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National Shame!
September 29th, 2006


Yesterday, in an act of utter disdain and contempt for freedom and our Constitution, the U.S. Senate voted to limit human rights in the United States. Almost all Republicans were joined by a handful of Democrats to vote away many of the freedoms that President Bush has claimed we are fighting for. In addition to secret trials for military detainees, the bill retroactively excuses American officials who have perpetrated torture on prisoners, and permits continued torture of prisoners in US custody.

But Bush does not see the provisions as sanctioning torture - much like a Soviet style dictator he simply perceives torture as providing “the necessary tools” to fight an ill-defined enemy. A more heartless perception could not be imagined.

A prominent constitutional law professor from the University of Texas likened the legislation to something out of a “banana republic”, and many other law experts said they believe the provisions were unconstitutional and would be struck down by courts. Anticipating this, the Republicans added provisions to the legislation that would strip the courts of oversight.

As the Bush administration frantically scrambles to eliminate hard-won freedoms here in the US, their claims that we are fighting overseas for “freedom” rings ever more hollow. As the administration blurs the lines between democracy and totalitarianism, it becomes ever more evident that the United States has lost its moral basis, as well as the respect of the civilized world.

JRM


 

 
Republicans Hate our Freedom
September 28th, 2006


As the Senate considers new legislation permitting indefinite detention and serious mistreatment of detainees in the United States, Americans should decide once and for all if we are actually fighting for freedom as the president says. For hundreds of years the United States has treated even the most brutal criminals as though they were innocent until proven guilty. Permitting permanent detention and mistreatment of persons who are arrested assumes guilt prior to trial. You don't need to brutally interrogate somebody who turns out in the end to not be a terrorist. How can you get information about terrorists from an innocent person who was mistakenly arrested?

Republicans say the Democrats are soft on terrorists. No, Democrats believe that our system of government has worked well for over 200 years and does not need a new set of rules about how to treat people who are arrested. Without a trial it is of course impossible to determine if someone is guilty or innocent, indeed without a trial authorities need not even charge detainees with a crime.

Democrats are not soft on terrorists, they are tough on protecting our Constitution and our system of government. Torturing people who have been arrested before they are granted a fair trial is something we have railed against in places like the Soviet Union and Communist China for decades. Tens of thousands of Americans died in places like Korea and Vietnam, and now in Iraq, supposedly fighting for freedom. Now Republicans want to change that, such that we will be fighting to permit permanent detention and torture of people who have been arrested, without trial, without due course, and without oversight.

Possibly worse, the Republicans are trying to retroactively protect all those who have been involved in torturing prisoners. I also expect a long string of pardons from President Bush, if necessary, to keep the torturers and administration officials out of jail. After all, Bush and Cheney would not enjoy permanent detention with torture after they are arrested for war crimes.

JRM


 

Republicans to Win in November, by Stealing Another Election
September 24th, 2006


If you had any doubts about how easy it would be to hack into Diebold touch-screen voting systems in order to swing the election in favor of the Republicans, all you have to do is check out the video they made at Princeton University. In a mock election between George Washington and Benedict Arnold, the researchers inserted a computer virus that would steal the votes from George Washington, and then erase itself in order to leave no trace. The actual votes cast were four votes for George Washington and one for Benedict Arnold. The vote tally at the end of the mock election was three votes for Benedict Arnold and two for George Washington. The paper backup trail also indicated the same totals.

Diebold refuses to let any outside authorities examine their machines.

Check out the video and decide for yourself if you feel safe voting on these machines, which just happen to be made by companies owned by right-wing conservative zealots. November is going to be an unmitigated disaster, and it's probably too late to do anything about it now.

JRM


Bush-Cheney Causing Increased Terrorism
September 24th, 2006


Anyone who's been paying attention to the news from reporters in Iraq and throughout the Middle East has known for some time that terrorist attacks and radical Islamic groups have been on the rise ever since the US invasion of Iraq. However, reading the headlines from the incredibly timid and cowed New York Times over the last several years would never have given you that impression. Until today that is, when the headline read: “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat”.

It's nice to see the New York Times actually coming to grips with the abysmally stark realities that the United States has created in the Middle East by invading a country that never attacked us. However, it was not merely the unprovoked attack on Iraq that caused the increase in resentment and hatred against the United States, rather it was the extremely blundered attempts to install a puppet democracy there that have caused the tidal wave of terrorism. Everything from permitting post invasion looting, to disbanding the Iraqi police force and army, to Abu Ghraib, to the lack of reconstruction, to the heavy-handed tactics used to try to root out terrorists in Iraqi towns and cities - all have created a seething hatred of the American occupation.

The intelligence report viewed by the New York Times paints the bleakest picture to date on the state of international terrorism. The report entitled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States’’ documents how the US-led invasion of Iraq has dramatically stimulated the Islamic Jihadist movement throughout the world. The report suggests that if the trend continues we can expect more terrorist attacks against US targets at home and abroad.

What the New York Times article does not touch on, however, is the possibility that Bush and Cheney actually want to increase Islamic terrorism in order to generate support for their so-called “war on terror”. If the threat is decreasing, they have less ammunition to stoke the fires of war. Keep in mind that these aging Cold Warriors benefited greatly from the communism scare, and the threat of nuclear war. If there is one thing they understand it's that they need a perceived enemy to enable and promote their war plans. If the enemy is weakening, or worse yet, vanquished, their rationales for war evaporate.

Maybe the New York Times will catch on in the next five years. Maybe not.

Be prepared for Bush, Cheney and administration officials to be foaming at the mouth about the war on terror as the November elections approach. They will say the Democrats are weak on the war on terror, when what they really mean is the Democrats might institute rational foreign-policy plans, and spoil their trumped up war in Iraq and chances for keeping the public terrified of boogiemen. One thing is clear, Bush and Cheney have no intention of protecting the United States against terrorists, in fact, they are probably hoping for a pre-election terrorist attack to drum up more Republican votes.

JRM


 

Our Voting System is a Disaster.
September 13th, 2006


Voting in the Maryland primaries yesterday made it clear to just about everyone how dilapidated, disorganized, and totally flawed our voting system is. When I arrived at the polls at about 10 a.m., long after they had opened, the poll workers were still frantically trying to figure out how the electronic systems work, and why many of them didn't work. They were arguing back and forth about what was causing problems with inserting memory cards into the machines, but I was unable to decipher precisely what the problem was.

When they tried to initialize a card to give me to bring to the polling machine it gave them an error message that they did not recognize. Something about the card not having been logged on a master machine. One of the women there said that it was just a glitch and told the other woman to just hit a certain button to skip that part. Of course that makes me wonder if my votes will be counted.

I took the memory card to the voting machine, which greeted me with the infamous Diebold moniker as the screen came on. I was able to vote quite easily on the machine, and it did show me a summary of all the votes I cast. Going through the votes it appeared as though it had recorded all of my voting correctly, that is assuming it was showing me the actual votes that would be reported to the master system.

Apparently, my experience was far better than many of those in Montgomery County. In several places machines were delivered without power cords so they could not be used. In other places the machines simply did not work, or the poll workers who were supposed to bring the memory cards never arrived on time. In some polling places people were forced to use provisional ballots, and when those ran out, voters were forced to use scraps of paper. Polls were kept open until 9pm to give people more time to vote, but that was a pitiful attempt which was much too little, much too late. This is the current state of the voting system here in Maryland, and probably in many other counties across the nation.

Perhaps the oddest and most suspicious occurrence was in neighboring Prince Georges county where 20 voting system technicians quit just before they were supposed to deliver and set up the machines yesterday morning. So far, there is no word on why so many technicians would opt to quit just when they were needed to set up the voting machines. I will be interested to find out if they were supposed to be servicing primarily Democratic precincts.

Considering that the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount in 2000 because they said that different standards were being used to count the votes in different precincts, I can't understand how this is legal to have such different voting systems in different voting precincts throughout the country. It should be illegal, and it is definitely unacceptable. We have allocated $500 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can't even set up a simple, accurate voting system across the United States. It is shameful, it is inexcusable.

I will be writing my senators and congressman to let them know of my extreme displeasure at how my tax dollars have been spent to supposedly improve the voting system in Maryland. It is not improved, and in fact it is broken. Voting and counting the votes properly is the most basic foundation of any democratic system, and it's one that we do not currently have in the United States of America.

JRM

_______________

Letter to my Senators and Congressman: 

Today Maryland's voting system is a laughingstock across the country, but for people like me who went to vote yesterday, it was no laughing matter. I am a constituent of yours, and I wrote to you on numerous occasions asking you to not support the purchasing of Diebold voting machines because they were prone to problems, expensive, and did not offer a paper trail. Maryland went ahead and purchased these systems anyway, and yesterday gave us a glimpse of the kinds of nightmares we can expect in November 2006.

Everyone involved in the election debacle yesterday should be fired immediately and replaced with competent, nonpartisan staff. I expect court cases from the disenfranchisement that occurred yesterday, and I hope that the end result is that Maryland scraps the Diebold systems in favor of more reliable systems with a paper backup trail.

I am disgusted that after all this time Maryland officials have still been unable to assemble a functioning reliable voting system for us to cast ballots on. It is a disgrace and it is inexcusable. If this is not enough of a wake-up call for you, then I don't know what could possibly motivate you to fix the system once and for all. Our expensive voting system has failed us completely and I hold all elected officials in Maryland responsible. Voting is the most basic, bedrock foundation of a democratic society, and yet we do not have a functioning voting system in Maryland. You let us down, and we will not forget it.

Sincerely,

Dr. John R. Moffett

_______________

Reply from Senator Mikulski (within 3 hours)

Dear Dr. Moffett:

    Thank you for getting in touch with me about Diebold Election Systems . It's great to hear from you.

     I absolutely agree with you. One of the most important civil rights is the right to vote. Our country guarantees the right for each citizen to know their vote counted. This requires strong federal standards and oversight.

That's why I am so proud to be an original cosponsor of the Count Every Vote Act of 2005 (S. 450). This important legislation would, among other things:

- Make Election Day a federal holiday

- Allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day

- Require all polling places to have the resources they need to accommodate all voters, including reducing wait times for voters at polling places

- Provide for a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast electronically

This important legislation is pending in the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Knowing of your views will be very helpful to me as I fight to restore confidence in our electoral system.

Again, thanks for contacting me. If I can be of assistance in the future, or if there is any other federal issue on which you would like to comment, please feel free to let me know.


Sincerely,
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator
 

 

A Sidney Blumenthal Must Read:
How Bad is Bush?
September 12th, 2006

The introduction to Sydney Blumenthal's new Book "How Bush Rules" has been posted on the internet, and it is a must read. He points out how Bush began lying right from the start during the Bush/Gore debates in 2000, when he said he was "a uniter, not a divider". As always, Bush says the precise opposite of the truth...

Read Here


 

Snip, Snip; Paste, Paste
September 9th, 2006


ABC is frantically scrambling to cut and paste their right-wing Crock-umentary “the Path to 9/11” to try and remove propaganda elements which came straight from the right wing blogosphere. The question is, if ABC executives knew that the miniseries contained numerous factual errors that just happened to coincide perfectly with right wing talking points, how did they let it get this far towards airing without any attempt to correct the errors?

Obviously this happened because the entire project was conceived and funded by a right-wing buddy of Rush Limbaugh's, so ABC knew from the start what they would be getting for their $40 million investment. There are even questions as to whether Thomas Kean, the Republican chair of the 9/11 commission, was perhaps even paid to endorse the program.

There is still an entrenched feeling among the news media that conservatism is the new way in America, and that liberals are irrelevant and easily ignored. ABC and Disney are finding out that we are not so easily ignored. It used to be the case that Republicans and conservatives had a lock on talk radio and the mainstream media, but because of the Internet, that has changed and they can no longer count on having the only say on particular matters of national importance.

Getting the history of 9/11 straight is not only important for the historical account, but also so that we do not make similar mistakes again. If the historical facts become distorted, then any future responses or preparations will also be distorted relative to reality. But conservatives don't care about preparing for anything, to them government is just a way to exercise power over other segments of the population.

Republicans hate the federal government, and they are showing it every day as they dismantle agencies meant to protect the American people. With this rewriting of history, they are again putting politics above the safety of the American people. If Americans come away thinking that Bill Clinton was responsible for 9/11, rather than Condoleezza Rice and George Bush, that will give the Bush administration even more leeway to lie and distort the important issues facing us. It will let them off the hook rather than holding them accountable for their egregious failures and criminal acts.

I will be very interested to see if this Crock-umentary airs tomorrow night. In 2003, CBS was forced to pull a miniseries on Ronald Reagan due to conservative pressure. In 2004 Disney, the parent company for ABC, refused to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11 because they said it was too politically charged. Somehow I doubt ABC will pull this series now due to pressure from Democrats and liberals. Media organizations do not fear liberals the way they fear conservatives. Let's all work together to make that miscalculation painfully obvious to ABC and Disney.

JRM


 

Boycott ABC and Disney
September 6th, 2006


What could be more despicable than creating a docudrama packed with lies and falsehoods blaming the September 11th attacks on the previous president, Bill Clinton, rather than the president who was commander in chief when the attacks occurred? Not much.

But that's what ABC and Disney have in store for the United States, not to mention school children all across the nation. A right wing activist wrote the script for a completely false version of what happened prior to 9/11, and ABC is not only going to air the false account on national TV, they are urging teachers all across the nation to force schoolchildren to watch this rewriting of history.

Attacking Bill Clinton has been a major media cash cow for over a decade now, and as the profits on such ad hominem attacks dwindle, large media corporations like ABC and Disney long for the good old days when a good Clinton bashing would bring in millions of dollars in profits. What seems so curious is that they have not used the same rationale to make money by bashing President Bush.

It's not that there isn't a ton of money to be made attacking the worst president in American history, it just doesn't fit the political agenda of rich corporate media types. So it's back to Clinton bashing we go, with pathetic attempts to rewrite history and blame President Bush's utter failures on someone else.

I will be boycotting ABC and Disney in all their media outlets if they do not respond to public pressure and halt the airing of this absurd attempt to shift the blame for the most serious attack on the United States away from President Bush - the person who ignored the president's daily briefing on Osama bin Laden preparing to attack the United States. I urge all Democrats and liberals to boycott everything ABC and Disney does. If a new Disney movie comes out, don't go to see it. Write letters to the advertisers at ABC and tell them you will no longer be buying their products as long as they advertise with ABC.

Above all, write to ABC and tell them how you feel about their egregious decision to air such garbage.

JRM


 
 
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