Thursday, March 31, 2005

A reminder, support The Agonist's

efforts to get the National Press Club to expand their panel to include more of those directly involved in the issue.

While we commend your about face by extending an invitation to Matthew Yglesias to sit on this panel, it ignores the larger issue. We think highly of Yglesias' work publicizing the mission of bloggers and don't want to exclude him, or anyone, from the panel, but he was simply not a central player in regards to the Gannon story. A panel on the case of Jeff Gannon, especially one including Gannon himself, should have representation from someone who did heavy lifting there, someone intimately familiar with the process that brought Gannon's identity and his relationship with the White House Press Corps to the public eye. That voice must be a blogger who was a key player in the investigation of Gannon, his role in the media and his background.

Who used the Schindlers as a Trojan Horse?

At last the trauma of the last two weeks has passed. We have heard from many persons speaking for the parent's case, and after a few days, the talking points got less interesting. As the conversations broadened, some truth started to leak out. The Schindlers were honest and sincere about their desire to keep their daughter alive, but most of those supporting them, speaking for them, assisting them, had additional agendas.

From energizing the anti abortion forces, talking about health care (and wanting 'face time'), or those who wanted to make it illegal to discontinue life support; those needing a light to sign on their cause climbed inside the horse and popped out in front of the camera, ready for their close up. While this is sad, it is not unexpected. In return for supporting their fight, the Schindlers gave Randall Terry and Tom DeLay and Larry Klayman and so many others a stage, a new distraction and as a parting gift, a list of new possible financial backers. Many got what they felt they needed, and social debate continues, but one issue has risen as the most intriguing.

The Rev. Frank Pavone was with the Schindlers during their final visit. He said, "This is not only a death with all the sadness that brings, this is a killing. And for that we not only grieve that Terri has passed, but we grieve that our nation has allowed such an atrocity as this, and we pray that it will never happen again."

Some of the advocates in the last week started to make their position clearer. It was not just 'saving Terri' but ending the practice of allowing a person to refuse medical treatment. They started to cry murder, and when pressed admitted that even if this is what Terri wanted, it was wrong. It appears this faction wanted to open up an issue most of us considered a generation behind us.

Their ultimate goal appears to be putting the state, not the individual or the family in charge of end of life decisions. A very frightening prospect, and one we can hope die of neglect now that the light they were using has passed on.

Rest in Peace Terri

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

With leadership like this,

Is it any wonder we have so many cases of abuse and murder being discovered (and who knows how many have been covered up) in our nations war zones and military prisons. We have had 7, 8, 9 investigations by the armed forces. All of these investigations have found no evidence to implicate higher levels of command, either military or political. We have learned that these were all isolated incidents, not a single sign of a systemic trouble.

Listen up, when abhorrent behavior is occurring throughout a system, it is systemic. If you can not find a direct cause, like a written order to violate the Geneva Conventions (filed away neatly, under illegal orders I am sure), then you have to look at the culture, and silent signals that it can produce. Somewhere something went wrong, poor leadership, unreasonable pressure for information, spoiled MREs, something or somethings occurred. Heck, it may be as simple as the training, that has somehow created a subset within the majority that think sadism is acceptable behavior in a time of war. Remember, we have had Marine Corps Lt. General James Mattis assure us it .was a "hell of a hoot" and "a lot of fun." He asserted, "It's fun to shoot some people."

Then again. Maybe they did have orders, at least orders that made it clear that, while the official position was to follow the Geneva conventions and treat people humanly, excesses were acceptable and desirable in the drive to victory, the ends justifying the means.

NEW YORK -- A memo signed by Lieutenant General Ricardo A. Sanchez authorizing 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 which far exceeded limits established by the Army’s own Field Manual, was made public for the first time by the American Civil Liberties Union today.

"General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army's own standards," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. "He and other high-ranking officials who bear responsibility for the widespread abuse of detainees must be held accountable."

This memo, dated September 14, 2003, allows for interrogation techniques involving the use of military dogs specifically to "Exploit(s) Arab fear of dogs," stress positions and isolation. A number of these were outside the bounds of what was allowable by the Geneva standards. If the commanding General is telling the troops that parts of Geneva don't apply, but we will follow the Geneva rules, I can see some confusion arising. Mixed messages have a history of destroying moral and contributing to law breaking, and that appears to apply here.

In addition, it appears the General may have then decided that tap dancing around the truth was worthwhile.

U.S. SENATOR JACK REED (D-RI): General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison. Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.

No, it appears you may have given those over a year ago, but not in the last year.

The military owes the people of this nation an explanation for the repeated violations of international standards of behavior in conflict. A truthful review of the incidents, the causes and results, and a careful self examination how this type of behavior could spread across the forces.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The genesis of the lists remains a mystery

We have seen it happen to often to be a local occurrence. People turned away from Presidential appearances. Some were campaigning stops, but others are dedicated to political issues, and promoted as Presidential visits. Some are refused tickets, others have tickets, they are standing in line to get in, and are pulled aside. At this point, their ID is confirmed, and they are refused entry, or given verbal warnings about arrest for being a disruption.

A do-not-admit list similar to the one meant to keep dissenters out of President Bush's town hall talk on Social Security Feb. 3 in Fargo may have turned up this week in Denver.

Karen Bauer and Leslie Weise, both members of Denver Progressives, were turned away at the event's door even though they had tickets.

A doorman stopped the two women and directed them to another man, who said they had "been ID'd" and would have to talk to someone from the Secret Service.

Another unidentified man with a shaved head, earpiece and red lapel pin approached them.

"He said we were allowed to go in but, if we caused any problems, we'd be taken to jail," Bauer, a 38-year-old marketing coordinator, told the Denver Post.

Lon Garner, special agent in charge of the Denver-area Secret Service, said his staff doesn't remove people from presidential events unless they break the law.

He added that the Republican staff may ask people to leave, and some of them may seem like members of the Secret Service.

Garner told the Denver Post he understood Republican event workers had two names on a "list."

Bauer and Weise were later allowed in but, more than an hour before Bush took the stage, they and their 25-year-old fellow Progressive Alex Young, were escorted out of the audience at Wings Over the Rockies Museum.

"We kept asking, 'Why is this happening?' " Young said. "The guy said, 'If the staff asks you to leave, you have to leave. This is a private event.' "

The three who were forced to leave said it was not billed as a private event - rather a "Conversation on Social Security" - and they had tickets legally obtained through the office of Colorado Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez.

The questions is, who makes up this (or these) lists? How do they know who to question, who they select to pull from the lines? Why is it that every time they are caught doing this they claim it is created by unknown persons.

White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said Friday she is not aware of do-not-admit lists.

Jim Morrell, another White House press secretary, said Feb. 4 that Fargo's do-not-admit list may have been the work of an "overzealous volunteer" with a White House advance team made up of local, state and federal officials preparing for Bush's Feb. 3 visit to the Bison Sports Arena.

The list are created and distributed. People are then refused tickets or removed from the event. There is clearly a system in place to assure a friendly and unquestioning crowd, but no one knows how this happens. What is alarming, is that aside from the local media that notice the single occurrence, there appears to be no interest in the (left leaning) main stream media to learn what is really happening.

In the end, we have a spoksperson professing ignorance (believable in the Bush Administration, where ignorance appears to be a job requirement), and more people refused admission.

Click For the Full Story registration required.

an update KCTV Denver indicates that they were banned for the bumper sticker

Monday, March 28, 2005

When is judicial activism good?

The case of Terri Schiavo is one of great sadness for all parties involved, and the focus it has received is regrettable. That said, it has reinforced one bit of Irony from the right.

Judicial Activism is evil, unless you want the ruling to be made in your favor.

Her case is a classic example of the rule of law, and judicial precedence being upheld. Constitutional principals were questioned, reviewed, and left unchanged. And, according to her family's spokespersons, all wrong.

They are demanding that the courts make new law in this case. Exactly the type of behavior they denounce with so much venom. I would love to hear some of those who have spoken out on this case and on the issue about the need to restrain judges, justify their two positions.

Leave it to our friends at the GOP

To come up with a classic example of pure deception.

They have this new RNC Research Briefing that is titled;

More Americans Support Call To Strengthen Social Security

and includes a number of quotes taken out of local media about the need to push to privatized the program. The trouble is, some of them are taken grossly out of context.

Scott Savelkol, Recent Graduate From Dickinson State University: "Doing Nothing Is Not An Option."

Here is the full quote; Scott Savelkol, Recent Graduate From Dickinson State University, said he also opposes to private accounts. He would prefer lawmakers lift the $90,000 cap on wages taxed for Social Security. "Doing nothing is not an option" Savelkol said.

A huge difference once the whole story is out.. And a good idea by the way.

Clif Smith, A Retiree From Joplin: "I Believe [Social Security] Needs Improved [Sic]."

But, the whole story is a bit different, From the Joplin Globe;

"I believe it needs improved," said Clif Smith, a retiree from Joplin, at the AARP gathering. "But nothing of the nature of what is being talked about in Washington."

Smith said he opposes private accounts because he thinks they would drain money from the trust fund, but he said the fund itself should own stock.

This constant flow of partial truths, distortions, lies, fabrications is astounding. The best part is, they even cite the source so you can check and see how they distort context. It is clear the don't expect anyone with a voice to actually do the checking. The fact that this behavior is not denounced from every mountain top is just another example of the failure of the main stream media. It also represents an ongoing failure of the American public to be responsible for what their politicians are doing.

Friday, March 25, 2005

So, private accounts can save us ?

What has been most entertaining about the administrations proposal to save social security is, and even they now admit this, it does nothing to address the real issue facing the program and the nation. We face a shortfall of income in the program in 35 to 40 years. At that time the funds coming in will not pay the bill due. While private accounts do offer the potential for higher returns for individuals, they don't address the shortfall in the system.

The current lack of a plan from this administration doesn't address any of the issues that are facing social security. The official word we are hearing is that they are looking for options, and encouraging congress to step up to the plate. The politics are clear to see, you can not fix the problem by ignoring it, but you can avoid any backlash by not producing real options.

I think it is safe to assume that, over time, the majority will do reasonably well with private accounts. That said, we still have to look at how do we fund the conversion, It will add trillions of dollars to the national debt. What assurances do we offer those who don't fare well in the private investment. How do we protect everyone in the event of a major investment failure. Are any of these factors being mentioned in this nation wide tour that our leaders are on?

In the end we see there is no large scale plan in place in Bush's White House. However, when we pay close attention we do get clues about their ultimate goal, and what may be their only plan.

Cheney acknowledged that "other things" still would have to be done to address projected shortfalls, but maintained that private accounts would give individuals the opportunity to make up for whatever belt-tightening the overall program would experience.

It sure looks like the real goal is to shift investment into private accounts, pray that they perform well, Ignore the run up in the debt, and cut the guaranteed payout to meet the shortfall.

I can see why they would want to lie about that.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A big lie is going public?

In the UK, earlier suspicions of a change of heart on the legality of the Iraqi war have been confirmed.

Documentary evidence has emerged showing that the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, changed his mind about the legality of the Iraq war just before the conflict began. The damning revelation is contained in the resignation letter of Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a legal adviser at the Foreign Office, in which she said the war would be a "crime of aggression". She quit the day after Lord Goldsmith's ruling was made public, three days before the war began in March 2003.

The critical paragraph of her letter, published yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act, was blanked out by the Government on the grounds that it was in the public interest to protect the privacy of the advice given by the Attorney General. But last night the contents of the paragraph were leaked, and Tony Blair was facing fresh allegations of a cover-up. There has long been speculation that Lord Goldsmith was leant on to switch his view, and to sanction the war - and confirmation of that would be devastating for the Prime Minister. The Wilmhurst letter stops short of explaining what caused Lord Goldsmith to change his mind.

The fact that the issue of the legality of the war was a source of hot debate has long been public information. Elizabeth Wilmshurst resigned in protest of the final decision for announce that the war was legal.

The Independent has a good review of where things currently stand. We still don't know if the suspected BIG lie is fact; was Lord Goldsmith change of heart based on legal information, or political pressure.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

We see it every day

But do we notice?

There is never ending flow of lies that come out to support political discourse. The numbers of distortions, omissions and plain old lies are to great to keep track of. Without help.

This, I hope, will be my help. A record of more the offensive attempts to distort the truth behind a curtain of fantasy

The inspiration for this list came from two bit of commentary I ran across today. They both pointed out the ease at which people deal in selling lies.

First I ran across a bit in outside the tent, the noticed the scale of one of Scott McClellan's explanations of reality.

When I moved over to Media Matters I noticed how easy it actually is to be Nobel nominated, at least in the eyes of some members of the media.