Politics: December 2002 Archives

Via Eric Alterman, an excellent paper from the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs on why Saddam can be contained without going to war.

1% of Americans are worth at least $1 million. What percentage of incoming members of Congress are millionaires? 43%.

This is about constitutional democracy, which we pretend is still important, right?

From Alas, a Blog

A pretty intelligent article on Sean Penn's visit to Iraq.

Penn spoke quietly, with evident sincerity. This was the time for a kind of summing up. For the most part during his three-day visit, Penn had gone out of his way to avoid the cameras, saying that he would share his thoughts at a press conference just prior to leaving Baghdad.

Now, as he continued with his statement, the room was still. Penn said that he was "privileged to have lived a life under our Constitution that has allowed me to dream and prosper." And he continued: "In response to these privileges I feel, both as an American and as a human being, the obligation to accept some level of personal responsibility for the policies of my government, both those I support and any that I may not. Simply put, if there is a war or continued sanctions against Iraq, the blood of Americans and Iraqis will be on our hands."

And then, Sean Penn added: "My trip here is to personally record the human face of the Iraqi people so that their blood – along with that of American soldiers – would not be invisible on my own hands. I sit with you here today in the hopes that any of us present may contribute in any way to a peaceful resolution to the conflict at hand."

Remember, as long as we're pretending to be a democracy, the actions of our government are the responsibility of all of us. The citizens of Iraq, or Afghanistan, do that have that privilege or responsibility.

Is this code for "blame the Jewish-controlled media?"

Trent Lott on his critics -- emphasis mine:

When you're from Mississippi, when you're conservative and when you're a Christian, there are a lot of people that don't like that. But I fell into their trap and so I have only myself to blame.

The cover of yesterday's Daily Mirror:


The Nation has a good essay by Adrienne Rich, titled "Making the Connections," regarding the fact that the pro-corporate, pro-war, anti-civil liberties activities of the current regime are all parts of the same agenda.

This makes a good excuse to link to the Blue Button Project -- I set up the web site.

Head over to James's site to read more about it.

Good blog post from Nathan Newman on Bill Frist.

Remember my post a few days ago about the Eli Lilly protection amendment mysteriously appearing in the Homeland Security Act?

The language was taken from Frist's original version of a bill to protect them.

The LA Times is covering this story, but I haven't seen it anywhere else except from bloggers.

I find it very disturbing that other major newspapers seem to be ignoring it, or burying it away from the front page.

Hundreds Are Detained After Visits to INS

Hundreds of men and boys from Middle Eastern countries were arrested by federal immigration officials in Southern California this week when they complied with orders to appear at INS offices for a special registration program.

The arrests drew thousands of people to demonstrate Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesmen refused Wednesday to say how many people the agency had detained, what the specific charges were or how many were still being held. But officials speaking anonymously said they would not dispute estimates by lawyers for detainees that the number across Southern California was 500 to 700. In Los Angeles, up to one-fourth of those who showed up to register were jailed, lawyers said.

The number of people arrested in this region appears to have been considerably larger than elsewhere in the country, perhaps because of the size of the Southland's Iranian population. Monday's registration deadline applied to males 16 and older from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Men from 13 other nations, mostly in the Mideast and North Africa, are required to register next month.

Many of those arrested, according to their lawyers, had already applied for green cards and, in some instances, had interviews scheduled in the near future. Although they had overstayed their visas, attorneys argue, their clients had already taken steps to remedy the situation and were following the regulations closely.

"These are the people who've voluntarily gone" to the INS, said Mike S. Manesh of the Iranian American Lawyers Assn. "If they had anything to do with terrorism, they wouldn't have gone."


I've only seen an AP story from the NY Times.

From 2000: McCain and Bush flirted with neo-Confederate movement.

FBI warns corporations to look out for violence from anti-war protesters.

50 Trent Lott Facts. My favorites:

41. As youngest member of the House Judiciary Committee, he voted against impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974. Twenty-five years later, he voted for the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

46. Once declared he feels closer to Jefferson Davis "than any other man in America."

47. In mid-'90s, organized the Dark Ages Weekend, a mid-winter outing for ultra right-wingers at Miami's posh Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami.

49.In 1981, helped Jackson, Miss., annex white suburbs to dilute political strength of black voters.

"There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like." -- Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2002.

One word: ick.

Lisa at Ruminate This writes about TomPaine.com's offer of $10,000 for information about who inserted the provision into the Homeland Security Bill protecting Eli Lilly from lawsuits:

In November, as Congress finalized the legislation authorizing a new Department of Homeland Security, two paragraphs suddenly appeared in the bill giving drug maker Eli Lilly & Company something it desired: a shield from lawsuits by parents who claim the company's vaccines caused their children's autism.

The provision diverts those suits from state courts to a federal 'vaccine court' where damages are capped at $250,000 - small compensation for a child's lifetime of medical care. And because any damages awarded by the vaccine court are paid by U.S. taxpayers, manufacturers are relieved of liability.

We have a very broken democracy when provisions like this become law and no person has to take credit or blame for it. Bills don't write themselves.

New report out from People For the American Way:

Bush, Lott, and Ashcroft: Shared Agendas Threaten Civil Rights Gains

Look at the graphic CNN is using for the story of Bush "moving ahead" on missile defense:


They choose not to link to their own story about the latest test failure -- $100 million down the drain. The Washington Post story is better anyway.

I don't think he explained how this system will protect us from hijackers with box cutters or bombs on boats in the NY harbor, but I'm sure we'll all feel safer.

... or as pandagon says, this is like putting a big sign up that says "Nuke us before 2004!"

The Bush administration is arguing that the rich pay too much taxes, and the poor and middle class don't pay enough.

I love how the GOP accuses the Democrats of encouraging "class war" whenever they're questioned about giving tax cuts to the rich. Honey, we've had class war for 20 years, and the rich are winning.

New US Visa Rules Force Foreign Artists to Stay Away

I didn't know this:

Less widely know is that all would-be foreign male visitors to the US aged between 16 and 45 -- but not women -- must now account for every country visited in the last decade, in case they are terrorists.

There is a news story that Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma (no. 2 in the Senate) wants a new vote on the GOP Majority Leader. Look at this quote:

"I am concerned that Senator Lott has been weakened to the point that may jeopardize his ability to enact our agenda and speak to all Americans," Nickles said in a statement. "There are several outstanding senators who are more than capable of effective leadership, and I hope we have an opportunity to choose."

In an ABC interview, he added: "Can he be effective? Can he campaign in places like Chicago? I don't want to squander our ability to get things done. We only have a short window this year."

What's with the Chicago bit? I guess he thinks the GOP has the blacks in Oklahoma and Mississippi under control, but they're not as docile in some of those Yankee cities?


Remember people, Nickles isn't exactly a nice alternative. He was one of the main opponents of Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg:

He said that President's Clinton's appointment of philanthropist James Hormel, who is openly gay, to an ambassador's post in Luxembourg should be denied because Hormel promotes "immoral behavior."

The Bible, according to the Oklahoma Senator's calculations, teaches that homosexual behavior is "a sin" and "if one promotes that behavior…that person shouldn't be a representative of this country."

Here is some information on his voting record.


Keeping Track of John Poindexter

The head of the government's Total Information Awareness project, which aims to root out potential terrorists by aggregating credit-card, travel, medical, school and other records of everyone in the United States, has himself become a target of personal data profiling.

Online pranksters, taking their lead from a San Francisco journalist, are publishing John Poindexter's home phone number, photos of his house and other personal information to protest the TIA program.

Hilary Clinton sees that the shifting sentiments of the public regarding l'Affaire Lott require her to modify her initial tepid comments a bit. I sent her an email saying I thought Lott should be censured by the Senate, at a minimum. I think he should be forced out, except that a damaged GOP is probably the safest thing for all of us.

Click MORE to see the December 11 and December 13 versions of her e-mail. I didn't send a new e-mail in the intervening period. It appears two days later that she is shocked, simply shocked, to find racist behavior coming from Mr. Lott. I guess she hasn't paid attention for the last 20 years.


Voters seem not to mind gay-bashing insinuations

Shortly before Saturday's runoff Senate race in Louisiana, the raspy voice of a Bill Clinton impersonator was heard in a radio commercial that was produced by the campaign of Suzanne Haik Terrell, the Republican candidate.

"Mary Landrieu is so liberal, she might be closer to Hillary than I am," the voice said.

I love the MSNBC headline: 'Smoking gun' in church crisis?

The file on Burns contained not only lurid revelations about the priest’s behavior but also said Law told the Vatican that his archdiocese had assigned Burns to two parishes even though it knew of his “proclivity” toward molesting boys.

In his 1999 order defrocking Burns, the pope said the former priest “ought to live away from the places where his previous condition is known.”

But the pope’s order also offered the man’s religious superior an alternative to forcing Burns to abandon the areas where his condition was known.

The religious superior “is able to dispense from this clause of the decree if it is foreseen that the presence of the suppliant will cause no scandal,” the document said.

At the rate things are going, I'm going to need a "Religion" category.

Clinton was nearly impeached for lying about sex, but Bush appoints Elliott Abrams, who lied to Congress in the Iran-Contra affair.

The judge that says we can't see Cheney's energy task force records fought to release Clinton White House records when he was a deputy of Kenneth Starr.

Trent Lott says we would have been better off if the segregationist Dixiecrats had won the presidency with Strom Thurmond, but it takes days for the 'liberal' media to notice.

The U.S. intercepts the Iraq arms dossier intended for the U.N. to "make copies" and says it will only share it with certain members of the Security Council -- not, so far, the weapons inspection team. Cynics might argue this is because it lists suppliers, including the U.S. and other Security Council members.

What pill can I take to stop noticing things? We're not even pretending to be a real republic anymore. One party state anyone?

He appeared on Charlie Rose, ostensibly to promote the new Lord of the Rings movie, while wearing a No More Blood For Oil t-shirt.

From the People For The American Way auction:

Madonna -- Ray of Light platinum award, signed personally to buyer

From ABCNEWS.com:

Here is what Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said yesterday at Senator Strom Thurmond's birthday party, according to ABCNEWS' O'Keefe. "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't of had all these problems over all these years, either."

Thurmom was running as a Dixiecrat, a pro-segregration party whose platform stated that for a black person, "his racial constitution has been fashioned to exclude any idea of voluntary cooperation on his part. "

Read Eschaton for more.

Trent Lott is one of the most powerful men in our country. We don't have much room to criticize other countries for their right-wing politicians.


There is another article here.

From Crain's New York Business:

The city’s debt per capita has more than doubled since fiscal 1990, to $5,083 per head, according to a new report from the city comptroller’s office. The figure was $2,490 per citizen in 1990. That rate of growth exceeds the inflation rate by 63% and the growth in city tax revenues by 55%, the charter-mandated report said

In addition, the comptroller found that debt service costs will grow about 25% by fiscal 2006, reducing the funds available for city services. The costs are projected to approach 20 cents of every tax dollar, compared with 16 cents of every dollar today.

Aren't we glad Giuliani used the boom years of the 90s to get NYC in better financial shape, fix up all of the roads and bridges, improve public transit...

Not that most of you want to read more political blogs, I suspect, but she is really good. On the state of the Washington Post:

The point is, it just feels like such a waste of time to try to read stories by journalists who are really just reporting on what's going on inside their own heads. Fair enough for me to do it on my own weblog, but no one's paying me for this. But in The Newspapers of Record? It's like a horrible joke, except that it's not funny.

[via Rittenhouse]

Danziger on Leave No Child Behind.

[via TBOGG]

Bin Laden Used Your Gas Money

Sept 12: Sell Your SUV Day

Protest Bumper Stickers

US troops are losing battle of the bulge

As American troops prepare for war in Iraq a report is about to reveal that more than half of them are overweight.

A panel of nine medical experts commissioned by the Pentagon is expected to say that 53.9 per cent of US military personnel over the age of 20 would be classified as too fat to fight under federal obesity standards.

A fifth of those aged under 20 would also fail the fat test, The Times has learnt. Iraq may not have such sophisticated weapons, but its soldiers at least fit their uniforms better.


A successful method used to recruit teenagers is to allow fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken to operate restaurants on bases. Mess food is no longer obligatory.


Maybe these guys can provide some fitness tips.

I was just walking by the High School of Fashion Industries on West 24th Street and saw a small demonstration -- about 15 or 20 students and 5-10 teachers -- protesting war against Iraq and the provision of students' private contact information to military recruiters. The chant I heard: "No Child Left Behind is the new draft!"

FYI: Bush cut the latest budget's education funding below the previous year's funding.

Why do so many gay men, and scary right wing people, link to Andrew Sullivan? A number of the scariest religious posters to Jim's site link to him on their blogs. I also see gay men who otherwise don't seem delusional putting links on their pages to him. Ugh.

This is a man that writes a column for the Washington Times, owned by Revered Sun Myung Moon. He shills for the pharmaceutical industry while having them sponsor his web site. He, a gay Catholic ex-pat from Britain, seems to consider everyone who doesn't support Bush a traitor. He also has rather shoddy analytical skills when it comes to America's "enemies". He uses "Islamofascists" -- a horrid neologism -- to refer both to Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, even though the latter is a secular dictator. I suspect Mr. Sullivan can't tell his Arabs apart.

A few useful sites for people as they work on removing Mr. Sullivan from their web sites and their lives:

Smarter Andrew Sullivan



David E's Fablog


There. That's the last time I ever intend to mention him.

When it comes to politically influential Cubans, the Bush family likes terrorists.

I was reading a review of Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana in the Economist (subscribers only area unfortunately) and came across this, which I had forgotten:

She interviews Luis Posada Carriles, Mr Castro's most persistent would-be assassin. She is surely right to criticise George Bush senior for his ill-considered pardon of Orlando Bosch, who with Mr Posada was responsible for placing a bomb on a Cubana airliner in 1976, killing 73 civilians.

Remember the outrage over Marc Rich's pardon by Clinton? At the time of Bush's pardon, the New York Times decided it wasn't news fit to print. They didn't write about it at all.

Since most of you don't have Economist subscriptions, there is a longer review in The Guardian with additional juicy details.

The president's younger brother [Jeb] was also on the payroll in the 80s of the prominent Cuban exile Miguel Recarey, who had earlier assisted the CIA in attempts to assassinate President Castro.

Recarey, who ran International Medical Centres (IMC), employed Jeb Bush as a real estate consultant and paid him a $75,000 fee for finding the company a new location, although the move never took place, which raised questions at the time. Jeb Bush did, however, lobby the Reagan/Bush administration vigorously and successfully on behalf of Recarey and IMC. "I want to be very wealthy," Jeb Bush told the Miami News when questioned during that period.

In 1985, Jeb Bush acted as a conduit on behalf of supporters of the Nicaraguan contras with his father, then the vice-president, and helped arrange for IMC to provide free medical treatment for the contras.

Recarey was later charged with massive medicare fraud but fled the US before his trial and is now a fugitive.


Most controversially, at the request of Jeb, Mr Bush Sr intervened to release the convicted Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch from prison and then granted him US residency.

According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.

CIA memorandums strongly suggest, according to Bardach's book, that Bosch was one of the conspirators, and quotes the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as writing that the "US government had been planning to suggest Bosch's deportation before Cubana airlines crash took place for his suspected involvement in other terrorist acts and violation of his parole".

Bosch's release, often referred to in the US media as a pardon, was the result of pressure brought by hardline Cubans in Miami, with Jeb Bush serving as their point man. Bosch now lives in Miami and remains unrepentant about his militant activities, according to Bardach.

In July this year, Jeb Bush nominated Raoul Cantero, the grandson of Batista, as a Florida supreme court judge despite his lack of experience. Mr Cantero had previously represented Bosch and acted as his spokesman, once describing Bosch on Miami radio as a "great Cuban patriot".

I chose to highlight The Economist review first, since some of my less enlightened readers choose to see The Guardian as too left-wing to be reliable -- the sort of people who quote Fox News on their web sites.

73 people died on that airplane. Where is the right-wing outrage over "coddling terrorists?"

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