Saturday, June 02, 2007

Listen Up, DC Dems!

Paging Sergeant Joe Friday, Paging Sergeant Friday. Please Report to the Democrats on Capitol Hill. They Need You Badly.

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Sat, 06/02/2007 - 6:21am.

The Democrats on Capitol Hill sure do need Sergeant Joe Friday to help them out.
You see, the D.C. Dems, especially now that that they are "investigating" the Bush Administration, keep tripping over dead bodies – and doing their damn best to convince themselves that they just stumbled over a rug, not a corpse.

It’s amazing how many contortions the Dems go through in order to avoid actually holding the Bush Administration accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Just look at the multiple legal, ethical, and perjury violations of America’s Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. He’s like one of the dead bodies that the Dems keep coming across – and then they claim that they won’t rush to judgement about whether or not the cadaver with multiple bullet wounds in its back was a victim of foul play. When the Democrats uncover a Bush Administration crime through an investigation, their response is to call for another investigation "to get to the bottom of this."

After a fireworks display of smoking guns took place, the best the Dems could muster with Gonzales was politely suggesting that he resign. Excuse me, Sergeant Joe Friday didn’t close a case by telling a murderer that he should consider driving himself to jail, if he felt like it, but otherwise Friday would leave him to continue killing people. You know, sort of a voluntary punishment concept.

While the Dems on the Hill fear to actually hold the Bush Administration accountable by taking away its powers through legislation or impeachment, the Republicans are back to character assassination (think the FOX discussion of the Edwards haircut that never ends) and undertaking its fourth election under Bush involving broad voter suppression.

Meanwhile, even tough "expletive deleted" spewing Dems like Rahm Emanuel keep thinking that capitulating to the Republicans and being non-confrontational on key votes is good for politics.

Say what? Emanuel may be a ruthless and unforgiving taskmaster when it comes to national campaign strategy, but he comes off as a wimp when confronting Bush and the Republicans in Congress. After the Dem Congressional capitulation to Bush on the war – a man with poll numbers as low as the temperature in North Dakota in January – Emanuel boasted, "I view this as the beginning of the end of the president's policy on Iraq."

Did anyone tell Rahm this was supposed to be the beginning of saving the lives or our troops by starting to withdraw them after four years of a ruinous war?

Emanuel is known as an enforcer who blows off kneecaps if Dems running for office don’t follow his instructions. He takes no prisoners behind the scenes.

But when it comes to actually holding the Bush Administration accountable, he’s suddenly a "Mr. See No Evil." His DLC roots of an imagined American "center" kick in, and he’s afraid of taking on the criminal (and we don’t mean that metaphorically) actions and policies of the Bush Administration.

We have noted many a time on that the Republicans win (aside from their illegal voter suppression efforts) because they give the appearance of strength, while actually enacting policies that endanger the national security of the United States.

The Dems on the Hill are actually still scared off by Bush’s "appearance of strength," even when the majority of American voters aren’t buying George's hollow John Wayne imitation anymore.
At a time when the war in Iraq is probably the number one threat to our national security (rather than reducing the threat as Bush and Cheney claim), Americans want to see a political party emerge that shows some backbone and strength. Because national security is a real issue, not an abstract one.

But if the best the Democrats can do is go down on bended knee to a tin horn cowboy like Bush, the Dems continue to look weak. If they can’t battle a President as compromised by corruption, failure, lies, scandal, and radical ideology as Bush, how can they be expected to take on the phantom enemy abroad?

In the age of television coverage of politics as news analysis that focuses on caricatures of character, you can’t win elections by appearing to cave in all the time. It’s that simple. Form becomes content. And if the form is throwing in the towel when you hold a full house and the other side has nothing but a bunch of mismatched low number cards, you are rightfully perceived as a pushover.

Which brings us back to the ongoing investigations that the Dems say will eventually erode the Bush Administration. Right now, Alberto Gonzales is still Attorney General. We are still in Iraq. Bush is still appointing radical nominees to key administration posts. The national debt is still climbing to record levels. Political plans are being put into place to keep minorities, again, from voting in 2008. Republican donors are still being rewarded with hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer contracts. Cheney and his Neo-Con pals are still trying to stir up a war with Iran. And, among other unforgivable violations of the public trust, Rove is still engaged in his criminal political strategizing as the de facto domestic policy president of the United States and Svengali of dirty tricks and illegal use of the Department of Justice and voter suppression initiatives.

And the Dems keep investigating, tripping over dead bodies, and then responding by calling for more investigations. It appears no breaking of the law or act of corruption is enough for the Dems to start holding the Administration accountable by taking steps to remove the appropriate parties from office and to embark on a course of standing up against Administration actions that harm the interests of the American people – particularly in the area of protecting our nation.

It’s time to bring in Sergeant Joe Friday and start closing the cases against the Bush Administration. Because if the Dems don’t start showing that they are tough in dealing with a party that is imploding and on the ropes, the voters are going to continue to view them as timid and weak – and appropriately so.

Jack Webb, where are you?
Dead, we hear.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

The Fall and Rise of Flower Power

Yes, of course the Hippies were right!

Why else were they so spat upon by the religiously insane and the graven image (money) worshipers?

Sweet Jeebus, they crucified Christ back in the days of another repressive, evil empire and the inevitably corrupted religion that conspired with the empire to kill or imprison everyone who refused to worship the emperor and the other god's of Rome.

Is anything so different today?

The Fall and Rise of Flower Power

Judge Halts Award Of Iraq Contract (Mercinaries)

15 cheers for this guy!

It's about time somebody raised this issue, as it not only puts the people we are supposedly liberating at risk, it puts this nation and her people at peril in ways unimaginable to most Americans.

Judge Halts Award Of Iraq Contract -

A federal judge yesterday ordered the military to temporarily refrain from awarding the largest security contract in Iraq. The order followed an unusual series of events set off when a U.S. Army veteran filed a protest against the government practice of hiring what he calls mercenaries, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Cheney's Nemesis, Seymour Hersh, Reveals White House’s Secret Plan to Bomb Iran

Seymour has always been on the side of the angels.

He still is.

Rolling Stone : National Affairs: Cheney's Nemesis, Seymour Hersh, Reveals White House’s Secret Plan to Bomb Iran:

The note's author? A viper-mean Beltway apparatchik named Dick Cheney, who was making his name doing damage control for the Republican White House after the Watergate disaster. Coming so soon after Nixon was burned at the public stake for similar targeting of political enemies, the Cheney memo was proof that the next generation of GOP leaders had emerged from the Watergate scandal regretting only one thing: getting caught.

This year, an almost identical note in Cheney's same tight-looped, anal script appeared as a key piece of evidence in the trial of another powerful White House aide, Scooter Libby. The vice president's handwritten ruminations on how best to dispose of an Iraq War critic named Joe Wilson are an eerie reminder of how little has changed in America in the past three decades. Then as now, we have been dragged into a bloody massacre in the Third World, paying the bill for the operation with the souls and bodies of the next generation of our young people. It is the same old story, and many of the same people are once again in charge.

Giuliani: Worse Than Bush

Oh yeah. He is.

But hey, let him run, let him run!!!

We've got the goods on this rattlesnake, so let him run!

Rolling Stone : Giuliani: Worse Than Bush:

He's cashing in on 9/11, working with Karl Rove's henchmen and in cahoots with a Swift Boat-style attack on Hillary. Will Rudy Giuliani be Bush III?

Only 3% of Americans support sending more troops to Iraq

The great unraveling continues.....

Only 3% of Americans support sending more troops to Iraq | Press Esc:

Only 3% of all Americans support sending more troops to Iraq while a solid majority want troops brought back home, according to the latest Gallup poll.

1,007 national adults were asked the question 'If you could talk with President Bush for fifteen minutes about the situation in Iraq, what would you, personally, advise him to do?'

54% wanted to tell Bush to focus on an exit strategy, while 6% percent wanted Bush to apologize for his mistakes. A further 7% wanted the President to work with the United Nations to end the violence in Iraq.

CIA Bars Plame From Publishing Materials It Released Publicly 15 Months Ago

The CIA referred to here is not the same CIA that Mrs. Wilson worked for. It has been expunged of all non-Bush-loyalists.

This nation and its people are in serious danger from this administration.

Think Progress » CIA Bars Plame From Publishing Materials It Released Publicly 15 Months Ago: "

Valerie Plame Wilson sued the CIA yesterday “over its refusal to allow her to publish a memoir that would discuss how long she had worked for the agency.” The CIA contends that her dates of service “remain classified” and that Plame’s publication of such details in her upcoming book “could have serious ramifications” for national security.

The CIA itself, however, has previously publicly and voluntarily disclosed the very information in question. In February 2006, the CIA sent an letter to Wilson that was subsequently entered into the public domain when it was published in the Congressional Record. The letter, though supposedly classified, remains available online from government websites today.

Rice: No War Plans Against Iran

Yeah right, Condi.

We've heard this one before.

It was bullshit then and it's bull shit now.

Rice: No War Plans Against Iran:

MADRID, Spain (AP) - The U.S. is not preparing for war against Iran and Vice President Dick Cheney supports that policy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, taking a swipe at a U.N. official who says he's worried about 'crazies' who want to start bombing.

'The president of the United States has made very clear what our policy is. That policy is supported by all the members of his Cabinet and by the vice president of the United States,' Rice said Friday.

'The president has made clear that we are on a diplomatic course,' she said in regard to U.S. opposition to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

US may collapse as a superpower

It was a foregone conclusion a long time ago and it really isn't all that bad a thing.

The Bush administration and the Rethug Congress has brought this about through their action and inaction over the past 6 1/2 years.

Unfortunately, those of us who have seen this coming for years will have to endure the worsening nightmare right along with the nitwits with their heads stuck firmly up their butts.

The World Today - US may collapse as a superpower: analyst:

A US military analyst who's served in the armed forces and has written on international affairs for more than two decades, is issuing a warning today about the collapse of the United States as a superpower.

In his latest book, The Mess they Made: the Middle East after Iraq, Gwynne Dyer says there's no doubt that the US will withdraw its troops from Iraq once President George W. Bush leaves office.

But he predicts that already that war has set in motion events that will radically transform not only the Middle East but the role of the United States in the world.

Rove Linked toPolitically Motivated Prosecution of Ex-Alabama Governor

These effing bastards are going down!

Rove Linked to Prosecution of Ex-Alabama Governor | TIME:

In the rough and tumble of Alabama politics, the scramble for power is often a blood sport. At the moment, the state's former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.

Now Karl Rove, the President's top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove 'had spoken with the Department of Justice' about 'pursuing' Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys.

Keep Giuliani In The Race!

Rudy is our man! (Not)

If this is any example of this man's logic, it is one of many reasons why we should do all in our power to keep him in the race for 2008.

Crooks and Liars:

In a potential preview of next fall’s presidential contest, Mr. Giuliani, who is seen as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, directly attacked the leading Democratic candidate, Mrs. Clinton, over a speech she gave Tuesday in New Hampshire bemoaning the return of “robber barons” and promising to pursue “shared prosperity” by increasing taxes on Americans making more than $200,000 a year.

“This would be an astounding, staggering tax increase,” Mr. Giuliani told reporters yesterday after a visit to a restaurant on the edge of California’s Silicon Valley. “She wants to go back to the 1990s…. It would hurt our economy. It would hurt this area dramatically. That kind of tax increase would see a decline in your venture capital. It would see a decline in your ability to focus on new technology.”

Buh Bye, Gooper's Grassroots

The GOP is losing grassroots donors.

Small donors. eh?

The identity of real GOP base is about to become abundantly clear.

Not even the extreme pandering of this White House to the likes of the Apostolic Congress and the usual cults of "other-haters" can cover-up the truth, now.

When push comes to shove, the Bushites will sell their souls for commerce, capitalism and corporatism every damn time.

Anyone, who continues to support them, will lose their's as well.

Only those Americans who actively resist them have any positive karma coming their way and a real cleansing of spirit. The re-claiming of our founding spirit is dependent on the spiritual health and growth of the nation's citizens and their counterparts the world over.

Fortunately for America and the world, the seeds were planted in the 60's and early 70s.

Let us hope that the growth is abundant enough and the spiritual wounding of the past decade not damaging enough, for what lies ahead of us.

Crooks and Liars:

Faced with significantly declining contributions from grassroots donors, the Republican National Committee has fired its entire team of telephone solicitors, according to a report in Friday's Washington Times.

'Faced with an estimated 40 percent falloff in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, fired staff members told The Times,' Ralph Z. Hallow wrote in the paper.

Bush Legacy: Enduring Damage To The Nation

Even while attention is focused on our troubled military campaign in Iraq, we should be thinking about the other enduring problems caused by American fumbling there, including the growth of terrorist networks, the wearing out of our armed forces, and the grave damage done to our reputation.

The most pernicious effect of our occupation of Iraq has been that this "central front" in the global war on terror has become a springboard for terror's war on innocent civilians around the world. Iraq is far more than just a magnet for jihadists drawn to engage our troops there. It has become a symbol of American overreaching and of our inability to defeat terror networks.

And so more networks are forming every day, all over the world, often under a loose rubric of al Qaeda affiliation. This has resulted in a staggering rise in the number of terrorist attacks in recent years.

The State Department recently released statistics showing more than a sevenfold increase in the number of "significant" terrorist attacks worldwide from 2001 through 2006. And in deliberate attacks on civilians, big or small, the numbers also give cause for alarm. There were 14,000 such attacks in 2006, a leap from about 3,000 attacks in 2005.

Clearly, we're moving in the wrong direction. Even though the American "homeland" has not been successfully struck since 9/11, many other countries have been hit -- repeatedly, and often quite hard, across a swath of the world from Madrid to Mindanao.

Ironically, the most dangerous places for the innocents of the world are Afghanistan and Iraq, the two sites where large contingents of U.S. forces are deployed. Just under one-half of last year's total attacks took place in Iraq. This alarming figure suggests that our troops should be used in much different ways than they have been. Operations in Iraq, after four years of floundering, have finally moved in a more productive direction, with the shift toward sprinkling small outposts throughout neighborhoods offering somewhat better protection to Iraqis.

But by now, chances of winning a military victory have largely faded, and the U.S. armed forces are already exhausted -- some leaders even talk of the army being "broken."

This is the second chronic problem caused by our occupation of Iraq. Our forces deployed there have virtually punched themselves out by trying to use "overwhelming force" against will-o'-the-wisp insurgent networks. Instead, they should have been operating all along in smaller advisory units, helping friendly Iraqi forces to do better.

But senior leaders, in and out of the military, pooh-poohed this idea for years, lamenting repeatedly that our troubles were caused by a "lack" of troops. Their mantra has consisted of a chant saying that the war could have been won if only our numbers were greater.

Had President Bush listened to these calls for far larger numbers of troops to deploy to Iraq, however, our situation would be even worse overall. The strain on our whole logistics, training, refitting system -- not to mention the psychic toll on our troops -- would have quickly become intolerable, and the damage done would take even longer to recover from. And the insurgents would simply have slipped our heavy punches, then taken their time to select from the much larger number of targets we would have provided them.

As matters stand, the U.S. military is already worn down more than enough by what we've actually done in Iraq, and will take several years to be fully ready once again to take on another demanding task. We should all offer up thanks that a new war hasn't started while we've been caught on the desert flypaper of Iraq.

Indeed, think for a moment about what might have been -- or what could be, for the next several years -- if, in the middle of the nuclear proliferation crisis with North Korea, Dear Leader Kim Jong Il were to march his million-man army southward. A catastrophe would ensue, making the debacle in Iraq look pale.

Other possible conflicts would also become the most daunting of challenges. Whether war with Iran -- over proliferation issues, as in the case of North Korea -- or with China, in the event we were needed to defend Taiwan, the U.S. military would be exceptionally hard-pressed to respond. The drain of the war in Iraq has come close to crippling us in these other theaters of operations -- for now and for some years to come.

But perhaps what has been most crippled by Iraq is our reputation in the world, the third great price of this misbegotten war. The abuses at Abu Ghraib, Haditha and elsewhere haven't helped. And the continued use of heavy aerial bombs against individuals holed up in homes has led to a steady stream of "collateral damage" -- an awful euphemism for the deaths of innocents.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq have caused others around the world to question our motives and our methods. And for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the noble aims of U.S. foreign policy have come under searing scrutiny. Beyond world opprobrium, divisions at home have also torn the fabric of our own society.

Iraq has become a deadly "gift that keeps giving." The quagmire there is emboldening terror networks to form up -- perhaps some of them in service to rogue states -- even while our military is increasingly worn down. But in the end, it is the loss of respect for and trust in the United States that will hurt us the most.

Even now, it may not be too late to stop the hemorrhaging.

For example, instead of continued bickering over timelines for withdrawal, there should be agreement to stop the surge immediately and begin removing other brigades. Those troops that remain will keep working closely with Iraqis from the network of outposts that is being created. By the end of this year, only a small residual American force would remain, but it would stay indefinitely in an advisory role and conduct some counterterrorist special operations.

A single policy step such as this would mitigate each of the three major long-term problems caused by our involvement in Iraq. The reduction of forces would free up huge resources -- particularly intelligence capabilities -- for the fight against terror networks in other parts of the world. It would also immediately begin to ease the tension on our strained military, allowing it more quickly to recover its capacity for deterring or dealing with any new looming conflicts. And finally, it would signal to the world -- not to mention to the average American -- that our intention there was neither conquest nor occupation.

This is the only option that deals with all the devils that have sprung from the dust of Iraq: drawing down our forces. Sharply, and starting now.

John Arquilla, a frequent contributor to Insight, is a defense analyst in Monterey.
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(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Rethuggery In Conn.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A legislative leader was arrested Friday on charges that he tried to have a businessman at the center of a federal racketeering probe arrange to threaten someone the senator believed was abusing a relative.

State and federal authorities said Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca in 2005 sought help from James Galante, a Danbury trash hauler currently awaiting trial on 72 counts of tax fraud, racketeering, threatening and extortion.

"When you approach someone who is alleged to be a member of organized crime or affiliated with organized crime and you ask for this help, and you slip a note to them in a diner as opposed to even having a conversation, I think it's fair to draw an inference that you don't exactly have the best of intentions," U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said Friday.

DeLuca, a Republican from Woodbury, was booked on a misdemeanor charge Friday of second-degree conspiracy to commit threatening. He was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Waterbury Superior Court.

DeLuca, 73, said in a written statement that he made a bad decision and was embarrassed by his actions.

"I tried to protect a family member who was vulnerable, who was in a physically abusive domestic relationship and who needed help," he said. "My family and I went to the police three times to get help for my relative, but the police said that they couldn't help because the victim wouldn't file a complaint."

DeLuca said he was frustrated by the situation and discussed it with Galante, whom he met a few years earlier when Galante made a large contribution to a charitable cause sponsored by DeLuca.

Authorities said that in April 2005 at a Woodbury diner, Galante passed DeLuca a note that asked, "Do you want me to have someone pay him a visit?"

DeLuca told Galante "yes" and gave Galante the name and address of the alleged abuser, authorities said.

An assault never happened. Prosecutors, who recovered the note in a search of Galante's home, said they stopped it by parking a police car in front of the house of a Galante associate who was to deliver an assault.

Hugh Keefe, Galante's attorney, said the charge seemed "like much ado about nothing."

"I hope (DeLuca) takes it to trial and wins, because it sounds like a stretch to me," Keefe said.

Neither DeLuca nor authorities identified the relative who was allegedly being abused.
The misdemeanor charge has a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of $2,000.

Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Rocky Hill contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Bush Paves Way For The Bomb terrorist's hands

Bush policy could not have had a different outcome or a worse one. Can't help but wonder, do these people, the Bushites, think at all?

How Bush Risks an Islamist Bomb
By Ivan Eland

May 30, 2007

Editor's Note: Among the many catastrophes surrounding George W. Bush's Middle East wars is possibly the bitterest irony of all -- that he is laying the groundwork for radical Islamists to get an atomic bomb via the collapse of Pakistan's pro-U.S. dictator Pervez Musharraf.

In this guest essay, the Independent Institute's Ivan Eland looks at how Bush's bungled policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are leading inexorably to an even worse disaster:

The Bush administration has failed to capture or kill Osama bin Laden or to win the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, the administration has also missed the chance to maintain a stable nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Like the U.S. policy toward the Shah’s Iran in the 1960s and 1970s, the Bush administration, despite a rhetorical commitment to spread democracy around the world, has put all of its eggs in the basket of an autocrat unlikely to survive—in this case, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Although Musharraf has used the U.S. war on terror to play the United States like a fiddle, the Bush administration believes there is no better alternative. Unfortunately, backing Musharraf could create a nuclear-armed Pakistan controlled by radical Islamists.

Unfortunately, Pakistan probably has already been “lost,” and U.S. policy has played an important role in its demise. U.S. policymakers have repeatedly underestimated the consequences of the deep unpopularity engendered by profligate U.S. government meddling in the affairs of other countries.

In Iran, although the Shah’s government was brutal, the regime also became so identified with its unpopular U.S. benefactor that the United States became a major contributing factor in its collapse and replacement with a militant and enduring Islamist substitute.

The Bush administration, with its macho bravado, has had a tin ear for the ramifications of anti-U.S hatred. After 9/11, instead of using the attacks as a justification to go after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the Bush administration had the opportunity to eliminate the Taliban in Afghanistan, take full advantage of Musharraf’s limited-time offer to give the U.S. military free reign in Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden and al Qaeda, and then withdraw from the region.

Instead, the Bush administration allowed mission creep to take its eyes off the prize of taking down al Qaeda. The U.S. mission in Afghanistan turned to nation-building, counterinsurgency, and cutting off the drug trade. The continued occupation of Afghanistan by non-Muslim forces and the close U.S. support for the dictator Musharraf in neighboring Pakistan, predictably revved up Pakistani Islamic militants and gradually turned them against his regime.

In an attempt to discreetly court these militants to support his government and to maintain the flow of U.S. military aid to ostensibly fight them, Musharraf allowed these groups to operate in the wild tribal regions of western Pakistan on the Afghan border and even reached a truce with them to withdraw the Pakistani government’s military forces from these areas. This wink and nod policy has allowed both al Qaeda and the militant Taliban to recover and step up attacks from these safe havens.

Given Musharraf’s unenthusiastic pursuit of al Qaeda in Pakistan, why does the United States continue to support him? The answer is mainly a fear of “instability”—read, any change of leadership in a nuclear weapons state.

The United States fears that the only alternative to Musharraf in a nuclear-armed Pakistan is the Islamic militants; but this outcome is actually more likely if the unpopular United States continues to zealously back Musharraf. At the same time Musharraf’s popularity has faded. He has faced mass protests across Pakistan for his increased despotism and his suspension of the country’s chief justice.

Musharraf feared that the judge, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, might issue rulings that would interfere with his attempt to have the parliament elect him to another five-year term. In addition, several former Pakistani generals have talked openly about overthrowing him in a coup.

But it may be too late to control a coup and reestablish military rule. The Islamists have been strengthened by Musharraf’s suppression of alternative non-Islamic opposition parties; Musharraf has said that their leaders—exiled former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawa Sharif—will not be allowed to return for upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Bush administration should change policy and end the occupation of Afghanistan, which would cool the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and the Islamic militancy in Pakistan. In addition, the United States should threaten to cut off aid to Pakistan unless Musharraf and his intelligence services make a genuine attempt to capture or kill bin Laden.

With a cooling of militant Islam in the region, Musharraf should have more leeway to pursue bin Laden without an Islamist backlash. Finally, the United States should press Musharraf to genuinely open Pakistani elections to non-Islamist parties and allow their leaders to return from exile. These actions would further erode support from the Islamist radicals.

Unfortunately, keeping the Islamists around, but contained, has been good for the autocratic Musharraf regime. The problem is that the instability caused by this policy can no longer be contained.

Like the Shah of Iran, Musharraf must use increased violence to put down popular protests, thus further fueling the spreading uprisings. The Shah’s Iran and Pakistan have one important difference, however: Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

Tragically, the Bush administration may eventually give the world an Islamist bomb.
Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review. Dr. Eland has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Conyers Zeroes in On Grifffin, Rove and Voter Caging

Well, it's about time......

Rove Pick for US Attorney Resigns After Conyers Seeks Evidence from BBC

Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television 'Newsnight' reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network's evidence on Griffin's involvement in 'caging voters.' Greg Palast, reporting for both BBC Newsnight and Democracy Now, obtained a series of confidential emails dating from the 2004 presidential election in which the GOP operative transmitted so-called 'caging lists' of voters to state party leaders.

Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge voters right to cast ballots. The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including African-American homeless men, students and soldiers sent overseas.

Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating the firing of US Attorneys, met Thursday evening in New York with Palast. After reviewing key documents, Conyers stated that, despite Griffin's resignation, "we're not through with him by any means."

Conyers indicated that he thought it unlikely that Griffin could carry out this massive 'caging' operation without the knowledge of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rove.
Griffin, who was chosen as US Attorney at Rove's request, has not responded to requests by BBC to explain the 'caging' memos.

For more on the caging lists, see Palast's BRAD BLOG Exclusive from last week, just after Monica Goodling's stunning admissions concerning vote caging allegations about Griffin in her House Judiciary Committee testimony.

Also see our coverage of Slate's article late this afternoon as they become the first MSM-ish outlet to give a serious look at Goodling's overlooked-by-the-MSM, yet bombshell statement.

Palast first reported on the emails from Griffin containing vote caging lists for BBC's Newsnight, prior to the 2004 Presidential Election.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Friday, June 01, 2007

Justice or Just A Tool Of Fascism?

The Scales Of Justice

By Murray Waas, National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, May 31, 2007

In the closing weeks of Missouri's tight 2006 U.S. Senate race, the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., took the unusual step of revealing that his office's investigation into possible state government contracting abuses in Missouri had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.

Separately, less than a week before Election Day, the interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo., brought voting-fraud charges against four employees of the activist group ACORN, which registers low-income people who typically vote for Democratic candidates. Justice Department guidelines discourage prosecutors from bringing criminal charges so close to an election.

Although the actions of the two U.S. attorneys were unconnected, they shared a common denominator: Mark (Thor) Hearne, a Republican Party operative who had served as national election counsel for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign and played a behind-the-scenes role in both cases. Hearne's role provides a window into how a Republican activist was pushing Bush administration officials -- and perhaps in some cases working in concert with them -- to use the Justice Department for partisan purposes.

Last year's neck-and-neck Senate race in Missouri between Republican incumbent Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill was a high-profile contest for both political parties. Democratic and Republican operatives were looking for any edge they could find in the race, which McCaskill ended up winning narrowly.

Republicans feared that an investigation of the Blunt administration by the U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Bud Cummins, could tar Blunt and hurt Talent and other GOP candidates on the ballot. Blunt himself was not up for re-election. The investigation was spurred by allegations that the Blunt administration had improperly awarded state contracts to political contributors to run privately operated bureaus where Missouri residents obtain driver's licenses and register their vehicles. Because of potential conflicts of interest, the U.S. attorneys in Missouri weren't handling the investigation.

Cummins said in an interview that a former senior Justice Department official from the Bush administration, William Mateja, repeatedly contacted him during the investigation and asked whether Blunt was implicated in the corruption probe. Cummins said he was unaware at the time that Mateja was making his calls at the behest of Hearne, whose law firm had retained Mateja on Blunt's behalf.

In the case involving ACORN, Hearne had urged the Justice Department long before the election to investigate the activist organization and similar groups that registered Democrats. When Hearne came to believe that the U.S. attorney for western Missouri, Todd Graves, was not taking seriously allegations that ACORN workers were registering people who did not qualify to vote, he took his complaints to senior officials in Justice's Civil Rights Division and to the White House, according to a former Justice official and a private attorney who worked with Hearne. The private attorney said in an interview that Hearne boasted to him about having discussions with administration officials who wanted Graves replaced.

The White House declined to comment on any of its discussions with Hearne.

At the insistence of the Bush administration, Graves resigned on March 10, 2006. Graves has said publicly that he believes his dismissal was the result of clashes he had with his superiors for not aggressively pursuing voting-fraud cases.

When Graves resigned from Justice, Bradley J. Schlozman, one of his superiors, replaced him. The two had disagreed on the voting-fraud cases when Schlozman was acting head of the Civil Rights Division's voting-rights section.

Schlozman had pressed Graves to bring a civil suit against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, for allegedly failing to crack down on voting fraud. Graves expressed serious reservations about the case, saying it lacked merit. Subsequently the voting-rights section filed the suit. Later, U.S. District Court Judge Nanette K. Laughrey dismissed it, concluding: "It is ... telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States. Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred."

There is no evidence that Hearne's complaints led to Graves's dismissal. But two other fired U.S. attorneys, David Iglesias of New Mexico and John McKay of Washington state, have said they believe they were fired because Republican activists in their states complained that they weren't doing enough to pursue voting-fraud cases.

And D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that several U.S. attorneys were recommended for dismissal after local Republican leaders and party activists complained to the White House that the prosecutors were not aggressively probing voting fraud.

Mark (Thor) Hearne As national election counsel for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, Hearne worked with White House presidential adviser Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee to identify potential voting fraud in battleground states, three people who worked with Hearne at the time said in interviews. Party activists say that Hearne has become one of the most important Republicans on voting-fraud issues in recent years.

A resume posted on the Web site of Hearne's law firm showed that during the 2004 presidential campaign, Hearne was "responsible for advising the campaign on national litigation and election-law strategy as well as overseeing local counsel.... From September through the election, Hearne traveled to every battleground state and oversaw more than 65 different lawsuits that concerned the outcome of the election."

Although Hearne has a reputation as a committed partisan, as a partner at Lathrop & Gage he has represented private citizens faced with losing their homes or properties to eminent domain claims. Associates say that Hearne has personally represented more than 50 property owners. "It's a passion of his not just because of his belief that eminent domain claims are not right, but because he wants to help the people," says an attorney who has worked with him on election-law issues.

But politics is clearly also a Hearne passion. Among his mementos are personal letters from President Bush and Karl Rove thanking him for his work in the 2004 campaign and a picture of Hearne holding up and examining a ballot with a "dimpled chad" in Broward County as a representative of the Bush campaign during the contested 2000 Florida recount.

In February 2005, with encouragement from Rove and the White House, Hearne founded the American Center for Voting Rights, which represented itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group looking for voting fraud. Critics, including the liberal group People for the American Way and state chapters of the League of Women Voters, say that the group was a Republican front and pursued only allegations of voting fraud by Democrats. The group now appears to be defunct.
Citing Hearne's work, Rove told the Republican National Lawyers Association in a speech on April 7, 2006: "We are, in some parts of the country, I am afraid to say, beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are ... colonels in mirrored sunglasses."

Independent assessments suggest that many reports of voting fraud are unfounded. A recent study [PDF] by Lorraine C. Minnite, an assistant professor of political science at Barnard College, found that most reports of voting fraud turned out to be "unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief, and administrative or voter error."
Joseph Rich, who was chief of the voting-rights section in Justice's Civil Rights Division until 2005, said in an interview: "There is virtually no evidence that voter fraud ever occurs except by individuals and in rare instances."

Even Bryan Lunde, the former chairman of Hearne's Center for Voting Rights, said in an interview that allegations by both political parties of voting fraud and voter suppression are overblown. "It has become a new tool in campaigns to make a charge just for the sake of making a charge.... But don't ever let the facts get in the way of your accusation. Both sides seize on that one-hundredth of 1 percent of something that goes wrong in an election to make it something bigger. They try and make the anecdote the story. But there is very little voter fraud and very little voter suppression."

In the same talk to the Republican National Lawyers Association, Rove cited six jurisdictions where he said voting fraud by Democrats was pervasive. Earlier, the White House had placed U.S. attorneys in three of those jurisdictions on its lists of candidates for removal. Justice let two of them go: McKay in Washington state and Iglesias in New Mexico.

Previously, Hearne helped draft legislation for the Missouri Legislature that would have required Missourians to have state-issued picture ID cards in order to vote. Hearne and senior
Bush administration employees in the Civil Rights Division have said that such laws are necessary to prevent voting fraud. Democrats and voting-rights groups say that evidence of voting fraud is scant and that those who would have the most difficulty obtaining IDs, such as the poor and the disabled, tend to vote for Democrats. In a 6-1 ruling, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the Missouri photo ID law in 2006, saying it was unconstitutional.

Hearne also provided the Bush administration with recommendations for attorneys in the Civil Rights Division, which oversees voting-fraud cases, according to the former Justice official and an attorney who has worked closely with Hearne on voting-fraud issues. Hearne was in contact with Republican lawyers around the country in his role as co-founder, vice president, and director of election operations for the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility and its inspector general, as well as the House and Senate Judiciary committees, have been investigating whether the Bush administration illegally considered party affiliation when it was hiring career department employees.

A central focus of those probes has been whether administration officials stacked the Civil Rights Division with lawyers with GOP backgrounds. Federal law prohibits the consideration of party affiliation in the hiring of civil service employees at Justice and other departments.

At least five current and former officials of the Civil Rights Division have told federal investigators that based on their firsthand knowledge, the more-qualified candidates in their division were often passed over in favor of attorneys affiliated with the Republican Party; the Federalist Society, a conservative political organization; and the Republican National Lawyers Association.

A Boston Globe analysis found that when Schlozman was the acting head of the voting-rights section, seven of 14 career attorneys he hired were either members of the Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association.

In testimony on May 23 before the House Judiciary Committee, former senior Justice official Monica Goodling said she and other Justice officials regularly considered political affiliations in hiring career prosecutors. "I do acknowledge that I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions and may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions. I regret those mistakes," Goodling said.
Current and former law enforcement officials say that when Graves was asked to resign, he was also asked to recommend a possible successor. He recommended two deputies: Roseann Ketchmark, his first assistant U.S. attorney, and Matt Whitworth, the head of his Criminal Division.

The sources say that Goodling interviewed Ketchmark for the position. But, according to a person familiar with the matter, Ketchmark came away from the interview believing that Goodling had made up her mind before the interview. Whitworth was not interviewed for the position, according to the same sources. Justice Department records indicate that aides to Gonzales had already decided on Schlozman to replace Graves.

Later, Goodling played a role in selecting assistant U.S. attorneys to serve while Schlozman was the interim U.S. attorney. Two people who were interviewed for positions told associates that they felt uncomfortable during their interviews because Goodling asked questions about their political leanings.

The Bush administration has adamantly denied ever manipulating law enforcement procedures to affect the outcome of an election.

But Missouri Democrats dispute that denial, pointing to the statement that cleared Blunt so close to Election Day, the filing of the civil lawsuit against Missouri's secretary of state over the objection of Todd Graves, Graves's dismissal and his replacement by Schlozman, and the indictment of ACORN workers less than a week before the election. They call this strong evidence that the criminal-justice system was politicized to advance Republicans in the election.
Schlozman told the local media in Missouri at the time that in the ACORN matter he had to make an exception to the policy against leveling charges so close to an election because more fraud might have occurred on Election Day and because his superiors in Washington had approved the indictments.

But Robert Kengle, a former deputy chief in the voting-rights section at Justice during the Clinton and Bush administrations, said in an interview: "They cooked up that there is a general exception to the policy because they wanted to prevent more fraud. But indicting people before the election was not going to change anything. Registration had already closed.... There just wasn't a justification for bending the law."

The Justice Department guidelines state: "Federal prosecutors and investigators should be extremely careful not to conduct overt investigations during the pre-election period or while the elections are underway."

One reason for such a policy, the guidelines say, is that "a criminal investigation by armed, badged federal agents runs the obvious risk of chilling legitimate voting and campaign activities."

In Arkansas In addition to pushing the voting-fraud issue during Missouri's 2006 Senate race, Hearne also assisted Republicans by obtaining an unusual statement from Cummins, then a U.S. attorney in Little Rock, clearing Gov. Blunt of any wrongdoing in the awarding of the contracts for state license bureaus.

In an interview, Cummins said that during the course of the investigation Mateja contacted him half a dozen times about the status of the probe and asked whether Blunt might be in jeopardy. Cummins said that Mateja had great credibility with him because Mateja had been a widely respected career prosecutor and senior manager in the Justice Department. Just before Mateja left the department, he had served as senior counsel to two deputy attorney generals, Larry Thompson and James B. Comey.

Originally, Cummins said, Mateja asked him: "Should we be worried, or can we tell people that they have no reason to be?"

Cummins said he told Mateja that he could not say much because the investigation was ongoing. Although Blunt himself was not under investigation, Cummins said he told Mateja that the "investigation was not too far removed from the governor's office. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow in an investigation."

At the end of the first call, Cummins said, Mateja "asked for permission if he could contact me from time to time and touch base." Cummins said he told Mateja that would be fine.
Mateja declined to comment about the matter: "That particular representation I am just not going to talk about with you." In a brief conversation with National Journal, Hearne confirmed that he and his law firm, on behalf of the Blunt campaign, had hired Mateja to monitor the investigation. Hearne declined further comment.

When the investigation was closed, Cummins said, he told Mateja that Blunt had never been part of it. Cummins said he was unsure whether he or Mateja suggested the statement clearing Blunt.

On October 4, 2006, about a month before Election Day, Cummins said in a statement:

"Normally, a United States' Attorney's Office does not comment on or even confirm the existence of any investigation unless or until formal charges result.... There are, however, exceptional circumstances where it becomes appropriate to disclose certain information....

Earlier in the year, the existence of the investigation was disclosed to the media and has since become a topic of substantial public interest and discourse in the State of Missouri. In light of that unfortunate disclosure and the publicity it spawned, it is appropriate to confirm certain facts. First, the matter has been closed with no indictments sought or returned. Second, at no time was Governor Blunt a target, subject, or witness in the investigation, nor was he implicated in any allegation being investigated."

Within the U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock, some prosecutors objected to Cummins's statement. They said they believed it violated the Justice Department guideline that prosecutors not comment on investigations, and that clearing a Republican governor so close to an election might raise questions about whether Blunt received preferential treatment in contrast with others who almost never receive statements exonerating them.

Cummins said in an interview that his actions were justified because Blunt had been falsely accused; that his statement abided by Justice Department guidelines; and that Jane Duke, his first assistant U.S. attorney, who also worked on the case, had supported his decision.

Two other federal law enforcement officials who were not directly involved in the matter said they believed that Cummins acted appropriately and within Justice Department guidelines, because the guidelines allow for U.S. attorneys to publicly clear someone when that person has been falsely accused in a case that has received massive publicity.

In any event, Cummins himself was forced to resign his post only two and one half months later, on December 20, 2006. His interim replacement was Tim Griffin, a protege of Karl Rove's.

-- Previous coverage of pre-war intelligence and the CIA leak investigation from Murray Waas. Brian Beutler provided research assistance for this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

More From The Sociopath In The White House

I think we are beginning to see why Bush has lost the rank and file military.

Bush to mother: Don't sell on eBay
Posted by Mark Silva at 2:30 pm CDT

Several mothers who have lost children at war in Iraq took part in a new talk show today on National Public Radio.

One of them, Elaine Johnson, recounted a meeting that she had with President Bush in which he gave her a presidential coin and told her and five other families: "Don’t go sell it on eBay.”

An excerpt from the interview on NPR's Tell Me More can be heard here.

The president told her that the war goes on because the U.S. has "a mission'' to complete. But Johnson says she has discovered her own mission now: Fighting to bring the troops home.

Host Michael Martin asked Johnson: "What about you? Why did you decide to start speaking out? ''

"My son was killed November 2, 2003,'' Johnson said. "After they had my son’s memorial in Colorado Springs -- that’s Fort Carson -- I was interviewed by the Gazette Newspaper, and that started it all.

"They said they had a mother or a person to ever lashed out at the president, criticize the president of being insensitive,'' she said. "So a couple of days after that they called me and said that President Bush would like to meet me. And I said well okay, only at his cost because I was not spending my money to meet him.''

"So he flew about a hundred families back to Fort Carson,'' she recalled.

"And in the room that I was in, it was only me and four more other families. And I asked him questions you know, on um why we were over there? He couldn’t answer that. I said, well what are we fighting for? He said to finish a mission.

"I said, why was my son and the rest of the soldiers on the Chinook helicopter, which was supposed to be only to transport cargos not humans? He said, well he didn’t know. He referred me to General Wilson, which was in the same room. General Wilson’s response was that they, you know, they was transporting them on that same helicopter and never was shot down.

"They flew over Fallujah; Fallujah was always the hot spot. Common sense would've tell them, if you fly them over Fallujah, you should have escorts that has the equipment to detect these weapons that would attack the plane.

"But you know, they so brilliant, they up there in D.C., now, that a mother with a high school diploma can sit down and day, okay, now I won’t send them over a hot spot without protection.

"President Bush, he just didn’t see that, and he told me I was kind of, seemed like I was kind of hostile. I said, ‘yes I am hostile, because you sent my son over there.’ So my thing is -- all the questions that I asked him, he didn’t know nothing then, and he definitely don’t know nothing now, because the United States is in worser shape now that it was in 2003 that my son died.''

Martin asked: "So when you left that meeting did you leave with determination to do something or did that happen over time?''

Johnson said: "When he told me -- I said what’s, what’s the mission? He couldn’t give me an answer. I says, well I’m going to tell you what: I’m on my mission now. My mission had just begun. And my mission is to fight to bring these troops home, to take care of these troops when they get home.

"Then he gave us a presidential coin,'' she said. "Now you check this out: He gave six of us a presidential coin, tell us not to tell the rest of the people that was there, and then after that he told us don’t go sell it on eBay. Now you tell me how insensitive that can be? What kind of caring person is that?''

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Impeach? Maybe. Repudiate? Absolutely!

Repudiation, Not Impeachment
By Scott Ritter
Thursday 31 May 2007

It is a question I am faced with at every public event I participate in: What are my views on the impeachment of President Bush and others in his administration? Generally, the question is preceded by an emotional statement listing the "crimes" which Mr. Bush is accused of committing, and the questioner has already found him guilty. Whether it is the war in Iraq, conspiracy theories about 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, or any given variation of the theme of constitutional abuse of power, the one thing all of the questioners have in common (besides the desirable outcome) is their singular conviction that the president is guilty.

I have considerable sympathy for this stance. I myself have stated on more than one occasion that I believe President Bush has lied to Congress and the American people about the reasons for going to war with Iraq (i.e., the whole WMD/al-Qaida intelligence fabrication/misrepresentation fiasco). I also believe that the president's sanctioning of warrantless wire-tapping, along with a litany of other abuses of power stemming from the Patriot Act approved by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, likewise constitutes grounds for impeachment. Several Democrats in Congress are actually discussing the possibility of impeachment of President Bush and the irrepressible Congressmen Dennis Kucinich has actually introduced articles of impeachment for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Even some Republicans are getting on board the impeachment bandwagon, although with caveats. "Any president who says 'I don't care' or 'I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else' or 'I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed' - if a president really believes that, then there are ... ways to deal with that," Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, said of President Bush in obvious reference to impeachment.

Hagel is correct: Impeachment is the constitutional remedy for a unilateral president whose governance is an insult to traditional American democratic norms and values. However, impeachment alone is simply a measure which addresses the symptoms of a larger malaise that has stricken America. The arrogance associated with the concept of the unitary executive is prevalent throughout mainstream American political life. The passivity of the legislative branch is one byproduct of the dominance of the unitary executive. It is also an indicator that the will of the people, as expressed through their election of the people's representatives to the Congress of the United States, no longer has the weight and bearing long associated with the American democratic experience.

Any effort to impeach Bush and any of his administration found to be engaged in activities classifiable as "high crimes and misdemeanors" would fail to rein in the unitary executive core of any successor. One only has to listen to the rhetoric of the Democratic candidates for president to understand that this trend is as deeply rooted among them as it is with President Bush. Americans today look for leaders without recognizing the absolute necessity of electing team players. The Founding Fathers deliberately designed the executive branch to be strong and independent, but also made sure, through an elaborate system of checks and balances, that it operated merely as one of three separate but equal branches of government.

The "in your face" efforts of the Bush administration to minimize the role of Congress and to achieve political control of the judiciary are simply more public manifestations of trends that occurred in a more quiet fashion in past administrations, Republican and Democratic alike. When America elects a leader who states clearly that he or she will work with their equal partners in governance, the Congress, for the good of the country, and who will acknowledge the supremacy of law set forth in the form of binding legislation passed by the will of Congress void of any limiting or contradicting "presidential signing statement," then we will finally have a leader who is truly worthy of the title "President of the United States of America."

But this will not happen of its own volition. The impeachment of President Bush would not in and of itself terminate executive unilateralism. It would only limit its implementation on the most visible periphery, driving its destructive designs back into the shadows of government, away from the public eye, and as such, public accountability. Impeach President Bush, yes, if in fact he can be charged with the commission of acts which meet the constitutional standard for impeachment (and I believe he could, if Congress only had the will to do its job). But to truly heal America, we must repudiate everything President Bush stands for, in terms of not only public and foreign policy, but also in terms of his style of governance, since the former is derived from the latter.

Repudiation is a strong term, defined as "rejecting as having no authority or binding force," to "cast off or disown," or to "reject with disapproval or condemnation." In my opinion, the complete repudiation of the presidency of George W. Bush is the only recourse we have collectively as a people to not only seek redress for the wrongs committed by the Bush administration, but also to purge society of this cancer that threatens to consume and destroy us as a whole, and which would continue to manifest itself in our system of governance even after any impeachment proceedings.

Like any cancerous growth, the Bush administration has attached its malignancy to the American nation in a cruel fashion, its poisonous tentacles stretching deep into our national fabric in a manner that makes difficult the task of culling out the healthy from the diseased. But we cannot truly repudiate something without its complete and utter elimination from our midst. As such, there must be a litmus test to help us differentiate the good from the bad, that which must be restored from that which must be eliminated. For me, there is only one true test: that of constitutionality. There will be those who argue, and have argued, that the time is well past for an oppressed people (and one would be a fool not to comprehend that under the Bush administration, the American people have in fact been oppressed) to rely on the niceties of legal argument, especially when the system of law we seek to use in our defense has been so thoroughly corrupted by those who seek to impose tyranny.

I was recently in Ireland, where I delivered a presentation on the current situation in the Middle East. In criticizing the Bush administration's policies, I launched into a staunch defense of the Constitution of the United States and decried what I believed to be the inadequacies of Congress and the American people in defending their constitutional inheritance. Afterward, I was confronted by an Irishman who challenged me on the validity of our Constitution. As he pointed out, none other than President Thomas Jefferson himself, the author of the Declaration of Independence and a proponent of constitutional law, is famously quoted as saying, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." If, as I maintained, the Bush administration was deviating so far off course from the ideals and values set forth in the Constitution, was it not time for a new American Revolution to "refresh" liberty with "the blood of patriots and tyrants?"

There can be no doubt that Jefferson was a promoter of resistance to the forces of tyranny. It was he who, after all, who penned the famous words proclaiming the need for American independence from the tyranny of British rule: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness ...when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

If faced with a situation today in which the American people felt that our current form of government sought to imprison them "under absolute Despotism," would we not be obligated to apply "natural manure" in an effort to refresh the "tree of liberty?"

Short of a complete and total abdication on the part of the Congress, the collapse of the judiciary system, and a shocking decision by those men and women who wear the uniform of the armed forces of the United States to lend force of arms to the will of a dictatorial president, I cannot ever envision a time in which conditions in these United States could deteriorate to the point that a violent revolution "of the people and by the people" would be required to restore constitutional legitimacy and authority. Having said that, I remind the reader that with so few Americans professing any working understanding of the Constitution, it is difficult to speak of people defending that which they remain ignorant of.

While I reject violence as a means of redressing social wrongs, especially when applied to issues of governance, and instead rely on the rule of law as manifested by the Constitution and those legitimate bodies empowered by the Constitution to remedy every situation, I cannot help but fear the moment when the foundation of legitimacy which defines who we are and what we are as a nation fades away into irrelevance amidst a sea of complacency and ignorance. There is no greater breeding ground for the forces of tyranny than the surrender of civic responsibility on the part of those entrusted with the defense of liberty. And in this I do not mean the Congress of the United States, but rather the people of the United States, the duly elected representatives of whom constitute the Congress.

I fear not the bloody rebellion of an outraged citizenry, but rather the passive submission of a shameful mass which betrays the cause of liberty and freedom through the abandonment of the Constitution, and the obligations of citizenship derived thereof, in favor of the narcotic of consumerism. Such a mass, foreswearing blind obedience to those who profess how to best construct a cocoon that immerses the occupant in transitory comfort, is the most pressing problem facing America today. In a nation whose defining document begins, "We the People," I find that it is we the people who constitute the greatest threat to the future of America. It is not through the force of our actions, but rather the vacuum created by our inaction and apathy, a vacuum all too readily filled by those who would have us exchange our hard-fought freedoms for a gilded cage of market-driven consumerism.

This is the main reason why I am not a proponent of the 'impeach now' mentality so prevalent in political circles that oppose George W. Bush. The expediency of impeachment simply replaces one source of tyranny (President Bush) with another (whomever replaces him). It is not the failures of an individual that have gotten us to where we are today, but rather the failure of the collective. So before we speak of impeachment and the notion of executive accountability, I would like to address the issue of repudiation and the necessity of civic responsibility.

Whatever field I endeavored to participate in, - whether as a football player in college, an officer in the Marines or a firefighter today, - whenever the going got tough, it was always pounded into my head to fall back on "the basics." That is to say, a foundation of norms from which everything else was derived. By adhering to these "basics," I and others were able to navigate whatever treacherous course we were attempting, more often than not with success. As such, in formulating a coherent response to the challenge put to me by the Irishman concerning the need to "fertilize the tree of liberty," I find myself falling back on the "basics" of citizenship, to seek out the fundamentals of individual responsibility in the American democratic experiment. And there is no better source for these fundamentals than the most strident defender of the individual American - Thomas Jefferson himself.

Jefferson was in France during the drafting of the Constitution, and did not play a direct role in negotiating its content. But such was his heft as a founder of America that his opinion was sought by many of those who were so engaged. One of these critical players, James Madison (who later became the fourth President of the United States, following Jefferson), wrote a letter to Jefferson shortly after the Constitutional Convention finished its work in September 1787, and prior to ratification, interpreting critical aspects of the Constitution. I view Madison's words to be worthy of consideration when addressing the issue of citizenship and responsibility.

"In the American Constitution," he wrote on Oct. 24, 1787, "the general authority will be derived entirely from the subordinate authorities. The Senate will represent the States in their political capacity; the other House will represent the people of the States in their individual capacity. The former will be accountable to their constituents at moderate, the latter at short periods. The President also derives his appointment from the States, and is periodically accountable to them. This dependence of the General on the local authorities seems effectually to guard the latter against any dangerous encroachments of the former; whilst the latter, within their respective limits, will be continually sensible of the abridgement of their power, and be stimulated by ambition to resume the surrendered portion of it."

In short, Madison underscored the fundamental role of the people in the chain of accountability, and the necessity of their informed involvement if the system of American constitutional governance was to work. A breakdown on the part of the "general authority" would lead to chaos and anarchy. Likewise, the failure of the "subordinate authority," inclusive of the people, to hold the "general authority" in check would facilitate the slide toward tyranny and oppression.

Jefferson himself, before the convening of the Constitutional Convention, had long reflected on the issues of constitutional government. Just as Jefferson's rendering of the Declaration of Independence drew from his earlier work, "A Summary View of the Rights of British America," so, too, were his views on the American Constitution drawn from his earlier writings on issues pertaining to the Constitution of Virginia, which are contained in a collection of work dating from 1781-82 known as "Notes on Virginia." The purpose of a Constitution, Jefferson wrote, was " ... to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights."

Here Jefferson himself answers the question of the need to "fertilize" the "tree of liberty" with the blood of rebellion: It is not required, nor desired, so long as a system of rule by law (i.e., a Constitution) is present and adhered to. The importance of a Constitution in preserving the character of a nation through perpetuity was paramount in Jefferson's view. "It is true," he argued in his "Notes on Virginia," that "we are as yet secured against tyrannical laws by the spirit of the times. ... But is the spirit of the people an infallible, a permanent reliance? Is it government? Is this the kind of protection we receive in return for the rights we give up? Besides, the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless."

Today one only needs to observe the corruption of our rulers and the carelessness of our people to understand the significance of the Constitution when it comes to preserving these United States of America. The nefarious nature of the Bush cancer is that, in its infection of the American system, it seeks to draw legitimacy for its tyrannical actions by citing the very same Constitution it seeks to destroy. The promoters of this point of view cite the academic term "Unitary Executive Theory" when defining their philosophy. To me, it is nothing less than treason. The Founding Fathers, in discussing the concept of a "unitary executive," made use of the term in a manner reflective of their desire to restrain executive power, versus the extreme interpretation embraced by counsels to President Bush and Vice President Cheney who seek to expand executive power and authority to near dictatorial levels, especially during a time of war. The tendency on the part of President Bush to obviate the role of Congress is well documented, in matters pertaining to governance in times of peace as well as war. The unprecedented number of presidential signing statements issued by Bush speaks volumes to this trend. These signing statements, historically a device used by executives to protect presidential prerogative when it comes to how a bill might be interpreted in a court of law, have been used by the Bush administration to negate the legal impact of a given piece of legislation by clearly stating the intent of the president to act in a manner inconsistent with the letter of the law. That the president believes he has a right to conduct himself in this manner is the height of hubris; that Congress continues to facilitate this behavior unchallenged represents the depth of legislative depravity.

It would be interesting to have a national debate on the concept of a "unitary executive," where the proponents would cite the "vesting clause" (Article II, Section 1) of the Constitution, which states, "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." The advocates of a "unitary executive" combine the "vesting clause" with Article II, Section 3, Clause 4, the "take care" clause, which states that the president must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" to make a case for a seamless hierarchy of power solely vested in the executive. Stephen Calabrisi and Kevin Rhodes staked out this argument in their 1992 article, "The Structural Constitution: Unitary Executive, Plural Judiciary," in the Harvard Law Review (Issue 105, 1992). The foundation of their argument is drawn from a backwards reading of the Constitution, which addresses the issue of "Mandatory Jurisdiction" as set forth in the "vesting clause" not of the executive, but rather the judiciary, in Article III of the Constitution.

By establishing a link between the exclusive authority of the courts derived from the "vesting clause" of Article III, Calabrisi and Rhodes argue that a similar exclusive authority, this time for the executive, is derived from the "vesting clause" of Article II.

Of course, the Constitution was not written from back to front, and should neither be read nor interpreted from back to front. Missing from the entire dynamic of the underlying theory of the proponents of a "unitary executive" is the pressing reality of the Constitution itself, in particular the "vesting clause" of Article I, Section 1, which states that "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

Likewise, Calabrisi and Rhodes ignore Article I, Section 8, which enumerates the powers of Congress, and Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 (the "necessary and proper" clause), which states that Congress shall have all the power "[t]o make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

The "necessary and proper" clause gained preeminence with the landmark case of "McCulloch v. Maryland," decided by the Supreme Court in 1819. The decision by Chief Justice Marshall clearly established the principle that that the Constitution grants to Congress implied powers for implementing the Constitution's express powers, in order to create a functional national government. Marshall noted that the "necessary and proper" clause "purport[s] to enlarge, not to diminish the powers vested in the government. It purports to be an additional power, not a restriction on those already granted." Marshall went on:

This government is acknowledged by all, to be one of enumerated powers. The principle, that it can exercise only the powers granted to it, would seem too apparent, to have required to be enforced by all those arguments, which its enlightened friends, while it was depending before the people, found it necessary to urge; that principle is now universally admitted.

That Chief Justice Marshall was speaking about the Congress of the United States when addressing the issue of the expansion of enumerated power should not be missed by those who seek to invalidate the theory and practice of a "unitary executive."

The sad fact is, however, there are far too few Americans who are equipped and/or prepared to engage in a constitutional discussion, not to mention one of this magnitude. Having failed to read and comprehend this vital cornerstone of America, they are poorly positioned to come to its defense in this, the Constitution's time of need. You cannot defend that which you remain ignorant of. Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to his friend and confidant, Joseph Priestly, noted that, "Though written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, yet they furnish a text to which those who are watchful may again rally and recall the people. They fix, too, for the people the principles of their political creed." Thus, an American people ignorant of their Constitution remain a people collectively void of principle or creed. Given that state of affairs that is the American body politic today, this is a harsh yet far too accurate indictment of the state of American citizenship.

Those who espouse the nobility of patriotism by extolling Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, which addresses the issue of impeachment of the president and vice president, are all too mute about the remainder of that great document. Whether this silence is derived from negligence or ignorance, or a combination thereof, is not the point. What lies at the heart of this issue is that void of a solid foundation of "creed," as Thomas Jefferson put it, to fall back on in times of constitutional crisis derived from the abuse of power and authority. The American people have only a bottomless pit as their support, and this is no support at all. Impeach President Bush? Maybe, if due process dictates. Repudiate President Bush? Absolutely, especially if one aspires for an America that truly matches the visions and ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers.

Repudiate the notion of a "unitary executive."

Repudiate presidential signing statements.

Repudiate executive violation of Article 6 of the Constitution, which binds municipal law in America with binding treaty obligations incurred when the Senate ratifies a treaty or agreement by a two-thirds majority or better.

Repudiate "faith-based initiatives" pushed by any branch of government.

Repudiate a weak Congress.

Repudiate weak senators or representatives, especially those with a track record of abrogating their constitutional mandate.

Repudiate ignorance, especially that of the American citizen who knows little or nothing about the Constitution which empowers him or her.

Repudiate consumerism, especially the virulent form it takes in the selfish framework of American-centric capitalism.

Repudiate pre-emptive wars of aggression.

Repudiate American Empire.

Instead, embrace the empowerment of education. Embrace active citizenship. Embrace the rule of law, as set forth by the Constitution. Do all of this and, in the end, if conditions and circumstance warrant, impeach President Bush and any of those in his administration so deserving.

Thomas Jefferson was prescient in his musings to another confidant, Moses Robinson, in 1801 when he wrote, "I sincerely wish ... we could see our government so secured as to depend less on the character of the person in whose hands it is trusted. Bad men will sometimes get in and with such an immense patronage may make great progress in corrupting the public mind and principles. This is a subject with which wisdom and patriotism should be occupied."

That wise American patriots would be so occupied today is my wish and dream.

Scott Ritter was a Marine Corps intelligence officer from 1984 to 1991 and a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He is the author of numerous books, and his latest is Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement (Nation Books, April 2007).

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

It's The Effing Media Again (Locking Out The Christian Left)

The Religious Left is Left Out by the Commercial Media
By Joshua Holland,

Posted on May 30, 2007,
Printed on May 31, 2007

People can attach a thousand different meanings to words like "faith" and "values," yet when it comes to religion and politics, we've been conditioned to understand that they have a narrow and decidedly right-wing tilt. When pundits speak the phrase -- often in reverent tones -- we know they're not talking about the pacifism valued by Quakers, the environmental stewardship valued by Wiccans or the act of caring for the hungry, poor and sick that's valued by almost all faiths.

So after the 2004 election, when exit polls found that more people identified "moral values" as their most important issue than any other, it led to endless hand-wringing among liberals and Democrats about how they could win back "values voters" and a thousand columns about how progressive America is largely a secular, even God-hating America and would therefore always be a marginal part of the body politic. The electorate, we were told, was divided between pro-choice, gay-tolerant "blue," and anti-choice, gay-bashing "red."

Later, post-election surveys showed that gay marriage and abortion had in fact had little or no effect on the independent vote, the vote in battleground states, or the vote in states with anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot.

It wasn't until an exit poll conducted by Zogby after last year's midterm elections found that the "moral issue" cited most by voters was the Iraq war that the particular piece of conventional wisdom was abandoned by many political junkies, but it persists today among too many reporters.

How did that happen? How is it possible that political reporters routinely and without irony refer to people who have no moral qualms about bombing another country as a matter of choice rather than necessity as "values voters"? How do those same people wear the "values" label even while supporting one of the last death penalties in the industrialized world? How is it that self-proclaimed "Men of God" can call for the assassination of foreign heads of state, blame the 9/11 attacks on Americans' promiscuity and lobby to keep vaccines against deadly cancers out of the hands of young women and still claim to represent the moral compass of spiritual America?

"Left Behind," a new study by the watchdog group Media Matters for America helps answer those questions. It found that "conservative religious figures dominate the media's coverage of religious issues, while religious progressives and representatives of mainline religious institutions, who regularly make statements on controversial issues, went relatively ignored."

The study's key findings tell the tale:
Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders
On television news -- the three major television networks, the three major cable new channels, and PBS -- conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed almost 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders

In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

As the report notes, "the decisions journalists make when deciding which voices to include in their stories have serious consequences." In the case of religion, the consequence is a dominant but largely misleading narrative about the role of religion in political life.

Even the broad label "evangelical" is used almost exclusively to describe religious conservatives, despite the fact that leading voices within the religious left -- people like Sojourners founder Jim Wallis -- are themselves evangelicals, as are a large number of (mostly liberal) African-American Christians:

… despite media depictions, evangelicals are a heterogeneous group with varying priorities: For example, in 2006 only 10 percent of evangelical Christians said abortion and gay marriage would be the most important factor in determining their vote. This heterogeneity of political views among religious Americans applies across varied religious denominations and traditions.

In choosing who speaks for faithful America, the media both embrace and create a misleading narrative of our religious culture. "Values," after all, are what motivates most of us in our political choices, but Americans know that when a pollster asks how important "values" are, the question is really about abortion, gay marriage and a handful of other issues that the leading lights of the religious right uses to fire up their followers.

The truth is that a majority of religious communities are either centrist or prrogressive. The Media Matters study cites a 2006 survey by the Center for American Values in Public Life that found that only 22 percent of Americans are "traditionalist" in their religious beliefs. Almost 9 in ten Americans say they are religious -- to one degree or another -- but a majority of them reject the kind of nationalistic and chauvinistic theism of those most frequently quoted about the subject in the mainstream press.

Which leads to a question: What would our media landscape look like if it were widely reported that only half as many voters say that abortion or gay marriage is "the most urgent moral crisis in American culture" than point the finger at "greed and materialism or poverty and economic justice"?

Joshua Holland is an AlterNet staff writer.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free