Friday, June 18, 2004
Buchanan Book to Bash Bush
In my absense, Jess has been keeping track of what I should have been reading. He was kind enough to point out this little piece in the New York Post.
The Thomas Dunne imprint of St. Martin's Press has agreed to pay around $500,000 to Pat Buchanan for an anti-Dubya book to be called "Where the Right Went Wrong."Regular Rain Storm readers shouldn't be too surprised by this development. As we noted in The Politics of Fear back in February, Buchanan is not impressed with the neocon ideology that has dominated Bush's foriegn policy. It looks like now Buchanan has had enough of that foriegn policy and the president who thought it sounded like a good idea.
The proto-conservative will blast the Bush Administration for behaviors both domestic and foreign. He is particularly scornful of the U.S. foreign policy that has "ignited a war of civilizations" with the Islamic world.
Publishing insiders say Buchanan's thoughts on the 43rd president are surprisingly out of character.
"They could put Michael Moore on the jacket of this book, and people would believe he wrote it," one said.
A few days ago I asked, "Who'll be the next in line?" Now we know. Big Pat is ready to dump flightsuit boy, too.
The Stonewall Effect --
Take a break and come back strong
There are less than five months until the election, and each day there is more bad news, outrageous news, horrible news -- the direct result of an administration that lives on lies, torture, ignorance and arrogance.
They have no conscience. They just don't care about anything except staying in power another four years.
They can succeed one of two ways -- either they repeat the Big Lie so loud and so often that enough Americans believe it must be true:
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft are all that stand between you and suicide terrorist bombers detonating a suitcase nuke in the mall in your hometown, probably during the national shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving. Anyone who disagrees is of suspect patriotism, hates America, and wants the terrorists to win.Or they wear us down (what Mark Schmitt refers to as "beyond the capacity for shock," with a constant barrage of small lies, conflicting reports, obfuscation, redundant investigations, convenient scapegoats, and plausible deniability.
They know that in 1972, most Americans did not believe that the White House could have been involved in the Watergate break-in. Thirty two years later, most Americans don't want to believe that the White House actually developed legal rationales for torturing prisoners -- that is, except for those of interesting moral character who either think that torture is rather like a fraternity prank, or think torture is quite appropriate, that maybe we ought to do more of it.
So they will keep up the barrage, day after day, through their non-denial denials at the daily press gaggles and through their media surrogates. Their one hope is that voters will become numb, so that the sordid details of each new revelation of torture and abuse, no-bid contract cronyism, administrative incompetence, bureaucratic bungling, and out-and-out lying will just roll off of us -- because we've already seen too much, heard too much, read too much. A few more soldiers killed each day. Oh, but they're fighting the terrorists, aren't they. Better to fight them there than here at home, I guess. Oh, the local National Guard unit has to stay over there another 3 months. Well, that's too bad, but actually it sort of helps the local unemployment problem having them gone for so long. I guess the President really does know what's best for the economy.
Don't let it happen! I know I've found myself getting overwhelmed by the scandal-of-the-week and the administration's stay-on-message stonewalling. Congress and most of the media are taking a pass, as though they long ago lost their capacity for outrage. So those of us who write and read the blogs have an obligation to carry the ball for the next 5 months.
Doing that means not burning out between now and November. That won't be easy. It means sometimes taking a short break, taking a few deep breaths, maybe climbing a mountain or spending a few days on a river.
I'm taking a cue from Josh Marshall. Mrs. Rainstorm and I haven't had a vacation in nearly 5 years. We have promised to take our girls to the ocean, and that's what we're going to do. Next week we're heading for the left coast (Kevin Drum country) for some R&R. We'll have the car packed to the top of the roof rack. And feeling rather like Tom Joad, I'm taking a copy of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in case I actually get a little time to relax.
I'll take a laptop, and if I get a chance to blog, I will -- but no promises. But I do promise to return with my batteries fully charged, ready to do battle once again. Because the keyboard really is more powerful than the sword.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Just a note to say that my internet connection is down so my blogging may be a bit off until service is restored (I jumped on a borrowed dial-up to post this).
Donate to Kerry today (see post below). Thanks.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
It's John Kerry Thursday
Please Give Generously
Dig down deeeep into your pocket, pull out some cash, and send it to the John Kerry for President Campaign.
Do it for America. Don't let those lying bastards buy another election. Come November, we'll all be glad we did.
Kerry on Gay Rights
Via Professor Kim:
As we enter the season of celebrating Pride in the LGBT community, Americans should embrace the diversity that makes our nation strong and recommit ourselves to ensuring that all Americans receive equal rights.Just another clear example of the difference between the candidates.
I am proud to have fought for equal rights for gay Americans, but unfortunately so much still remains to be done. I am committed to using the power of the White House to advance equal rights for all Americans, including gay Americans. Together we can help America keep her promise of liberty and justice for all.
The Bush Administration repeatedly uses gay rights as a political tool to divide the nation. That’s just wrong. We don’t need a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. We need civil unions with full and equal rights. We don’t need opposition to hate crime legislation. We need to reject hate and embrace tolerance. And we don’t need a President who plays politics with gay adoption. We need a President who works everyday to protect and support all children and families.
-- Quoted from Standing Up With Pride on the John Kerry campaign website.
Meanwhile, Kevin Drum notes that Roll Call is reporting that
The Senate Republican leadership is aiming for a mid-July vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, forcing Democrats to take a stand on the controversial topic just before the party heads to Boston for its presidential nominating convention.Kevin thinks this could actually be good for Kerry.
Basically, I figure that voting for the amendment doesn't do that much for the GOP. It solidifies their support with the Christian Right, but Rove & Co. have been focusing on them so much for the past few years that I think they're mostly in the bag already. On the other hand, the GOP has the potential to lose a fair amount of the centrist vote from 2000 that bought into the whole "compassionate conservatism" thing and really doesn't think that amending the constitution in the service of gay bashing was what they were signing up for.Let's face it: the Republican Party is scary. And it's because they take some pretty ugly positions on lots of issues that impact the lives of real people, both at home and abroad.
For Democrats, I suspect the downside is much smaller. After all, even in conservative areas they can easily justify a negative vote on principled grounds of not wanting to mess with the constitution.
So bring it on. This seems like a great chance for Democrats to paint Republicans as hopelessly in hock to the Christian Right and painting themselves as simple moderates who think the constitution shouldn't be revised every time some special interest group needs to be bought off. If John Kerry plays his cards right — and yes, I know that's a big if — this is a great chance to make the Republican party look awfully scary to some important voters.
I sincerely hope that this year we send a message, making it clear that those days are over.
Kleiman Nails the Bottom Line:
So now we have a choice, as voters: Are we going to ratify the decision to make torture (described in various weaselly ways) part of the policy of the United States, or are we going to reject it by replacing those responsible?Precisely.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Who'll be the Next in Line?
Former U.S. Officials say Dump W
From The Independent:
A group of heavy-hitting former US diplomats and military officials has called on the American public to vote George Bush out of office in November, accusing the President of undermining the nation's interests and failing to provide proper leadership.I imagine at some point there will be enough of us to stand hand-to-hand across America. Execept I don't think we'll be singing Hands Across America. Something like We Won't Get Fooled Again might be appropriate.
The 26 former officials - calling themselves Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change - say they are not explicitly endorsing the Democrat John Kerry. But they say Mr Bush's handling of issues ranging from the war in Iraq through to the environment and Aids policy has left them disillusioned.
"We agreed that we had just lost confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to advocate for American interests or to provide the kind of leadership that we think is essential," said William Harrop, who served as the first President Bush's ambassador to Israel, and previously in four African countries. "The group does not endorse Kerry, although it more or less goes without saying in the statement."
He said some of those involved in the project felt uncomfortable making an explicitly political statement. But he added: "We just feel very strongly that the country needs new leadership."
Among the group are 20 ambassadors appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, other former state department officials and long-serving military leaders (emphaisis added).
UPDATE 6/16/04: Rodger Payne provides more details.
JAG for the Defense:
Taking the fight to the Government
Thanks to Phil Carter at Intel Dump for picking up on an article in the New York Times Magazine (registration required) that I had missed. It profiles the work of LCDR Charles Swift, one of the military lawyers assigned to represent the "enemy combatants" being held as part of the war on terror.
Swift has what is perhaps the most controversial job in one of the most controversial aspects of the war on terror. When President Bush issued the military order authorizing the use of tribunals to try non-American enemy combatants shortly after Sept. 11, critics wasted no time in denouncing them as kangaroo courts. Bush's order, after all, had bypassed Congress -- the body empowered by the Constitution to convene military tribunals -- and had exempted the tribunals from federal judicial review or any other civilian oversight. Furthermore, even after the war in Afghanistan, no trial dates or charges had been announced, and the presumed defendants were being held indefinitely at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Military defense attorneys like Swift seemed to have the deck stacked against them -- and that is assuming that their superiors did not expect them to throw the game altogether.I'm really glad to see that a smart guy like Swift is on the case, calling the Departments of Justice and Defense on every cheap trick they try to pull. Read the whole thing.
But Swift has been energetic in his defense, to say the least. In January, he and his colleagues filed an incendiary friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in which, among other things, they compared their commander in chief, President Bush, to the villain of the American Revolution, King George III. In April, Swift went even further, suing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Bush in federal court in Seattle on the grounds that their plan for a military tribunal for his client -- who has still not been charged or given a trial date -- violates the Constitution, federal law, the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
When Swift was first assigned to the defense team a little more than a year ago, not even someone who calls himself ''pretty anti-authoritarian for a military guy'' could have imagined this turn of events. ''Generally speaking,'' he said, ''if the United States is paying your salary, you're not supposed to sue them.''
Monday, June 14, 2004
Army Starts Criminal Investigation
of injuries to role-playing soldier
According to an AP story in Tuesday's Washington Post (registration required), the Army is now opening a criminal investigation into the events that resulted in a severe head injury to SPC Sean Baker, a member of a Reserve Component military police company, who was playing the role of a detainee during training at the U.S. holding facility at Guantanamo.
The Army has opened a criminal investigation into injuries suffered by a soldier who was posing as an uncooperative detainee during training with military police at Guantanamo Bay, the soldier's attorney said Monday.This is an interesting development in a case that the Army originally tried to sweep under the rug.
Sean Baker, who was a specialist in a military police unit, suffers from seizures he blames on a head injury from the training session in January 2003 at the base in Cuba. He received a medical discharge in April and returned home to Georgetown in central Kentucky.
Baker's lawyer, Bruce Simpson, said he was notified recently that the Army had begun a criminal investigation into the case. He said military investigators are scheduled to meet with Baker on Wednesday.
Baker posed as an uncooperative detainee during the training exercise with the Michigan-based 303rd Military Police Company. He has said military police officers beat and choked him and slammed his head against the floor at the detention center, where the U.S. government holds suspected terrorists.
An Army spokeswoman at Southern Command said last week that a previous investigation concluded Baker's injuries occurred in the "line of duty," and none of the soldiers involved was disciplined.
The Army also initially said Baker's discharge was unrelated to his injuries but later acknowledged they were a factor.
More Pretty Pictures
on new electoral vote map site
Found a new electoral vote tracking site, and it's worth checking out.
In addition to pretty good graphics, it is grouping red and blue states into three categories (Strong, Weak, and Barely), based on the margin of support for the leading candidate:
For example, if a state poll gives Kerry 51% and Bush 48%, the margin will be shown as 3%.A margin of 10% or more is considered Strong, 5% - 9% is considered Weak, and less than 5% is considered Barely. The margin of error in most state polls is around 3%, so states where a candidate Barely has a lead are, for the most part, too close to call.
That brings up an important point that this site makes pretty clear (assuming we can trust the polling data). In adding each candidate's Strong and Weak state numbers, they are only a couple of electoral votes apart (Kerry 195, Bush 193). Kerry has a huge lead among the Barely states (95 - 51), much of that due to a few Big Dog states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida). But all of the Barely states (for both candidates) currently have margins of 3% or less -- way too close to call.
The Kerry campaign is doing a major fund raising effort right now in an effort to off-set the disadvantage Kerry will have by accepting the nomination 5 weeks before Bush does. Those states on the bubble are where that money will be spent. If you want the next 4 years to be better than the last 4, I'm suggesting that you go HERE and make a contribution.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
U.S. Troops Reported Abuses
at Abu Ghraib in November
The New York Times (registration required) is reporting that members of U.S. intelligence teams working at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq began sending reports through their chain of command as early as November of last year that identified specific instances of abuse of the detainees there.
Beginning in November, a small unit of interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison began reporting allegations of prisoner abuse, including the beatings of five blindfolded Iraqi generals, in internal documents sent to senior officers, according to interviews with military personnel who worked in the prison.As an old soldier who worked in the intelligence field, I'm glad to hear that there were other soldiers at Abu Ghraib who recognized that prisoners were being abused and reported it to the appropriate officers. I also find it disgusting that those officers failed their troops by not putting a stop to the abuses.
The disclosure of the documents raises new questions about whether senior officers in Iraq were alerted about serious abuses at the prison before January. Top military officials have said they only learned about abuses then, after a soldier came forward with photographs of the abuse.
"We were reporting it long before this mess came out," said one of several military intelligence soldiers interviewed in Germany and the United States who asked not to be identified for fear they would jeopardize their careers.
The Red Cross has said it alerted American military commanders in Iraq to abuses at Abu Ghraib in November. But the disclosures that the military's own interrogators had alerted superiors to abuse back then in internal documents has not been previously reported.
It's really sad when soldiers go out on a limb to do what is right, and aren't supported by the chain of command. I described the Abu Ghraib atrocities as a failure of leadership when I first wrote about it 6 weeks ago. I believe that assessment is still true today. Each revelation just confirms that the failure of leadership goes all the way up the chain of command -- all the way to the commander in chief.
New Evidence on Abu Ghraib
Implicates Senior Pentagon Civilians
Both Susan at Suburban Guerilla and Mark Kleiman picked up on this story from the Telegraph:
New evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush administration will emerge in Washington this week, adding further to pressure on the White House.Looks like the mierda is about to hit the fandango. Should be an interesting week.
The Telegraph understands that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly.
According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident.
"There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses," said Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration's approach. "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped."