Friday, June 04, 2004

Bush, an attorney, and an subpoena?

It looks like the Valerie Plame investigation has gotten a lot more interesting. Bush has confirmed that he spoke with an attorney outside of the government.

Why is this important? Let me explain...

The White House has in-house attorneys, and they are regularly consulted on numerous matters. However, there is only one reason why President Bush would seek outside council: Whatever he has to say needs to be protected by the attorney-client privilege. That's right, he has something to hide.

The White House conversations with its own attorneys are not protected by this standard in private legal matters. Anything said to one of the in-house lawyers can be subpoenaed and anyone who conversed with a White House official can be compelled to testify.

Bush had something pretty important to say if he wanted it protected by attorney-client privilege. Think about it. He has free legal council, the best in the world, available 24-hours a day. What would cause a man to seek outside council under these circumstances? He needs to discuss a private legal matter that he doesn't want subpoenaed. George W. Bush has something to hide.

Now, what is it that he may know that he really doesn't want to be public knowledge? Speculation is centered on an article from left-wing paper Capitol Hill Blue, a liberal version of the Drudge Report. The Blue article cites closed-door grand jury testimony claiming that Bush had direct knowledge of the leaking of Plame's CIA identity, but did nothing to stop it from happening.

This is damning.

Remember, revealing the identity of an undercover agent is a federal crime. Doing so not only threatens the life of the outed spy, it destroys all the work the spy was conducting, and seriously exploits the work she was doing for intelligence.

This is a serious offense.

Far more serious than lying about Monica...

Yeah, Monica. See how this all comes together? When Bill Clinton was facing an open-ended investigation into the Whitewater/PaulaJones/Lewinski scandals, a separate court battle came all the way to the Supreme Court. It was decided that the President and his in-house attorneys did not have attorney-client privilege.

That's right.

The Republican's have officially screwed their own.

They did so by forcing the issue on Clinton, making him consult an outside attorney for private legal matters because he had something to hide. Clinton would never have made this public move, with its obvious motivation, for any other reason. If he had nothing to hide, he would never have gone outside his in-house council.

Bush has to consult with an outside attorney about a matter he didn't want on the record. In so doing, he made it clear that he was hiding something, and has fired up speculation over his crime. The same rabid neo-cons who celebrated the moment it was clear Clinton had something to hide are not feeling so great right now. They realize what this means. Bush made the move because he had something to hide.

It is looking more and more likely that the President will be called before a grand jury, and gathering from his coversation with the attorney, he has something fairly relevant to add. Whether we get to hear it or not still remains to be seen. Yet, this incident demonstrates an incredible turn toward Watergate.

The rats are running scared

With the Chalabi-Iran probe looking into Pentagon neo-cons, the ongoing lack of evidence supporting the rationale for war with Iraq, the 9-11 Commission results due in a month, the imminent human rights report which is likely to be damning to the Bush adminstration...

After all of the lies told about Iraq, about pre-9/11 intelligence, about the departure of the bin Ladin family after 9/11, after the Halliburton no-bid contracts and Enron financial support...

Maybe this time, we will officially see George W. Bush for what he is:

A criminal.

China: the next great society? Part 1 in a series of ongoing, stream-of-consciousness explorations of China

Without a doubt, China has exploded onto the world scene since Nixon first visited in Febuary 1972. During a period when communist nations imploded under the isolating nature of its structure, capitalist nations prospered from an open-market society, further pressuring communist nations into incestuous self-protection.

However, China may well be the sole communist nation which has a hope for introducing a significantly new form of government to the world. A strange amalgam of communism, capitalism, and a relatively progressive outlook has thrust China onto the world stage not just as a nuclear power but as a major economic player.

From the New York Times:
Tiananmen irrevocably changed the relationship between China's people and its rulers. Although the immediate sequel was repression and reaction, that change has worked out mainly for the better over time. It is now possible to recognize China's Tiananmen spring as part of the global political upheaval of 1989 that wrote Communism's epitaph. That fall, similar youthful and idealistic movements helped end Communist rule across Eastern and Central Europe. In China, Communist power survived, but Communist ideology crumbled.

There have been few opportunities in the history of civilization to affect such a massive and progressive change. Make no mistake: the Chinese model is far from perfect, and suffers severely from limitations on human rights and personal freedoms which are the byproducts of the communistic culture.

However, China has an outlook on capitalism that is both realistic and progressive. With tight controls already in place, and reforms slowly developing on social fronts, the government has an opportunity to start well ahead in those areas than the US and other major democracies.

Where China currently fails is in the social realms dealing with freedom: speech; press; assembly. In a comparison to some recent court decisions in the United States, and in combination with laws such as the Patriot Act, it is clear that this nation is quickly heading toward many of the communistic over-reaches that are so devastating to the morale of the citizenry. Patriot in particular offers near-absolute power of search and seizure, with no real safeguards against abuse.

The soon-to-be Patriot II goes even further.

The Bush Adminstration has held Padilla for over two years without offering him a court date or hearing. A key symptom of past communist nations is the ability of the state to hold its citizens against will for an undeclared and indeterminable period of time.

So, in essence, while the United States manages to introduce the authoritarian, police state aspects of communism in our nation, the Chinese are slowly but surely softening some aspects of its authoritarian constructs.
China began experimenting with market reforms long before 1989. The man who started those reforms, Deng Xiaoping, was also the man who authorized the Tiananmen crackdown. Deng the economic maverick was also Deng the rigid Leninist. Yet the archaic structures of power and belief that Mr. Deng shed so much blood to preserve soon began turning into something he neither foresaw nor approved of: an evolving 21st-century mix of capitalism, authoritarianism and pragmatism.

I'll continue this thought in a second part later

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Mission Accomplished...Olympics-style

Originally posted in a comment thread by me on Daily Kos, slightly edited for IDV:

The Olympics will provide a significant diversion of press coverage from the election. In fact, I would not be surprised to see Bush aggressively identify with the American Olympians to make one last ditch attempt to rally the "patriots" to his call.

Can anyone else see this photo-op?:

Location: Greek main stadium:

Torch is circling the track to the final exit up the steps;

Crowd cheering madly;

Up pops a US Apache helicopter, hovers just beside unlit Olympic flame cauldron;

A ladder decends...a man dressed in digital camos, dark goggles, and mess gloves shimmies down quickly.

As the torch runner nears the caudron, the masked soldier steps forward

The mask is removed, revealing...

George W. Bush "Let me help you, as I help all the world's people," says the President, snatching the torch from the runner. "Freedom... Democracy....Four more years!"

George dramatically holds the torch high in the air, his other hand stretched into a thumbs-up display. The torch is slightly tilted toward the cauldron;

Flame erupts skyward just as fireworks explode, spelling out "Mission Accomplished....if Bush is reelected"

"Paid for by the campaign to reelect George W. Bush" blasts across the loudspeaker...

White American males between the ages of 18-40 jump in the air, pumping their fists, once again being proud to be Americans...

Howard Dean on e-voting

This appears via Common Dreams:
Published on Thursday, June 3, 2004 by the Daily Camera / Boulder, Colorado

Hold Up on E-voting
by Howard Dean

In December 2000, five Supreme Court justices concluded that a recount in the state of Florida's presidential election was unwarranted. This, despite the desire of the Florida Supreme Court to order a statewide recount in an election that was decided by only 537 votes. In the face of well-documented voting irregularities throughout the state, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision created enormous cynicism about whether the votes of every American would actually be counted. Although we cannot change what happened in Florida, we have a responsibility to our democracy to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Some politicians believe a solution to this problem can be found in electronic voting. Recently, the federal government passed legislation encouraging the use of "touch screen" voting machines, even though they fail to provide a verifiable record that can be used in a recount. Furthermore, this equipment cannot even verify whether a voter did indeed cast a ballot for his or her intended candidate. Unfortunately, this November, as many as 28 percent of Americans — 50 million people — will cast ballots using machines that could produce such unreliable and unverifiable results.

Only since 2000 have touch-screen voting machines become widely used, yet they already have caused widespread controversy due to their unreliability. For instance, in Wake County, N.C., in 2002, 436 votes were lost as a result of bad software. Hinds County, Miss., had to rerun an election because the machines had so many problems that the will of the voters could not be determined. According to local election officials in Fairfax County, Va., a recent election resulted in one in 100 votes being lost. Many states, such as New Hampshire and most recently, Maine, have banned paperless touch-screen voting and many more are considering doing so.

Without any accountability or transparency, even if these machines work, we cannot check whether they are in fact working reliably. The American public should not tolerate the use of paperless e-voting machines until at least the 2006 election, allowing time to prevent ongoing errors and failures with the technology. One way or another, every voter should be able to check that an accurate paper record has been made of their vote before it is recorded.

Both Democrats and Republicans have a serious interest in fixing this potentially enormous blow to democracy. A bipartisan bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), is one of several paper trail bills in the House and Senate and it should be passed as soon as possible. A grassroots movement for verified voting, led by organizations like, is gaining momentum nationwide.

There is nothing partisan about the survival of our democracy or its legitimacy. We cannot and must not put the success of one party or another above the good of our entire country and all our people. To the governments of the 50 states, Republican or Democrat, I ask you to put paperless e-voting machines on the shelf until 2006 or until they are reliable and will allow recounts. In a democracy you always count the votes no matter who wins. To abandon that principle is to abandon America.

Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates.

Kerry campaign interview with Rand Beers

This is from an official email from the Kerry campaign:

An Interview with Rand Beers
One week ago, John Kerry kicked off eleven days of speeches and campaign events outlining his national security policy. As head of the Internet Team, I had the opportunity to sit down with Rand Beers to discuss how John Kerry will build a stronger America, that is respected in the world, and secure at home.

After serving at the National Security Council at the White House during Republican and Democratic administrations, Rand Beers resigned as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism in March 2003 to protest the Bush administration's loss of focus on the war on terrorism. Eight weeks later, he joined the Kerry Campaign as National Security/Homeland Security Issues Coordinator. He began his career as a Marine rifle company commander in Vietnam.

Josh Ross: Was it a difficult decision to leave the Bush administration?

Rand Beers: It was an extraordinarily difficult decision for me to make. When you've worked with people for a number of years, you develop a sense of loyalty and camaraderie. But I feel strongly that if you're going to play a part in any government, you have to be one hundred percent committed. When I could not give that kind of commitment because of differences in philosophy and the administration's rush to war, I decided to leave.

After I left, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do, and came to the conclusion that rather than being part of the problem, which I was within the administration, I wanted to be part of the solution.

Josh Ross: There were nine Democrats in the field when you joined the Kerry campaign. Why pick John Kerry over all the rest?

Rand Beers: I joined John Kerry's campaign because I knew about his record in the Senate, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I knew that he cared about the changing security environment that the world was facing. And one of his former staffers, Jonathan Winer, worked for me as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department, so I had a good appreciation of the kinds of issues and concerns that John Kerry was passionate about.

I also admire Senator Kerry because of his Vietnam experience. Like him, I served in Vietnam. Like him, I went back for a second tour after having spent a full year there. Like him, I came back to the United States deeply concerned that our efforts in Vietnam had gone off track. I was drawn to John Kerry because of our similar experiences, plus the knowledge that individuals who have served in combat have an important perspective when they make decisions about war and peace.

Josh Ross: What steps do we need to take to restore U.S. authority and leadership in the world?

Rand Beers: It's absolutely essential that the next president, from his first day in office, makes a major effort to reach out to countries around the world. We need to return to the kind of dialogue that is necessary to knit together relationships and alliances into meaningful coalitions, to deal with the problems around the globe. If you're not prepared to listen, as well as talk, then it's much harder to bring other countries together for common purposes and common solutions.

Josh Ross: What lessons from history can we apply to fighting the war on terror?

Rand Beers: I think that the major lesson from history is that if we do not work together with allies around the world, we are going to be unable to prevent terrorists from attacking us and hurting us. We will never have a perfect defense; but we will be stronger and more secure with strong allies.

Second, we need to adapt our capabilities to the new threats we face. Terrorism was previously a secondary concern not only for the United States but for most countries. The face of terrorism is ever-changing and evolving. We're going to have to look at our military forces, our intelligence forces, and our law enforcement community, both within the United States and globally, to make sure that we have the right kind of people, the right kind of capabilities, and the right kind of skills in order to deal with these new threats.

We also have to dry up support and sympathy for al-Qaeda in the Islamic world. We have to reinforce the perception in the Islamic world that the kind of activity and behavior that al-Qaeda engages in is unrepresentative of the religion as a whole. This will take time and considerable effort, but it's a mission that we must participate in with the Islamic world and other members of the international community.

Josh Ross: How will a John Kerry presidency differ from a George Bush Presidency, in terms of foreign policy, the war on terrorism, and Iraq?

Rand Beers: John Kerry presented a very clear set of differences in his speech in Seattle last Thursday. First, he would return to the alliance structure that has stood so well since the second World War. Those alliances need to be updated, strengthened and refocused for a post 9/11 world, so that organizations such as NATO are no longer confined in their vision.

Second, John Kerry will ensure that we have the kind of military that's necessary for security missions. We must have more than just a force that is capable of fighting conventional wars. We also must have the skills and capabilities that will allow us to deal with failed states, terrorism, and threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, especially keeping them away from terrorists.

Third, John Kerry will use all the tools in our foreign policy arsenal. We will emphasize the use of diplomacy, which the Bush administration has put in cold storage. We need better intelligence capabilities and better use of economic power, our ideas, and our values.

Finally, we need to become energy independent, so our foreign policy isn't distorted by our dependence on Middle East oil

GOP Doublespeak

David Sirota, a writer for Progress Report and daily guest on the Air America program The o'Franken Factor, has posted a glaring piece of doublespeak from blowhard Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Full-sovereignty looks a lot like occupation

Sec. of State Powell said today that Iraq would have not have "a veto over military operations."

Hmm...that sure seems to clash with the Bush Administration's assertions that the Iraqi government would have "full sovereignty."

Powell then went on to say that
"The Iraqi government is sovereign and... it has said that we consent to the presence of coalition forces, we want coalition forces there, we are going to coordinate and cooperate with each other"
How can the "government" currently be sovereign if there has been no official transfer of power? And how can said government agree with the continual occupation by U.S. troops, if it has yet to be finalized??

Lott the "angry jester" supporting Abu Ghraib abuse?

Lott, whose famous foot in mouth statements appeared to support Strom Thurmond's segregationist politics, causing him to step down in 2002 as Senate majority leader, has yet again put himself on the side of the ignorant many. Lott stated that the abuse using dogs is acceptable "unless the dog ate him." He went on to claim that "should not have been prisoners in the first place, probably should have been killed" but offers no evidence to back this up. Instead, it seems that a substantial amount of the detainees were held for no reason whatsoever...

Washington heats up...

With the resignation today of Tenet (although he isn't leaving until mid-July), and the deepening investigation into the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, for which Bush has taken an unusual step to procure an outside lawyer, the Bush Administration ship is springing leaks quickly.

The lawyer chosen by Bush, Jim Sharp, has been involved with a Washington scandal previously, having represented General Richard Secord in the Iran-Contra investigations.

In the Plame investigation, which saw the a Washington Post article state that "two senior White House officials" were involved in the leak, reportedly allowed for pure "revenge," the consequences for Bush are extremely troubling. He could face a charge of "misprision" which is a term which basically means he had knowledge of a crime but failed to report it to the authorities. Although not as serious a situation as may be faced should the Feds decide to act on Bush's lies to Congress, the resulting political fiasco is just as likely.

Dems are getting involved in the pursuit of legal means to bring down this destructive and damaging administration, demanding a probe into Cheney's influence in the no-bid Halliburton deals after an email message was recovered stating that the deals had been "coordinated" by the VP's office.

Don't forget that the Bush administration has promised an investigation into the Chalabi-Iran information leaks. Finally, this scandalous group of people is being beset with scandals!

CIA Director George Tenet Resigns (One down...Many to go...)

Could this be the first casualty of Al Gore's speech? There has been lots of questioning as to why Tenet had remained at his post for so long, having been the head of the CIA during two of the most egregious failures of intelligence ever seen: 9-11 and the misinformation in leading us to war in Iraq. This resignation is not unexpected, but instead, many thought he would have been gone long ago. Look for more members of the Administration to suddenly remember that they had "other priorities" than staying in Washington.

Just now available....

Check out the trailer for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11, set to debut in theaters on June 25. If the trailer is any indication, this country is going to rock soon thereafter...

Bush the flip-flopping LIAR

Chalabi who? You would think the Bush Administration had never heard of the guy after allegations have been made that Chalabi passed highly sensitive information to Iran. In this link from Atrios, and help from a comment blogger, Bush has clearly been caught in yet another lie...

The Ocala Syndrome

Has the Army lost its collective mind? This posted email comes to IDV thanks to kos from the Daily Kos. He did some research, and found this to be a true story.

Ocala is about dead-center in the state, almost exactly 90 miles in the appropriate directions from Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.
Seems one of our county sheriff's deputies, 1st Sgt. Fred Chisholm, commands a unit of the 351st Military Police Company in Iraq. Their Humvees aren't armored, so he wrote to his boss, Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean, and said the department's obsolete Kevlar body armor would be perfect for lining the floors and sides of their vehicles to protect them from bullets and bombs.

Sheriff Dean contacted about 40 other law enforcement agencies throughout the state and got them to send their old body armor, too. Altogether, he collected 1,200 pieces for our boys in Baghdad.

Enter the U.S. Army, which was apparently embarrassed that the fact they still had our guys over there riding around in unarmored Hummers was getting lots of local media publicity, refused to accept the body armor (despite pleas from the local commander of the 351st, who wanted it), and publicly censured 1st Sgt, Chisholm for asking for it.

Our local red, white and blue congressman, Cliff Stearns, also joined in criticizing Sheriff Dean for butting in where he wasn't welcome.

The body armor is still sitting in a warehouse at the 351st's HQ in Ocala, and our guys in Iraq are still riding around in thin-skinned Humvees.

Support our troops indeed!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Another good CBS video

CBS reports that Bush has considered taking an outside attorney in preparation for the investigation into the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to Robert Novak.

Accenture gets Homeland Security contract

From the Daily Misled:

Bush Gives Contract to Tax Traitor/Campaign Donor

President Bush has said he wants to “make sure that the system is fair for those of us who do pay taxes” and that “we want everybody paying their fair share.”1 But yesterday, the president went out of his way to lavish a massive government contract on a major campaign contributor,2 even though it specifically moved operations offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

According to news reports, the Bush administration yesterday gave a $10 billion contract3 for the Department of Homeland Security to Accenture (formerly Arthur Andersen), despite the company having recently moved its official headquarters to Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.4 The contract was awarded less than two years after the White House and its allies in Congress gutted a House-passed provision that would have banned awarding homeland security contracts to corporations who exploit tax loopholes, move offshore, and avoid U.S. taxes.5 At the time, Accenture lobbied to eliminate the provision,6 hiring GOP political consultant “and Bush family confidant” Charlie Black to lobby on its behalf.7 Accenture executives have given President Bush more than $68,000 in campaign contributions8 since 2000.

Of course, the president has made a practice of paying lip service to the problem of corporate tax evasion, while actively opposing solutions behind the scenes. ABC News reported that when Congress was considering bills to curb the practice in 2002, Bush “said the Bermuda loophole should be closed” but refused to support “any of the bills that would do so”9 and then allowed his allies to kill the legislation.

CBS brings the Bush-Enron connection to the forefront. Again...

CBS has broadcast Enron energy traders caught on tape celebrating the bilking manuevers used by Enron, and expressing glee over natural disasters contributing to higher energy prices. See the news video here.

Here is the transcript (sanitized by CBS):
CBS) When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.

"Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing," a trader sang about the massive fire.

Four years after California's disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard – on audiotapes obtained by CBS News – gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.

"He just f---s California," says one Enron employee. "He steals money from California to the tune of about a million."

"Will you rephrase that?" asks a second employee.

"OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day," replies the first.

The tapes, from Enron's West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down.

"If you took down the steamer, how long would it take to get it back up?" an Enron worker is heard saying.

"Oh, it's not something you want to just be turning on and off every hour. Let's put it that way," another says.

"Well, why don't you just go ahead and shut her down."

Tonight's Evening News will have more of the shocking Enron tapes, plus the outraged reaction from Capitol Hill.

Officials with the Snohomish Public Utility District near Seattle received the tapes from the Justice Department.

"This is the evidence we've all been waiting for. This proves they manipulated the market," said Eric Christensen, a spokesman for the utility.

That utility, like many others, is trying to get its money back from Enron.

"They're f------g taking all the money back from you guys?" complains an Enron employee on the tapes. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?"

"Yeah, grandma Millie, man"

"Yeah, now she wants her f------g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her a------ for f------g $250 a megawatt hour."

And the tapes appear to link top Enron officials Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling to schemes that fueled the crisis.

"Government Affairs has to prove how valuable it is to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling," says one trader.


"Do you know when you started over-scheduling load and making buckets of money on that?

Before the 2000 election, Enron employees pondered the possibilities of a Bush win.

"It'd be great. I'd love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy," says one Enron worker.

That didn't happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices.

"When this election comes Bush will f------g whack this s--t, man. He won't play this price-cap b------t."

Crude, but true.

"We will not take any action that makes California's problems worse and that's why I oppose price caps," said Mr. Bush on May 29, 2001.

Both the Justice Department and Enron tried to prevent the release of these tapes. Enron's lawyers argued they merely prove "that people at Enron sometimes talked like Barnacle Bill the Sailor."

©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

First lawsuit filed over abuse records

The first serious legal salvo has been fired in the pursuit of records regarding the treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo, and elsewhere.
"The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, charges that the U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and State have failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the groups last year. Other defendants in the suit include the FBI and the CIA."
The FOIA is tough to have consistently applied to issues concerning "national security." However, the Guantanamo prisoners have been held for years without representation or accountability from those holding them. Hopefully, the courts will award this FOIA release, although I seriously doubt we will see any results in the near future.

Look how long it has taken to get Cheney's Energy Task Force case all the way to the Supreme Court. Even with a successful case before the SC, the fight might still not yield results due to the remaining issues in the case.

How is this not slavery?

The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. Army is instituting a "stop-loss" program which will keep service members in the Army past their agreed upon time period. Many members expecting to retire will be forced to remain if their unit is within 90 days of deployment, even if the retirement had been schedule prior to deployment orders.

Lets look at this checklist for the Army's definition of patriotism:

Forced consciption?................................Check
Poor compensation for work?.....................Check
Subjection to dangerous/damaging conditions?..Check
Forced separation from family?...................Check
Forced standards of living?........................Check
No say in any decisions being made?.............Check

Hmm, yep, patriotism is starting to look more and more like slavery.

Yarborough v. Alvarado

A case missed by most of the press was decided on Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, which involved the quasi-detainment of a seventeen year-old, sought a determination of the intent and spirit of Miranda rights, and whether age had any part in the process.
"The Miranda custody test is an objective test. Two discrete inquiries are essential: (1) the circumstances surrounding the interrogation, and (2) given those circumstances, whether a reasonable person would have felt free to terminate the interrogation and leave"
Despite the despicable actions of Alvarado and his accomplice, the spirit of Miranda seems to be ignored in the eventual ruling. In a 5-4 decision, split as usual along party and ideological lines, the Supreme court asserted that Miranda did not apply because 1) The interrogation was essentially "informal" and therefore, there was no expectation of Miranda rights, and 2) a normal person under similar circumstances would have believed his/her participation was voluntary and be able to stop the interview at any time.

When deciding when to apply Miranda, it seems the Court has missed the entire spirit of such declaration of rights. Miranda v Arizona produced a bare minimum of disclosure requirements prior to interrogating or officially handling witnesses and suspects. While the precedent is fairly clear as to when Miranda should be applied, it is disheartening to find the conservative Justices favoring State powers over individual rights, as they have in this case. By allowing interrogators to interview people under "temporary" or "informal" conditions, the spirit of Miranda has been violated, and the proper and just protections it provides have been pushed aside in favor of a strict and narrow interpretation of precedent-setting cases.
"The Miranda custody inquiry is an objective test...Ensuring that the police need not guess as to [the circumstances] at issue before deciding how they may interrogate the suspect."

But shouldn't the procedures favor the rights of the individual involved rather than the state? Under extreme and immediate conditions, Miranda waiver is expected and necessary in order to protect the citizenry. However, such a waivers is inexcusable under less immediate concerns. The burden of applying Miranda should fall on state representatives in a way that favors the retention and promotion of individual, not state, rights. Miranda should be assumed to be required, rather than favoring the usage of informal interrogation techniques.
"In concluding that such factors should also apply to the Miranda custody inquiry, the Ninth Circuit ignored the argument that that inquiry states an objective rule designed to give clear guidance to the police, while consideration of a suspect's individual characteristics, including his age, could be viewed as creating a subjective inquiry"
But doesn't this interpretation of Miranda shift the burden of understanding onto the individual rather than the state? In a case which set progressive and protective assurances into law, Miranda established the need to have such a burden fall on the state rather than the individual. Yarborough has brushed aside this concern for rights, and offer investigators legal protection against previously unlawful interrogation. Fifth Amendment rights must come into play here somewhere, and without the basic protections provided by Miranda during interrogations, individuals, specifically those whose age falls below majority status, experience degradation of Fifth Amendment protections.

In writing the dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer railed against this slight to Miranda protections.
"In my view, Michael Alvarado clearly was "in custody" when the police questioned him (without Miranda warnings)...The law in this case asks judges to apply, not arcane or complex legal directives, but ordinary common sense. Would a reasonable person in Alvarado's position have felt free simply to get up and walk out of the small room in the station house at will during his 2-hour police interrogation? I ask the reader to put himself, or herself, in Alvarado's circumstances and then answer that question: Alvarado hears from his parents that he is needed for police questioning. His parents take him to the station. On arrival, a police officer separates him from his parents. His parents ask to come along, but the officer says they may not... Another officer says, 'What do we have here; we are going to question a suspect.'"
It is my belief that most seventeen year olds would have felt obligated to take part in the interrogation under these circumstances. This was not an interview held on neutral turf, or in an area which offered a clear means of ending it, but instead took place at the police station, and was conducted by an official of the state. Most, if not all, teenagers, would find it hard to enforce his/her right to end the interview. Therefore, the spirit and letter of Miranda should apply to this circumstance.
"What reasonable person in the circumstance, brought to a police station by his parents at police request, put in a small interrogation room, questioned for a solid two hours, and confronted with claims that there is strong evidence that he participated in a serious crime, could have thought to himself, Well, anytime I want to leave I can just get up and walk out? If the person harbored any doubts, would he still think he might be free to leave once he recalls that the police officer has just refused to let his parents remain with him during questioning? Would he still think that he, rather than the officer, controls the situation?

There is only one possible answer to these questions. A reasonable person would not have thought he was free simply to pick up and leave in the middle of the interrogation. I believe the California courts were clearly wrong to hold the contrary, and the Ninth Circuit was right in concluding that those state courts unreasonably applied clearly established federal law.

The facts to which the majority points make clear what the police did not do, for example, come to Alvarado's house, tell him he was under arrest, handcuff him, place him in a locked cell, threaten him, or tell him explicitly that he was not free to leave. But what is important here is what the police did do, namely, have Alvarado's parents bring him to the station, put him with a single officer in a small room, keep his parents out, let him know that he was a suspect, and question him for two hours. These latter facts compel a single conclusion: A reasonable person in Alvarado's circumstances would not have felt free to terminate the interrogation and leave."


AP wire service has called the race for Herseth! Congrats the all the SD team, as well as the many people from across the nation who helped this happen. Despite the fact that the republicans spent millions on the race in a largely Republican state, Stephanie has pulled it off.

Of course, she'll have to keep her campaign going since this election is only to fill the remainder of Bill Janklow's term. I'm sure her defeated opponent Diedrich will not hesitate to unleash everything in the run up to the November elections.

In fact, I'd say that Diedrich's "concession" from yesterday was intentional, and meant to keep Republicans from voting. The logic goes like this: Diedrich, a smart tactician, understands the public slide of support for Bush. He recognizes that if elected today, he would, by sheer party allegiance, have to strongly keep associations with Bush. Despite the public show of confidence, there are serious cracks in the GOP effort this year, and Diedrich, who would have likely only squeaked a victory if at all today, would suffer enough voter loss to lose the seat for two years. This way, he has an extra few months to refocus attention on destroying Herseth's public image, and is only out of office for a couple months. From a tactical standpoint, it may be a smart move.

Then again, it may just be my imagination...he may be simply trying to make a close race look like a victory, a common political move...


Herseth has seen her lead drop down as low as 2100, but it now stands at 3000 with 33 precincts left to report.

Check comments for updates.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Herseth win could help Kerry and Democrats

If Herseth can prevail tonight, Kerry might have a new rallying point for his campaign. Democrats feel a new wind blowing, and a win tonight would provide some proof that there is a serious chance to make changes in leadership in November.

Kerry's chances of winning go up tremendously when the party as a whole is successful, as the Republican Congressmen have proven in several past elections.

Hopefully, Kerry will embrace this and start pushing the momentum to a higher level in advance of the convention. With Kerry driving Democrats to recognize the chances, this party might well make big changes in Congress and the Senate.

With the excitement Dean offered earlier this year getting many moderate Dems up off their butts to keep him from winning the nomination, Gore's speech last week may have gotten the other, more liberal Dems energized. Hopefully, both groups can come together to support Kerry
A lot of people are concerned about Nader again this year, but I think you'll find that many people are giving pollers their choice from their heart, which has Nader with as much as 7% the vote. Hopefully, Nader voters are as smart as they claim to be, and will use their heads to vote for Kerry in November. Nader polled as much as 7% prior to the 2000 election, but pulled less than 3% on election day. This year will be even more dramatic.

Lead down to 4%

With 242 precincts reporting, Herseth's lead is down to 52%-48%

Check message comments for updates.

Lead now at 12%

Herseth is now up by almost 3000 votes with a 56%-44% margin with 10% precincts reporting.

Check this thread's comments for updates on results...

Herseth up 4%

Herseth is up 4% with 20 precincts reporting

Fahrenheit 9-11 gets a distributor and release date

A coalition of Lions Gate Films, IFC Films and the Fellowship Adventure Group has picked up the distribution end of Michael Moore's new movie. Cheers to these defenders of the 1st Amendment! The movie is scheduled to hit theaters in just over three weeks, June 25

Debunking one of the many White House lie campaigns...

After the Washington Post ran a highly critical article about the Bush campaign's negative and "misleading" ads, the Bush campaign issued a press release which claimed to "correct" the Washington Post's "lies." However, as blogger Joel Caris's research has proven, the release actually proves the points made in the Post article. Great job Joel!

When will the press continue to avoid challenging political assertions? Why is it asking too much for journalism to shift the balance of job responsibilities from writing to investigation? So many seem so caught up in exposing the next scandal and arguing amongst themselves, adding their own names to the national dialog, that they completely overlook outrageous lies being disseminated by our major "official" political parties.

The blogosphere has provided a wonderful underground network of "debunkers" who put in endless hours researching subjects and providing a stimulus for intelligent dialog. Hopefully, this new addition to the Fourth Estate can build upon the free-flow of information which is the strength of the Internet and create a new "legitimate" competitor for the corporate media. Bloggers have allowed journalism to be separated from the media, a much needed separation to be sure. Few make money doing this, but the value of the information they provide is priceless.

Health Care BS

I'm snagging a post by the Center of American Progress to help get this complex and fraud-tainted subject out to the public.

Overlooking Fraud Record

As seniors fear being bilked by the confusing new Medicare discount drug card program that starts today, the Center for American Progress released a new report showing that 20 of the 73 companies the White House approved to participate in the program have been charged at the federal and/or state level with fraud. The report, entitled "Paying to Play," shows those 20 companies gave more than $3 million to the president and conservatives in Congress since the 2000 election cycle. That represents more than 60% of the total contributions given to the president and conservatives from all 73 approved card companies. Additionally, seven of the president's "Pioneers" (those who raised $100,000 or more for him) are linked to companies approved for the program. Three of those companies have been accused of fraud. See more on Medicare at American Progress's special Medicare site.

"PIONEER" COMPANIES APPROVED DESPITE INVOLVEMENT IN FRAUD CHARGES: According to AP, Medco president Alan Lotvin recently held a $100,000 fundraiser for the president after the White House overlooked Medco's fraud record and approved the company for the drug card program. Medco recently was forced to pay $29 million in fines in a probe into "unfair and deceptive acts" in 20 states. Similarly, PacifiCare lobbyist Tom Loeffler raised at least $200,000 for the president. His company was subsequently approved by the White House for the drug card program, even though it was recently forced to pay the federal government $87.3 million to settle alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act. According to the 4/13/02 Orange County Register, the fine was "the largest civil settlement ever assessed on a company providing health coverage to federal employees." And Bush Pioneer Samuel Skinner is a member of the board of Express Scripts, a company approved by the White House even though its business practices are currently under investigation by the New York attorney general.

BUSH CRONY'S FIRM APPROVED, DESPITE RESISTING FEDERAL PROBE: AdvancePCS, a company run by Bush's longtime Texas crony and donor David Halbert, was approved to participate in the drug card program, even though in 2002 the company "fiercely resisted attempts by the Justice Department to interview some of its employees" during a probe into a prescription drug price fixing scheme. During the 1980s, Bush was an original investor in an early version of AdvancePCS, which netted him up to $1 million. He rewarded Halbert by allowing AdvancePCS to help craft the legislation that created the original drug card program. For more on the Bush-Halbert-AdvancePCS relationship, see American Progress's earlier report.

HERITAGE SPREADS UNTRUTHS FOR DRUG COMPANIES: In a new paper claiming to be "The Truth About the Medicare Drug Discount Card," the Heritage Foundation spreads the drug industry claim that the cards create competition and "transparency in drug prices." What Heritage does not say is that the "the drug prices offered by a given card can change from week to week as can the list of drugs the cards cover." In fact, while seniors "are scrambling to find the one card that offers the best prices for the drugs they take," the "card sponsors and drug manufacturers have made that task nearly impossible as prices are changing even before the program has begun." Meanwhile, once seniors select a card, they are locked into it for at least a year, even if drug prices and selection changes for that card.

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article about the lack of interest in obtaining one of the 70-plus (yes, more than 70!) different "discount" drug cards.

We need more of this

People claiming to have a "new vision" for solving our nation's energy problems should pay close attention to stories like this. Using bananas which could not be sold to generate energy may sound unfeasible, but a few Australians are putting the process to the test.

Just good ole boys in NC

Oh, man, I just listened to a new ad for one of the GOP candidates for NC Governor. I can't describe it, so I'll let it speak for itself. Everyone needs a good laugh today!

Mislabeled "partial-birth" abortion law ruled unconstitutional

Well, it was inevitable that this shoddily written piece of crap would fail in the court system. Even proponents of a ban on such abortions understood that the law was poorly designed and did not ensure enough safeguards and exceptions for the health of the mother.

This makes the second significant defeat for John Ashcroft and the Bush Administration in a week. Last week, Oregon refused to ban assisted suicide as requested by the Justice Department. I'm sure Bush and company will be crying about "activist judges."

Its amazing that when such judges rule on the basis of law rather than subjective interpretation, they are deemed "activists." But in 2000, in the case of Gore v Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court's proper decision to make every effort to count votes. Florida's SC had relied on the fairly straight-forward election statutes which insisted that the state count any votes, despite potential flaws, which clearly demonstrate the will of the voter. The US Supreme Court offered no basis for overruling the Florida decision, and instead, made a judgement so skewed many have claimed it broke down many barriers between the Executive and Judicial branches of our government.
In so doing, the Justices made a "non-precedent" setting decision to stop the vote counts, using the 14th Amendment quite liberally to invoke equal protection rights. That is true activistic activity, not the actions of judges, such as U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton from today's abortion case, who rule on cases with the support of legal precedent.
Don't forget to keep an eye on the Supreme Court this month, when several important decision are expected to be handed down.

Correction: New deal for Iraqi President

Apparently, Pachachi did not accept the position, leaving the INC's original choice Ghazi Yawar as the compromised option. Too bad that the INC's decision was not honored originally, there might be considerably less conflict between the US, UN, and the decision makers in Iraq.

Bush gets his way

Looks like the INC has caved, allowing Brahimi and Bremer to overrule their authority in selecting the figure head President of the soon-to-be new government. Adnan Pachachi is 81, for christ's sake. He should be doing lines of Viagra with Bob Dole, not becoming target #1 for anti-occupation militias.

Watch, they'll manage to sneak in Dick Cheney as one of the VPs so that he can take over after Pachachi croaks. That is, if Dick's heart can take the stress...He sure doesn't seem to stress too much about the welfare of America, maybe he would be better off dodging IEDs and car bombs. Then, he might be willing to rally to a cause other than one concerning Halliburton.

Voodoo economics, Bush-style

Paul Krugman's Times article this morning offers a rehashing of previous arguments against Bush's tax cuts, but they bear, once again, repeating.
"In fact, the 257,000 taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million received a bigger combined tax cut than the 85 million taxpayers who make up the bottom 60 percent of the population."

The isolation of the Executive Branch from the scrutiny of independent policy experts has caused a tremendous amount of misunderstanding by the public about Bush's tax plan. With the Treasury Department ceasing distribution of many sets of data, educated analysis of the tax program is undertaken at arms length. The inherent "uncertainty" of using such guesswork only helps the Administration sidestep tax policy questions. Even the most ardent tax-cut supporters have offered little more than fluff reasoning for the extensive tax cuts to the richest individuals.
"Does Mr. Bush understand that the end result of his policies will be to make most Americans worse off, while enriching the already affluent? Who knows? But the ideologues and political operatives behind his agenda know exactly what they're doing."

They aren't even bothering to spout the "trickle-down" concept the Reaganites espoused which would offer a minimal amount of cover for filling wealthy pockets. Maybe they are just lazy, or maybe they are just stupid, but either way, once again, the "grown-up administration" has retreated to its room to do God knows what...

Tobacco regulation making the rounds...again

An editorial in the Washington Post this morning summarizes a view that tobacco regulation should be quickly enacted. There is even a sense of hope that seems almost wistful in the concisely written piece.

There is little doubt that tobacco products, and more explicitly, the nicotine contained within, should be regulated in some way by a government oversight board. The argument goes that such regulation can further anti-smoking efforts, specifically toward children.

However, it is vital to restate one additional priority. With widespread information, backed up by legitimate and scientific facts, generally unavailable on most herbs, chemicals, and additives, there needs to be an independent clearinghouse to investigate and report on such items, much like Consumer Reports in the commercial sector. The FDA portends to offer such investigatory power to existing independent agencies, but the resulting political maneuvering often distorts the results.

No one can deny the power of big business, tobacco a long-time king of the bunch, to influence policy decisions, and, as the Post also reported today, the FDA often has a hard time walking the fine line in medicinal regulation between underprotection and overwarning. Bringing tobacco into the realm of government regulation is commendable, and necessary, but does not go nearly far enough to provide any basis of faith in its authority. The only way to overcome such integral concern is to establish an independent, non-partisan agency, with full investigatory powers, which presents factually-based information to the public. This helps lessen the information vacuum of the present, while providing a layer of regulation for the public good.

As the Post pointed out, doctors should have the ability to view study data in order to most effectively and knowledgeably treat patients. Caveats understood, many physicians would be able to apply the information contained in the studies in a much more personalized manner for special cases.

The need to offer raw, untouched data is vital in any open society, and is the cornerstone of honest, intelligent dialog.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Gasoline, Iraq; economy still in shock; neo-con haiku...

Project for a new
American Century:
Strategery's born

"Go get a real job"
Said Dubya to Michael Moore-
Go steal one, Bush did

Bush wakes up sleepy
Misunderestimates war;
Nap time comes real soon

Cheney helps his friends
Halliburton no-bid deals:
Profiteering scum

Miller shills for Bush
Neo-con wolf looks sheepish-
Smacked-down, but not sacked

Foolish Tom Delay
Thought teachers suckers for sure-
Wrong, he cut and ran

"Blowing off some steam"
Rush Limbaugh defending rape;
Jail might change his mind

New York times lost face
Bought all of Chalabi's lies-
Rove could ask no more

They blame Bill Clinton
Failed, they say, to stop evil:
True! Bush took power

SD Election: June 1. Go Stephanie!

The runoff election for the SD House seat vacated by convicted manslaughterer Bill Janklow will be held tomorrow. The latest preference polls are showing Herseth with a commanding lead over challenger Larry Diedrich.

Stephanie HersethBest Wishes Stephanie!Stephanie Herseth

Casualties of many died for lies?

Meteor Blades from Daily Kos offers a personal view of Iraq and the casualties of the past.

Mike Pridmore, also from dKos, provides yet another take.

Op-Ed in Monday's Boston Globe Re: Putin

Aleksander Lebedev makes a case for the rise of democracy in Russia over the past fifteen years. He certainly has a case for saying that democracy is more in effect now than fifteen years ago. Communism as a government, and the federation then known as the USSR, ceased to exist only thirteen years ago, in 1991, so naturally, what little democracy is seen in Russia can certainly be said to be greater.

Lebedev then goes on to expound an exasperating rationale for acceptance of Putin's electioneering tactics:
"You hear a lot of talk in the West about media manipulation and ballot box conspiracies in recent Russian elections. But Putin’s reelection campaign should be regarded as a reverse paradigm of Ronald Reagan’s campaign question in 1980: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Since the answer in Russia was an overwhelming ‘‘yes,’ voters did not see any real alternative to Putin."

So, even though Putin may well have rigged the election, the voters intended to vote for him anyway? What kind of warped circle logic is that?

He is right, of course, that "voters did not see any real alternative to Putin" since Putin controlled the state-owned media and used it to both issue his ads and restrict the advertising of his competitors. Of course there was no alternative seen...

Sunday, May 30, 2004

We Remember

Gratitude always seems less than genuine when put into mere words. But I must express my appreciation to our soldiers who have fought and fallen throughout the decades to protect those things which we hold most dear. Thanks is not enough, but nonetheless, thank you.
Thanks Boston Globe

Putin / Bush comparisons are not surprising

With editorials in both the Washington Post and the New York Times this morning critiquing Russian President Vladimir Putin's state-of-the-nation speech, it is only too easy to compare Putin's Russia to Bush's America, at least on broad, power-based conditions.
"Mr. Putin seemed just the strong leader Russia needed after the chaos of the Yeltsin years. But the steady expansion of his control over the Parliament, the media, the courts and the tycoons suggests a neo-Soviet boss capitalizing on the fatigue of Russians to herd them back under authoritarian control."-----New York Times

There is no doubt the Putin has quickly eroded away the fragile democratic safeguards installed after the fall of Communism. The power shift never happened, with the old communist stalwarts taking new titles with the changing structure of government. Putin has clearly contributed to this, and I believe, a comparison can be drawn to Pres. Bush.

Bush and his crew have isolated the executive branch from any scrutiny, operating "eyes-only" foreign and domestic policies. The resulting lack of accountability has left our own democractic safeguards eroded. Media outlets have been under the ownership of Bush allies, and as this morning's New York Times Public Editor's comments demonstrate, there is little integrity left in what outlets are not owned by neo-cons.

Bush's two recess appointments of radical judges demonstrate an aggressive agenda of loading the court system with ultra-conservative views, themselves often ruling against First Amendment protections.

There is also no doubt about Bush's tycoon connections. Many of the nation's top executives and corporations, including voting machine producer Diebold, contribute heavily to the Bush campaign. A recent survey of Bush Administration appointees shows a high percentage of the top donation bundlers from the 2000 election gaining positions in the administration. The influence of big business on both Putin and Bush, and the unnerving similarities, demonstrate a dramatic shift by both to consolidate state power. May we be headed for a new cold war? Russia doesn't seem to have the finances, but with these two nations setting an example, emerging powers such as China might offer a significant challenge for world's strongest nation.
"It is all very well for the Russian president to speak of economic liberalism, but the root problems of the Russian economy -- corruption, nepotism and the habits of the former Soviet bureaucracy -- will not be mitigated without greater openness and the raised public awareness that can come only from independent associations"--Washington Post

The similarities are glaring in retrospect, how have they been so clouded to more learned "experts" than me? Bush's usage of secrecy comes directly from his officials, many of whom have direct ties to Watergate participants, much like Putin's people networked with the old Communists. Bush often speaks toward strengthening our economy, and encouraging capitalism, much like Putin has descried.

Can the world continue to overlook the denouement of the two great powers of the Cold War? Let us hope neither side is determined to "go out with a bang."

GOTCHA! Time Magazine fingers Cheney in Halliburton Iraq contract

Not that there was any doubt in many people's minds, but finally there is an explicit connection made by a major media outlet between Cheney and Halliburton's Iraq contracts. Has anyone really believed otherwise? With these guys operating a nepotistic orgy within out government, was there any doubt such favoritism would extend to corporate backers?
How much more of this corporate run government do we have to take? Here are two great quotes on the subject:
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed

-Abraham Lincoln
"Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for."

-Adlai Stevenson


NYTimes Public Editor (ombudsman) blasts the paper's coverage of WMD. Pentagon shill Judith Miller is finally accused in print!
"War requires an extra standard of care, not a lesser one. But in The Times's W.M.D. coverage, readers encountered some rather breathless stories built on unsubstantiated "revelations" that, in many instances, were the anonymity-cloaked assertions of people with vested interests. Times reporters broke many stories before and after the war - but when the stories themselves later broke apart, in many instances Times readers never found out. Some remain scoops to this day. This is not a compliment."
"There is nothing more toxic to responsible journalism than an anonymous source. There is often nothing more necessary, too; crucial stories might never see print if a name had to be attached to every piece of information. But a newspaper has an obligation to convince readers why it believes the sources it does not identify are telling the truth. That automatic editor defense, "We're not confirming what he says, we're just reporting it," may apply to the statements of people speaking on the record. For anonymous sources, it's worse than no defense. It's a license granted to liars."

Mr. Okrent, you have my applause.

Future Bush Dynasty book has family ties?

According to this brief article from the UKs Independent, a new Bush book will debut mere weeks before the November elections. The source is rumored to be Neil's ex-wife Sharon.

"The book could be the most damaging yet for the President, with the publishers, Random House, promising it will 'cause controversy'".

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