned its legislative number by the Clerk and referred to the appropriate committee by the Speaker, with the assistance of the Parliamentarian. (Emphasis added)

So, Putting those two sources together, it looks like impeachment would need to get an initial 218 votes for referral to committee only if the hopper method was not used. According to the House website, the hopper method is a routine referral to committee, if the Speaker approves the referral.

It appears that Speaker Pelosi is personally preventing the usual hopper method for referral to committee and that is what she means by "not on the table." Why has Conyers or the reporters interviewing him not made this clear? Thus it requires a resolution under constitutional privilege and 218 votes to refer impeachment to the committee only in order to get around Speaker Pelosi's apparent block at the hopper.

To get past Pelosi's block, the question is not about 218 votes to impeach, but about 218 votes to refer to committee for hearings on a recommendation or dismissal of impeachment charges. Any Representative who doesn't vote to refer the question to the committee is voting against impeachment even before the committee is allowed to put evidence on the record. That is a very hard vote to justify, because it is saying there should be no impeachment no matter what evidence is presented or what he has done. For example, the vote to refer to committee the impeachment charges against Nixon was 410 to 4. But after the hearings and the evidence only 6 of the committee's 17 Republicans voted to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. Thus 11 Republicans still voted against. But only 4 voted against referral. So that shows that even though they were against impeachment when it mattered, they wouldn't vote against impeachment merely being referred to committee.

A representative who voted against even considering the evidence would be voting against a fair process and a hearing on the charges, not against articles of impeachment themselves. If that's the way they want to vote, then let them try to justify that to their constituents. Which way would Conyers and Pelosi vote?

If the chips were down and 218 would not support even a referral to committee, then those who didn't would really have their reelections put into jeopardy by impeachment becoming the central issue of their reelection. That is presumably the real reason that Pelosi doesn't want to put even the referral vote to the House.

After the evidence is in, a Representative can say he or she has reviewed the evidence and does or doesn't believe impeachment is warranted. But realistically, before even one item of evidence is considered, how many Representatives are not going to vote simply to refer the matter to the committee? As long as the Democratic leadership prevents the vote then we, the People, will never know. We will not have the Representative's vote as a matter of public record, no matter what Conyers' calculator is secretly whispering in his ear.

The committee hearings develop the evidence that should lead to the votes, not the other way around. After referral to the Judiciary Committee, the committee votes on the articles first, and then presents them to the full House. It is the presentation to the Judiciary Committee that organizes the evidence and forms the basis for writing the specific language for the articles of impeachment that then require a majority vote of the committee in order to put them before the full House.

By claiming to require 218 votes before he even allows the vote to refer to committee to be considered, Conyers is acting to close off an investigation before it can be started. It is not hard to think of a law enforcement metaphor that prevents an investigation. For example this is like the policemen who believes no jury would convict the perpetrator because he is an important member of the community, so the cop doesn't investigate and never hands over a report to the DA. If a majority of the House of Representatives is so bold as to vote against the basic idea of having a committee review whether there is enough evidence for impeachment or not, then the People need to know their names.

It appears that Conyers and the Democratic Party leadership are preventing a vote even on referral to committee in order to allow those who are against even considering impeachment from being exposed to public scrutiny and accountability.

If after the presentation of the evidence, there are not 218 votes to pass a bill of Impeachment to the Senate, then the Constitution has done its job, i.e., the prosecutor has reviewed the evidence and found it wanting. But until hearings are done and an actual bill containing articles of impeachment is up for a vote before the House, constituents throughout the nation just do not have the basis or avenue for lobbying their individual Representatives to vote for or against impeachment.

The Democrats and Conyers have established a shell game of excuses. Conyers is standing in the way of the voters and preventing us from weighing in on impeachment through our representatives by keeping impeachment off the table so our representatives can rebuff us by saying Conyers won't let it get on the table. Until there is a vote, each representative can hide behind the screen of obscurity. If there are not 218 Representatives who would even vote to refer impeachment to the Judiciary Committee, then that would end the matter quickly, the People would know who they are, and the People could decide if they should be reelected in 2008.

AMY GOODMAN: What would be the reasons you would list for impeachment, if you weren’t holding your calculator, just holding the Constitution?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Oh, OK. Well, to me, we can accomplish probably as much as we would need to to make the record clear that there has been a great deal of violation of the sworn oath of office, abuses of power, through the hearings and inquiries that we can conduct. But it isn’t that -- and no one has ever heard me suggest that we don’t think that there is conduct that could be proven to be impeachable.

But when Ron Dellums and Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug and William Fitts Ryan of New York, when we -- Parren Mitchell -- when we introduced an impeachment resolution, the first one against a sitting president in over seventy-five years, when Richard Nixon was being investigated, it was at the beginning of his term. And although he had been overwhelmingly reelected, there was time for us to have the hearing. This -- the timing of an administration which will go down in history as probably one of the most disappointing, there isn’t the time here for it.

So, why doesn't Conyers remember that Sam Ervin also didn't want to investigate Nixon until he was forced by public pressure? If it took public pressure on Ervin it will take public pressure on Conyers as well.

Now we see Conyers playing the card of desperation by saying, "There isn’t the time here for it." Is that a hoot or what? Of course there is time. And of course he is doing everything in his power to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy by his own delaying tactics. I call this playing a desperation card because it is so lacking in substance. It is nothing more than B.S., i.e.,blowing smoke.

Why isn't there time? According to the History Place article on Nixon's impeachment, Sen. Sam Ervin began the Watergate investigation in February of 1973 for the purpose of investigating all of the events surrounding Watergate and other allegations of political spying and sabotage After a nearly year-long court battle over the release of Nixon's tapes, the three articles of impeachment against Nixon were approved by the House judiciary committee on the three days of July 27, 29, and 30, 1974. Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Thus, impeachment achieved its purpose from the beginning of the investigation to resignation in 18 months. There is no foreseeable reason for such a protracted delay of Bush's impeachment investigation in the courts. All the evidence against Bush is already in the public domain. It merely needs to be presented at a judiciary committee in an organized fashion to create the record. There are 17 months left in Bush's presidency and with no need for an original investigation like Watergate to occur we have plenty enough time.

In fact there was no preliminary investigation conducted by the House in Clinton's impeachment. According to the History Place entry on Clinton's impeachment, impeachment proceedings were initiated on October 8, 1998. The House and the Judiciary Committee did not need to conduct original investigations itself and instead relied upon testimony presented at the committee hearings. The Judiciary Committee sent a list of 81 questions to Clinton for him to either admit or deny under oath, and his responses then became the basis for one of the articles of impeachment. The committee voted on articles of impeachment on December 11, 1998, and upon the passage of H. Res. 611, Clinton was impeached on December 19, 1998, by the full House of Representatives. And the Senate trial lasted from January 7, 1999, until February 12, 1999. Thus, the impeachment and trial of Clinton took only four months. We have that much time.

There are books already published with the allegations of Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors. It would only take a relatively short time to present the case for impeachment by the appropriate witnesses. It should take only three or at most four months for the House to vote on articles of impeachment, but even if it took nine months, there would still be enough time for a Senate trial and impeachment would be worth it.

There is also the question of whether or not impeachment would be made moot by the end of Bush's term. In other words, the Constitution may allow impeachment of a president even after he has left office. Certainly it is arguable that if impeachment proceedings are begun while the president is in office, because Article I Section 3 of the Constitution provides that judgement may extend to "disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States" that an impeachment is not made moot simply by the president leaving office, because the judgement disqualifying from future office would still be an effective punishment. I would argue that leaving office would make impeachment moot only if removal from office were the only judgement available. [This is an interesting Constitutional question that I haven't researched yet. If anyone knows references to this question please email me.]

And besides, even if the Republicans could delay a vote on impeachment until January 2009 and that would make impeachment constitutionally moot, impeachment proceedings would still have been the right thing to do and in the name of upholding the rule of law. Conyers acts like he doesn't understand that the rule of law is an even more important legacy than whether or not Bush is able to run out the clock. By putting impeachment on the table now, Conyers would be saying that no matter how close to the end of a term a president is, he or she can't escape the checks and balances of our Constitutional democracy. However, by refusing to allow impeachment proceedings to go forward, it is Conyers who is preventing justice and it is Conyers who is thumbing his nose at our Constitutional system of protections. It is Conyers who is letting a criminal president get away with murder. It is Conyers who is establishing the precedent that a president doesn't have to worry in the least about committing high crimes and misdemeanors if he is near the end of his term.

If the People's sovereignty is not upheld at the very minimum by at least having hearing of the impeachment charges against George Bush, who is arguably the worst criminal president in our history, then Conyers and the Democratic Party are the one's who should be held responsible and accountable for aiding and abetting Bush's crimes. Not only that, they will be laying the foundation for the future crimes of future presidents even yet to be born.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More On the Impeachment Struggle: Response to Solomon's Response

Portside is again leaning to starboard by sending out Mark Solomon's follow up to his lame attack against the impeachment struggle.

Now Solomon tells us

One can readily agree in principle with those who argued that all elected officials have a moral duty to uphold the Constitution and to pursue impeachment of the Bush administration in the light of powerful evidence of its high crimes and misdemeanors. However, politics (especially in the USA) is not driven by principle, but by power relations and by struggle inherent in those relations. The configurations of power and resulting social struggles are often complex and not given to idealized standards. Such is the case with impeachment where tactical considerations are inevitable.

My word! Why do we have to put up with Mark Solomon telling us to throw our Constitutional principles out the window because "politics (especially in the USA) is not driven by principle"?

Solomon's argument that peace and justice activists should "seek a consensus and unify around shared goals" is only the false logic of assuming the conclusion, that is, his conclusion. If impeachment of the greatest living perpetrator of crimes against peace and justice and humanity is not part of the consensus, then there are no real shared goals, only fake ones.

Solomon portrays himself as the hero who can see through the complexities of the "power relations" of government and steer the rest of us confused idealists through the treacherous shoals of realpolitik. In the end Solomon is just telling us poor misguided idealists to be quiet about impeachment and let our betters in activism decide whether upholding the Constitution is a realistic struggle.

Solomon has his logical knickers in a twist. Our struggle is of the principle, by the principle, and for the principle, so that the principle of the rule of law shall not perish from this Earth.

His words beg the question, why is Solomon struggling so hard against impeachment? If Solomon is not up for the struggle to preserve the principle of Constitutional law, then he is the one who should just shut up and get out of the way!

Post Script: Haven't the peace and justice activists who are opposing impeachment noticed that the Democratic controlled Congress now has even lower approval ratings than George Bush? Those activists providing cover for Conyers and Pelosi are hiding their heads in the sand! The Democrats were elected to stop the war and put this president in his place! The Democrats have refused to do either. These two issues are inextricably entwined and the belief that they can be separated, with impeachment put off the table while we fight against the war, is only playing into the hands of Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership, who after all, are the ones tying Conyers hands on impeachment.

The Democrats had better see the writing on the wall. They had a mandate in 2006 and so far they are squandering it. By 2008 they may be too weak by their self-inflicted damage to keep a majority in Congress, much less win the presidency.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Lessons of History: Juan Cole and George Bush

Juan Cole's recent essay "Pitching the Imperial Republic - Bonaparte and Bush on Deck" published at Tom's Dispatch once again shows why Cole is our most insightful Middle East observer. (This same essay is also available in The Nation retitled as "Bush's Napoleonic Folly".) Using his research for his new book Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East he compares President Bush to Napoleon and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon’s expedition in Egypt to our current American occupation of Iraq.

THIS IS A MUST READ for anyone who accepts that history has any value. Otherwise, you might just as well forget all about history and accept the propaganda that Bush feeds you.

Here are a couple excerpts from this marvelous comparison of the two republican tyrants.

My own work on Bonaparte's lost year in Egypt began in the mid-1990s, and I had completed about half of Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East before September 11, 2001. I had no way of knowing then that a book on such a distant, scholarly subject would prove an allegory for Bush's Iraq War. Nor did I guess that the United States would give old-style colonialism in the Middle East one last try, despite clear signs that the formerly colonized would no longer put up with such acts and had, in the years since World War II, gained the means to resist them.

Both men were convinced that their invasions were announcing new epochs in human history. Of the military vassals of the Ottoman Empire who then ruled Egypt, Bonaparte predicted: "The Mameluke Beys who favor exclusively English commerce, whose extortions oppress our merchants, and who tyrannize over the unfortunate inhabitants of the Nile, a few days after our arrival will no longer exist."

Bonaparte's laundry list of grievances about them consisted of three charges. First, the beys were, in essence, enablers of France's primary enemy at that time, the British monarchy which sought to strangle the young French republic in its cradle. Second, the rulers of Egypt were damaging France's own commerce by extorting taxes and bribes from its merchants in Cairo and Alexandria. Third, the Mamluks ruled tyrannically, having never been elected, and oppressed their subjects whom Bonaparte intended to liberate.

This holy trinity of justifications for imperialism -- that the targeted state is collaborating with an enemy of the republic, is endangering the positive interests of the nation, and lacks legitimacy because its rule is despotic -- would all be trotted out over the subsequent two centuries by a succession of European and American leaders whenever they wanted to go on the attack. One implication of these familiar rhetorical turns of phrase has all along been that democracies have a license to invade any country they please, assuming it has the misfortune to have an authoritarian regime.

Liberty as Tyranny

For a democracy to conduct a brutal military occupation against another country in the name of liberty seems, on the face of it, too contradictory to elicit more than hoots of derision at the hypocrisy of it all. Yet, the militant republic, ready to launch aggressive war in the name of "democracy," is everywhere in modern history, despite the myth that democracies do not typically wage wars of aggression.

Here's a great example of the "liberation" of those who oppose "liberation". How does one spell "Falluja"? My how we have evolved! Resistance fighters were then called half-savage barbarians and now we call them terrorists.

"Heads Must Roll"

In both eighteenth century Egypt and twenty-first century Iraq, the dreary reality on the ground stood as a reproach to, if not a wicked satire upon, these high-minded pronouncements. The French landed at the port of Alexandria on July 1, 1798. Two and a half weeks later, as the French army advanced along the Nile toward Cairo, a unit of Gen. Jean Reynier's division met opposition from 1,800 villagers, many armed with muskets. Sgt. Charles Francois recalled a typical scene. After scaling the village walls and "firing into those crowds," killing "about 900 men," the French confiscated the villagers' livestock -- "camels, donkeys, horses, eggs, cows, sheep" -- then "finished burning the rest of the houses, or rather the huts, so as to provide a terrible object lesson to these half-savage and barbarous people."

Cole's history clearly shows that Bush (and those in Congress who continue to vote to fund the Iraq invasion and occupation) have not learned a thing from history. It can't even be said that Bush and his posse had learned from Napoleon's mistakes and crafted a new and improved invasion of liberation. No, instead from the phony rhetoric of "liberation" to the bombing of civilian areas of resistance Bush has merely repeated the pattern of Napoleon's delusions and depredations.

It is interesting to compare Cole's trenchant historical comparisons with Bush's feeble attempt to evoke history in his recent Asia speech. Most of the news reports about Bush's speech focused on his comparison to Vietnam and his claim that to pull out of Iraq now would result in disaster for the Iraqis and their neighbors as the pull-out from Vietnam did for the Vietnamese and Cambodians. Bush of course ignored the facts by conveniently forgetting the role of the US bombing in Cambodia in the rise of Pol Pot. Bush also conveniently forgot that the original partition of Vietnam by foreign powers was a non-starter and that there would be no end to the Vietnam conflict until there was a fair vote on reunification, a vote which the USA had promised Ho Chi Minh and then reneged on. Likewise today, the major news media ignore that the invasion of Iraq by foreign forces was a non-starter in terms of "nation building" and that until the illegally ensconced foreign troops are removed from Iraq that there can be no resolution to the creation of a civil government.

In the virtually unreported other portions of Bush's Asia speech Bush made reference to the continued occupation of Japan by US troops now going on for over 50 years. (Yes, we are still occupying Japan.) Mark Shields, the "liberal" analyst on PBS's The News Hour, pointed out two important differences: first, in the over 50 years of occupation of Japan not a single US soldier has been assassinated by a resistor to the occupation, and second, and most important in my view, during the reconstruction of Japan not a single reconstruction contract went to an American corporation. Thus, even when Japan provided an historical example of an occupation that succeeded, this most fundamental variable (of how to rebuild a nation by giving the contracts for reconstruction to the nationals) was ignored by Bush in favor of making his friends, cronies, and political contributors rich with US tax dollars. This is how the modern republicans and Republicans plunder the treasury.

If you care to learn from history don't believe George Bush, just read Juan Cole.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kucinich Would Win If People Dared To Vote On The Issues

Kucinich is the only candidate who really has a vision that is from the heart and not from the pocket book.

Kucinich is the candidate who transcends the political cynicism of the plutocracy propaganda. Those words "plutocracy" and "propaganda" probably turn off some people who just can't quite grasp what is going on in politics today. But the propaganda becomes clear when you learn that Kucinich is the candidate who speaks for the most people on most of the issues, yet his candidacy is marginalized by the media, the Democratic Party leaders, and by the Democratic Party rank and file who even acknowledge that he presents their views on the issues but they just can't vote for him because he is not seen as "electable".

I think it is plainly evident that when people speak on the issues and are not blinded by the hype of “electability”, “stature,” “charisma”, or “star power,” then Dennis Kucinich would be the next president of the USA.

Kucinich is the candidate who speaks for the majority of the American people. See the poll below if you don’t believe it. Yes it is unscientific; yes it is limited and skewed to internet users; but even given all of that, you must ask your self why the poll shows nearly 58% ranking Kucinich first place on the issues when the candidates name is NOT known. The next highest candidate gets less than 8% of first place rankings? Why is that? Don't you find this to be shocking?

We should look at all the issues to evaluate the candidate of our choice. I think everyone agrees with that.

So which issues do you look at most importantly? No candidate can be expected to agree with each of us on all the issues, but how is Kucinich wrong on the issues that you hold to be most important?

When people look at the issues in a “blind taste test” asking where they stand on an issue without a candidate’s face attached, the results are startling only to those who live within the media black-out of Kucinich and the propaganda of “horse race” elections. Kucinich speaks for the people. What is shocking is that the people don't get to know that due to the media filtering and manipulation of the reporting. For example, a recent PBS News Hour report on a Democratic debate made is seem that it was a debate between Obama and Clinton with the other candidates merely looking on.

Go to this website to see how your views line up with the candidates on 25 issues:

I found the results to be quite accurate in my case, correctly scoring and ranking my agreement with the candidates in order of my preference on the issues: Kucinich 103, Gravel 77, Obama 56, Edwards 55, Clinton 55, Dodd 53, Biden 48, Richardson 47.

Here are some basic stats based on the submissions to the questionnaire at the time of calculation:

At the time of 134,346 people answering:

Measuring how many people had the candidate as their first rank according to how they responded to the issues, NOT KNOWING THE CANDIDATE’S NAME:

Candidate | Number of first | Percentage of
------------ | place ranks -----| people responding
Kucinich - 77,824 -- 57.93%
Gravel - 9,522 -- 7.09%
Paul - 9,182 -- 6.83%
Romney - 5,912 -- 4.40%
Clinton - 4,903 -- 3.65%
Hunter - 4,195 -- 3.12%
Giuliani - 4,069 -- 3.03%
Obama - 3,942 -- 2.93%
Biden - 2,522 -- 1.88%
Richardson - 2,416 -- 1.80%
McCain - 2,256 -- 1.68%
Tancredo - 2,117 -- 1.58%
Edwards - 1,472 -- 1.10%
Dodd - 1,164 -- 0.87%
Huckabee - 986 -- 0.73%
Cox - 941 -- 0.70%
Thompson - 582 -- 0.43%
Brownback - 341 -- 0.25%
Total: 134,346 -- 100.00%

At the time of this response snapshot, nearly 58% of respondents had their positions on the issues rank Kucinich as most agreeing with them. The second highest candidate Gravel has a little over 7%.

When the responses are preference weighted for the top three candidates with a responder’s first rank getting a 3, second rank a 2, and third rank getting a 1, the following order appears:

Candidate | Weighted number ----- | Percentage of all
-------------| of top three ranks ----- | weighted responses.
Kucinich - 266210 -- 33.44%
Gravel - 160516 -- 20.16%
Obama - 61435 -- 7.72%
Clinton - 43352 -- 5.45%
Paul - 38148 -- 4.79%
Romney - 30525 -- 3.83%
Edwards - 27404 -- 3.44%
Hunter - 26314 -- 3.31%
Richardson - 22538 -- 2.83%
Biden - 21518 -- 2.70%
Dodd - 18236 -- 2.29%
Giuliani - 17854 -- 2.24%
Tancredo - 17717 -- 2.23%
McCain - 17286 -- 2.17%
Huckabee - 8031 -- 1.01%
Cox - 7368 -- 0.93%
Thompson - 6358 -- 0.80%
Brownback - 5266 -- 0.66%
Total: - 796076 -- 100.00%

Even with weighting the top three, Kucinich is still by far the number one ranked candidate on the issues by those responding. The difference between these two lists shows the vast number of Democrats who have positions that rank Obama and Clinton as second or third behind Kucinich and Gravel. Remember, these are ranks on the issues WITHOUT the names of the candidates attached, not on a rank of the candidate by name or personality. This shows that the Democratic Party leadership is not following the rank and file of the Party's views.

Iraq was of course the issue ranked most important by the most people, and clearly Kucinich speaks for the most people on this issue, even though the Democratic controlled congress does not follow Kucinich's lead and is still supporting the war.

Here are my important issues:

Kucinich was the first candidate to oppose Iraq and have the good judgement and level thinking to stand against it when 9/11 hysteria was giving in to Bush: right on that.

Kucinich is the only one for not-for-profit health care for all: right on that.

Kucinich is the only one for a Department of Peace to begin the education process away from war and violence as a way of solving both international and domestic issues: right on that one too.

Kucinich is the only candidate who says it is wrong to use war as an instrument of foreign policy (this is probably over the heads of the other candidates): and he is right on that issue.

Kucinich openly opposes nuclear weapons and commits to nuclear disarmament: right again.

Kucinich is the only candidate who is unequivocal about reparations for slavery: right on that one.

Kucinich is the only candidate against land mines, cluster bombs, and uranium munitions: right on that one again.

Kucinich is the candidate who says on his first day in office he will get out of NAFTA and WTO, and join the international criminal court: right again.

Kucinich is against the death penalty: right on that too.

Kucinich is the only candidate who has a plan for universal day care for pre-kindergarten for ages 3 to 5 (Clinton announced her program long after Kucinich had already announced his but her’s will start at age 4): right here too.

Kucinich is the only candidate who says that every American should have the right and opportunity to go to college and he has a program to make that real: right once more.

Kucinich is the only candidate with a comprehensive public works program focusing on green issues: right there as well.

Kucinich is the only candidate I've heard say that the war on terror is fake and that we should instead hunt down so-called "terrorists" as the criminals that they are using the international police structures and not aggrandizing these criminals by calling them combatants in a "war" which is really a sham: right, right, right.

Kucinich is for equal marriage rights: right on that too.

I also find it interesting that Kucinich is asking for the media to look into what it means that Hillary Clinton stands up in a debate and says she regrets that she was "lied" to and misled by Bush. Well, why couldn't she tell Bush was lying? I mean, his lips were moving, weren't they? So far the media is giving Clinton a free pass on this question and instead touts her so-called “experience.” Actually, Obama is quite right to point out he has been in elected office for more years than Clinton or Edwards have been. Of course Obama doesn't point out that Kucinich has been in elected office at the city, state, and federal levels longer than Obama and so has the widest experience at all levels of government.

Yet the propaganda machine doesn’t discuss his experience or his having the positions on issues that reflects the widest swath of the U.S. citizens. If only people would vote the issues by voting their conscience, rather than running scared and voting for horses in a horse race! Then we would have a leader who actually reflected the people and not just the wealthy.

Impeachment Is The Best Strategy

This is a response to the recent opinion piece by Bill Fletcher, Jr., in the Black Commentator titled "Accountability, John Conyers and The Impeachment Controversy." It was passed along recently by Portside in its continuing defense of John Conyers.
Here's the beginning of the article:

So, what do we make of the controversy surrounding the actions taken at the office of Congressman Conyers when protesters demonstrated against his alleged failure to move impeachment proceedings against President Bush? Did it make sense strategically? Was Conyers the right target? Where did race come into this, if anywhere?

The actions taken by Cindy Sheehan and the Rev. Lennox Yearwood aimed to bring attention to the matter of accountability. In that sense, they were morally correct. They protested the failure of the Democratic leadership to hold this lawless administration accountable, with the threat of impeachment being the preferred method of addressing accountability. There is little question but that most of the world views the Bush administration as composed of criminals, and it is equally clear that as a result, both the US government and the people of the USA are viewed with a jaundiced eye by much of the globe, because the people of the USA permitted the re-election of the Bush group.

That being said, does impeachment make sense strategically? This is where I have differences with my friend, the Rev. Yearwood and others. Yes, emotionally, I would love to see the Bush/Cheney team ousted through impeachment proceedings, but I continue to feel that more immediately, we must focus our attention on strengthening the movement against the Iraq war/occupation, as well as building mass and activist sentiment in favor of major structural reforms, such as single-payer healthcare. To that extent I think the impeachment movement is a well-intentioned diversion.
Continued at Impeachment Strategy Debate Part3

I like Bill Fletcher, having enjoyed his insights over cafeteria lunch with him one day at an SEIU sponsored labor event at California’s Sonoma State University many years back. However, I cannot agree with his defense of John Conyers’ refusal to put impeachment on the table. Fletcher asks “does impeachment make sense strategically?” While Fletcher says “No,” I answer this question with a resounding “Yes! How could anyone doubt it?” Rather than a diversion, impeachment is the necessary core to any strategy to getting us out of Iraq.

The first point that Fletcher makes is the old saw about the votes not being there. I really fail to see why good folks like Fletcher even think this is a credible point. Conyers puts the reparations bill on the table every year even though it hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in a hot hell to be considered, yet he continues to do it and for good reason. There is no rational argument why reparations should continue to be put forward without votes but impeachment, because it doesn’t have the votes, should not.

Fletcher’s second point, that we need to concentrate on ending the war and occupation of Iraq, also is in favor of impeachment. The war is illegal. The Democrats are refusing to face this question head on. That is why the Democrats have refused to vote to defund the war and instead have continued to vote to pay for the war. We must face the truth that the Democrats won’t lead, they have to be pushed. Sam Irvin didn’t lead us to impeachment of Nixon either. He was pushed by the people and the polls. Nothing the Democrats are planning has any effect on the President’s war plans. Bush has shown that he is willing to use the patriotism card against the Democrats as long as he is in office. Impeachment is the only tool that will provide the Democrats with the political cover against Bush’s use of the patriotism card. Impeachment is the stake in the heart of this vampire president. The Democrats are afraid to use it, so they have to be pushed.

Fletcher argues that the momentum building toward the September 21st Iraqi Moratorium is critical and must be supported. However, if the 9/21 Iraqi Moratorium does not admit that the war is illegal, and instead only makes the claim that it is unwinnable, then I want no part of such a lying deceitful protest. Only impeachment acknowledges that the war is illegal and that Bush got us there by his high crimes and misdemeanors, not by mere mistakes in judgement about how to do successful “regime change” and “nation building” after toppling Saddam

The question “should Conyers generally be considered an ally?” is a red herring as it applies to the argument of impeachment. Obviously, Conyers is an ally on some issues, but he is not now an ally on the impeachment issue. Nobody on the left is treating Conyers as “an enemy.” That is a straw-man argument. Criticizing Conyers for refusing to put impeachment forward is not calling him an enemy. Saying Conyers shows great courage by putting the reparations bill forward does not excuse his apparent cowardice at refusing to put the impeachment bill forward. In fact his courage in support of reparations puts into bright relief the credibility issues around his refusal to do impeachment.

The question of betrayal comes up only because of Conyers’ previous behavior. When he was in the minority party on the committee he could talk tough on impeachment. It was by his own previous tough talk that people got their hopes up that when the Democrats became the majority party and this tough guy actually became the chair of the committee that impeachment could go forward. It is Conyers’ own 180 degree turn on impeachment that is in fact a betrayal of his previous stance and of those in whom his previous rhetoric had encouraged and led on.

The real question is what is causing Conyers’ to appear cowardly when we know he isn’t a coward by character? The only answer to this is that he is being ordered by the Democratic leadership, specifically by Nancy Pelosi, to keep impeachment off the table, and he doesn’t have the courage to oppose Pelosi. Why? Because she can take away his committee chairmanship. Therefore Conyers just can’t say openly, “Gee folks, I’d like to do impeachment, but you know, the Boss Lady says I can’t.” I've kept quite under such conditions and I know it feels awful.

This is the hard strategy decision that Conyers is facing. Whether to be honest about his convictions or face the wrath of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership. Unfortunately Conyers has no easy way out. His friends like Bill Fletcher are doing the best they can to keep up appearances and provide the continuing cover for Conyers to hide the real reason that Conyers can’t act. But the inconsistencies of their defense only points to the real reason that is fundamentally irrational: Conyers can't do it for no reason of his own, but because he is told not to do it.

Conyers’ refusal to act in impeachment highlights the fundamental divide on the left: what is the role of the left in the Democratic Party? The companion question is whether the Democrats are truly a left party or really just the sometimes left leaning center party. The Democratic Party survives as an on-again off-again majority because of one reason alone: it is part of the two-party dictatorship of American politics. As long as the two-party dictatorship remains in place, the corporate centrist’s in control of the Democratic Party know that those on the left have no where else to go for any effective political impact. Therefore when they think it is not going to create any real structural change, the Democratic leadership can allow itself to sound left. There is no better example of this than Hillary Clinton. But when the chips are down, whether it is defunding the war or impeachment, the Democratic leadership refuses to support the real left positions.

The anti-war mobilization has become the proffered distraction to impeachment. “Just support the mobilization and forget impeachment” we are told. But those of us on the left who happen to believe that the Constitution is actually the bedrock of our liberties, also happen to think that the Democratic Party leadership doesn’t really give a damn about the Constitution any more than Bush does. The Democratic leadership’s refusal to put impeachment on the table against the worst President any of us have every seen in our lifetimes for his crimes and unconstitutional conduct speaks of power not truth. Conyers failure to speak truth to power against his own leadership is the real beef against Conyers and is the betrayal of the left.

With the chips going down on impeachment, Conyers is choosing to obey the orders of the centrist Pelosi, rather than to represent the left within the Democratic Party. Though Conyers’ is definitely not an enemy of the left, in Fletchers’ terminology Conyers' kowtowing to Pelosi makes him only “an ally of the moment” on left issues, and thus in this moment on this issue, he is no ally of the left at all. He has beome the centrist gatekeeper keeping the left left out. Impeachment is not only the best strategy to end the war in Iraq, it is the best strategy to expose the corporate powers in control of the Democratic Party who marginalize the left when it counts.

Which raises another important question: why has impeachment been marginalized as an issue of the left? There are plenty of honest conservatives with integrity who support impeachment, because they also believe that the Constitution should be used to protect the nation from a lying cheating deceiving criminal President. Anyone who argues that we should let such a president get a free pass on impeachment merely because of strategy considerations is basically at heart neither a supporter of the rule of law nor of democracy which depends upon it. The USA does not stand a chance of becoming the nation we know in our hearts that it is intended to be until impeachment is liberally exercised to remove president after president, if need be, who continues to do awful, unhumanitarian, and illegal acts in the name of the people and the Constitution.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Portside Sides With Conyers To Refuse Impeachment

I love the Portside distribution of information from the left perspective, but frankly, I'm now tired of receiving Portside's tidbits defending Conyers in his indefensible refusal to pursue impeachment. Portside moderators obviously have now taken sides in favor of Conyers and against impeachment of Bush. It shows in the number of postings that continue every tired straw man argument to defend Conyers. Today I received three of these pro-Conyers defense pieces and none pro-impeachment.

This is sad because what is says is that Conyers is being protected against criticism at all costs. It is a shame that in the name of a false unity on the left, where we are being told not to criticise Conyers, that Bush is being allowed a free pass for trampling the Constitution in what ranks among most corrupt presidential administrations in the history of the USA.

Arguments about Conyers' past record have nothing to do with the merits of the question of impeachment and neither does racism. If anything, blacks are more supportive of impeachment than whites, so there can be no credible argument that Conyers is speaking for blacks and whites just don't get it. Sorry, but the criticism of Conyers refusal to impeach has nothing to do with racism, and every time racism is raised as a defense of Conyers it is just plain offensive.

If someone wants to defend Conyers, there is only one way to do that, defend his refusal to impeach the president. Since Conyers himself has not been able provide a palpably real reason for his refusal, maybe one of his supports can. But to date, we only get a bogus charge of racism. Not one of Conyers' supporters, who are thus also protecting the president from impeachment, has presented a non-hypocritical defense on the merits. The only conclusion one can draw is that the racism charge is being used as a wedge to distract and divide the anti-war movement from considering impeachment.

Who is behind this? Certainly not the rank and file of the Democratic Party. Conyers has pushed many odds-against causes such as reparations, for no better reason than it is the right thing to do, when the Democratic Party leadership knew he would get no support and the bills were parliamentarily hopeless. So why is such hopelessness of success now Conyers' only defense? Because now the Democratic leadership see impeachment is actually not hopeless but is at a tipping point in credibility and support. If the Democratic leadership allowed Conyers to push for impeachment as much as he pushes for reparations, then the tipping point would be reached because the leadership would be tipping in favor. Sadly, the white corporate Democratic leadership has ordered Conyers not to allow impeachment, and he is following orders. Why aren't Coyers' supporters and Portside outraged at that racism?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007



Many people think that democracy is majority rule, pure and simple. Actually that is very very wrong and simply leads to a fascist dictatorship of the people. In order to understand fascism we need to first know what democracy is so that we can see how fascism undermines true democracy by creating a fascist false democracy.

Democracy has six fundamental aspects that can't be left out. In any country, even the U.S.A., where there are only five or less of these factors, then it is not a complete democracy, and it will be seen that the missing factor shows the hole where fascists have inserted themselves like a wedge to corrupt and misguide the democratic principles and undermine the democracy for their own personal ends. These six essential factors can be paired in three general polarities or axes of the dimensions that define the three dimensional psycho-socio-political space of democracy.

1. People as sovereign - 2. Rule of law.
3. Majority rule - 4. Minority rights.
5. Separation of powers - 6. Checks and balances.

Here are the six with points of identification and consideration.


1. People as Sovereign
--Government of the people, by the people, and for the people; not for the wealthy (plutocracy), for the powerful few (oligarchy), for a single hereditary ruler (monarchy) or a single leader or dictator (autocracy), or for a hereditary nobility or privileged class (aristocracy).
--People’s sovereignty is expressed directly (plebiscitary democracy) or through representatives (republican democracy).
-- Question to ponder: Who are considered “people” for enfranchisement?

2. Rule of Law
--Law is supreme rule, not the supremacy of a person or group or class as ruler.
--An objective written foundation (e.g., constitutional document(s)) anchors the functional system of law (e.g., living constitution).
--Equality before the law.
--Abide by results even when continuing to disagree with attempts to persuade or ultimate disagreement by peaceful civil disobedience to bring before the law.

3. Majority Rule
--Size of majority: majority or more than majority (i.e, “super-majority”),
--Type of majority: by state, by population, etc.
--Elections open and verifiable for determining majority decision.

4. Minority Rights
--Pluralism and multi-party access to all levels of decision-making.
--Realistic choices and alternatives must be available.
--Free exchange of ideas, information, and opinion.
--Press not dictated by government or big-business corporations.

5. Separation of Powers
--Powers of government internally separated into branches, for example, executive, legislative, and judicial.
--Powers within branches of government separated between representatives and the people’s participation (judicial: judge and jury, legislative: legislature and initiative).
--Powers separated from government, for example, separation of church and state, right of privacy from government intrusion, right to assembly, etc.

6. Checks and Balances
--Effective functioning of separate powers, balancing and checking power of one branch by another branch, power of majority to tyrannize minority, power of current majority to take over in one election cycle.
--Veto power of executive over legislature, overide power of legislature over executive.
--Invalidation power of judicial over legislature.
--Bicameral legislature has checks and balances within itself.
--Appointment power of executive approved by legislative.
--Fiscal power of congress originating in one house.
--Impeachment power of legislature over executive and judicial.
--Civil disobedience of people to check powers of government.
--Jury nullification over legislature.

While democracies may differ as to how they embody each of these six factors, if one factor is completely missing or so disabled as to not be effectively functioning then the democracy itself is wounded and impaired.

Any economic system, e.g., capitalist or socialist, and any religious system, e.g., Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., that uses these six factors in the formation of their national government and firmly establishes them in their social fabric will be a democratic society. Unfortunately, currently neither the U.S.A., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, etc., etc., make the grade as true democracies.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Obama's Diplomatic Blunder

Now Barack Obama's campaign is sending out messages asking for support for his latest sabre rattling. Here's part of the email I received yesterday:
After September 11th, we had a calling to write a new chapter in American history.

Americans were united. Our friends around the world stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us. We had the opportunity to devise new strategies, build new alliances, safeguard our values, and serve a just cause.

If only we had seized that opportunity.

Unfortunately, we did not finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We did not capture or kill Osama bin Ladin. And this administration drove us into war on the wrong battlefield with no appreciation of how many enemies we would create and no plan for how to get out.

Now, six years later, we are overdue for a major change of course in our foreign policy. America must stop fighting the wrong war and start fighting the war we need to win.

The next president must end the war in Iraq, refocus on Afghanistan and the Taliban resurgence, and pressure Pakistan to root out al Qaeda once and for all.

Most importantly, the next president must make sure that Osama bin Ladin and al Qaeda’s core leadership are captured or killed. If Pakistan or any other nation won't act against bin Ladin and his cohorts, we will.

Sign on to my plan and spread the word:

The time has come to turn the page on a failed approach.

The next President of the United States must commit to getting our troops out of Iraq and taking the fight to the terrorists.

We must reinforce our mission in Afghanistan with additional troops. We must press Pakistan and President Musharraf to close down terrorist training camps and stop the Taliban from using Pakistan as a safe-haven.

If Musharraf acts, we will stand with him. But if Pakistan will not act against Osama bin Ladin and the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans, we will.

These are achievable goals, and when I am president we will wage the war we need to win with a comprehensive strategy.

Read the plan, declare your support, and spread the word that it's time to change direction:

The first step to making America safer is getting our troops out of Iraq and onto the right battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But that's not enough.

No Obama, that is not the right war either. First, there is no evidence that al Queda is fighting in Afghanistan. We are currently the invaders and occupiers in Afghanistan just as in Iraq. Once al Queda was driven out of Afghanistan there was no further justification for our continued invasion and occupation. We are now in the middle of the Afghanistan civil war where we have no business being.

Second, I'm sorry to hear that this is your "strategy." After your inspiring words at the Democratic debate about taking a new path in diplomacy to have an open door to meeting with the national leaders of countries with which we are estranged, now you have taken a 180 degree turn and have presented a Bush-Cheney lite diplomatic sabre rattling statement.

NO THANKS! Threatening to invade the sovereignty of Pakistan is NOT THE WAY to do diplomacy.

Please consider a new foreign policy direction. Al Queda is a criminal enterprise. It needs to to be dealt with as such. The President of the USA, whomever it is, needs to deal with al Queda as international criminals. Present the case to the country who is protecting any such criminals, and if the country won't let the criminals be extradited then take it to the UN for extradition sanctions.

Please DO NOT INVADE a sovereign nation such as Pakistan. That is just the Bush-Cheney way of doing our nation's business.

Al Queda should be treated as any ring of international criminals would be treated. Their fake religious motivations should be treated no differently than if their motivation was money through the drug trade. As I stated in my previous blog post, only Dennis Kucinich of all the presidential candidates has the vision of a new era of diplomacy based on international respect and the treatment of international criminals as criminals, rather than glorifying them as enemies in a phony "war on terror." Let's give "strength through peace" a chance!

ADDENDUM 8/8/2007: It seems like I'm not the only one who has a sour taste from Obama's latest war mongering attempt to sell people on the wrong war by calling it the "right battlefield." Here is an excerpt from the review by the Black Agenda Report of Wednesday, 08 August 2007, by BAR executive editor Glen Ford:
The Senator from Illinois masquerades as a "peace
candidate" - and then proposes the Americans invade
Pakistan, the only Muslim nation that has The Bomb.
After the U.S. has propped up the military regime for
generations, and stunted democracy in a country of 165
million, Obama now thinks he can just walk into western
Pakistan - Waziristan - to find and kill Osama bin
Ladin. In the process, he would unite all of the Right
and the Left opposition to the government in Islamabad,
and give the generals no choice but to brandish The
Bomb. Obama wants to add 100,000 new troops to the U.S.
military. Now we know where they will be going:
Waziristan, a place from Hell. Barack Obama Ain't
Nothin' But a War Ho'

I encourage everyone to click on the link and read the whole article. It is important that such Democratic Party myths as the ones about Kennedy are not used as cover for the likes of Clinton and Obama.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Karma

Karma is such an interesting process to observe.

During the recent Democratic presidential debate (the CCN/YouTube Democratic debate) in question 16 Barack Obama was asked if he would meet -- without preconditions -- the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea in order to bridge the gap between our countries?

Obama gave a good answer that was approved by the focus group with reaction meters. He said,
"I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.... We may not trust them, they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we have the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward."

That was a presidential answer. Of course meetings like that should not be had with preconditions. As Obama implies, when there is antipathy or miscommunications then it is the initial face to face meeting that creates the conditions for real progress, not the other way around.

Hillary Clinton then said she would not promise to meet with these nations' leaders. She said "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes." That is the adolescent answer which is really just a diplomatic Bush-Cheney lite.

Today the chickens came home to roost on Clinton's answer. I received an email alert from her campaign whining that the Bush administration has played the propaganda card against her and she is crying foul. Here's what Clinton says,
Here's the whole story. Back in May, concerned about the administration's failure to plan in Iraq, I sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking him to provide Congress with briefings of contingency plans for withdrawal -- or an explanation of why no such plans exist.

Two weeks ago, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded in a letter that said discussing plans for withdrawal "reinforces enemy propaganda." It was an outrageous response -- and a dangerous one. Planning for withdrawal isn't just common sense. It is vital to ensuring our troops return home safe.

Now wait a minute Hillary! You can't tell Obama that he should not meet with a nation's leader because it might be used as propaganda and then complain when the identical propaganda card is used against you. Either you are worried about preventing propaganda or you aren't. This is the kind of lack of political principles that makes Clinton have no credibility or appearance of integrity. And, by the way, the TV focus group seemed to agree with me because they turned their meters toward disapproval when Clinton said she would play politics and not talk to the national leaders.

In this case, of course it was her comment to Obama that was just as outrageous as Edelman's comment to her. A president can't conduct policy discussions based on whether or not others will try to make propaganda out of it. A president has to decide what is the right thing to do and then explain it as carefully and clearly as possible. The truth is what takes away any propaganda value of the other side, not the diplomatic jockeying for propaganda hegemony.

So I give your words back to you Hillary Clinton: Your response to Obama was an outrageous response -- and a dangerous one. Promising to talk with national leaders with whom we have national disagreements isn't just common sense. It is vital to ensuring our nation remains safe.

That said, I don't want this to be taken as an endorsement of Obama. Obama is a better choice than Clinton. For example, in this area of being open to talking with leaders he disagrees with he is willing to change the direction of Clinton's Bush-Cheney lite approach to diplomacy. However, Obama is still rattling the sabres when he thinks it will make him political points. Today's news in the BBC has Obama he would order military action against al-Qaeda in Pakistan without the consent of Pakistan's government. Well that's a step in the wrong direction.

Of all the presidential candidates, only Dennis Kucinich makes sense when he says he will not use war as an instrument of foreign policy and will track down terrorists as the criminals they are and use diplomacy to bring them to justice.