Monday, January 31, 2005
First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say
Courtesy of my buddy, MrJPH, who spent a couple days in jail in NYC during the RNC, and recently received his badge (of courage), ChÃ© tee-shirt, black bandana and Todd Gitlin Decoder Ring from the “I’m a Badass Protestor Club.”
WASHINGTON (AP)â€”The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.
It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.
The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes â€œtoo farâ€? in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
“Maw, the Neocons are breedin’ again!”
I hear that BushCo wants a single line of text stamped across the cover of all American History Books. "DEMOCRACY IS ONLY A THEORY"
More after the crease…
â€œThese results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous,â€? said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. â€œIgnorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nationâ€™s future.â€?
The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says.
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did.
The results reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didnâ€™t know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.
Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. Itâ€™s not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It canâ€™t.
â€œSchools donâ€™t do enough to teach the First Amendment. Students often donâ€™t know the rights it protects,â€? Linda Puntney, executive director of the Journalism Education Association, said in the report. â€œThis all comes at a time when there is decreasing passion for much of anything. And, you have to be passionate about the First Amendment.â€?
The partners in the project, including organizations of newspaper editors and radio and television news directors, share a clear advocacy for First Amendment issues.
Federal and state officials, meanwhile, have bemoaned a lack of knowledge of U.S. civics and history among young people. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has even pushed through a mandate that schools must teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, the date it was signed in 1787.
The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004.
The study suggests that students embrace First Amendment freedoms if they are taught about them and given a chance to practice them, but schools donâ€™t make the matter a priority.
Students who take part in school media activities, such as a student newspapers or TV production, are much more likely to support expression of unpopular views, for example.
About nine in 10 principals said it is important for all students to learn some journalism skills, but most administrators say a lack of money limits their media offerings.
More than one in five schools offer no student media opportunities; of the high schools that do not offer student newspapers, 40 percent have eliminated them in the last five years.
â€œThe last 15 years have not been a golden era for student media,â€? said Warren Watson, director of the J-Ideas project at Ball State University in Indiana. â€œPrograms are under siege or dying from neglect. Many students do not get the opportunity to practice our basic freedoms."
Damned liberal universities. It’s about time we stamped out propaganda like the First Amendment. What the hell were the founding fathers thinking?
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote
Something to munch on… and thanks to Hollyweird for bringing it to my attention.
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.
A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.
The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.
Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.
Significance Not Diminished
The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration’s view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.
The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong’s disruption of the balloting.
American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.
Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.
Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.
NYT. 9/4/1967: p. 2.
U.S. ENCOURAGED BY VIETNAM VOTE; Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
By PETER GROSE Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Sep 4, 1967. pg. 2, 1 pgsDocument types: article
Text Word Count 521
Abstract (Document Summary)
Oh, My Word! Volume 13
Oh, Their Words: Mustang Bobby
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hinting at something special here for lucky Volume 13. Well, let the unveiling begin!
With this week’s Very Special Episode, I’m starting a series of interviews with bloggers who also happen to be--in my estimation, at least--good writers in their own (pardon the pun) right. We start with someone whose work I have admired for some time, Mustang Bobby, who blogs over at Bark Bark Woof Woof. He is an accomplished playwright and is currently working on a novel, the progress of which just recently passed its decade anniversary. That occasion is marked at an auxillary blog named after the novel’s title character, Bobby Cramer. That secondary blog also features Mustang Bobby’s series “Writing on Writing,” which was in no small measure part of the inspiration for “Oh, My Word!”
The interview is below the fold. Please note two things: One, Mustang Bobby references several blogs in his answers; I have created the links where he did not. Two, since this is the first of these interviews, I asked questions that I wanted to know the answers to. If you have suggestions for different questions in future interviews, please let me know. Also, I’m hoping Mustang Bobby himself will stop by today if you have questions for him. (As for me, today’s the first day of a new semester, so I won’t be checking back in until this evening!)
1.Â How did you begin writing?Â When and how did you realize that a blog might be an appropriate venue for your writing?
I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read and write, so I guess it’s something I’ve always done.Â In Grade Five I had a teacher that encouraged my interest in writing.Â I started with short stories or “themes” and went on from there.Â When I got interested in theatre, playwriting was my natural outlet, although I’ve probably written more non-dramatic works than I have for the stage.Â Ironic, eh?Â As for blogging, I’ve always been a person who likes to stick in his two cents, so when I discovered blogs like Atrios and Pandagon, I would stick in a comment or two.Â When I ran into NTodd, who happened to grow up in the same town I did, I followed his lead and started Bark Bark Woof Woof in November 2003.Â Blogs are perfect for the short, sharp notes that I like to do as well as the rants that I occasionally launch into.
2.Â Do you consider yourself primarily a writer or a blogger?Â Do you even see a distinction between the two?
I’m a writer.Â Blogging is just another venue.Â I write plays, novels, and short stories, and even the occasional scholarly article, but that’s just writing under different formats for different audiences.Â That said, when I get an idea for a story, it depends on how I see it that determines what format I write it in.Â If I see a character first, then it’s probably going to be a short story or novel.Â If I see the scene or locale first, then it will probably be a play.Â For example, when I got the idea for “Can’t Live Without You,” which is a play, I saw the room that the story is set in first in great detail.Â My novel, “Bobby Cramer” got started when I envisioned Bobby standing next to me and he wanted me to tell the story of his life.
3.Â How is your blogging different from your other writing?Â This can be in terms of style, subject matter, process, or anywhere else that you notice yourself writing differently.
Blogging has made me very aware of what Tolkien once noted about speechmaking; the need to be “short and obvious."Â Blogs do not avail themselves of long and wandering posts...at least not the blogs that I read and come back to.Â In terms of style - for me - it’s made me really aware of the need to say what I want in a short and sharp style; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.Â There’s a fine line between being sharp and being smart-ass.Â I’d rather come down on the side of making a cogent point rather than get off a good quip.Â As for subject matter, I write about what is interesting to me that I think other people might be interested in or might want to learn about, and so I avoid the “daily diary” blogging approach.Â There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not my style - I save that for my novel.Â I’d say it’s made me a better writer in all the other formats, too.
4.Â Do you have any hard-and-fast rules that you follow in your writing process, or in your blogging process?Â What are your language/ writing/ grammar pet peeves?
Here’s where I draw the line between writing and blogging, specifically in the process I go through with the novel I’m working on.Â I tend to think about the novel a lot, doing that writing in my head; seeing the scenes and characters before I sit down and work on it.Â I do a lot of editing, too - going back and changing, tweaking, etc, as I write, but I know pretty much where the story is going generally (although I am constantly amazed at what emerges out of the blue as I write), so that’s part of the process.Â I don’t have any hard-and-fast rules about writing other than I tend to do my best work in the afternoon at home, usually in silence or with quiet music playing.Â I don’t write for long stretches unless I’m really on a tear.Â I’ll get up, wander around the house, especially if I’m stuck on a bit of narration, then go back, forge ahead, and go back and tidy up as necessary.Â I will even go back and re-write long sections, which will then have an impact on later parts.Â (That’s one reason I really love computers - they make it look easy.)Â The novel is already written in my head.Â Now the hard part is getting out of there and into the computer.
In blogging, I don’t really know what I’m going to write about until I read the papers or see what other bloggers are writing about.Â It’s somewhat like walking into a room where other people are gathered and listening to what they’re talking about before speaking.Â I will sit down at the computer very early in the morning, read some papers on-line, and take my lead from there.Â Often I’ll read something and think about it on the drive to the office, then blog about it when I get to the office.Â Many times I’ll read something another blogger has written about and do my own take on it, usually looking for the humor or irony as opposed to the larger implications; I leave that to the people who get paid to for that.Â I never linger over a post; most of what you see on BBWW is first draft stuff.Â Of course I inevitably go back to edit typos or grammatical goofs, but for the most part what you see is what I wrote the first time.
I have rules about what I will and will not blog about.Â I keep my personal life mostly to myself, and I have never discussed my social life - dating or the lack of same - in the blog for the simple reason that I don’t think anyone would really give a rat’s ass about it.Â I do not blog about my job or my life at work unless it’s something that’s universal or trivial, like what it’s like in the building when the cooling system is out of whack.Â I’m proud of what I do and the people I work with, but that’s not something I care to blog about.Â Again, I have no problem with other people doing that - I enjoy reading their stories - but it’s not my style.Â I try to write with respect and maintain a certain level of civility.Â I avoid ad hominem attacks (with one or two notable exceptions), and I try to avoid profanity except where called for in extreme situations.Â I take great care to be sure to back up what I say with links for corroboration; that’s a hold-over from the habits I learned doing research.
I do have pet peeves about language and grammar - I used to be an English teacher.Â I keep a dictionary and grammar text handy, and when I see others who make egregious errors, such as confusing “your” and “you’re,” I have to bite my tongue from chastising them in public.Â It’s an occupational hazard.Â I also know that I make mistakes, too.
5.Â What advice about writing would you offer to bloggers who do not consider themselves writers?
That’s the beauty of blogs; being a writer isn’t a prerequisite for being a blogger.Â Populate your blog with what you want to share with the world.Â If it’s pictures of cats, or strategies of mumblety-peg, or whatever, write about it.Â You will find someone who will read it.Â Don’t be intimidated by other bloggers and don’t try to imitate them; be inspired by them.Â Your own style will emerge.Â Make it easy on yourself, too.Â It takes great skill and energy to write in another voice - I really admire the people like Jesus’ General, for example, who can assume a completely different character for their blog.Â I can’t do that and maintain the level of energy or wit that is required of that, so I don’t even try.Â I happen to be a writer - by vocation, not by job description - but I see a lot of blogs written by people who are not writers and who are very good in their own way.
Above all, have fun!Â Otherwise, what’s the point?
"Oh, Your Word!"
Please explain the proper usage of these Latin abbreviations:
i.e. versus e.g.
etc. versus et al.
I see them used incorrectly quite a bit especially in the blogosphere where no good word goes without being defiled by some lazy shorthand abbreviation.
-- One without whom Exile_lsf would not exist em dash
First, please note, everyone, that I have placed the abbreviations in italics, which is the proper way to indicate that you’re employing a foreign word or phrase.
First, i.e. is usually translated as “that is,” meaning “in other words.” You should use it when introducing a paraphrase or restatement of something you just said. On the other hand, e.g. means “for example,” so use it when introducing examples the prove the point you just made. Use i.e. when what follows is exhaustive, and use e.g. when what follows is an incomplete sample. Examples:
The browser you use--i.e. I. E.--is a magnet for spyware.
Non-Microsoft browsers (e.g., Firefox, Safari) are less likely to attract viruses.
Second, etc., the abbreviation for the Latin et cetera (never ect.!), translates to “and other things.” (Since the and is a part of the translation, it is redundant to say “and etc.") The other abbreviation, et al., is similar, meaning “and others” (et alia or et alii, depending on whether you mean other objects or other people). Et al. is used almost exclusively now to refer to people, particularly multiple authors of a particular text or participants in an event. Etc. is more casual, and used mostly to apply to objects. Example:
The bill proposed by Kucinich, et al., outlaws discrimination against imaginary creatures: gnomes, faeries, green giants, Secretaries of Peace, etc.
Confused? Of course you are. Email email@example.com with your questions, concerns, complaints, comments, or kudos. Remember, I’m here to help, and no topic is too arcane. Please include with your question whether you’d like to remain anonymous, and how I should refer to you, since some of you have blogonyms.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A New Yearâ€™s Resolution: Practicing What I Preach
I often catch myself complaining about the ineptitude and timidity of the Democratic Party establishment. On this blog, Iâ€™ve complained about Democrats failing Hispanics, and Democrats failing to stand up for their own purported values, and even accused them of not having values at all. Yet being a Democrat has to be more than about voting and expecting a miracle in return. Governor Dean (yes, I am an unabashed Dean fan), said that voting only gets you a C- (or was it a D?). This is true.
Because of this, Iâ€™ve decided to do less complaining, and more doing. If I expect Senator Barbara Boxer to go against the grain in the U.S. Senate, amid the kind of peer pressure that makes high school look like an ass-kissing festival, I have to also stop being on the outside looking in. I have to work within the party, and bring change at whatever level I can.
By this, I mean that I will no longer complain about elected officials not speaking up if I am not willing to put myself in a similar place. I have joined my local Dem club and will attend county party functions. Not because I want more friends to nod when I talk politics, but because I too want to stand up and speak my mind on issues that matter, and I want the clubs that I belong to, to stand up for some core values too. This is the least I can do if I want the party to speak to me.
By being party to the Democratic Party, at any level, I am helping to build a more progressive, courageous party, so that someone like Barbara Boxer will know that the organization she belongs to has her back, at all levels. Many progressives think they are above the fray when they refuse to step in the door and deal with the BS that needs to be dealt with. If you want great food, and the chefs are not cooking to your taste, get in the kitchen, my friend. Chances are, if enough of us do, we will find other Barbara Boxers out there, ready to step in as well.
If I wonâ€™t work for the Democratic Party, the party is not going to work for me.
Michael Ratner of the NY based Center for Constitutional Rights last November filed a lawsuit, on behalf of 5 Iraqis, against Rumsfeld, Tenet, Cambone, Gen Sanchez for alledged war crimes. The suit was filed in Germany. Snips of the Deutsche Welle report of 11/30/04 over the flip.
Last week CCR and Michael Ratner added Gonzales to the suit.
Over the flip extracts from his appearance on DemocracyNow! last Friday. He spares no useless civility, no carefully couched language, for Gonzales. I liked reading his words.
UPDATE, January 31, 2005: for completeness, a link to the CCR website which is updated today with a report on the filing in Germany, the addition of Gonzales’s name. One document is a letter to the court detailing how Gonzales’s own testimony implicates him in a war crime:
CCR Vice President Peter Weiss said Gonzalesâ€™s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee â€œdemonstrates his involvement in setting policy where torture and inhumane treatment was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush Administration.â€? Weiss pointed to Gonzalesâ€™s claim that the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment does not protect aliens in U.S. custody overseas, stating â€œthis makes clear that Gonzales and the Bush Administration continue to believe that non-citizens held outside the U.S. can be treated inhumanely.â€?
From Deutsche Welle last November:
They said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity.
It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable.
“No other place to go”
“We filed these cases here because there is simply no other place to go,” CCR vice president Peter Weiss said in a statement, adding that the US Congress had “failed” to seriously investigate the abuses. “It is clear that the US government is not willing to open an investigation into these allegations against these officials."
This is not just about Gonzales and what the government has done in the past. This is about what they’re doing right now and currently. So that is the first thing I want to say about Gonzales.
The second thing is we’re putting in someone who really has his hands deep in the blood of the conspiracy of torture in this country. He is the one who wrote the memo saying the Geneva Conventions shouldn’t apply. He is the one who asked for the memo, redefining torture so narrowly that the worst abuses we’ve seen would not constitute torture under his definition.
Here’s what they’ve done to this guy. Not only has he basically said he agreed with those conclusions, but they put him in as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. That means that it is now a conspiracy to continue the cover-up so that this does not go to the higher ups at all, so that nobody, not Rumsfeld, not Cambone, not Gonzales will obviously ever be investigated.
These are the people responsible, these are the people who lower level soldiers are really angry at because they’re the ones who got led into this by these guys at the top.
When we talk about Alberto Gonzales, we cannot separate him from Guantanamo. Guantanamo is where the stuff began. It’s where—it is an experiment in torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and it is not just Habib in Australia. The other people who were released, the other four British people also subject to all of this kind of stuff from dogs to stripping to the whole range of stuff. The sad thing is it’s still going on. It’s still going on, whether it’s in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.
And here is where Ratner, in my view, really delivers rhetorically. He pins the level of blame. The vote against Gonzales is vital. As it was against Rice. I don’t care the counts, we come up SHAMEFUL that these people go in… and with majority approval. That, like Abu Ghraib and the photographs and Viet Nam before, goes down in history, recorded forever.
My view is we’re reaching a point in this lawsuit in Germany where something is going to give. We’re filing major new papers, actually, today and Monday.
One of them, of course, names Alberto Gonzales now as an additional defendant in the case. His testimony is one that really they could have put into a war crimes trial in Germany and said, â€œYou’re convicted.â€?
Someone told me this incredible story about Germany and what happened with torture. One of the key people, Keitel, who got a death sentence in Germany was the man who scrawled on a memo to the high command about Russian soldiers that said, â€œGeneva Conventions? Obsolete rubbish.â€?
Remember the word that Gonzales used to describe Geneva, â€œobsoleteâ€?.
And when they sentenced Keitel to death, what they said was one of the reasons we’re giving you the death penalty is for basically saying the Geneva Conventions are obsolete. So this is a very serious issue in Germany. We hope to have some really big news about this case in terms of our filing next week. But one of the things we’ve done is add Alberto Gonzales.
Never enough it seems, as the mass media prattles about voting under fire (very nice I agree, but those losing democracy cannot box and ship it especially under fire, even if Fed Ex does deliver in Iraq...). Condi prattles ‘’9/11 and The War’’ and smiles to mask the horror she is… It’ll be ‘’All Wars’’ now, and waged for democracy. Weapons, those part of the desert snipe hunt, are obscured. We know this, and 9/11 remains the terrible gift for the hard right.
We did not learn the first time around, so here we go. But damn, Ratner and CCR, and others, sure do all they can.
The Rice 32: Jeff Bingaman
Every weekend I will compile a dossier on the Senate Dems--The Rice 32--who voted to confirm Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State.
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)? This is your life.
UPDATE below the fold. Seems Sen Bingaman has developed an interesting group of “friends.”
Native of New Mexico. Born Oct. 3, 1943.
BA, Government, Harvard U., 1965
JD, Law, Stanford U. School of Law, 1968
Army Reserves, 1968-1974
Private Practice 1970-1978
Assistant New Mexico Attorney General, 1978
Elected New Mexico Attorney General, 1979-1982
Elected US Senator, 1982-present
Married to Anne Kovacovich Bingaman.
One son, John.
Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Ranking Member
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Joint Economic Committee
Deputy Democratic Whip
Member, Democratic Technology and Communications Committee
Member, Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee
From Thomas.gov; submitted 201 bills through 23 year Senatorial career; very few sponsored bills passed.
Sponsored bills of interest:
S.AMDT.1801 to S.1438 To make available $650,000 for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center for an expanded Arabic language program. 10.1.2001. Agreed by unanimous consent.
S.J.RES.34 : A joint resolution approving the site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, for the development of a repository for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, pursuant to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. Introduced 4.9.2002. Senate passed companion measure H.J.Res. 87 in lieu of this measure by Voice Vote. Note: For further action, see H.J.Res. 87, which became Public Law 107-200 on 7/23/2002.
S.2733 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand retirement savings for moderate and lower income workers, and for other purposes. Introduced 7.16.2002. Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
Voting Record on War and Peace
Cited at On the Issues:
Voted YES on $86.5 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Oct 2003)
Voted NO on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002)
Voted YES on allowing all necessary forces and other means in Kosovo. (May 1999)
Voted NO on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo. (Mar 1999)
Voted NO on ending the Bosnian arms embargo. (Jul 1995)
Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism. (Oct 2001)
Interest Group Ratings
Courtesy of Project Vote Smart.
The 2003 National Journal Composite Liberal Rating of Sen. Bingaman is 70 percent and Composite Conservative Raing is 30 percent.
Courtesy of Project Vote Smart.
From Open Secrets.
1999-2004 Total Receipts: $3,462,363
1999-2004 Total Spent: $3,283,089
Cash on Hand: $282,263
Date of last report: September 30, 2004
First elected 1982
Next election 2006
Fundraising by Cycle:
Bingaman, Pearce Wealthiest of NM Delegation:
Albuquerque Journal reported Bingaman declared stock holdings in excess of $1 million.
Here’s where things get interesting:
Sen. Bingaman’s wife, Anne, is also a Stanford law grad and was in private practice for several years. Then, she served as the Chief of the Justice Department’s Anti-Trust Division and was lead counsel in the Microsoft Anti-Trust case.
In 1999, while Chairman and CEO of Valor Communications, she was paid $2.5 million for six months of consulting work for Global Crossing, the now disgraced and bankrupt telecommunications company, according to Business Week.
Sen. and Mrs. Bingaman attended the June 2003 American Enterprise Institute’s World Forum in Beaver Creek, CO as guests of AEI and the Vail Valley Foundation to the tune of $4,670. The forums could charitably be considered Camp NeoCon—as they are a meeting ground for arch-conservative public officials and the lobbyists who buy them, as evidenced by Center for Public Integrity report on the influence of GOP contributors and Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force of which the “secret” members attended or served on World Forum panels, like Ken Lay of Enron infamy.
Other luminaries attending the 2003 event with Sen. and Mrs. Bingaman were Gerald Ford (Former US president), VÃ¡clav Klaus (The President of the Czech Replublic), Richard B. Cheney (Vice President of the U.S.), Alan Greenspan (Chairman of the Federal Reserve), Bill Pryor (Attorney General of Alabama), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense), Ehud Olmert (Vice Prime Minister of Israel; Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor), Michael Novak (George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy).
Sen. Bingaman also attended gratis a 2003 conference on politica islam in Helsinki, Finland at a cost of $4,887 courtesy of the Aspen Institute which boasts its own rogue’s gallery of board members. An August 2003 Aspen Institute conference to Moscow attended by Sen. and Mrs. Bingaman was not listed on the 2003 filing of his US Senate Financial Disclosure Report.
Interesting group of friends the Bingamans are cultivating.
So considering Sen. Bingaman’s record and, especially, his opposition to the Iraq War, what explains his affirmation to confirm Condoleeza Rice? A conk on the head? Horse trading in a smokey back room of the Senate? Political expediency?
Saturday, January 29, 2005
master of his domain
OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian who masturbated at a window in his house won his appeal against a conviction for indecency on Thursday after Canada’s top court ruled there was no evidence of intent to commit an indecent act, and a home was not a public place.
The Supreme Court of Canada noted that British Columbian, Daryl Clark, had agreed it was an indecent act to have masturbated “in an illuminated room near an uncovered window visible to neighbors.”
But Justice Morris Fish, writing the 9-0 decision, said such acts have to be done in public places to be a crime—and a home was not a public place. The law also says indecent acts are only crimes in every location if the person intends to give offense.
Clark was convicted of an indecent act in a public place and given a four-month sentence after a prosecution that followed complaints from his neighbor, named in court documents only as Mrs. S.
The woman said she spotted Clark while she was watching television with her two young daughters in their family room.
She alerted her husband, and the couple observed Clark from their darkened bedroom for 10 or 15 minutes—also using binoculars and a telescope—before summoning the police, who said the upper part of Clark’s body was visible from just below the navel.
“In my respectful view, the trial judge ... erred in concluding that the appellant’s living room had been converted by him into a public place simply because he could be seen through his living room window and, though he did not know this, was being watched by Mr. and Mrs. S. from the privacy of their own bedroom 90 to 150 feet away,” Fish wrote.
Tsk, tsk. Time to find some new hobbies, Mr. and Mrs. S. Voyeurism is a little creepy.
Tell it to Auntie Em, pets.
NO! on Gonzales
Liberal Street Fight proudly joins
486, now, over 500 blogs opposing the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be appointed US Attorney General.
Soj, Exile_lsf’s expert and contributing writer on international relations, posted a story here on November 12, 2004: Alberto Gonzales--War Criminal? that pretty much says it all.
Election Night Jitters
Recklessness and Irresponsibility
I have some difficulty unraveling my own complex feelings regarding the big election day tomorrow.
On the one hand, I am passionately for democracy in principle. It is the only hope for Iraq. On the other hand, I am passionately against these particular elections. They are only an ugly, distorted imitation of democracy. I am convinced that they will not lead to stability â€¦ or even democracy.
I agree with fellow Iraqis who want these elections postponed or even boycotted. We have already seen these elections boycotted by the vast majority of expatriate Iraqis.
But I cannot blame the people who want to take part in them! In fact, I have nothing but admiration for those people who are going to risk their lives to cast their vote tomorrow.
These people are not corrupt politicians greedy for power and wealth. They are not â€œcollaboratorsâ€?. They are people going out to vote for issues or people they believe in whether their motives are ethnic, religious, sectarian, political, economic or nationalistic. Most of them want to exercise their right to have their say for the first time in more than 50 years.
I may disagree with many of these people; some may be misguidedâ€¦ but they certainly donâ€™t deserve to die!
Their safety is the responsibility of those who are running the country.
Imagine that it is known that there were bombs on a number of the planes leaving JFK airport on a certain day. What should the authorities do? What would you do? Ask the people to go about their business, make a stand against terrorism, show courage and board those planes â€“ telling them not to be intimidated by terrorists? The show must go on? Would that be a responsible thing to do? Later, when the worst comes to the worstâ€¦ blame the terrorists for the unfortunate loss of lifeâ€¦ and call it a day? Wouldnâ€™t that be reckless and irresponsible? Yet, this is what we have.
Let us have a look at those different people urging the Iraqi people to go out and vote.
1. The US administrationâ€™s representatives in Iraq, the US army and the Interim government running the country from heavily defended fortressesâ€¦ and cannot even protect those fortresses. Yet, they hope to protect more than 6000 polling stations across the countryâ€¦ where people are to go, to vote.
2. These people in charge do not venture out of their fortresses unless heavily armored and covered by a blanket of security. Yet they ask unarmed men and women to go out and expose themselves to danger.
3. Candidates who are not prepared to go out and take a risk and campaign for themselves. Some do not even have the courage to have their names published and be known. Secret candidates! Yet, they want Iraqis to take the risk and vote for them.
4. Many American super-patriots who are still shivering with anger or fear of attacks carried out on three buildings in their country more than three years ago. Yet, they ask Iraqi housewives (eg Rose) not to be frightened or intimidated by terroristsâ€¦ in a country that is going through multitudes of 9/11â€™s regularly.
5. A country that is wisely taking measure after measure to protect its frightened citizens and ensure their safety through stringent finger print and eye retina scans for visitorsâ€¦ is so eager to expose Iraqis to grave danger.
6. President Bush who did not return to his seat of government immediately after those attacks, fearing for his safety. Yet, he asks Iraqis to show courage.
7. The UN Secretary General, who withdrew his entire staff from Iraq following one attack. Now he is asking Iraqis to vote in a dangerous situation and telling them that the UN will do everything to help them.
Reckless and irresponsible!
Isnâ€™t it enough for Iraqis to live under the constant threat of random violence, just going about their shattered lives? Governments should be less reckless and more responsible than that! People should be more caring for fellow human beings.
Make no mistake! The decision to go on with these elections was made in Washington DC. I still remember that day. Several parties in Iraq started requesting a postponement. President Bush promptly announced that there will be no postponement. Hours later, Ambassador Negroponte, who was on a visit to Fallujah, re-iterated. Several hours later, a spokesman for Mr. Allawi re-iterated the same position. The decision was already made. The show must go on!
People are going to die tomorrow. Who will be responsible? Zarqawi? Terrorists? Insurgent? Extremist fundamentalists? Possibly. But it is the responsibility of those in charge of the country to create a secure environment so that people can participate in electionsâ€¦ in safety.
Postponement alone is useless if the current track is maintained. There will be more, not less, violence. A new approach has to be attempted to attack the roots of the problem. But this may be too much to hope for from the same people who were partly responsible for creating the current violent environment in the first place.
Apparently, it is so easy for some â€œfreedom fightersâ€? to risk other peopleâ€™s lives for the sake of noble ideals. But when those armchair freedom lovers do it while they are completely safe, there is nothing noble about that.
It is reckless and irresponsible.
I am so full of anxiety, apprehension, bitterness and misgiving tonight. I hope that not many innocent people will die tomorrow. Above all, I only wish that it was all for something worthwhile and noble, like true democracyâ€¦ and not for a charade that is conducted by people in positions of responsibilityâ€¦ who are reckless and irresponsible.
Mr. Orwell, Your Table Is Ready
I haven’t cross posted before but THIS just made my jaw drop. Notice it is about the US but like so many important things recently, isn’t from the US media.
Four workers in the United States have been sacked after refusing to take a test to determine if they were smokers.
They were employees of Michigan-based healthcare firm Weyco, which introduced a policy banning its staff from smoking - even away from the workplace.
The firm says it is to keep health costs down and has helped 14 staff to stop smoking, but opponents say the move is a violation of workers’ rights. If the firm survives a potential legal challenge, it could set a precedent. Weyco gave its staff a stark ultimatum at the end of last year - either stop smoking completely on 1 January or leave their jobs.
If this holds up in court where will this lead, to what one eats (which is next on their agenda according to the article) or how one has sex? If you eat too much at home after work then that will raise the insurance rates as well. If one is gay one might have a higher percentage of HIV but what does that have to do with job performance?
Corporations are getting away with murder accross the board in the Bush Administration and if companies are allowed to fire people for what they do off the job we are all in a heap of trouble.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Imagine all the people
Although the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is over, I’d like to direct attention to a set of remarkable photographs which I would bet most people haven’t seen. Â The photos are posted at the Yad Vashem site and are part of a collection called the Auschwitz Album.
The photos, taken in the summer of 1944, show a typical day’s arrival of Jews (Hungarian Jews, in this case) at the Auschwitz platform shortly before, during and just after their selection for work detail or the gas chambers. No one is sure why these photos were taken, or what purpose they were meant to serve. Â They are considered rare because the Nazis destroyed most of them as the Allies approached the camps.
Maybe more than half of the people in these photos had less than an hour to live.
You can tell by the expressions on their faces that many of them had no idea. In some of the photos, those selected for the gas chambers are sitting under trees during a brief respite of a few minutes before being herded off to their fates. Â It’s almost certain that, as exhausted and brutalized as these people already were, some of them were a little relieved to be off the train, a little glad to be able to sit down, perhaps looking forward to being able to settle in to new quarters, somewhere, for a little while.
Unfortunately, so much of the existing concentration camp photographic record depicts the Jews and other victims in the way the Nazis wanted us to see them - as dehumanized shaven-headed “subhumans,” or as “things” - corpses.
But here are the Jews of Europe, very human indeed. And very much alive. Recognizably members of society, with human dignity, still part of our world, with clothes and possessions and lives, families still together; faces not contorted by fear, the smell of death not in their nostrils, final solution not yet accomplished.
In these photographs, they belong not to the crematoriums of history, but to Life; forever suspended on the cusp of a moment where, at least in our imaginations, they could have been saved.
Never ending. This evening the sign off on the Lehrer News Hour was 23 names.
Then I heard (likely I am late) that 5 more died today in Iraq, US military that is… more Iraqis died, of course. All who died, all who have died, were trapped inside a charnel house, an abattoir.
Three US soldiers were killed and another wounded by the explosion of a makeshift bomb in western Baghdad, the US military said.
Another two American soldiers were killed and three wounded in two other separate incidents in the capital, bringing to 1,412 the number of US servicemen killed in Iraqi since the March 2003 invasion.
US forces sounded a new alert when an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter crashed in southwest Baghdad. There was no word on the fate of the two-man crew but the military said there was no sign that hostile fire was involved.
Over the flip.
OK, so 5 more in addition to the 37 of yesterday, (the 30 marines and one sailor on the helo, plus the 6 others, 4 of whom were in a bad ambush...).
And we do not know anything about the small Kiowa that came down or was brought down over a part of Baghdad. That is how they are playing that one, hmm we get the message: Keep the count down. Or, possibly, something happened they don’t want to deal with publicly.
Earlier in the day, a suicide car bomb attack at a power station in the southern Baghdad killed four people. The masked driver of a black sport utility vehicle was stopped at the gates to the facility and the blast followed a few seconds later.
The bullet-riddled bodies of six Iraqi soldiers were found in the western city of Ramadi, where two more people were killed and eight wounded in fighting between Iraqi forces and insurgents.
Bombs also exploded in the northern city of Kirkuk, where a policeman was killed in a series of attacks on buildings to be used as voting stations.
They go on dying as they struggle to live inside their own country, with closed borders, martial law, occupation forces likely gone purely crazy some time ago....
But we hear stories: they are not courageous enough to fight for their country. Russert is saying it right now on Hardball. We, and here I speak of the nation, not the ordinary grunt inside Iraq, are going to die of terminal arrogance. If the free flowing ignorance does not get us first. It is a race to the finish: Arrogance v. Ignorance. Which will it be. It will be both.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh announced the capture of three senior Zarqawi followers and expressed hopes that the militant leader himself would soon be caught.
“I am hopeful, based on the evidence that we see, we are moving closer and closer to decimating and eliminating that threat from our country,” said Saleh.
The three Zarqawi operatives arrested included his commander for Baghdad who had met with the top militant more than 40 times in the past three months, officials said.
Ah, but Shuster on MSNBC from Baghdad just said the “operatives” were arrested 10 days ago and the announcement was delayed for impact. Impact? In a war zone?, in a free fire zone, ongoing top to bottom, in-country? they think that will have… impact? Ok, they can try that one.
As for Zarqawi, oh we should clap our hands and try try try to capture the smoke in the air. Or lay hands on his flesh and make him captive, it will not matter. ‘Til we leave.
(I just slipped this in, very much out of turn.)
Iraqi Elections Genie
With the absence of any reliable polling regarding the coming elections, it seems that somebody in Iraq has consulted with a crystal ball or a Genie to forecast the election results. I am grateful to a friend who forwarded this forecast compiled by an Iraqi writer who claims that the results have already been worked out â€˜in consultationâ€™.
I will not discuss the writer or to his thesis. I have my own reservations regarding some of the predictions made. After the elections, we can come back to these claims or ignore themâ€¦ as the case may be. This post is just to document the claims.
Predicted Election Results:
(Please refer to Zeyadâ€™s recent post in (Healing Iraq) for more details of the slates and the parties they contain. Slates are listed in iraqelect.com. The Middle East Reference gives more details of the various groups.)
1. PM Ayad Allawiâ€™s slate, Al-Iraqiya coalition, 40 seats.
2. The United Iraqi Coalition. This has become known as Sistaniâ€™s slate. The slate includes the larger Shiite Islamic parties and movements. It includes several GC members. It also includes Mr. Chalabi -30 seats.
3. Pachachiâ€™s slate. Former IGC member and candidate for the Interim Presidency. The slate includes several Interim Ministers of planning and electricity - 24 seats.
4. Interim President, Ghazi Al-Yawarâ€™s list includes several figures already in the government such as the outspoken Defense Minister and the Minister of Industry - 16 seats.
5. The major Kurdish factions: the KDP (Barazani): 20 seats, the PUK (Talibani): 20 seats Kurdish Independents + Kurdish Islamic Union: 15 seats. Total - 55 seats.
6. The Iraqi Communist party. Headed by Hamid Majid Musa, Governing Council member - 12 seats.
7. The National Democratic Coalition slate. Headed by Tawfiq Al-Yassiri, National Council member. List includes Justice Minister - 3 seats.
8. Christians, Sabeans and Yazidis. The Al-Rafidain coalition slate is headed by Yunadim Ganna, former GC member and National Council member. This is a closed slate of about 30 Iraqis from the Christian Assyrian, Chaldean and Armenian minorities - 10 seats.
9. Turkmen. Several parties in two coalitions: Iraqâ€™s Turkmen Front and Justice and Future Coalition â€“ 15 seats.
10. The Independent Democratic Trend slate headed by Aziz Al-Yassiri - 3 seats.
11. Hameed Al-Kifa’i, former spokesman for the GC. One seat each, Mr. Al-Kifaâ€™i, Mrs. Chabuk and Mr. Barrak, all former IGC members â€“ 3 seats.
12. The Constitutional Monarchy Movement list - 3 seats.
13. Mr. Iyad Jamaliddin â€“ 1 seat.
14. Mr. Saad Salih Jabur â€“ 1 seat.
The rest will be left to the election process!
This particular Genie certainly â€œsolvesâ€? some of the worries some people have regarding the expected domination of the coming assembly by certain undesirable elements!
If these are indeed the returned results, it could mean a grand re-entry of the Iraq Governing Council. This time not as a group â€˜selectedâ€™ by the US administration but as a group â€˜electedâ€™ by the Iraqi people. Effectively, back to square 1. That would show that the administration knew all along who truly represented the people of Iraq, but the people didnâ€™t know it then. A verification of their choice and their policies ï?Š
We only have to wait and see.
Living in Flatland
Why is it so hard, often impossible, to get other people to understand my politics? It all seems so plain to me, and while I can understand, and discuss, political differences with thoughtful people to my right, such people are harder and harder to find. Itâ€™s as though Iâ€™ve fallen into another dimension sometimes, a place where a multitude of political beliefs are reduced to liberal or conservative. Actually, sometimes to American and not American.
Place a penny on the middle of one of your tables in Space; and leaning over it, look down upon it. It will appear a circle.
But now, drawling back to the edge of the table, gradually lower your eye (thus bringing yourself more and more into the condition of the inhabitants of Flatland), and you will find the penny becoming more and more oval to your view, and at last when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table (so that you are, as it were, actually a Flatlander) the penny will then have ceased to appear oval at all, and will have become, so far as you can see, a straight line.
Iâ€™ve been dragged into a political Flatland, into a simple universe, where political conversations have limited boundaries, and my attempts to broaden the discussion are collapsed to a mere point called â€œthe shrill left.â€?
How little room there is for discussion in a planar universe, where politics is limited on that plane to a line defined by points left and right. Worse, those on the right have sharpened their tactics, increasingly pulling on the other side to join them at a single point: the rightward end. To do otherwise is be commit the sin of obstructionism. After all, what could be better than a single right point-on-the-plane?
This entire program has been so effective that the supposed leaders of the left seek merely to maintain some small position distinct from the right, pathetic and half-hearted attempts to keep the their end of the line distinct, yet that single point keeps getting closer and closer. These so-called leaders insist that half-hearted “debates” will serve to hold the line, so to speak, while serving only to bring those points closer together.
Iâ€™ve been, after years of despair at this sad state of affairs, seeing signs of new hope. It is clear that new dimensions, new colors, need to be imposed on the political discussion. Not left, not right, but perhaps a bright red middle above.
What those new dimensions might actually be isnâ€™t clear yet, but they are taking shape. We can help others, and ourselves, to see them too if only we can convince more and more of our fellow Flatlanders to step off the line. At first, they won’t know what to make of us, and they’ll feel threatened by us. They won’t accept that the line is not real, itâ€™s limiting, and that it has served us ill.
The great thing is, as more of us talk about and share the possibilities of those other dimensions, those other perspectives and colors that could enrich our politics, we can entice more people to see that theyâ€™ve been conned. Some of those leaders could actually be encouraged to lead. Those who can’t engage in this change need to be challenged and replaced. It will be hard, but the work has already begun.
I donâ€™t want to live in Flatland anymore.
Books, Books! • Political Marketing • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Thursday, January 27, 2005
â€œInclude You Out, George? Well Iâ€™m SURE Weâ€™ll All Miss Youâ€?
In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. Today, however, practically all new international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation.
Tony Blair will go over the head of President Bush tomorrow to appeal directly to US business leaders to back his plans for action on climate change. The prime minister flies to Davos in Switzerland tomorrow, where he will address the World Economic Forum of corporate executives and push his vision for tackling carbon emissions in the wake of the US refusal to sign the Kyoto protocol.
Asean Plus Three (APT), which unites the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with China, Japan and South Korea… could become the world’s largest trade bloc, dwarfing the European Union and North American Free Trade Association.
The South American Community of Nations (SACN). Led by the Marxist government of Inacio Lula da Silva, 15 South American countries are moving to form SACN. This would combine two existing regional blocs, the Andean Community of Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru) and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay), along with Chile, Guyana, and Suriname. The SACN is seen by PINR as an alternative to a U.S.-dominated Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), although the term “foil” might be more appropriate.
The EU has devoted far more resources to consolidating democracy in post-communist Europe than has the US.
The present one-party rule in the US… The role of money in American politics… America’s judges...America’s antiquated winner-take-all electoral system… [The model] has been abandoned by many other democracies for more inclusive versions of proportional representation.
Human rights? Europe has banned the death penalty and torture. The US is a leading practitioner of execution. Under Mr Bush, the US has constructed an international military gulag in which the torture of suspects has frequently occurred
EU weapon sales to China: In early December, Beijing and Brussels held a summit in the Netherlands to discuss the possible end to an arms sale embargo imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. “Despite Washington’s opposition,” PINR reports, “the summit reached a result favorable to Beijing.”
NATO revolt over Iraq. During a recent meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Secretary of State Colin Powell “encountered the refusal of France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Greece to participate in a mission to train Iraqi security forces.... Powell had come to Europe to mend fences.... He left seeing the divisions widened.”
As noted by ‘Slate’ columnist Fred Kaplan in the ‘New York Times’ on Sunday, central bankers in Middle Eastern oil-producing countries, along with Russia and China, are shifting a greater percentage of their reserves out of dollars and into euros which, as noted by ‘Washington Post’ correspondent T R Reid in his new book, ‘The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy’, ‘’was specifically designed to challenge the global hegemony of the dollar’’.
[Note] the EU’s rapid progress towards military independence. American protests failed to prevent the EU establishing its own military planning agency, independent of the Nato alliance (and thus of Washington). Europe is building up its own rapid reaction force.
Even in the military sphere, what realist theorists call ‘’balancing’’ against U.S. power is also underway, signalled most intriguingly this past week when Russia and China announced they will hold their first large-scale joint military exercises, including the deployment of submarines and possibly strategic bombers.
That announcement followed the biggest exercises China has ever held with a foreign force last March—the French Navy, a development that clearly got the attention of administration hardliners, especially in the Pentagon, which has not only mounted a major campaign to prevent the European Union (EU) from lifting a 15-year arms embargo against Beijing, but also has exerted heavy pressure on favoured ally Israel to stop selling China weapons or even refurbishing older equipment.
Elections 2004-08 • Megatractor • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink