Thursday, December 29, 2005

HeadingLeft scoops A.P. by nearly a week

Daily Kos ran a story on the front page featuring an AP report released today.



A little-noticed holiday week executive order from President Bush moved the Pentagon's intelligence chief to the No. 3 spot in the succession hierarchy behind Mr. Rumsfeld. The second spot would be the deputy secretary of defense, but that position currently is vacant. The Army chief, which long held the No. 3 spot, was dropped to sixth.

The changes, announced last week, are the second in six months and mirror the administration's new emphasis on intelligence gathering versus combat in 21st century warfighting.


Maybe time just moves slower when you are sitting in the White House Press Room. I wonder how long it will take the Associated Press to figure out what this signals about Rumsfeld's tenure, and then how long it will take them to realize that the President is holding the announcement so they can dangle appointments at the negotiations to replace Tom Delay, and as a distraction for the next bad news cycle.

Oh wait, they will never get it. With pawns like them, even Rove and Bush can look like chess masters.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Rummy to be replaced by 9-11/Abu Ghraib figure?

A new Executive Order may be another sign that changes are coming at Defense.
The White House has formulated a new order of succession within the Department of Defense.
If Rumsfeld should vacate his post, taking over would be the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Who is the Deputy? Well, that leads us to some interesting possibilities...

Paul Wolfowitz resigned on May 13, and since then the spot has not been officially filled. The ~Acting~ Deputy Secretary is Secretary of the Navy Gordon England.
As acting Deputy, he might be next, but as he is fully the Secretary of the Navy, that puts him seventh in line.
If he is not considered the Deputy per the order of succession, the next in line is the Undersecretary of Defense for Intellegence, a position that did not exist until just two days before Wolfowitz resigned.

So far the only man to ever hold the office is Stephen Cambone. His job includes oversight of the NSA and of Defense Intelligence.
As his office is so new, I speculate that the purpose of the new order of succession was to insert him.

Cambone was discussed at length in this AmericanProgress.org article about the failures of 911 Intellegence.

It includes such passages as...

A name that we have not frequently heard mentioned, however, is Stephen Cambone. As the nation's first ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Cambone wields vast power within the intelligence community; yet, his only qualifications for the post are a fierce loyalty to Donald Rumsfeld and an unshakeable right wing ideology.
-------------
Cambone has since conceded that he was personally behind sending Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller to Iraq with orders to find more effective ways of interrogating prisoners.
--------------
When Sen. John Warner asked Cambone if his office had "overall responsibility for policy concerning the handling of detainees," Cambone coyly responded with, "Not precisely, sir." And when Cambone was pressed on the question of whether he and Rumsfeld believed that the prisoners in Iraq were protected by the Geneva Convention, he again ran for shelter beyond the shelter beyond the word "precise":
Sen. Levin: You this morning said, again, the Geneva Convention applies to our activities in Iraq, but not precisely.

Mr. Cambone: No, sir. I think what the secretary - I - let me tell you what the facts are. The Geneva Convention applies in Iraq.

Sen Levin: Precisely?

Mr. Cambone. Precisely.

Sen. Levin: (Inaudible) -

Mr. Cambone: They do not apply in the precise way that the secretary was talking about...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CO-7 A Poll

Colorado Pols has a poll on the CO-7 race.
It is a site that is read by a bunch of the semi-computer-literate political insiders in Colorado and helps shape some of the conventional wisdom around here.
The sample is about as unrerpresentative as one could find for a poll, and it is more a test of which of the candidates is able to get their people around to the most computers. Still, in a caucus state, getting your people to vote at low turn out events is actually what it is about.

Do me a favor and click in with a vote.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bill Winter and other Disclosures

I have been invited to help Bill Winter's campaign with their netroots outreach during Bill's challenge of Tom Tancredo's Colorado Sixth district congressional seat.
Likewise, I have been invited by Ed Perlmutter to assist his campaign for the congressional seat in Colorado's Seventh district.
All that should really change around here is that I have added a link to Bill Winter's blog team's blog on the right, and now I might be less eligable for paid story placement from the Iraqi News service.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Executive order on FOIA

The Whitehouse has posted a new executive order about Freedom of Information Act requests.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051214-4.html

On a day where Bill Moyers is being quoted as saying "There has been nothing in our time like the Bush Administration's obsession with secrecy," the administration has set an order that on its surface looks like it creates some mechanism for review of governmental FOIA compliance.
A quick glance seems to indicate that this will improve the fulfilment of the public right to know. Does it merely insert a layer of Bush document shredders between any request and the public?

I am going to look this gift horse carefully in its Trojan mouth, but maybe someone more clever than I can find the worm in this apple of knowledge first... ow! I sprained my metaphor.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

First Impressions

When I saw that Bush was having Thaddeus DuBois answer the questions sent in this week to 'Ask the White House', I thought that Trent Lott must be back as Majority Leader.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/ask/20051209.html

Turns out I just was misinterpreting the photo.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

CO-7 Pancakes, Coffee, and Stump Speeches; two of my favorite things.

There wasn't a lot of space to maneuver my plate of scrambled eggs at the American Legion Hall in Lakewood this morning. More than 140 of my neighbors in CO-7 packed the round tables to gulp down food and to listen to the three Democratic congressional candidates.
Ed Perlmutter, Peggy Lamm, and Herb Rubenstein mingled with the friendly and informal crowd. Each of them took the time to engage with me personally, and I had the experience that they were all there to listen as well as speak. Shortly after 9:00 they took their places on the small stage and gave opening remarks.
Peggy Lamm began with a series of stories that illustrated her personal connection to issues such as the welfare of our soldiers, the importance of Social Security, and the value of public education. She indulged in a grab for easy laughs by pointing out the doors in the front and the back of the room and then announcing we now had an exit strategy. I enjoyed the dig at Bush along with the rest of the crowd, but it made me wonder if she thought these things were really so casual and easy. If Herb Rubenstein had made the joke, I would be pretty sure that he had a book somewhere in which he had pointed out every possible exit from Iraq just as clearly. If Ed Perlmutter had said it, I would be certain that he had assembled a team of the best people, who had read Herb's book and a good number of others, and that he could work with them and create a plan that would lead our people to those exits. When Peggy Lamm said it, she said it with the vague charismatic ease and confidence that I find chillingly 'presidential'. When I laughed at the joke there was an anger and disdain for the Republicans lurking behind my smirk. I know where I have seen that smirk before, and I don't want it on my face. I want to be led forth by hope, and to her credit, many times when Peggy spoke of topics closer to her experience I felt hopeful. I am concerned about whose council she might wind up taking on the rest.
Next to speak was 'Hyperlinked' Herb Rubenstein. As a blogger, I enjoy a man who speaks in URLs. Herb is comfortable with this medium, and at his website he lays out positions on around fifty issues. With Quixotic energy he dove into them as best he could in the time provided. He pointed people to his website and to his books. He spoke of gay rights, union rights, tax law, Katrina, Murtha, National Health Care. He even leveled some criticism at the Colorado Democratic Party and made suggestions about how they could improve their own house. A critque, he told me later, that ruffled some feathers and earned him a vague warning. At no point, however, did he have any unkind words for his two opponents. He made efforts to differentiate himself from them while still marching forward in a united front. In a district that was tipped to the Republicans in 2002 by people who voted Green, the party would do well to find a way to be inclusive of people like Herb. The other candidates are right not to waste too many moments worrying about him as a serious challenger, but I hope they recognize him as a useful ally and knowledgeable constituent.
Ed Perlmutter took the floor to considerably more applause than the others. His opening remarks were the only ones interrupted by applause, and even garnered a small standing ovation. It is clear that he holds home court advantage in this district, and in a caucus state that can be a powerful thing. Money always gets you a long ways in politics, but being able to get people into the room wins Colorado primaries.
Perlmutter decried the consolidation of power on the Federal level, and the incompetence with which Bush wields it. He drew parallels between Washington today and Colorado five years ago when he and his colleagues in our State Senate broke the Republican stranglehold. He painted a self-portrait of a moderate man who preferred collaborative governance but who had been roused to fight by a deficit that mortgages our future, by Katrina, by Iraq, and by the rest of the wanton negligence of this administration.

After their opening remarks, the candidates gave answers to a series of five questions submitted by the gathering. The first of these was on the topic of Iraq.
Perlmutter said that Bush needed to elucidate what 'victory' meant. Saddam brought to trial? Elections? Iraq admitted as the 51st state? If we are going to stay the course until the job is done, we need to know exactly what that job is. Failing a clear explanation from the President, Perlmutter said we should not leave a vacuum, but we should withdraw "very very soon."
Rubenstein said that the key to finding an exit is international involvement, both in having a police force and in the allocation of contracts. He felt that we could most likely draw down half our troops in '06 and the other half in '07, but only if we engaged the international community, rebuilt their respect for us, and were replaced by a force that represented the interests of the Arab League, Europe, and Russia.
Lamm said we needed to find an exit strategy now. She wanted a time table immediately that preserved the good things we have created but also also allowed for a rapid exit of our forces. She then added that the Iraqi's, "might not be able to be a democracy", and that we, "need to look at other creative solutions."
When I spoke to her later, I read her back the quote, and I asked if she could clarify what she had meant. She explained that if US troops were to leave the country the result might be a civil war (a state I said seemed to be present today). She admitted she is no expert on the region, but stated that it seemed to her that after thousands of years of war that a three state solution might be the only resolution. After making sure the three divisions she was talking about were Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd, I asked her if she thought any of those groups were capable of individually forming a government that was democratic. She said while she was very hopeful that democracy might emerge in the region, and that if it did that would be the best possible outcome, the historical realities of the region might make that impossible.

The next question concerned immigration. All three were in fairly close agreement. Each felt that the existing 11 million undocumented workers in the country should have a path to take where their status could be decriminalized, and each called for sanctions against the companies that prey on migrant workers for cheap labor.
Rubenstein had a detailed plan that included amnesty for employees of companies that had more than 25 workers. Lamm suggested that working with Mexico to help them find ways to improve conditions and keep people working on that side of the border. Perlmutter said we should tighten our borders, but also create a track to naturalization for every current undocumented alien who paid their taxes, began learning English, and committed no crimes.
I asked Mr. Perlmutter later if 'committed no crimes' included the crime of entering the country illegally, or using forged documents to secure employment. He indicated to me that while those were certainly crimes, they would not be hurdles to later citizenship for those already living and working in the country.

The third question was about improvements on K-12 education. Here Ed and Peggy were in fairly close accord, and Herb saw things differently.
Both Perlmutter and Lamm cited the passing of Proposition C as evidence that things could be done properly. They both felt that the No Child Left Behind Act was a failure when just pushed on the States, but could be saved if it was federally funded. They both felt that funding Public Education and raising educator pay was a top priority. Both thought the defunding of Pell Grants was a stupid move. The only place I saw any difference was when Peggy Lamm announced that she would never vote for something like school vouchers, and then smirked over at Perlmutter to make sure the punch landed.
Herb came at things from another direction. He said the child is the customer of Public Education, and we needed to improve the product. He indicated that he has recently written a book on the topic, and told us how to get a copy. A few select quotes from his remarks were, "No Child Left Behind should have been No Teacher Left Behind," and "We just teach principals to manage. We should be teaching them to lead." He also voiced his support for home schools, charter schools, and his opposition to vouchers.

The next question was about the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Peggy Lamm proudly declared herself a proponent of an 'America First' policy. She felt that a 'flat playing field' was inferior to a 'fair playing field.' She sees CAFTA as a threat to American jobs and stands opposed to it.
Herb Rubenstein suggested that tariffs should be part of our economic policy and designed to bring foreign countries in line with worker rights issues and environmental issues. He proposed tariffs as high as 500% on countries whose policies are antagonistic to unions. He said that China's 4000 annual coal mine deaths and terrible environmental record should be punished through our trade agreements.
Ed Perlmutter also opposed CAFTA for the reasons the rest of the panel did, and spoke about ways he would act to create jobs in CO-7 and keep the district competitive globally. As an example he cited how improving the budget of the National Renewable Energy Labs, whose biofuel funding was recently cut, could result in improvements in our environment, our economy, and our national security by lowering our dependence on foreign oil.

The final question was on gun control. All three were fairly middle of the road on this one.
Herb Rubenstein has one. He has a right to one. He has no right to a machine gun. He should face stiff penalties if he uses it improperly.
Ed Perlmutter thinks concealed weapons are fine, and has supported laws allowing them, but he does not support any law that allows them in a bar, a school, or a stadium.
Peggy Lamm sees women's physical stature as a reason they may sometimes need special protection, and while she supports safe storage laws, and advocates safety training and accountability for misuse, she sees no call to restrict lighter firearms. Like Herb and Ed, she does not think everyone has a second amendment right to a flamethrower, but does feel some gun ownership is agreeable.

They all made closing comments, and then stuck around and answered questions from all of us who cared to ask. The experience left me feeling nostalgic for a time in politics where one could always pick a favorite candidate, and still hold the other side in high regard. I felt I could do that today. I think that I am going to enjoy the race through the March 21st caucus. After that, it becomes the defiant stand against the forces of evil, and though it may be holy work it will still be drudgery.

I prepared to go and made one final circut of the room. Ed introduced me to his daughters. Peggy told me she had, "never met a real blogger before." Herb and I talked about moving the party forward, and his chances in the election. It was a nice day, and the eggs were really good.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Freedom Ride

Today was supposed to be Deborah Davis' day in court. The Feds staged a tactical retreat and dropped the charges while insisting their unconstitutional policies would continue unabated.
Ms. Davis had been arrested for not showing proper deference to authority during a random check of her travel papers. On her way to work, a police officer requested to see her identification. She refused and was arrested. In the scramble to imagine a reason for this, she was charged with failure to obey signs requiring identification to be shown by visitors to the Denver Federal Center. She was not a visitor to the center, although the bus does transit the property on part of its route. To make the charges more worthy of ridicule, there was not even a sign.
Seeing this as an escape rather than a problem, the Feds dropped the charges citing "a technicality involving a problem with a sign at the Federal Center at the time Davis was ticketed." This 'technicality' now corrected, they have announced that they will continue to intimidate Ms. Davis, violate the rights of commuters, and drain the resources of the good people who help them prepare for a day in court that never comes.

Maybe someday, someone will bring the suit that asks them to pay for the costs and damages inflicted on Ms. Davis and others brave enough to say 'no' to tyranny. Maybe someday some court will serve justice and hand down a large enough fine to deter these crimes, but as the bill would just be passed along to you and me and never paid by the criminal officers, I am not holding my breath for that day either.

We need a constitutional amendment that requires the Goverment to obey the Constitution.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Imagine

Twenty Five years ago, I was a kid and it was pretty late at night. I was watching the news and I found out that John Lennon had died. Without thinking, I picked up a phone and I called Sander. Sander was in bed, and his dad answered the phone. Sander's dad had already heard the news and he was concerned about how he was going to tell his son.
It is funny to think that a quarter of a century later, and a couple of time zones away from Eastern Standard, I would be typing a blog that was still so influenced by growing up around Sander, his Father, and a man who sang about hope for a more peaceful world.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Aaron's very solid response

Or: Maybe we should find Aaron a job with the DNC instead of blogging here on this little corner of the internet(s)

I agree that getting the majority to the polls will be the key to reforming the landscape.
A meme I would like to crush as soon as possible, however, is the 'Dems don't have a clear message' story.
What is the Republican's clear message? "Jesus is coming soon so we better ban homosexuality, and abortion, and allow guns, and tigheten our borders, and provide work visas for immigrant workers, and give tax breaks to corporations, and defend the homeland, and protect Israel, and destabilize other countries, and bring democracy to other counteries in the form of the world bank, and eliminate judicial activism, and reinterpret the constitution to pass any laws we like that abridge the first and fourth amendments, and relax polution regulation, and increase the property rights of media corporations, and redistrict certain precincts, and........."

They have a bunch of messages, and because they are a confederacy of the Fundamentalists, the Stupid, the Greedy, and the Hateful, their message is more garbled and encoded than any the Dems put forward.

This is the Democratic Party message:

We believe in fostering a just society, where the rights of the individual are respected, where government works in an open way to provide for the common defense and an honest way to promote the general welfare, and where opportunities are available for all people, regardless of the circumstance of their births.

Or if you want the shortest version...

Freedom, Justice, Equality

(Contrast those words with Kellogg, Brown, and Root, and I think you have a campaign.)

Show Up or Shut Up!

60% of people in Time Magazines new poll said they want our next president to be "completely different" than Bush.

Where the hell were these people when we needed them? Sure, I know, it does not help to denigrate those just joining us in our disdain for BushCo.... But seriously, where was the youth vote? Where were the outraged disaffected? Where were the 98% of African Americans that say they disapprove of Bush and his incompetent gang of wingnuts? Mostly absent.

So the question is.... How will we get these people to vote in '06 and beyond? What right wing cause will repubs fly up the flag to get wingers to show up for the midterm elections.... Mandatory life sentences for Flag burning?

Can we push the issue of morality and ethics all the way to a democratic landslide in '06? We should and we must. It is time to create a new values voter, one that actually values decency, human dignity and human life. We must reach out to those moderates that really believe a public servant should not cheat, lie or steal. Let's hope that Howard and the rest of the dems can stick together, get a message and stay on point.

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant

On a scale from one to doomsday, I think this idea ranks pretty much near the bottom of the pit. In fact, it is such a bad idea I can only assume it has already been implemented.
The AP via ABC News drew my attention to Senate Resolution S.1873, and its partner in the House HR.3970 which would create the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), an agency the bill claims will "prepare and strengthen the biodefenses of the United States against deliberate, accidental, and natural outbreaks of illness, and for other purposes. "

The plan would exempt the agency from any oversight of FOIA or of the Federal Advisory Committee acts, give private sector companies immunity for participation, and would allow the company to secretly dole out funding for "development of treatments and vaccines to protect the United States from natural pandemics as well as chemical, biological and radiological agents."

Or maybe they will do something else with the money. Who knows? You won't. Without FOIA and FACA, this is Big Pharma saying, "Sign this form waving your rights, and then give me your money and close your eyes."

Apparently, science now works best when it is done in secret and need not worry about accountability. Welcome to the age of Faith Based Advanced Biochemical Research.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

CO 7 - Matsunaka takes sides in Perlmutter v. Lamm

The Perlmutter campaign is circulating a document in which former Dkos 8 honoree Stan Matsunaka takes a strong position for Ed Perlmutter and against Peggy Lamm, in the rivalry for the Colorado 7th District Democratic Congressional nomination

Matsunaka, who challenged Musgrave (R CO-4) for a congressional seat last cycle, comes out in support of his long time colleague...

"I strongly believe that Ed Perlmutter is the man who can take back the Seventh District. I also know first hand that Ed's credentials as a committed Democrat are beyond question. I served with Ed in the Colorado Senate for eight years and during that time I saw Ed fight for the things that we as Democrats hold dear like public education, civil rights, women's rights and the environment."

Matsunaka also raises questions about Lamm's dedication to party principles and party loyalty in a statement that begins...

"Whether you agree or not with every position Ed has taken in public life, he has always been honest about his record. I do not believe Peggy Lamm can say the same... "

I had asked the Perlmutter campaign for information about the charge that Lamm had supported Republican Governor Bill Owens in 2002, and in an encouraging sign that they take bloggers seriously they sprung for a bucks worth of postage to mail me out a pile of papers. I scanned Matsunaka's letter into a .pdf file for others who are interested.