Friday, December 30, 2005

ACLU Calls For Special Counsel: Add Your Voice

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

-- George W. Bush, April 20, 2004

When Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, he violated the Constitution and his oath of office. The ACLU is calling for the Department of Justice appoint a special counsel to investigate and prosecute any and all crimes committed. Follow this link to add your voice to this effort.
Also, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. is calling upon Congress to form a Special Committee to investigate the Bush administration's abuses of power and to report any offenses which rise to the level of impeachment. Go here to add your voice to Conyers' effort.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Spying Shows "Il Doofus" Bush Not Only Worst President: He's the Craziest


Much has been written this year about the possibility that future historians will regard George W. Bush as the worst U.S. president ever.

Recently, columnist Richard Reeves wrote:

"The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered ... 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever."

I'll go one up on that. Not only is Bush at the bottom among the presidents -- Fillmore, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Grant, Harding, Hoover and Carter, I would argue, were probably all marginally better, or at least not quite as bad -- in addition, Bush is arrogant to a point that suggests megalomania, a mental disorder. He's even more arrogant than Nixon, and that's saying plenty.

I leave it to Reeves to lay out specifics of Bush's staggering incompetence. He did a fine job in the aforementioned article, "Is George Bush the Worst President -- Ever?" It can be found on his Web site. I'll just add that Bush has the anti-King-Midas touch. Everything seems to turn into excrement.

But after his so-called defiant performances in defending the secret eavesdropping, in complete disregard for the law, the "president" revealed himself as what some have long suspected. This is the American Mussolini, only crazier. (And at least Il Duce could make the trains run on time).

Early in Bush's first term, even before 9-11, one blogger dubbed Bush "Il Doofus." Now, with three years left in Bush's second term, it doesn't seem so funny.

Bush not only has the insolence to claim that his warrantless domestic spying was proper, he has also complained about "illegal" leaks to the media about his administration's brash lawlessness.

The fact is that a 1978 law, passed in response to Nixon's many abuses of power, clearly and explicitly requires the government to obtain a warrant for such action.

Predictably, Bush has had defenders. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were quick to oblige. And this is simply part of the problem. This megalomaniac has surrounded himself with nothing but cronies and toadies. Anyone who would dare risk one of his private tantrums has long since departed, leaving America to be "led" by a crypto-fascist crackpot who apparently believes that God speaks directly to him.

The first thing the House of Representatives should do when it reconvenes in January is start drawing up articles of impeachment. If they would do that to a president who lied about getting a blow job, what about one who has clearly broken a law that specifically limits his powers?

Problem is, some of Bush's GOP toadies are in the House, chairing committees. And then there's the Supreme Court that appointed him president in the first place. This offense is likely to go to them for a decision. It will be 5-4, I'll bet.

The Boston Globe recently quoted Yale University constitutional law professor Jack Balkin: "Once you begin with the assumption that an emergency justifies suspension of constitutional rights, and that the president cannot be bound by the rule of law ... there is very little left to restrain the president. And so he has not been restrained."

I'll suggest one thing to restrain this president. A straitjacket would do the job nicely.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's Time For Progressives To Look Beyond the Ballot For Change


As America enters 2006, it's clear to many of us that this nation is in deep trouble.

Some progressives console themselves with the hope that perhaps the 2006 elections will return Congress to the Democrats' control. Other progressives are hopeful that support will grow for Bush to be impeached. Others are looking further ahead to the 2008 elections.

I know I stand the risk of being painted as an "anti-American" radical for saying this, but I'll go ahead and say it anyway. If we ordinary working Americans really want to take back our country, we really need to start looking beyond the ballot.

No doubt, Republicans will accuse people like me of seeking to overturn America's constitutional democratic system. This, of course, is a bogus argument. The fact is, the system has already been overturned by fanatical Bush loyalists.

In fact, America long ago ceased having the slightest resemblance to the original system that was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. No doubt, the Founding Fathers would be astonished at how America's political system has been thoroughly corrupted and tainted by money.

Indeed, if the likes of Thomas Jefferson returned today, he'd no doubt be absolutely sickened by the likes of Bush, a corrupt and evil politician who takes his marching orders from the rich, the powerful, and the corporations that dominate America today.

Incidentally, Jefferson had a few things to say about corporations in his day. For example:

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

It's clear that the Founding Fathers, were they to return today, would in fact support a second American revolution---one that would sweep away the corruption that has infested our government and one that'd return democracy to the people.

To anyone who believes that this is simply too radical a step to take, I would like to emphasize that the Republicans have already bypassed our Constitution in their relentless drive to seize and consolidate their power the past couple of decades. Does any clear-thinking rational adult out there really believe that the 2000 and 2004 elections were legitimate?

The Republicans have already successfully gotten away with stealing two consecutive elections. Does anyone care to wager that they won't steal the vote yet again in 2008? I mean, what's going to stop them? The Democrats? (Don't make me laugh). The media? (Don't make me laugh even harder).

One thing I will give the Republicans credit for, though, is this: when they want something, they will relentlessly focus on getting it, no matter what the cost. By contrast, the Democrats have utterly failed in their role as the nation's opposition party.

With a few exceptions, the Democrats are weak and timid. Democratic candidates for office are simply too polite and they're always careful to follow the rules and to not upset or offend anyone.

By contrast, Republicans go into elections like street fighters. A lot of today's Republicans follow no rules in elections. They won't hesitate to use a pair of brass knuckles, or pull a switchblade out of their sock and stab you in the back. And in the end, if they lose the election, that's OK---they'll simply steal the vote.

As bad as Bush is, I have no doubt that the next guy the Republicans run for president in 2008 will be even more extreme and more evil. I mean, Bush makes Reagan look like a moderate (and, by contrast, Nixon was a downright liberal compared to Reagan). So you can imagine the horrors that face this country in the years ahead.

So how can we, the working people of America, really change things, going up against the Republicans and their billions of dollars in backing from the rich and powerful? The traditional checks and balances in our nation's system simply are no longer there.

Once upon a time, corporations were actually controlled somewhat by a few rules here and there---they weren't allowed to run amok with unbridled power as they are today. Once upon a time, our nation's media actually performed a watchdog role---unlike today's timid, cowardly media, where the likes of Bob Woodward and Judith Miller actually collaborate with the White House.

As far as the impeachment process goes, I don't have much confidence that today's Democrats have the spine to hold Bush accountable for his crimes. I mean, the Democrats are so timid these days, they don't even contest blatantly stolen elections. How can we expect them to ever take such a bold step as to impeach Bush?

No, if you really want true, genuine change in America these days, the only way to do it is to look beyond the (stolen) ballot. People are going to need to take to the streets and demand change if we're ever going to get it in this country.

Maybe we could take a cue from our nation's past progressive history and organize a nationwide general strike. In any case, people power is capable of wonderful things: look at how peacefully protesting masses played a crucial role in bringing down the Eastern Bloc communist states without a shot being fired.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Fooled Again" Author Mark Crispin Miller: Why American Democracy Is In Danger


In the following interview with, author Mark Crispin Miller talks about his new book, Fooled Again, which takes a look at the 2004 election. In this interview, Miller describes how America's current election system is "rotten to the core." He explains why American democracy is finished if the nation doesn't implement serious electoral reform immediately.

In a nutshell, what is your new book, Fooled Again, about?

Miller: The theft of the 2004 election. The book provides an overview of all the many tactics and devices that were used nationwide--indeed, worldwide--to cut the Kerry vote and pad the Bush vote. It's also an analysis of the fanatical mentality behind that vast crusade against American democracy.

What motivated you to write this book?

Miller: A sense of civic outrage, not only at the fraud itself but at the general silence over it. With just a few exceptions here and there, the whole political establishment, the press included, steadfastly refuses even to acknowledge the grave danger of election fraud.

If we don't have serious electoral reform ASAP, American democracy is finished; and yet both parties and the press are largely unified in deeming last year's race legitimate. So there's been next to no debate over a major danger to American democracy, and, therefore, to our very lives and liberty.

That silence is a grave betrayal of American ideals, and an insult to common sense, and I wrote Fooled Again to break it.

At what point did you first become aware of problems in the 2004 election?

Miller: Big problems were already popping up before Election Day--not just in Ohio, but in Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and a lot of other places.

There was evidence of a concerted effort to disenfranchise Democrats by using fake opinion pollsters in Nevada, Oregon, New Jersey, West Virginia and elsewhere. There were intimidation tactics, blunt obstructionism, state disinformation drives, and even break-ins, all over the country.

There was interference with the huge vote of Americans abroad. All such evidence was on the public record--not in any prominent place, but out there on the record--prior to Nov. 2. After Bush & Co. miraculously won, all memory of those problems seemed to disappear completely from the national radar screen.

Did you encounter many obstacles in writing this book? For example, did you find that officials were reluctant to talk, or that records were difficult to obtain?

Miller: A lot of evidence was missing when I wrote the book and is still missing now.

For instance, we still don't have the raw precinct-level data that was used by the official exit pollsters. The media corporations that paid for it won't make it available to independent scholars. And certainly the politicians and the bureaucrats, the party operatives and corporate personnel, observed a stubborn silence on a broad range of electoral concerns.

Across the board, Republicans refused to answer questions; and a lot of Democrats were strangely eager not to talk about the numerous anomalies, contradictions, improprieties. Such stonewalling was a given, something that you had to work around.

The evidence in Fooled Again comes either from the public record, or from people not afraid or disinclined to tell the truth.

The mainstream media in this country have been reluctant to examine problems with the 2004 election. Why do you think this is?

Miller: The U.S. media does not provide the crucial civic service that the Framers had in mind when they extended constitutional protection to the press.

The U.S. press today, in other words, does not inform the people for the purpose of republican self-government. It answers not to us, but to its parent companies, their shareholders and advertisers, and, not least, the government, which keeps the cartel well-protected from the people.

Whereas America's free and independent press was meant to function as a major part of our great system of checks and balances, and thereby help to keep us free from state dominion, the juggernaut that we now call "the media" is itself an instrument of such dominion. It does not report the news so much as it determines which news is, and which news isn't, beneficial to those managing the state. (By and large, this process works not through conscious and deliberate policing from on high, but far more subtly, through the fears and needs and aspirations of the people working in the media at every level.)

This is why the U.S. press will not report whatever news might pose a threat to the political establishment. It's why they never did report the truth about Bush/Cheney's drive for war against Iraq, even though there always was abundant evidence against the claims that Bush & Co. were making. It's why they've quickly veered away from every story that, if followed through, could well have blown the Bush regime to smithereens: 9/11, Gannongate, Katrina.

And, worst of all, it's why the press refuses to report the ever-worsening condition of American democracy: last year's election fraud; the current push by Diebold to get its DRE machines into more precincts coast to coast, despite a growing wave of popular resistance; the mammoth money-laundering operation that was used to pay for the subversion of the race last year; the Bush regime's attempts to gut the Voting Rights Act; and so on.

Do you believe that our nation's election system problems will be fixed in time for the 2006 elections?

Miller: There simply isn't enough time. We do have time to get a good start on improving things considerably by 2008. Before the next election, there is time to organize a national grass-roots polling operation in the most important places. Such an effort--which ought to be bipartisan, or non-partisan--would at least provide us with a rough idea as to how accurate the final vote-count really is.

In the meantime, we must do everything we can to force the scandal of last year's election out into the light of day. Once people know what really happened, they will demand electoral reform, and then we can debate how best to do it. If, on the other hand, the people keep on thinking, or half-thinking, that that election was legitimate, reform will seem unnecessary.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We have to tell the nation--and the world--that things are badly broken here. If we do not, American democracy will soon be past repair.

I'd imagine that, after reading your book, there will be many alarmed citizens out there who will be wondering what they can do to help ensure honest elections in the future in America. What would be your advice to them?

Miller: The effort must be local as well as national. Those concerned should learn about the voting system where they live and vote (or try to vote), and work to make it as efficient and transparent as possible.

There are currently aggressive efforts under way to get Diebold machines approved, or their use extended, in New York, Pennsylvania (Bucks County), North Carolina, Arizona and New Mexico. In all those places there are grass-roots movements dedicated to genuinely democratic systems and procedures.

If you live in such a place, join that movement. If there's no such movement and you see the need for one, start one up. If you don't think there's any need for one, devote yourself to working on the problem at the national level. (For a sense of the broad range of possibilities, check out

The national effort must begin with--again--a vast campaign to tell the people what went down last year. Be relentless. Tell your elected(?) representatives, and the media, to investigate the fraud last year, deal openly and thoroughly with the danger of election fraud right now, and to pursue the issue of electoral reform ASAP.

It simply will not happen if you don't demand it.

Overall, are you optimistic or pessimistic, long-term, about the fairness of elections in America?

Miller: The current system's rotten to the core. As far as the people are concerned, however, I'm an optimist. I'm confident that, when they learn the truth, they'll make the right decisions. That's why I wrote Fooled Again.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

To Founding Fathers, Christmas Was No Big Deal


This holiday season, Fox News and the rest of the nation's right-wing echo chamber have decreed that "the war on Christmas" is the biggest issue facing America.

Silly me, and here I was thinking that perhaps the disastrous war in Iraq was the biggest issue facing us.

Self-appointed "moral watchdogs" like Bill O'Reilly want to put the "Christ" back into Christmas and restore the holiday to its supposed proper place in our nation's history as a religious observance. Anyone familiar with O'Reilly's work knows that he is the appropriate moral figure to make such a call.

O'Reilly's 1998 novel, Those Who Trespass, for example, is filled with Christian-inspired wisdom and moral clarity. It includes such heart-warming scenes as a 15-year-old prostitute who smokes crack cocaine and performs fellatio.

In a sense, I share some of Fox's appreciation of Christmas. I think it can be indeed a special day to Christians and I really would like to see it designated as a holiday in which every non-emergency worker gets to take off and spend time with his or her family.

This last point is particularly important to me. The Republicans, after all, have always ferociously fought against any government regulation requiring that businesses give time off to their employees. The U.S., after all, is alone in the First World in not requiring the private sector to give any vacation time to workers.

So, as someone who was required by my private sector employer to work every Christmas for 15 years, I would indeed like to see Christmas made into a holiday that everyone can enjoy (not just government employees like Bush).

However, someone needs to send a memo to the Fox News talking heads regarding the true place of Christmas in our nation's history. The fact is, Christmas was nothing special to our nation's Founding Fathers.

This uncomfortable fact would lodge like a lump of coal in the throats of America's right-wing (if only they were aware of it in the first place). Conservatives in this country are always busy painting the Founding Fathers as devout Christians. However, any serious historian will tell you that the Founding Fathers were in fact not Christians.

Nor was Christmas particularly important to our Founding Fathers (or the nation as a whole). The U.S. government didn't even recognize Christmas as a holiday until 1870. Until then, Congress routinely met and conducted business on Christmas day. It was, in fact, just another workday.

Truth be told, Christmas was a totally different affair during the first century of America's history. It was far removed from today's holiday in which families gather and open presents around the Christmas tree.

So how did one celebrate Christmas back in those days? Well, typically, you might start off the day getting blindingly drunk. Then, you'd take to the streets and approach passer-by and demand money from them. If they refused, you'd beat them up. You might conclude the day by smashing some store windows or breaking into people's homes and stealing their food. Peruse a newspaper from the 1820s and you can routinely read of such chaotic yuletide lawlessness.

In the early part of the 19th century, Christmas was, as one historian once noted, "like a nightmarish cross between Halloween and a particularly violent, rowdy Mardi Gras." In fact, a massive Christmas riot in 1828 led to the formation of New York City's first police force.

Indeed, newspapers of the era are filled with disturbing accounts of what Christmas was really like in those days: widespread rioting, sexual assault, vandalism, drunkenness, street violence and general lawlessness. Most of these "traditions" were carried over from Europe, where, dating back to the Middle Ages, Christmas had been regarded by the wealthy classes as a safety valve for releasing the peasants' pent-up frustrations.

Christmas as we know it today didn't really take root until the 1870s. In fact, the holiday as we know it today was invented by middle-class merchants in the late 19th century, primarily as a gimmick to increase sales. In this respect, Christmas hasn't changed much since then.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Forget Exit Strategies, the U.S. Never Had An Entry Strategy In Iraq


As the U.S. sinks deeper and deeper into the blood-soaked sands of the Iraq quagmire, much of the debate here at home has focused on possible exit strategies from this fiasco. I have to admit, I don't feel confident that the U.S. can formulate a workable exit strategy when in fact we never really had an entry strategy that made sense.

The question remains: why exactly did the U.S. invade Iraq? It's a question that I think the families of the 2,128 dead soldiers are entitled to know. So are America's hard-pressed working-class and middle-class taxpayers, who've been forced to cough up $224 billion so far for this ongoing fiasco.

Ask any Republican nowadays why we invaded Iraq and you'll get a different answer each time. But you can't really blame GOP partisans; after all, their own leader expresses a new reason every day for why the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Bush can't seem to come up with a consistent reason for the Iraq war. One day he's talking about establishing democracy in Iraq. The next day, he blathers about the need to establish "stability" in the Middle East. The day after that, he'll insist that removing Saddam was crucial to bring about a safer world. And, of course, he never fails to once again try to link Iraq and 9/11.

Curiously, though, in trying to defend his war, Bush these days studiously avoids mentioning anything about WMDs---the reason he gave in the first place. Nor does he mention what a growing number of us suspect was the REAL reason for the invasion: so America could control Iraq's oil.

Many analysts believe that Bush found success in the 2004 election because he projected the image of a strong, decisive leader, while John Kerry was painted as a flip-flopper. It's strange then, that Bush in reality has flip-flopped repeatedly on an issue that no national leader should ever be less than decisive and honest about: launching a war.

It's clear that we never really had a good entry strategy for Iraq. The mirage of the non-existent WMDs evaporated quicker than the Bush team could hoist the now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. It became clear early on that the war was based on lies, a fact that even Fox News was eventually forced to concede.

Bush has long condemned anyone who dares question his war as sending "mixed signals" to America's troops in Iraq. Personally, I think what sends "mixed signals" to our soldiers is when our nation's leader gives a new reason for the Iraq invasion every time he speaks. The fact is, Bush's own idiotic ramblings have done more to hurt the troops in Iraq than any comment war opponents have made. After all, it was Bush himself who taunted the insurgents with his "bring `em on" comment.

As far as Bush's ever-changing reasons for why we invaded Iraq, a reality check is in order:

1. To establish democracy in Iraq. Iraq is an ancient tribal-based culture that predates the birth of Christ. If anyone thinks the U.S. can waltz in and impose Western-style democracy at the barrel of a gun, they've been watching too much Faux News. Bush partisans maintain that Iraq now in fact has a "democracy." As for me, I say it's hard to tell what's really going on in a nation engulfed in a bloody civil war. The average Iraqi on the street is too busy dodging bullets and car bombs these days to give much thought to lofty political ideals.

2. To establish stability in the Middle East. Before 9/11, Osama Bin Laden was a marginal figure in the Islamic world. Most educated Islamic people regarded him with a mixture of loathing and downright embarrassment. The bloody U.S. occupation of Iraq has done more to generate hatred toward the U.S. and to radicalize the Islamic world than anything Bin Laden could have accomplished in a thousand years of recruiting for Al Qaeda.

3. To fight the war on terror. When Bush makes this particular statement his "flavor of the day" excuse I can't help but laugh at the dishonesty of it all. But don't take my world for it. Ask the U.S. State Department, which released a report in April that revealed that terrorist attacks worldwide in 2004 tripled over 2003 (which in turn was the worst year for terrorist attacks in two decades). Or ask the former Sept. 11 Commission, which in a report Monday, charged the U.S. government of failing to protect the country against another terrorist attack.

There's an old saying in Texas: "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it'll change." That sounds a lot like Bush and his ever-changing reasons for his war in Iraq. Call me pessimistic, but I get the feeling that the U.S. isn't going to be able to come up with a solid exit strategy from this mess when we never really had a honest entry strategy in the first place.