Monday, July 31, 2006

Scientist publishes 'escape route' from global warming

Scientist publishes 'escape route' from global warming
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
The Independent
Published: 31 July 2006
A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has drawn up an emergency plan to save the world from global warming, by altering the chemical makeup of Earth's upper atmosphere. Professor Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for his work on the hole in the ozone layer, believes that political attempts to limit man-made greenhouse gases are so pitiful that a radical contingency plan is needed.

In a polemical scientific essay to be published in the August issue of the journal Climate Change, he says that an "escape route" is needed if global warming begins to run out of control.

Professor Crutzen has proposed a method of artificially cooling the global climate by releasing particles of sulphur in the upper atmosphere, which would reflect sunlight and heat back into space. The controversial proposal is being taken seriously by scientists because Professor Crutzen has a proven track record in atmospheric research.

A fleet of high-altitude balloons could be used to scatter the sulphur high overhead, or it could even be fired into the atmosphere using heavy artillery shells, said Professor Crutzen, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.

The effect of scattering sulphate particles in the atmosphere would be to increase the reflectance, or "albedo", of the Earth, which should cause an overall cooling effect.

Such "geo-engineering" of the climate has been suggested before, but Professor Crutzen goes much further by drawing up a detailed model of how it can be done, the timescales involved, and the costs.....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Diebold Bombshell

The Diebold Bombshell
By David Dill, Doug Jones and Barbara Simons

Sunday 23 July 2006

Most computer scientists have long viewed Diebold as the poster child for all that is wrong with touch screen voting machines. But we never imagined that Diebold would be as irresponsible and incompetent as they have turned out to be.

Recently, computer security expert Harri Hursti revealed serious security vulnerabilities in Diebold's software. According to Michael Shamos, a computer scientist and voting system examiner in Pennsylvania, "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system."

Even more shockingly, we learned recently that Diebold and the State of Maryland had been aware of these vulnerabilities for at least two years. They were documented in analysis, commissioned by Maryland and conducted by RABA Technologies, published in January 2004. For over two years, Diebold has chosen not to fix the security holes, and Maryland has chosen not to alert other states or national officials about these problems.

Basically, Diebold included a "back door" in its software, allowing anyone to change or modify the software. There are no technical safeguards in place to ensure that only authorized people can make changes.

A malicious individual with access to a voting machine could rig the software without being detected. Worse yet, if the attacker rigged the machine used to compute the totals for some precinct, he or she could alter the results of that precinct. The only fix the RABA authors suggested was to warn people that manipulating an election is against the law.

Typically, modern voting machines are delivered several days before an election and stored in people's homes or in insecure polling stations. A wide variety of poll workers, shippers, technicians, and others who have access to these voting machines could rig the software. Such software alterations could be difficult to impossible to detect...

The Bush Administration's Adversarial Relationship with Congress

The Bush Administration's Adversarial Relationship with Congress --
as Illustrated by Its Refusal to Even Provide the Number of Signing Statements Issued by President Bush

Friday, Jul. 14, 2006
This summer, the Senate Judiciary Committee has held hearings on President Bush's uses and abuses of signing statements. Technically, these are statements by the President accompanying his signing of legislation. In this Administration, however, signing statements have been used as a dodgy practice of telling the Congress to go to hell.

Rather than vetoing bills, Bush issues vague statements to try to cut them off at the knees even as he purports to give them legs. These statements say, in essence, that he may or may not enforce this or that provision of a given law, depending on whether he thinks the provision is unconstitutional.

Given Bush's extraordinarily broad claim of Presidential power, he tends to deem any law that conflicts with his plans "unconstitutional." And despite the Supreme Court's recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision clearly and sharply repudiating this view of his powers, Bush is likely to go right on doing so.

In truth, Bush himself does not have a clue about what he is doing, for this ploy is being guided by Vice President Cheney's office; I am told it is David Addington leading the way. Though carried out by Bush, it is best seen as another of Cheney's undertakings to enhance presidential power by neutering Congress. And it is working.

Bush's Use of Signing Statements Is Unprecedented and Unconstitutional

Bush's defenders have portrayed his actions with signing statements as standard operating procedure for all recent presidents. In particular, they have cited Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton's signing statement practices as precedents. But Bush's use of the signing statement is not only non-standard, it is egregious, and plainly itself unconstitutional.

The Constitution, and the president's oath of office swearing to uphold it, require a president to veto legislation he finds unconstitutional, and send it back to Congress so its members can correct the flaw. The system is simple and wise - and Bush is subverting it.

In over six years in office, Bush has not vetoed a single bill. Therefore, he has avoided the political costs those vetoes would have rightly entailed. Instead, Bush has issues a steady stream of signing statements claiming that the very bills he is signing have constitutional problems.....

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sagebrush Fire

Justin Frank
Huffington Post

Sagebrush Fire

A dear friend - a mainstream Democrat who represented her state at the 2004 Democratic National Convention - raised as an Orthodox Jew and married to an Israeli, wrote to me about her despair over events in the Middle East. I became aware that it was hard for me to discuss openly with her all my feelings - because I didn't want to have a fight, and Israel is a touchy subject.

I also realized that over time, George W. Bush has made it difficult for people with different opinions to talk to one another, to find common ground - and I'm struck by how successful that has been. And, the Arab-Israeli conflict is fertile ground for absolutist views to take root. It is already a touchy subject for many American Jews, for Americans of Arab descent, for all kinds of people.
George Bush wants to divide people. He does this because the basic process of thinking terrifies him. For Bush, any thought opens up Pandora's box, much the way psychoanalysis terrifies people already able to think but who don't want to explore the darker sides of their inner worlds. He is so far from that level of emotional development it would be laughable - if it weren't that he tragically and consistently imposes his fears on the rest of us. To him, thought is like sagebrush - ever present and in need of pruning and uprooting.

With that said, I am not sure where to get the "real" news. Some comes from Israel, and is for sure more accurate than anything produced by our own media. There is real news also from Lebanon, and the reality there is different. For example, how does one KNOW - as Israeli radio claims - that HezboIlah stores missiles in mosques? What we do know is that there is a senseless loss of life and a complete refusal of everyone to talk in any way whatsoever. The blog by Max Blumenthal recounting Israeli opposition to the bombings is heartening.

Leaders can talk too. I'm reminded of when Ted Kennedy brought Gerry Adams of the IRA over to this country. Adams was the head terrorist, the major fomenter of it all. And by legitimizing him, by bringing him out in public, he forced Adams to moderate his behavior. This was not co-opting, though could be seen as such. True, there are fundamental difference between what is going on in the Middle East and that IRA-British conflict - but the differences extend to how the two crises have been handled.

And Bill Clinton tried something similar when he brought Arafat to Washington to meet with Rabin - and the subsequent assassination of Israel's leader of detente by one of its own citizens illustrates the tragic degree of hatred and paranoia (much of it justified) there. Now it's hard even for Jews to talk to Jews, since any legitimate discussion or disagreement can be interpreted as destructive. What Israel ended up with was a right-wing government taking over (though I wonder even now how Sharon might have responded to the kidnappers had be been able to function).

The Israeli response to Hezbollah's kidnapping two soldiers, if that's what really started this round of disaster, reminds me of how WWI began; and how quickly the violence has spread, like sagebrush-fire.

The UN is nothing without the US; the US is nothing as long as Bush runs the show chewing away at his G8 dinners while winking at the cameras. He is Nero incarnate, only it is not only Rome that is burning. It is not even only the Middle East that is burning. It is our entire globally warming heat-and-rain-drenched planet.

How George Bush became a dictator

How George Bush became a dictator
Posted on Wednesday, July 26 @ 10:18:02 EDT
This article has been read 1163 times.
Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

An existential choice is forced upon us. Bush told us that we were either for his regime or we were for the "evil doers". I see a different paradigm: either we are for freedom or we are for Bush. Bush is spoiling for a Constitutional showdown that will force the issue and consolidate a dictatorship beyond the ability of Americans to change -short of violent revolution.

In his latest book "Conservatives Without Conscience", John Dean paints a stark difference between Richard Nixon and George Bush. Dean recalled the day the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to hand over the infamous White House tapes. Nixon, Dean reveals, toyed with the idea of defying the high court. It was Nixon, after all, who had said that if the President does it, it's legal.

Pressured by his own party, Nixon spent a night talking to portraits and getting down on his knees in prayer with an embarrassed Henry Kissinger. By night's end, as the story goes, Nixon had had an epiphany. He would resign.

What brought him to a night of prayer was his decision to comply with an order to the US Supreme Court to turn over the secret recordings of his Oval Office conversations. They were notable for what was missing: an 18 minute gap, and also what was present: a tape recorded "smoking gun" in which then White House counsel John Dean had warned Nixon of a "cancer on the Presidency."

But, Bush, Dean points out, is not Nixon.....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Ballad of Dumb George

The Ballad of Dumb George
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 21 July 2006

I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid.

- "The Ultimate Flame," author unknown
George W. Bush is a good man, word has it. He's plain-spoken, they say. A regular fella. A good guy to have a beer with, except he supposedly doesn't drink anymore.

I wish, more than anything, that he were drinking. I wish he were drinking all the time. I wish, oh how I wish, that he were stand-up-fall-down-ralphing-down-his-shirt loaded every minute of every day. It would be a comfort, simply because it would explain a great many things. Having a drunk for a president is, after all, a fixable situation. Put him to bed at Camp David for a few weeks and surround him with Secret Service agents. Let his body clean itself out. Problem solved, and really, would anyone actually notice his absence?

I don't believe Bush has gotten off the sauce, if truth be told. I know more than a few boozers who, like George, periodically show up with odd wounds on their faces they got from falling over or running into walls. The injuries that appear on George's mien from time to time can perhaps be explained away - maybe Dick Cheney is stalking the halls with a shotgun loaded with rock salt and blasting anyone, even the boss, who gets in his way - but if "George still drinks" were up on the big board at the MGM Grand sports book, I'd take the bet no matter what the oddsmakers had to say.

Having a drunk for a president is manageable. Having a stone bozo for a president, on the other hand, is a calamity of global proportions.

Let's take a walk through the last few days. George winged off to Russia for trade talks at the G-8 summit, and managed in the course of 100 hours to embarrass himself and our entire country. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is smarter than Bush by several orders of magnitude, insulted George in front of the international press corps with a tight quip about "democracy" in Iraq. No trade deal got done. The whole thing was a humiliating waste of time, captured best by all the photos of Bush and Putin together. In each and every one of them, Putin is looking at George with an expression that somehow conveyed disgust, disdain and awe simultaneously.

Putin's disgust and disdain are easily understood - the poor guy was trapped in a room with our knucklehead president for hours, after all - but the awe requires notice. What, Putin must have thought, is this fool doing running a country?

After that came the much-noted open-mike gaffe, during which George dropped an s-bomb while discussing the Middle East crisis with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The cussing doesn't trouble me - those who know say that John F. Kennedy swore like a sailor whenever he talked shop - but the rest of the scene was like something out of a high school cafeteria. Bush sat there, talking with what looked like seventeen doughnuts stuffed into his gob, while poor Tony tried to discuss matters of life and death....

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Democracy in Crisis - Interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Democracy in Crisis - Interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Tuesday 18 July 2006

An Exclusive Interview for The BRAD BLOG [1] as Guest Blogged by Joy [2] and Tom Williams…
"The Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, has been using old-fashioned, Jim Crow, apartheid-type maneuvers to steal the last two national elections."
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Recently, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., (bio [3]) , wrote the article: "Was the 2004 Election Stolen [4]" where he examined the election fraud in Ohio that took place during the last Presidential Election. He also has written a book "Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush & His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking our Democracy [5]". Mr. Kennedy, along with Mike Papantonio have filed a "qui tam" lawsuit [6] against some of the voting machines companies, in an effort to save our Democracy.

I've long had a deep respect for Robert F. Kennedy for his dedicated work as an environmental advocate. Tom and I enjoyed interviewing him and were moved by his passion and dedication to our country and our Democracy. We spoke to him via phone at his office at Pace University's Environmental Litigation Clinic in White Plains, New York, which he founded, about the election of 2004. This was an experience to remember...

BRAD BLOG: In your book, "Crimes Against Nature," you said that Bush won the 2004 election because of an information deficit caused by a breakdown in our national media. You go on to say that "Bush was re-elected because of the negligence of-and deliberate deception by-the American press." Your recent article in "Rolling Stone" seems to suggest that your opinion has changed, focusing more on the fraud and deception in Ohio with the computerized voting machines. What was the most important thing that made you suspect fraud and decide to investigate the 2004 election?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: Well, my opinion hasn't changed, that the press has been negligent, and that the large amount of support for the President, and for the people that did vote for the President, that large numbers of them would not have done so, had they known the truth about his policies, and his record. You say my opinion changed, but it hasn't changed.

You know I've known this for many years, because of my anecdotal experience. I give about 40 speeches a year, in red states to Republican audiences, and I get the same enthusiastic responses from those audiences as I get from Liberal college audiences. The only difference is, is that the Republicans often say to me, "How come we've never heard this before?" I made the conclusion many years ago that there's not a huge values difference between Red State Republicans and Blue State Democrats. The distinction is really informational. 80% of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on. And my anecdotal conclusion was confirmed by a survey done immediately after the 2004 election called the PIPA [7] report, which tested Bush supporters and Kerry supporters based upon their knowledge of current events. It found that among Bush supporters, they were widespread in its interpretations, or there were factual errors in the way that they viewed Bush's major public policy initiatives.

For example, 75% of the Republican respondents believed that Saddam Hussein bombed the World Trade Center, and 72% believed that WMD had been found in Iraq. And most of them believed that the war in Iraq had strong support among Iraq's Muslim neighbors and our traditional allies in Europe, which of course is wrong. The Democrats as a whole had a much more accurate view of those events. And then PIPA [8] went back twice to these same people. The first time it went back to the people that had these misinterpretations, and asked them where they were getting their news, and invariably they said talk radio and FOX news. And PIPA went back a third time, and made inquiries about their fundamental values, and it did start with a string of hypotheticals:

"What if there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? What if Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with bombing the World Trade Center? What if the U.S. Invasion of Iraq had little support among Iraq's Muslim neighbors and was largely opposed by Iraq's Muslim neighbors, and by our troops and allies in Europe? Should we have still gone in?" And roughly 80% of Dem and 80% of Rep said the same thing, "We should not." And so the values were the same. It was the facts, the information, it was the access to information that was different.

BB: Are you then adding a layer of suspicion about the direct manipulation and fraudulent counting through computerized voting?

RFK JR.: That also happened, that was another factor. Our democracy is broken. Our democracy is broken because of our campaign finance system, which is just a system of legalized bribery, which has allowed corporations and the very wealthy to control the electoral results. Let me go back and say our electoral system is broken for three reasons, in three large respects: The first is our campaign finance system, which is a system of legalized bribery, and which has allowed corporations and the very rich to control the results of our electoral process. Number two is the failure of the American press and that is also a function and result of corporate control, as I showed in my book. Number three is the election system itself, which is broken. We've privatized it and allowed four large corporations to count our votes on machines that don't work.

But also the Republican party has inculcated a culture of corruption. The Republican party has adopted a strategy of denying votes to blacks and other minorities, and to other people more traditionally Democratic, suppressing Democratic vote and fraudulently expanding Republican vote. And this is happening all over the country. I would urge you to read Greg Palast's latest book, Armed Madhouse [9]. He does for the national elections what I did for the Ohio election, which is to synthesize the information that's out there into a readable document, in which he shows exactly how this election was stolen-not just in Ohio but in many other states as well.

BB: Have any of your expert witnesses or anyone referred to some of the stringent requirements in the gaming industry which uses computerized slot machines, poker machines and so forth involving the levels of certification and disclosure of the security requirements of its vendors?

RFK JR.: Well, you see this was just another corporate boondoggle that gave the most venal mendacious corporations charge of our most sacred public trust, which is the right to vote. These corporations were making hundreds of millions of dollars. The machines, as it turns out, were manufactured by wireless companies and were just a cheap piece of junk that cost less than $100 to manufacture, and they were selling them for $2400 apiece. And they were using Jack Abramoff and other corrupt lobbyists to persuade federal officials to pass the federal act to appropriate the money and then to persuade state and local officials to purchase the defective machines.

BB: Jack Abramoff was involved in this?

RFK JR.: Oh yes. Jack Abramoff, and Bob Ney [10](R-Oh), the principle figure in the Abramoff scandal and he's the author of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). And Diebold contributed millions of dollars to these guys, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to Abramoff to lobby on behalf of HAVA, and to lobby states like New York and the other states, to adopt the Diebold machines.

BB: So HAVA was "created specifically to disenfranchise voters and verfication"?

RFK JR.: HAVA was written specifically to require the states to buy Diebold machines. I mean one company basically had control of the whole legislative process. That's why HAVA has a provision in it that discourages vote verification by paper ballots. Both Republicans and Democrats tried to reform the HAVA, saying of course we should have paper verification of the vote. Paper verification would allow you to go in, make your vote on the electronic machine, and you get a receipt that is a copy of who you voted for and you are allowed to examine that receipt. You deposit it in a locked box in the voting area. That way, if there's ever any question, if you need to count, you can count the papers, and see if it compares to what the machine says.

But Bob Ney fought tooth and nail against that provision because Diebold made a machine that does not provide a paper ballot. And he went so far, because Diebold contributed a million dollars to an organization that purportedly protects the rights of blind people. And in exchange for that, that organization got one of its officers to testify on Capitol Hill at the HAVA hearings, that blind people in America did not want paper ballots - voter verified ballots - because it would deprive someone of the right to vote secretly. Now the other organizations that support handicapped rights and rights of the blind, do not take that position. This was a position that that organization adopted after accepting a million dollars from Diebold. The whole operation was corrupt and now Bob Ney is going to jail for it.

BB: Also, speaking of those guys, election officials in several states, most notably Ken Blackwell in Ohio and Bruce McPherson here in the state of California, appear to be be deliberately flaunting established law and procedures as well as direct court orders, and they seem to be just "getting away with it". How can that be?

RFK JR.: Well, again, it's because of the failure of the American press. This is the most important issue in American Democracy and the press isn't covering it. So the politicians who want to fix the elections, and who want these fraudulent machines, can get away with it, don't take a position because it gets no traction in the press.

BB: But then why didn't people like Kerry want to contest the results?

RFK JR.: You'd have to ask Kerry.

BB: Why hasn't the DNC done anything about this?

RFK JR.: You'd have to ask the DNC.

BB: We watched Howard Dean on television having a hack demonstrated to him by Bev Harris [11], and he doesn't seem to say anything... I guess we'll have to ask them! But there seems to have been a pattern here in the leadership of the Democratic Party....What I was getting to in those questions was not for you to interpret the actions of the those in the DNC and so forth, but there seems to be a pattern in the leadership of the Dem Party that shies away from direct conflict in this....

RFK JR.: The Democratic leadership on this issue has been abysmal. And particularly since this is a civil rights issue and it's a racial issue. The machines themselves are kind of a distraction because the machines are recent innovations. The Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, has been using, old-fashioned, Jim Crow, apartheid-type maneuvers to steal the last two national elections.

BB: Like in Georgia, who were trying to establish the Poll Tax again...

RFK JR.: And this has been happening all over the country. If you look at who's being denied the right to vote, on absentee ballots, on provisional ballots, it's Hispanics, it's Blacks and it's Native Americans, and the Democratic Party ought to be touting this as the biggest civil rights issue of our time. But they are ignoring it, and that really is shocking. It's shocking that the Republicans are not up in arms about this too, because this should not be a partisan issue. This is a fundamental basis of our American value system, which is representative Democracy. For a party that claims to speak for "American Values" to ignore the fact that other members of the party, that the leadership of the party is involved in an active national campaign to stop black people from voting, and to steal elections, shows the moral bankruptcy of everybody in that party!

Why aren't Republicans standing up and speaking on this issue? Why isn't Republican leadership standing up and speaking on this issue?

BB: California just recently went to Diebold machines, all over the state. If California "goes" Republican, do you think we will be able to say, ok, there's no doubt anymore?

RFK JR.: Listen: all I can say is that the Diebold machines are among the worst. They break down, they are easily hacked, Diebold uses fraudulent misrepresentations to sell the machines, and they should not be part of our voting system.

BB: Are there any plans on a national or state level to contest suspicious results this time around?

RFK JR.: They make it very difficult to contest crooked elections. Nebraska is one of several states that have now passed laws, and I believe Florida is one of those states, that prohibit counting paper ballots in votes that were originally counted by machines. The only way that you can count votes is the original way in which they were counted. And so, of course, that makes it easy to fix any election and make sure that nobody has the right to challenge it.

Many other states, including Ohio, have made it impossible for anybody to challenge an election, even if it was obviously fixed. And these kinds of initiatives are happening all over the country. Why would any state legislature vote for such a rule unless they were Republicans who felt that elections would be fixed in their favor? Why would any American vote for such a rule? It is completely anti-American and un-American. We should be encouraging Americans to vote and encouraging EVERY American to cast a vote and to make sure that every vote is counted. And both parties should be working toward that.

But instead you have a Republican party that is trying to suppress votes and trying to defraud the public. And you have a Democratic party that is like the deer in headlights. And the Democrats are never going to win another election if they don't fix this issue because they are starting out every election with a 3 million vote deficit, and those are mainly the black voters in this country and who no longer have their votes counted.

And you know, this may sound shrill, but look at the facts. And I challenge anyone who says that this is shrill and inaccurate to read Greg Palast's book, to read my article, to look at the facts, because the facts are infallible.

BB: Do you think we are going to need a reaction like they are having currently in Mexico?

RFK JR.: Well, I wish the Democratic Party had the cojones that the Mexican opposition party has! They're saying "We're not gonna stand for our elections being stolen anymore!" It's great for these (our) political leaders to stand up and say "I will gracefully concede" but what does that mean for the rest of us? We are getting stuck with these governments that are absolutely running our country into the ground.

BB: You said in your recent interview with Charlie Rose, that this is the worst Presidency we've ever had, and they've ruined our reputation in the world. So if you had your ideal President, what kind of things would he or she need to do to restore our credibility?

RFK JR.: Well the first thing we need to do is to restore American Democracy.

Number One: Fix the campaign finance system to get corporate money out of the electoral process. Corporations are a great thing for our country. They drive our economy but they should NOT be running our government because they don't want the same thing for America that Americans want. Corporations don't want democracy, they want free markets, they want profits, and oftentimes the easiest path to profits is to use the campaign finance system to get their hooks into a public official and to use that public official to dismantle the marketplace to give them monopoly control and a competitive edge and to privatize the commons-to steal our air, our water, or our public treasury, and liquidate it for private profits.

Number Two: We have to fix the press: restore journalistic ethics in this country, and that is by bringing back the fairness doctrine and strengthening the FCC. The Fairness Doctrine was abolished by Ronald Reagan in 1988, and it recognized that the airwaves belong to the public; that the broadcasters can be licensed to use them to make a profit, but they use them with the proviso that their primary obligation is to advance democracy and promote the public interest. They have to inform the public because a democracy cannot survive an uninformed public. As Thomas Jefferson said, "An uninformed public will trade a hundred years of hard-fought civil rights for a half an hour of welfare." And they will follow the first demagogue or religious fanatic that comes along and offers them a $300 tax break.

Number Three: We have to fix our electoral system so that every vote is counted. Those are the first three things that any President should do, Republican or Democrat, to restore American Democracy.

BB: Now all these state laws that are being put in place could be trumped by Congress...

RFK JR.: Of course, we should have a federal law that creates federal standards for elections. All federal elections have to be verified by paper ballots. Election officials, whose job is to ensure the integrity of federal elections, cannot simultaneously serve as campaign managers or candidates who are participating in that contest. Many states already have that rule, but Florida and Ohio do not. It's a formula for corruption!

BB: In summary, how optimistic or pessimistic are you about our ability to get our country back?

RFK JR.: Well, you know, my attitude is that I don't try to predict the future, I can only say that those of us who care about this country have to keep fighting, and whether you think you're gonna win or lose, you gotta just keep slugging and you gotta be ready to die with your boots on, because that's what our forefathers did, they started a revolution, and they put their fortunes and their lives at stake. And we need to summon the same kind of courage from our generation, and demand that kind of courage from our leadership.

BB: And we have to get that message out to the Democratic leadership as well.

RFK JR.: And that's what you guys are doing....


Article printed from The BRAD BLOG:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:
[1] The BRAD BLOG:
[2] Joy:
[3] bio:
[4] Was the 2004 Election Stolen:
[5] Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush & His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking our Democracy:
[6] lawsuit:
[7] PIPA:
[8] PIPA:
[9] Armed Madhouse:
[11] Jack Abramoff, and Bob Ney :
[11] Howard Dean on television having a hack demonstrated to him by Bev Harris:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Triumph of the Authoritarians

Triumph of the Authoritarians
By John W. Dean
The Boston Globe

Friday 14 July 2006

Contemporary conservatism and its influence on the Republican Party was, until recently, a mystery to me. The practitioners' bludgeoning style of politics, their self-serving manipulation of the political processes, and their policies that focus narrowly on perceived self-interest - none of this struck me as based on anything related to traditional conservatism. Rather, truth be told, today's so-called conservatives are quite radical.

For more than 40 years I have considered myself a "Goldwater conservative," and am thoroughly familiar with the movement's canon. But I can find nothing conservative about the Bush/Cheney White House, which has created a Nixon "imperial presidency" on steroids, while acting as if being tutored by the best and brightest of the Cosa Nostra.

What true conservative calls for packing the courts to politicize the federal judiciary to the degree that it is now possible to determine the outcome of cases by looking at the prior politics of judges? Where is the conservative precedent for the monocratic leadership style that conservative Republicans imposed on the US House when they took control in 1994, a style that seeks primarily to perfect fund-raising skills while outsourcing the writing of legislation to special interests and freezing Democrats out of the legislative process?

How can those who claim themselves conservatives seek to destroy the deliberative nature of the US Senate by eliminating its extended-debate tradition, which has been the institution's distinctive contribution to our democracy? Yet that is precisely what Republican Senate leaders want to do by eliminating the filibuster when dealing with executive business (namely judicial appointments).

Today's Republican policies are antithetical to bedrock conservative fundamentals...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vanuatu is world's happiest country: study

Vanuatu is world's happiest country: study
Wed Jul 12, 11:08 AM ET
LONDON (AFP) - The tiny South Pacific Ocean archipelago of Vanuatu is the happiest country on Earth, according to a study published measuring people's wellbeing and their impact on the environment.

Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama complete the top five in the Happy Planet Index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The index combines life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint -- the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption.

Zimbabwe came bottom of the 178 countries ranked, below second-worst performer Swaziland, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine.

The Group of Eight industrial powers meet in Saint Petersburg this weekend but have not much to smile about, according to the index.

Italy came out best in 66th place, ahead of Germany (81), Japan (95), Britain (108), Canada (111), France (129), the United States (150) and Russia, in lowly 172nd place.....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two Stories Tell the Tale

Two Stories Tell the Tale
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 06 July 2006

Iraq is a part of the war on terror. Iraq is a central front on that war.
- George W. Bush, statement from Baghdad, 6/13/06
Two different stories boiled over in the last few days, each of which tells us too many sorry things about where we are as a nation. North Korea flopped several missiles into the Sea of Japan, including one that could reportedly reach the West Coast of the United States, and a discharged American soldier has been accused of raping an Iraqi teenager and shooting her and three members of her family.

The missiles in North Korea are of fundamental importance to both American national security, and the security of the Pacific region. In an irony of global proportions, the rogue government of North Korea declared to the United States and the world that it possessed nuclear weapons on April 24, 2003. This was, of course, a little more than a month after the Bush administration initiated the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Three years later, we are still mired in the bloodbath of Iraq, having found no weapons of mass destruction and having failed to establish anything even remotely resembling a democracy. A nation that was no threat to US security was smashed to flinders, and has since bloomed into a real and growing national security threat.

The influential journal Foreign Affairs recently polled 100 leading foreign policy experts on the efficacy of the so-called "War on Terror," and 86 of them declared the thing to be a comprehensive failure. We are far less safe now, they reported, thanks largely to what we have done in Iraq. "When you strip away the politics, the experts, almost to a person, are very worried about the administration," said Joe Cirincione, vice-president of the Center for American Progress. "They think none of our front-line institutions is doing a good job and that Iraq has made the terror situation much worse."....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Democrats must now say "We Do Not Concede" in the U.S. as it's being said in Mexico

The Democrats must now say "We Do Not Concede" in the U.S. as it's being said in Mexico
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
July 7, 2006

Lopez Obrador is saying in Mexico what the Democratic Party should have been saying in the United States since November 2000: WE DO NOT CONCEDE. And no Democrat should ever again be nominated for any public office without first pledging to guarantee a full and thorough recount, as is being attempted in Mexico.

We do not yet know the final official outcome of the Mexican presidential election. We do know the vote casting and counting have been plagued with some of the same kinds of intimidation, theft, fraud and electronic manipulation that have become the staples of Rove-run elections here in the United States.

The Mexican outcome is hugely important for a wide range of reasons. The Mexican presidency in the hands of a leftist like Lopez Obrador would have a major effect on the immigration issue currently being used by the Bush/Rove Republicans to whip up racist division and diversion. A leftist victory would also underscore the sea change in Latin American politics being led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and other populists rising from the southern grassroots.

The pattern in the Mexican election is all too familiar to those of us who've seen GOP thefts in Ohio 2004 and elsewhere. The left/liberal candidate is ahead in the polls going into the election. But at the last minute, there's a shift. The exit polls still show the left/liberal victory. But somehow there are "computer glitches" and other "problems" that miraculously shift the final vote to the right, as with George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections, both of which were decided by fraud, theft and manipulation.

Mexico would seem to be headed down the same dismal path, with one world-class difference: THE LEFT ACTUALLY STOOD UP!

Smelling a familiar rat, Lopez Obrador has challenged the vote, and demanded every single ballot cast be counted by hand. It's all about that old thing called democracy.....

Here We Come. . . Roots Project

Here We Come. . . Roots Project
By Pachacutec

Here come the Roots. . .

Okay, I’m not here to engage in grassroots or netroots triumphalism. We’re way behind in the game and the other guys still have us outgunned. But we’re making some progress, and I wanted to highlight a few things for everybody.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on the beta development of our new Roots Project site, and I have to say, it’s going to be awesome. We’re not ready to take it to Broadway yet, but this could provide some seriously game-changing infrastructure for progressives all around the country. You have not heard much from me on Roots Project lately because I have not wanted to promote a new round of recruiting while we’re getting so close to a new home and organizational system. Stay tuned!

Having said that, just because you have not heard a whole lot from me about Roots Project lately, doesn’t mean it’s been dormant or inactive. Quite the opposite. Most of the work going on now is the quiet work of collaborating and organizing around what I think of as the small, significant things that build a movement. Let me give you just a few examples, but please understand, there’s no way I could tell you about all of it, because there’s so much going on I can no longer keep up!

Recently, we held a conference call open to all Roots Project members with the author of the excellent book, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Fight the Right. We’ve adopted it as our Roots Project field manual and I highly recommend it to everyone. It begins from a framework of progressive values, and then very succinctly outlines a broad range of actions anyone can take anywhere in the country to propel the development of progressive values into the culture and politics. Blue state, red state, purple state, whatever: it doesn’t matter. I firmly believe political change follows cultural movements, and this book helps people shape and capture those movements to promote progressive politics. It’s an excellent book, and it was a great author discussion and conference call.

Massachussetts group members have been getting together socially, even gathering this past week to watch the Lieberman-Lamont debate together.

Groups all over the country, including Washington State, Pennsylvania, Virginia and California are getting involved with local Drinking Liberally chapters to network with other progressives in their communities.

Fini Finito of the Indiana group, aka the "Hoosier Roots Project," has been putting together podcasts with original content and interviews for all our members, and has set up a Roots Project MySpace page. On July 4th, he attended a local community event where he set up a table by the parade stand, with official support, to register voters and tell people about the Roots Project.

In Illinois, group members have been studying candidates in every congressional district to see who really is a progressive in need of support. That’s what led us to connect them with Howie Klein for his excellent Blue America series installment in support of the John Laesch campaign.

Of course, members of every group across the country (forty-three states) have been pressuring their senators and congressional representatives on net neutrality.

Some groups are setting up local blogs focused on matters pertinent to their states. SchumerWatch is one, as is this new one from Massachussetts (by first time web designer selise - give her mad props!). Not to be outdone, fellow Massachussetts traveler RevDeb is working on her own site, Progressive Pulpit. I’m sure there are other blogs by many Roots Project members, and this is just a small sample, a tip of the iceberg. The important thing to note is that this is what progressive infrastructure development looks like. Imagine every state propelling its own Lamont-like, people-powered movement! It’s the little things that win championships, as they say in the sporting world, and it’s these little things that change the direction of the country.

That’s how the Connecticut progressive movement built itself up, even before the advent of online political organizing or blogs. But with the new tools available to us, we can now do so much more, learning from each other in real time as we try new things all across the country.

So, heads up, America: here we come. The pearl clutching establishment media is waking up to us (after getting up from the fainting couch), as is the nasty, faithless, rageful, narcissistically self-absorbed and whiningly entitled Rape Gurney Joe, who wants to have it both ways and can’t play by the rules.

Many people in our comment threads are also involved in Roots Project groups. I hope they’ll offer us all more updates on what’s going on close to the ground. Otherwise, feel free to chat in the comments section about any little things you may be doing. Share successes. Tell funny stories. Swear and cuss and give Joke Line fits. Hey, after all, it’s FDL Late Nite!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Occupation: The inconvenient truth about Iraq

Occupation: The inconvenient truth about Iraq
Posted on Thursday, July 06 @ 09:48:38 EDT
George Lakoff
Smirking Chimp

We've begun with global warming. Now the U.S. and its military allies need to face another inconvenient truth, this one about Iraq: This is an occupation, not a war.

The war was over when Bush said "Mission Accomplished." A war has one army fighting another army over territory. U.S. fighting men and women defeated Saddam's military machine three years ago.

Then the occupation began. Our troops were trained to fight a war, not to occupy a country where they don't know the language and culture; where they lack enough troops, where they face an anti-occupation insurgency by the Iraqis themselves; where most of the population wants them out; where they are being shot at and killed by the very Iraqis they are training; and where the U.S. has given up on reconstruction and can't do much positive good there.

The Occupation Frame fits a politically inconvenient truth. Most people don't want to think of our army as an occupation force, but it is. An occupying army can't win anything. The occupation only helps Al Qaeda, which Iraqis don't want in their country since Al Qaeda attracts foreigners who have been killing Iraqis.

Our nation has been held trapped in a fallacious War Frame that serves the interests of the Bush administration and the Republican Party. The term "cut and run," used to vilify Democrats, is defined relative to the following frame:

There is a war against evil that must be fought. Fighting requires courage and bravery. Those fully committed to the cause are brave. Those who "cut and run" are motivated by self-interest; they are only interested in saving their own skins, not in the moral cause. They are cowards. And since those fighting for the cause need all the support they can get, anyone who decides to "cut and run" endangers both the moral cause and the lives of those brave people who are fighting for it. Those who have courage and conviction should stand and fight.

Once the false frame is set, it is hard to use any pure self-interest frame that ignores the just cause of fighting evil. That is the trap the Democrats have fallen into. Their proposed slogans evoke self-interest frames: John Murtha's "stay and pay" and John Kerry's "lie and die" have an X-and-Y structure that evokes, and thus reinforces, "cut and run."

These, as well as Senator Jack Reed's "The Republican Plan to Be in Iraq Forever," are self-interest frames that accepts the "cut and run" frame and says it is in our interest to leave. We "pay," we "die," we are stuck there forever. As long as Democrats accept the war-against-evil frame, any self-interest framing will be treated as immoral -- acting as a coward, letting evil win out, and endangering our troops.

The Cut-and-Run Frame put forth as a reason why we cannot withdraw from Iraq fits a gallant war. It does not fit a failed occupation. When you have become the villain and target to the people you are trying to help, it's time to do the right thing -- admit the truth that this is an occupation and think and act accordingly. All occupations end with withdrawal. The issue is not bravery versus cowardice in a good cause. The Cut-and-Run Frame does not apply.

In an occupation, there are pragmatic issues: Are we welcome? Are we doing the Iraqis more harm than good? How badly are we being hurt? The question is not whether to withdraw, but when and how? What to say? You might prefer "End the occupation now" or "End the occupation by the end of the year" or "End the occupation within a year, " but certainly Congress and most Americans should be able to agree on "End the occupation soon."

In an occupation, not a war, should the president still have war powers? How, if at all, is the Supreme Court decision on military tribunals at Guantanamo affected if we are in an occupation, not a war? What high-handed actions by the President, if any, are ruled out if we are no longer at war?

Telling an inconvenient truth takes some political courage.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Democrats Abandon RFK's Courage

Jeffrey Buchanan
Huffington Post
Democrats Abandon RFK's Courage

While many current Democrats count Robert F. Kennedy as a hero, most would benefit from studying the courageous words he delivered forty years ago this month. In a speech to students at University of Cape Town in South Africa, exactly two years to the date before his untimely death, RFK told the world how to be heroic.

His words embodied the greatest ideals of the Democratic Party; the enduring support of human rights and the equality of justice, ideals that have been squeezed out of today's Democratic agenda.
At the height of apartheid in South Africa and the civil rights movement at home, Kennedy forcefully gave his case for supporting human rights declaring, "We must recognize the full human equality of all of our people before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous, although it is; not because of the laws of God command it, although they do... We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do."

He boldly challenged a generation to never bend from its hopes and beliefs for political expedience and warned not to fear your own futility because, "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Today's Democratic leaders are reluctant to stand up for the ideals of human rights, replacing them with the less than courageous mantra of "Anything But Bush."

When asked why Democrats no longer speak about human rights despite U.S. torture scandals at Guantanmo and Abu Ghareb, revelations of clandestine U.S. prisons in Europe, domestic spying at home and not to mention the crisis in Darfur, Democratic National Committee chairman Governor Howard Dean admitted that the Party no longer speaks up about human rights issues at a breakfast hosted by the American Prospect.

"There are an enormous number of issues," said Dean explaining that human rights emergencies are not alarming enough to be campaign issues. Dean went on to say, "in the immediacy of trying to figure out how to communicate with the American people about why they should vote for the Democrats it gets dropped."

When later asked what the Democratic Party stance is on the United States' foray into torture and human rights abuses at Guantanmo Bay Prison, Dean responded, "We don't have a Democratic Party position. I've never had a discussion about it with [Harry] Reid and [Nancy] Pelosi."

Dean, a former doctor, is diagnosing an illness of the political system. Most Democrats have remained silent on potentially thorny human rights issues like the rights of detainees, the equality of gay families, or millions of Americans living in poverty in favor of taking "bold" stands where polls show a ready-made consensus among voters on the failures of the GOP and the Bush administration, topics like gas prices, or "the culture of corruption." Even on issues like a minimum wage increase, Democratic leadership stop far short of calling for a wage that would allow workers to lift their family out of poverty and live with dignity.

Dean went on to say the he believes discussing issues like human rights requires educating voters and in Dean's vision, "campaigns in general are not very good occasions for education."

Democrats are unwilling to educate voters and take on conservative myths that human rights and social justice amount to undeserved handouts. Human rights only ensure equal access to the minimum level of support and freedom an individual needs to live their lives with dignity. Admitting that our fellow men and women deserve to live with dignity is not a renunciation of personal responsibility.

Instead of investing in developing community leaders to enlighten voters about party principles like human rights, Democrats have decided to do things on the cheap. They instead save their money for last minute strategies of half hearted voter education and "Get Out To Vote" efforts just before Election Day. This strategy is incapable of shaping what voters actually believe so Democrats must rely on campaign points that reiterate what people already think. The Party has lost faith in the ability of community leaders to shape minds and they have lost the courage to lead and stand for platforms that actually strike out against injustice and make a "ripple of hope."

This is very different than the long term commitment by the GOP to training leaders among the evangelical Right. Their efforts are now paying off with a groundswell of committed volunteers and even two-way communication in determining policy.

While Democrats may ignore principles of human rights, Republicans are certainly not blameless. During their time controlling the Congress and the White House everyone from Human Rights Watch to the Iranian President has questioned the United States' commitment to human rights. Most Democrats fear challenging the administration on its record of abuses will lead to being labeled as either soft on the terrorists or in favor of big government. In the mean time, administration officials have gotten away with breaking international laws, tarnishing our image abroad, and breaching principles enshrined in our Constitution without enlisting the ire of the a Democratic Party.

Even after a national tragedy, top Democrats have failed to stand up for the human rights of displaced victims of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Sure some point to Katrina as a defining political moment, emphasizing Bush and FEMA's ineptitude, but they often ignore the continuing human tragedy. The Bush administration has denied the legal rights guaranteed to internally displaced people by international laws adopted by the United States. Thousands of families have not only lost loved ones and had their lives shattered by this disaster and the Bush administration's disastrous response but now they have been scattered across the country and systematically denied the right to return home or to have a say in how their neighborhoods are rebuilt, rights guaranteed to them under international law. Real leadership, in either party, ready to listen and partner with the impoverished disenfranchised Americans displaced by this tragedy has yet to materialize.

It takes true leadership and moral courage to challenge people to open their eyes to the problems that exist in the shadows. Robert Kennedy was determined to bring attention to racism in South Africa and in the United States, to the inhumane conditions in farmworker camps in California or our decaying inner city slums. Sure it was easy for people to turn away from his difficult message but he had the courage to confront not just those who opposed change but those who were initially indifferent. He was able to capture people's imagination by turning a seemingly bleak message into a brilliant challenge of the American spirit.

Democrats need to reflect on RFK's words summon the moral courage to challenge voters to stand with justice. If they will not acknowledge the injustices that are occurring even in our own country, then they will continue becoming the party of elections, not principles. Thankfully it is not too late. Democrats will not always be able to depend on voters reacting to corruption and illegal actions by the GOP to win support; they need substance and uniting principles beyond reaction. Democrats can once again stand up for their ideals and strike out against injustice and begin to make a ripple of hope.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

It's Now or Never

It's Now or Never
Justin Frank
Huffington Post

George W Bush is like the cork floating on the ocean, bobbing with the waves but ultimately never really affected by them. Paradoxically he is the most powerful man on earth, the self-proclaimed “decider” who acts like a fraternity boy. But I don’t think he’s acting. Rather, Bush seems stuck in a time warp.

For Bush at Yale (1964-68) the Vietnam War was background noise easily drowned out by heavy drinking, partying, and branding pledges with hot coat hangers. While many of his classmates were arguing about the war or protesting in the streets, Bush bragged about how he kept his focus on what was most important.
Fast forward to June 30, 2006 and we see that the only thing different about George Bush now is that he is standing up, not lying drunk on a fraternity house floor. Pledge-master no more, he is our President whose hands-on branding of pledges has given way to outsourced torture of people he doesn’t like. But the party continues, this time in Graceland. And Bush and his Elvis wannabe friend from Japan were eagerly followed by an enabling press – over 300 strong – which is always looking for a good time.

This time there is no war in Vietnam; it is in Iraq and is presided over by this self-same party animal. To keep things parallel Bush had to start a war – it makes partying that much more fun. Luckily for outgoing (in more than one sense) Prime Minister Koizumi, the people Bush is bombing are brown and not yellow. And flag-draped body bags are being carried back to America once more.