Friday, November 17, 2006

Gulfnews: Soldier grins and confesses to rape

Fort Campbell, Kentucky: One of four US soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl last spring showed little remorse and even smiled during a confession to charges he conspired to kill her and her family.

Even before the hearing on Wednesday to announce a plea agreement, James P. Barker, 23, slapped hands with other soldiers and grinned as he smoked a cigarette in the rain. A bailiff scolded him.

And when he described for the judge the assault in his own words, he gave vivid details of the rape with a deadpan delivery.

"That's pretty much all I have to say," Barker muttered with a shrug after describing raping the screaming girl. Barker agreed to plead guilty to the charges to avoid the death penalty, his civilian attorney David Sheldon said.

In case you were thinking about looking at the occupation of Iraq from an academic point of view, I submit Exhibit A in my case of how this war is going to impact us for a generation. Think these guys are the only ones who think this way? No, they've dehumanized an entire population to the point that soldiers now think it is not only acceptable to rape a 14 year-old girl and kill her family, but praise-worthy. These guys are every bit as bad as the SS storm troopers in Nazi Germany, and they're all coming home eventually.
I posted on this back on 7 August 2006. You can find that post in my Archives if you want to get a feel for the whirlwind we're about to reap.

And for all you limousine liberals who pooh-pooh my unwillingness to support Democratic candidates who support this occupation as some sort of unreasonable moral purity, I'd like to ask you: do you think that killing people for fun or sport is wrong? That's what we have our soldiers doing over there right now. Do you think that killing people for political or economic gain is wrong? That's why our politicians sent them over there.

If you cannot agree that killing people for no reason is wrong and should be stopped immediately, then I don't know what else to say to you.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Thanks to for bringing this to our attention:

That is the vote count for Joe Lieberman's Republican opponent Phil Giordano in 2000. It is also the vote count for Joe Lieberman's Democratic opponent Ned Lamont in 2006.

This is really, really fishy. Somebody needs to look into this.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Et tu, James Carville?

Immediately after an historic victory for the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections, Democratic strategist James Carville had his say. You'd think he'd be pleased. You'd be wrong:

Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.

The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.

Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

Here are some comments from around the blogosphere:

At Daily Kos:

Dean was elected. If Carville has a master plan to stage a coup against Dean, I'd love to see it. But I doubt the state party chairs who provided Dean's margin of victory are going to get too torn up about the fact that Dean is helping fund their resurgence.

At Monkeyfister:

Look, Schuler, Emmanual, and Carville-- Put your long knives down, and STEP THE FUCK AWAY... We WON... Get it? We SWEPT THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE...

Learn to WORK TOGETHER, DAMMIT. We Democrats and Progressives are sick and fucking tired of this "Liberal Herd of Cats" mentality... Pull your shit together, and stop fucking one another while we're AHEAD... Just fucking ONCE???!!!!??? Can ya just be happy we won because we COOPERATED this time??? Your bullshit does NOTHING but LOSE elections when you act like this.

Let the GOP stab each other... It's NOT for US to do that. Put your fucking EGOs DOWN, STEP AWAY, and work on UNITY you bunch of fuckwipes. How about planning how we ALL can work together BETTER for a 2008 Presidential Victory-- THAT is your fucking job right now-- now stealing the limelight, or stabbing your Brothers and Sisters in the back.

At Blah3:

I don't have a whole lot of time here (I've got an early gig tonight), but I just wanted to say that the suggestion of replacing Howard Dean - the very architect of the 50-state strategy that opened the can of whoop-ass on the Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress - is probably the most bone-headed thing that Carville has ever said.

Yep, he's a genius, all right - right up there with that other super-genius, Karl Rove.

Sit down, James. Your time has come and gone.

Me? I think we need to take a closer look at Mr. Carville.

Carville's dedication to Democratic victory in 2004:

On election night 2004, GOP communications guru Mary Matalin was with Bush and Vice President Cheney and talking with her husband, Democratic strategist James Carville , who was close to -- but not in -- John Kerry 's campaign.

Kerry, Carville told her, was going to challenge 250,000 provisional ballots in Ohio, which could change the result there or tie things up for a long time. Matalin promptly told Cheney, and they met with Bush. The Kerry camp made the announcement shortly thereafter.

What's a little pillow talk between opposing campaign strategists, right? But was he reckless or strategic? We know where his loyalties lie. A few months ago, he wrote an article called "The Power of Hillary" talking up Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) chances in a Presidential election. Carville speaks glowingly of Sen. Clinton's political savvy, endurance, and belovedness nation-wide. It's not just that he thinks she can win; it's clear that he wants her to run.

What's the common denominator here? If Kerry won in 2004, Clinton is ruled out for 2008. If Kerry won re-election in 2008, then Vice President Edwards would be the hands-down favorite in 2012. Sen. Clinton ain't getting any younger. In the case of Dean, this historic victory gives him the clout to become a king-maker in 2008. It's not that Dean would be biased against Clinton; it's just that he wouldn't be biased for her. So who does he propose? Harold Ford, the Tennessee Democrat who continued the fine DLC tradition of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But there's more to it than that. Carville's DLC loyalties translate into corporate loyalties. Consider some of his foreign affairs experience:

Venezuela's embattled private sector is banking on the colorful U.S. political consultant James Carville to help oust leftist President Hugo Chavez. The hire may herald an effort by the anti-Chavistas to focus more on the issues than on personality.

According to several individuals with knowledge of the matter, a group of business executives contracted with Mr. Carville this year to craft a strategy that will unify a fractious and frustrated Chavez opposition and resonate with voters in a possible recall referendum. The executives are hoping that Mr. Carvillethe folksy, 59-year-old Democratic Party consultant from Louisiana known as the Ragin' Cajunwill push a variation of his "It's the economy, stupid" theme that helped propel Bill Clinton to victory in 1992. But analysts say Mr. Carville and his clients face a formidable challenge.

Mr. Carville is also rumored to have been involved with the unsuccessful coup against Chavez in 2002, although these rumors may be a misunderstanding of Mr. Carville's support for President Chavez's corporate opponents. Either way, it lines up with the DLC's and Mr. Carville's support of corporations ahead of Democratic principles. Carville has done as much as anybody in America to portray Chavez as a dictator, when he is, in fact a President whose election was monitored by former President Carter and certified as legitimate. President Chavez has a greater claim to legitimacy than President Bush.

Now let's examine Carville's excellent adventures in Bolivia:

Political documentaries don’t come any more shaming than Rachel Boynton’s terrific ‘‘Our Brand is Crisis,’’ a barely straight-faced account of what happened in Bolivia in 2002, when a group of US consultants helped a candidate win the presidency only to see the country slide into near-total chaos.

Globalism extends to the American way of campaigning, it seems, and the hubris of the gringo strategists — earnest ex-Clintonistas employed by James Carville’s Greenberg Carville Shrum group — would be hilarious if human lives and a country’s political will weren’t at stake.

It’s a galling and provocative experience to viewers of any political persuasion, and a reminder to the left of how easily idealism can run amok.

The Carville boys were hired by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a.k.a. ‘‘Goni,’’ a patrician Bolivian businessman who served a rough term as Bolivia’s president in the mid-’90s. Goni’s legacy was an unsuccessful program of ‘‘capitalization’’ (i.e., he welcomed foreign investment and watched foreigners get all the jobs).

All hail the free market gods.

Against Goni are Evo Morales, a socialist firebrand who represents the country’s coca growers but who denies he’s a drug lord or a terrorist, and Cochabamba mayor Manfred Reyes Villa, a thoughtful pragmatist with a charismatic head of hair. Villa leads in the polls, so Rosner and company decide he must be taken down.

It’s a measure of the trust filmmaker Boynton built with the Americans that they happily discuss negative campaigning with the cameras rolling — either that, or they’re willfully blind. Management consultant Tal Silverstein insists ‘‘we have to turn [Villa] from a clean candidate to a dirty one,’’ and articles go out fretting about his military experience and digging into his finances. ‘‘Tomorrow they’ll probably say I’m an associate of Osama bin Laden,’’ Villa shrugs in an interview.

Karl Rove could take notes.

Goni wins by the narrowest of margins in a severely split field. He does little for several months (other than plan to ship Bolivia’s natural gas from a port in enemy Chile), then decides to raise taxes. Cut to riots in the streets. Over a hundred people died in the ensuing months, and Goni eventually fled to America. In late 2005, Morales won the presidency with a historic 54 percent of the vote. You could argue that the Carville consultants helped drive Bolivia into his arms, since the centrist Villa would likely have won in 2002 without their intervention.

This begs the question: Carville may know how to win elections, but does he know a thing about good government? The answer is clearly "no". Getting back to Dean, the DNC under his leadership seems to be more interested in building a strong infrastructure than in getting particular Democrats (namely, Hillary) elected President. Carville, on the other hand, would like to put another Clinton in the White House. Not only is he fiercely loyal to them, but it would also put another notch under his belt. But Democrats whose last names are not "Clinton" need to watch out for this little weasel. His loyalty is not to the Democratic Party or to Democratic ideals. His loyalty is to corporate America and the Clintons. He could give a rat's ass if the Democrats won the House and Senate. He wants to use the DNC as a tool to sew up the nomination for Hillary early. That's why he wants Harold Ford in the big seat and not Dean.

That's the conflict. It's not about egos, it's about differing agendas. Anybody who thinks Carville can be trusted at this point needs to look at his history. He's a pit bull for very specific interests; nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Electronic voting machine slays nine?

Democrats are turning away from the problems with electronic voting machines because they happened to win this time around. Not so fast, says Brad Friedman in Computer World.

They didn't check with Bill Ritter, the Colorado gubernatorial candidate, who had to wait almost two hours to vote, or with Sean Kelley, a Denver resident, who said to the Post, "I can't believe I'm in the United States of America," before he gave up and went home without voting after waiting three hours in line when electronic machines broke down. Despite an emergency request, the courts in Colorado refused to allow the city's new consolidated "Election Centers" to remain open for extra hours that night.

Similar problems led to slightly more responsible officials ordering polls to be kept open longer than scheduled in at least eight other states due to voting machine problems.

Everybody, Democrats in particular since they're going to be the ones running the agenda in Congress, need to stay on top of this issue. The solution is easy, of course: a voter verifiable paper receipt and internal paper trail in the voting machine itself. Diebold makes ATMs without these kinds of electronic glitches and with much better accountability than their voting machines do. Why can't they track our votes like they track our money? Our votes are every bit as important.

Now that the Democrats are in Congress, we have the ability to affect real change on this issue. It has been, and this is a matter of public record, the Republicans who have been opposed to paper trails. Why they are opposed to them is a matter of speculation (one could posit that they didn't want to mess with a system that had been working to their advantage, since every "glitch" benefited the Republicans), but they shouldn't be. How hard would it be for a George Soros or Hugo Chavez to come along and finance the hacking of these machines to swing things the Democrats' way (not saying they would, but for the sake of discussion...)?

Paper trail. Insist upon it, especially if your Congress critter is a Democrat. Let's not give the Democrats a pass on this one the way the pro-life movement did regarding the Republicans' inattention on the abortion issue. Legislation mandating a paper trail for these electronic voting machines must be passed within the first 100 days or it will never happen. Arm twist to over-ride a Presidential veto if you have to, although I don't think they will. Once this issue gets brought to the American people, the President will bow to public pressure and accept the paper trails. It just makes sense.

This isn't about Republicans vs. Democrats; this is about the integrity of our democracy. It's an issue Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together on.

Crazy like a fox.

In other news, turns out Howard Dean is crazy like a fox. Who knew?

Nov. 10, 2006 | Only weeks after the Democratic National Committee chose Howard Dean as its
chairman last year, the nasty whispers began to circulate around Washington and among longtime party donors and activists in cities from New York to Los Angeles. "He's going to be a disaster," they muttered. "He can't raise any money. He doesn't know what he's doing. And what does he mean by this crazy 50-state strategy?"

Those early days must have been painful for the former Vermont governor -- still smarting back then from his presidential primary defeat and that endlessly looped "scream" video -- and he endured a barrage of snarks and snipes from the Democratic congressional leadership as well. Unfortunately for Dean, he doesn't play the Washington press corps nearly as well as do rivals like Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who ran the House Democrats' campaign committee, or Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who performed the same role in the Senate.

But this week, he is enjoying vindication far earlier than he ever expected.

Yes, my friends. Turns out Dean wasn't a disaster. Turns out he exceeded even his supporters expectations. Turning the Democratic party around was supposed to be a large, arduous task requiring at least ten years of building at the ground level. And it probably would have been had Republican leadership not been so disastrous the past two years. George Bush gave Dean's plans a boost. It's too bad so many people had to die along the way. But that's all going to change....

Who's laughing now?

Rumsfeld quits.


Was he going it quit even if the Republicans retained Congress? Possible. The dude is as old as time. He was Secretary of Defense before I was born.

Only the good die young....

Oh, and the Democrats have taken the Senate. What a great day to be an American.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One month later....

Everything has changed. It's been a month since my last post. That's because I felt I had said everything that I had to say. The important things hadn't become less important in the light of the Mark Foley scandal or John Kerry's ill-advised comments. Those things were a blip on the radar compared to the issues of who we are as a country and who we want to be. Habeas corpus, torture, and aggressive war are still the issues of the day, no matter what anybody might try to tell you.

The choice between the two parties was clear and most aptly described by Noam Chomsky in 2003: hegemony or survival. The Republicans sought American hegemony internationally, at any cost. The Democrats have posited that the survival of our nation is too high a price to pay for short-term global dominance. The American people, increasingly, agree.

This is the dynamic as it has played out. While the American people may not necessarily see it in those terms, that is the clear choice they were offered. Look at the record of the past six years pursuing unbridled hegemony: the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history on 11 Sep 01, a follow-up war (still on-going) in Afghanistan that cost tens of thousands of Afghan lives and accomplished none of the stated goals (capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al Qaeda) but plenty of unstated goals (establishing a U.S.-friendly government in Kabul and building a pipeline through their country to pipe natural gas from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean), devastating deficits threatening the ability of our government to remain financially solvent, another war (still on-going) in Iraq whose reasons proved to be false (weapons of mass destruction) and whose real reasons are just now coming to light (oil) and which has cost over 2,800 American lives and 655,000 Iraqi lives (which, taken as a percentage of their population, would be the equivalent of losing 7.89 million Americans; when they say every day is 9/11 in Iraq, they're not kidding), strumming guitar while New Orleans drowned, and finally, posting nuclear secrets in Arabic on government websites in a desperate attempt to justify their ill-conceived and even more poorly planned invasion of Iraq, all so that America could maintain some sort of strategic dominance over friends and enemies alike. To sum up the Republican policies: "For America to remain safe and secure, many Americans and even more foreigners will have to be killed or maimed for dubious and often out-right fallacious reasons."

The Democratic platform has been, essentially, "I'm not with stupid." And that, as it is turning out, seems to be enough.

The Democrats have recaptured the House of Representatives. This is a huge shift in the power structure of Washington, D.C. Instead of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi struggling to get a hearing at all in the Republican-dominated House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be working on an even footing with President Bush. Nancy Pelosi will be the most powerful legislator in Washington, and John Conyers, who has been drafting articles of impeachment against President Bush, will be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

And that says nothing of the Senate, which, as of this writing, is still in play.

What does this mean? It means that President Bush is no longer the undisputed master and commander of our nation. He has to answer to somebody and that, fittingly enough, that someone is a woman. It means accountability, and to Republicans who know that they've been screwing the pooch for the past six years, that's a truly frightening prospect.

What it means for America, though, is that the system works. Even when our nation is at its darkest, the people can still rise up and insist upon change. It means that Americans do care and have a sense of moral outrage over the atrocities of the past six years. Moreover, it means that the old saw, "it's always darkest before dawn", holds true today. For that is where we are now: dawn. The light is not shining at its brightest, but we can see it coming. We are still in relative darkness, but we have finally had the first bitter taste of that horrible illusion:


Despite the great trepidation with which many of us faced today's events, neither the American people nor the voting systems we have in place let us down. The will of the people is being carried out. This is the beginning of the end of our long national nightmare. Now we must insist that Democrats not acquiesce to the Republicans' more unreasonable demands. Now Nancy Pelosi must insist equal footing with President Bush in the national debate. Now the Democrats become a true opposition party in the House of Representatives, opposing President Bush's demands.

Now, more than ever, we must show this President that he is not the emperor of our nation and that he can be told "no". Insist that the Democrats do so. We have won this battle. Now thus begins our war in earnest.