Monday, April 04, 2005

Topic: President George W. Bush

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Anonymous Bonner J. McAllester said...

I've been to Washington again, this time to protest the inauguration of President George W. Bush. I don't believe he was fairly elected this time any more than in 2000, but even if he had been I would be standing with others to show how deeply I disapprove of his policies, foreign and domestic.

This is the fourth time I've taken the midnight bus to D.C. since this president took office. There is a certain similarity to these experiences: the cramped ride down with other protesters, talking politics and peace, sharing snacks and songs. Each person has a strategy involving water bottle, sandwich, clothing, and signs. This time some of us wore white armbands to signify mourning for those killed in Iraq.

Washington can be wicked cold in the early January morning, before the sun hits the streets. We had snow in the air this time, and something else, too.

This time, the actual object of our ire would be present. He would not be in Mexico or at Camp David, but driving by in a motorcade. We planned to line Pennsylvania Avenue and then turn our backs as he went by.

After a few hours of marching and singing and waiting at a checkpoint, the moment arrived. I couldn't see a thing except the backsides of thousands of other protesters, but then this incredible roar rose up from everyone and they turned around. (I was now looking at their frontsides.) So I figured the limousine was out there somewhere and I turned my back to it, too.

Many long miles and hours later we got home, all tired out, our sandwiches eaten and our signs a little rumpled. People started asking me right away: What was it like? When you turned your back, do you think anyone noticed?

What a question! I went because I knew someone would notice: me.

Bonner J. McAllester
Monterey, MA 01245

(The letter above was published in the February 2005 issue of the Monterey News newspaper. It is reproduced here by the Blog Editor without permission.)

Monday, April 04, 2005 5:46:00 PM  
Anonymous G.M. Heller said...

Back from Washington and all self-righteous and sour-grapes, Bonner McAllester is angry because her candidate didn't win. She's in denial when she says she doesn't believe George W. Bush "was fairly elected this time any more than in 2000" (and of course, she fails to provide any clues to inform us just how she comes to this ridiculous conclusion).

Describing her "cramped" midnight bus ride to Washington with other anti-Bush activists, she details her self-styled ‘protest' at the Inaugural Parade, and bemoans the fact that when it was time for her big moment to remonstrate against the passing election winner, she "couldn't see a thing except the backsides of thousands of other protesters."

Perhaps if Ms.McAllester were to set her sites higher than the backsides of other angry people, she might better understand why Mr. Bush carried both electoral and popular vote this time, and more importantly, why he and the Republicans won hands-down in the national arena of ideas.

From the sound of Ms.McAllester's bitter rant, one would also think a visit to the nation's capital during the latest climax of the four-year presidential election cycle was something to dread rather than to celebrate.

My own experience on Inaugural Thursday was far different than Ms.McAllester's. The swearing-in was exhilarating -- an event giving insight into American history; and immediately following the ceremony were receptions, celebrations, and some good old-fashioned partying.

This may sound corny to the sophisticated effetes in this bluest county in the bluest of states, but it was damn refreshing to witness history -- and especially to witness in person this President taking the Oath.

The morning began overcast and chilly at 27 degrees. When I arrived at 10AM, the air was warmer, but the sky was still overcast and a dank gray. My seat was just left of center with an unobstructed view (not 175 feet from the rostrum) of the Presidential Seal and the spot where George W. was to be sworn. (It was easy to procure what the media said were ‘scarce' tickets. Literally the day before, I simply walked into my Congressman's office and asked his staff whether any tickets remained in his allotment.)

To my left sat a middle-aged husband and wife from York, PA (about three hours north of DC). To my right were two former college buddies, one now lived in Lynchburg, VA while the other had flown in for the event from central Illinois. The Lynchburg guy had driven five hours. Behind me sat three middle-aged women from Michigan whose coats bore big yellow buttons supporting John Kerry. They said they were quite proud of Mr. Kerry and that they were all there as Americans to share the history of the moment.

About twenty minutes before the noontime oath-taking, a welcome Sun broke through clearing sky. It remained bright and cheery throughout the duration of the ceremony. I never found out whether TV commentators made note of Sol's blazing noontime appearance, but to me it immediately held wonderful significance and gave special moment to the occasion, more so than the event already had.

The Sun this day not only warmed, it gave blessing upon the entirety of the proceedings unfolding below. The country was watching and simultaneously going through this quadrennial political ritual, and it was as if the Sun was giving its imprimatur. In that single moment, the historical magnificence and uniqueness of this whole American 'thing' came into perspective, at least for this observer.

Afterwards, as all federal officialdom emptied the upper stands and the band filed out and folks were leaving the section where I sat, I hung out a bit watching people pass by. Then, rather than going over to the overcrowded parade route to wait around for a fleeting glimpse of a moving limo with 2-inch thick tinted glass, I chose instead the party option. I had heard that Members of Congress were having open houses and that these were the places to be after the ceremony.

Did I say there was food? Contrasted with Ms.McAllester's starvation rations of her one sandwich with bottled water, any Washington Inauguration becomes a movable feast courtesy of your local Congressional campaign committee no matter where you're from. All-you-could-eat buffet platters stocked with cold cuts, cheeses, sandwiches, salad fixings, shrimp cocktail, pastries, fruit, fresh-baked cookies, and refreshments were all free for any hungry mouth -- Democrat, Republican, or
Independent -- willing to come in and just say hi.

MOC's, their wives and families, staffs, and constituents and their families from all over the country converged this day within the halls of the House and Senate Office Buildings. There were funny stories, flesh pressing, and a whopping good time. I pigged out. In one MOC's office, I polished-off at least a pound of shrimp before attacking cold-cut sandwiches and finally, of course, the chocolate-chip cookies.

I didn't come across Ms.McAllester amongst this famished throng (though I caught a glimpse of a few T-shirts emblazoned with a variety of protest slogans), but she and her angry comrades would certainly have been welcomed had they just shown-up to partake of the feast. The atmosphere these open houses engendered reminded me of the good humor and exuberance at the annual Berkshire Botanical Garden harvest festival. It was that kind of crowd, except these party goers, far away from home, were augmenting their good cheer with a never-to-be-forgotten living history lesson.

The people I saw in those Capitol Hill buildings that Thursday afternoon did not appear angry nor bitter nor depressed nor victimized. At that point, they were just Americans having a real hoot of a good time. My guess is that that innate American optimism is what will carry us and this President forward through the next four years.

G.M. Heller
Monterey, MA 01245
Washington, DC

(The letter above is published in direct response to Ms. McAllester's letter also above.)

Monday, April 04, 2005 5:58:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

From: Jonathan A. Melle, Manchester, New Hampshire

Date: June 27, 2005

To: President Bush and Hiawatha Bray

Re: My open letter to President George W. Bush (via U.S. Mail to The White House) and Hiawatha Bray (via E-mail)

Dear Honorable President Bush and Hiawatha Bray:

I have spent the past week with the news article, enclosed below, “Tech firms help tyrants keep their grip.” I was both saddened and amused by the sorry state of affairs in the paper tiger nation of China. The fear that China spreads among its oppressed inhabitants parallels the fear the American news media spreads against China.

Is not China always given most favored nation trading status? Is not China where a great majority of our goods are manufactured? Is not China, along with Japan, the financers of half of our nation’s $8.1 Trillion debt? Is not China now an integral part of our nation’s economic and financial present and future? The answer is “yes” to all of these questions.

I watch to World News every single night. If I have to work at my below living wage job with no benefits during the broadcast, I tape the news and watch it later that night. I read the newspapers everyday. I read magazines weekly. I stay on top of the news. YET, I FEEL BRAINWASHED, too. I do not believe I, as an American Citizen, am given reality or the truth for the news.

Why would I write this? My answer is simple. Economics. Most Americans are not being given a fair and equitable piece of the economic pie. When people, American citizens such as myself, raise this issue, we, or I, are called “SOCIALISTS.” I am not given to labels. However, I do believe that if the news reported reality and the truth then the American people would demand a middle class lifestyle. We would have universal healthcare. We would have intelligent, nourished children who all have a future. We would NOT have had former-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s “FASCIST” leadership where a culture of fear flourished after the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.

The constant and steady decline of the American Middle Class since the Carter Administration scares the “shit” (profanity) out of me. Why is this happening? The answer is simple, but largely unreported: The elite corporations have 99.9% of political power in Washington, D.C., and a majority of control in state and local governments. These corporate power brokers do not care about the health and welfare of the average American citizen! These corporate power brokers only care about making money in a FALSE REALITY or environment of “political stability.” That term is a corporate double-speak term for “CENSORSHIP.” Whenever a high profile beltway politician or a corporate power broker talks about “stability” he or she really means “CENSORSHIP.”

What is more about the following news article, below, is that I would rather be stabbed in the front and know my attacker than stabbed in the back and not know who did it. Of course, I would rather not be a victim of violence. What China is doing seems to be more honest than what American power brokers are doing with our American news media. In America, our news media is almost all corporate owned. What is more is that the ownership of this news media is being consolidated into about 6 major news media outlets. One of these news media corporate owners is the General Electric Company.

While I am impressed with America’s largest corporation, GE, I am dismayed at their politics. GE owns NBC and many other corporate subsidiaries. I grew up in beautiful Pittsfield, Massachusetts. My native hometown once had GE employ 3 out of 4 of her workforce. The heyday of Pittsfield had a very high median income and great public schools and services. Today, Pittsfield has one of the lower median incomes for cities and towns in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When I was a public administration student at U Mass Amherst, I had access to all of the statistics on every community throughout Massachusetts. I had to do complex statistical reports on the economic causalities of the state’s public policies for cities and towns. Only North Adams had a lower median income and a higher per capita welfare caseload than Pittsfield in the Berkshire region. This is the reality of Pittsfield today after GE left Pittsfield for greener pastures.

Like Microsoft, GE is into being a power broker. It is one of the top-5 paid corporate contractors in Iraq. GE produces the news, but also causes economic hardship for communities, especially in the northeast. It is a known fact that GE’s use of PCBs, especially in high concentrations, has caused cancer in residents of communities where people lived and worked. I remember Saturday Night Live did a skit, in the form of a cartoon, where it was stated that GE causes cancer by its pollution of high concentration of PCBs and then the screen, in the form of a cartoon, went blank with bars and a beeping sound - - CENSORSHIP. My mom, who grew up in Pittsfield in the 1950s (Pittsfield’s heyday), is a cancer survivor. One of my mother’s childhood friends is a cancer survivor. One of my late neighbors in Pittsfield was a cancer victim who stayed alive long enough to see her daughter, who moved to Boston, get married. She then passed away the very next day. How many people who grew up in Pittsfield in the 1950s had cancer caused by GE’s pollution of high concentrations of PCBs? We will never know because GE is a power broker and won’t report the truth about this subject because of CENSORSHIP. BUT, I do know that my mother is one among this statistical group of Cancer Survivors and possibly a victim if it ever relapses.

President Bush, if I was in your shoes, I would not wait another minute and shut down Microsoft in the name of national security. Microsoft is violating our national security by brainwashing Chinese citizens. If there is ever “political instability” or “regional conflict” in the Asian region of the World and the USA has to fight China, we will be up against a brainwashed population that will see our men and women in Uniform as a threat and enemy. The most powerful form of war is mind control. Microsoft needs to be shut down immediately. You must act now to bring Bill Gates to justice and shut down this EVIL company!

We are a long way away from true political reforms for a fairer, more equitable and just democratic state in our own great nation. China is light years away from this kind of reform. We don’t have time to play economic games against a militarized, growing threat to the United States of America. This paper tiger that is China may become solid and galvanized. I dissent against not only our own news media’s control of information via wealthy and elite corporations, but also against our corporations helping China to brainwash her 1.3 billion inhabitants.

President Bush, please write me back about this important matter. I share in your causes for freedom, democracy and justice in our nation and world. I am interested in your response, agreements and disagreements.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

My very best regards,

Jonathan A. Melle


The Boston Globe
June 20, 2005
Upgrade
Tech firms help tyrants keep their grip
By Hiawatha Bray
bray@globe.com

Microsoft Corporation is helping the government of CHINA in its efforts to BRAINWASH the country’s 1.3 billion inhabitants. It is a tough job - - so tough even Microsoft cannot pull it off. But it is willing to give it a try, along with such firms as Yahoo and Google.

It is about MONEY, of course. China already has 94 million Internet users, the world’s second-biggest online population after the United States, and there are still over a billion people yet to be hooked up. No way can Internet companies ignore a market like that.

On the downside, China is a THUG STATE that forces women to abort their children, imprisons journalists for publishing the truth, and TORTURES religious believers for praying. It is hardly surprising that the country’s leaders regard as PROFANITY such words as “democracy” and “human rights.” But it seems that Microsoft and China’s oligarchs speak the same language.

Rebecca MacKinnon, a fluent Chinese speaker who spent nearly a decade covering China for CNN, is now a research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Berkman last week visited the Chinese version of Microsoft MSN Internet service, and tried to set up a Web log entitled “I love freedom of speech, human rights and democracy.”

Instead she got back an error message: “You must enter a title for your space. The title must not contain prohibited language, such as profanity.”

There is nothing new about US Internet companies acting as censors on China’s behalf. Yahoo does it, too, and so does Google. But these companies haven taken a less aggressive approach. Yahoo, for instance, waits until Chinese authorities complain about a user’s website, and then takes steps to shut it down.

GOOGLE CENSORS its Google News feature to block out Web news sources that are banned by the Chinese government, like the Voice of America. But spokeswoman Debbie Frost said it is done mainly because China’s Internet services are already programmed to block these sites. It used to be that the front page of the Google News Chinese edition would slow to a crawl while trying to display a headline from a banned site. Frost said that Google just gave up and dropped all such links from the Chinese news page.

THE MICROSOFT POLICY has ticked off Web libertarians who barely shrugged at Google’s and Yahoo’s policies. That is because Microsoft seems to have programmed its own computers to enforce China’s BARBAROUS CENSORSHIP policies. The government needn’t even complain about subversive content; Microsoft will ensure that it never appears.

Ask Microsoft about it, and they issue a canned response. “MSN abides by the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates,” the statement said.

Microsoft employee and well-known blogger Robert Scoble goes a little further in defending his bosses.

“It is not my place to make their laws,” Scoble writes on his blog. “It certainly in not my right to force their hand with business power. Any more than it is their place to make American laws.”

Rubbish, MacKinnon replies.

“By not agreeing to comply with filtering requirements, you are not forcing the Chinese to do anything,” she said. “You’re just not playing along with their game.”

Indeed, MacKinnon said that Microsoft and other Internet companies should flatly refuse to comply with the Chinese government’s filtering standards, and not only out of a love of free speech.

“We’re getting into a national security issue,” she fretted. MacKinnon fears that our support of Chinese censorship is storing up trouble for the United States in years to come, in the same way that our tolerance of Saudi fanaticism is now paying such ugly dividends.

Consider the case of Taiwan. Most Chinese support their country’s bellicose attitude toward their “rebellious province.” But MacKinnon thinks this is largely because the Chinese get so little accurate information about Taiwan, through the Internet or any other media. “If you did have a free exchange of opinion,” she said, “maybe more people on the mainland might say, you know, let’s let those Taiwanese do what they want.”

Instead, Taiwan is demonized, and the masses cheer their leaders’ belligerent posturing. All in all, it is a good way to start a war. And US Internet companies would share some of the blame, in MacKinnon’s view, for helping Beijing keep its citizens in the dark.

“This comes down as their larger responsibility as Americans,” MacKinnon said.

Against this noble sentiment, the pallid justifications of Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo seem pretty limp. They will only say that they obey the laws of the countries where they do business. What goes unsaid is that they must also answer to the laws of economics, and to shareholders who will be mightily displeased if the companies abandon the world’s most populous country.

But something else has gone unsaid as well. The leaders of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google know that China’s effort to seal off its populace from reality is doomed to failure. Sure, Yahoo’s China-based service is censored, but there are plenty of other Chinese-language sites stuffed full of SUBVERSION, and there is no way the BULLIES in Beijing can stifle them all. To continue its economic rise, China needs tens of millions of highly educated people. Such people don’t need unfettered Internet access to realize their government is lying to them. The backlash is bound to come, sooner or later. And the American Internet companies will be well-established on the inside of the Chinese firewall, ready to open the floodgates of free information, as soon as the Chinese people demand it.

The Microsoft engineer who programmed their self-censoring blog system probably felt like taking a long, hot shower once the work was done. But he probably sang in the shower, and laughed at the STUPIDITY of TYRANTS.

Monday, June 27, 2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Halliburton Contract Critic Loses Her Job

Performance Review Cited in Removal

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 29, 2005; A11

A high-level contracting official who has been a vocal critic of the Pentagon's decision to give Halliburton Co. a multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract for work in Iraq, was removed from her job by the Army Corps of Engineers, effective Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, commander of the Army Corps, told Bunnatine H. Greenhouse last month that she was being removed from the senior executive service, the top rank of civilian government employees, because of poor performance reviews. Greenhouse's attorney, Michael D. Kohn, appealed the decision Friday in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, saying it broke an earlier commitment to suspend the demotion until a "sufficient record" was available to address her allegations.

The Army said last October that it would refer her complaints to the Defense Department's inspector general. The failure to abide by the agreement and the circumstances of the removal "are the hallmark of illegal retaliation," Kohn wrote to Rumsfeld. He said the review Strock cited to justify his action "was conducted by the very subjects" of Greenhouse's allegations, including the general.

Carol Sanders, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps, said she could not comment on personnel matters, but noted that the Department of the Army approves all actions involving members of the senior executive service.

Greenhouse came to prominence last year when she went public with her concerns over the volume of Iraq-related work given to Halliburton by the Corps without competition. The Houston-based oil services giant already had a competitively awarded contract to provide logistics support for the military in the Middle East and was awarded a no-bid contract to repair Iraq oil fields on the eve of the war there in 2003.

Greenhouse complained internally about that contract. Last fall she started giving interviews to national publications. And in June she testified before a Democrat-sponsored Capitol Hill event on contracting in Iraq.

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years working on government contracts, Greenhouse said at the Democratic forum.

She said the independence of the Corps' contracting process was compromised in the handling of the contact. "I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the [Restore Iraqi Oil] contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong."

Greenhouse has been the Army Corps' top procurement official since 1997. Then-commander Gen. Joe N. Ballard has said he wanted Greenhouse -- a black woman -- to provide a jolt to the clubby, old-boys' network that had long dominated the contracting process at the Corps.

Since then, Greenhouse has developed a reputation among those in both government and industry as being a stickler for the rules. To her critics, she's a foot-dragging, inflexible bureaucrat. To her supporters, she's been a staunch defender of the taxpayers' dime.

In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Greenhouse objected to a decision to give a five-year, no-bid contract to KBR for putting out the oil fires that Pentagon officials believed retreating Iraqi troops would set as the United States invaded. KBR had earlier been hired to write the plans for how that work would be conducted.

When the time came to award the Restore Iraqi Oil contract, the terms stipulated that the contractor had to have knowledge of KBR's plan. KBR was the only contractor deemed eligible. Normally, contractors that prepare cost estimates and plans are excluded from bidding on the work that arises from those plans.

When superiors overruled her objections to awarding the contract to KBR without competition, she recorded her concerns by writing next to her signature on the contract a warning that the length of the deal could convey the perception that limited competition was intended.

As Greenhouse became more vocal internally, she said she was increasingly excluded from decisions and shunned by her bosses.

Last October, Greenhouse has said, Maj. Gen. Robert Griffin, the Corps' deputy commander, told her that he was demoting her, citing negative performance reviews. He also gave her the option to retire. Instead, she hired a lawyer and took her story to the public.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:52:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

The main reason why the U.S. Government has recurring budget deficits that grow larger every year is because are consumption of goods grows larger every year. Moreover, foreign nations such as China, India and Japan produce many goods, creating a large import of goods into the U.S. When American Citizens consume goods, but fail to produce the goods we consume, the government loses tax revenues. The U.S. government taxes incomes, but if the labor costs are being paid in other countries than our own, we fail to receive these income taxes. Now, the U.S. government wants to tax consumption and solve its financial woes. However, a tax on consumption would hurt corporations like Wal Mart, who EXPLOIT forced and oppressed labor, because such a consumption tax would reduce the incentive to buy for "less."

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

Analysis Sees Deficits Growing Under Bush

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
9-10-2005
Even before the cost of Hurricane Katrina is added to the federal ledger, a Congressional Budget Office study commissioned by Democrats predicts President Bush will fail to keep his promise to cut the deficit in half by the time he leaves office.

The study by the nonpartisan CBO assumes that Congress will heed Bush's call for new tax cuts and for making those passed in 2001 and 2003 permanent. It also assumes a big slowdown in spending on the Iraq war, tight caps on domestic agency budgets and new individual Social Security accounts.

The study was requested by Rep. John M. Spratt Jr., D-S.C., the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. He says it reflects a likelier budget scenario than CBO's official estimates, which do not foresee new tax cuts.

The study predicts that the $331 billion budget deficit projected for the current budget year would rise to $370 billion by 2009, the year Bush has promised to cut the deficit to at least $260 billion. Bush promised to cut the deficit in half from a projection in February 2004 of a $521 billion deficit for 2009.

By 2015, the deficit would hit $640 billion under CBO's study.

"Under CBO's new analysis of the Bush Administration's policies, every vital sign of the budget grows decidedly worse over the next ten years," said Spratt. "These new deficit figures show that the budget has deteriorated dramatically on this administration's watch."

In response, the White House asked for congressional action instead of rhetoric.

"Instead of complaining about the deficit, how about doing something about it?" said Bush spokesman Trent Duffy, noting that Spratt opposes Republican efforts to trim just $35 billion from federal entitlement programs over the next five years.

The White House Office of Management and Budget predicts the 2009 deficit at $162 billion, about 1 percent of the size of the economy.

"The federal budget picture is ... is steadily declining out over the next five years ... toward the President's goal of cutting the deficit in half," OMB Director Joshua B. Bolten said Wednesday. "I feel confident that we will remain on that path as long as we have continued good economic growth."

Bolten says the cost of Katrina — estimated by some Democrats to top $200 billion — will affect the deficit in the next few years but not make it dramatically worse over the longer term.

Critics like Spratt say the White House underestimates or omits likely costs, such as the Iraq war and reconstruction and annual amendments to the alternative minimum tax so that it does not hit more upper middle-income taxpayers. The Congress invented the AMT — which ensures that wealthy taxpayers pay at least some income tax — in the late 1960s, but it was never tied to inflation, so more taxpayers pay it each year.

The White House says the AMT should be changed, as early as next year, in a big tax reform bill that does not raise taxes overall. That suggests other revenue hikes will have to make up for lost AMT revenue.

Spratt asked CBO to project deficits after incorporating Bush's tax and spending policies into CBO's baseline, extending recent AMT fixes and slowing Iraq spending from $85 billion next year to $35 billion by 2009.

Monday, September 12, 2005 9:22:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: My open letter to the Honorable President George W. Bush

September 23, 2005

Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:

In regards to the news article below, I believe that our nation must find methods to achieve our mission of granting “political stability” to Iraq. Our nation, among other significant western nations in Europe, have been directly involved with Iraq for many decades. It is imperative that we now achieve our mission and begin again with diplomacy instead of the continual war(s) against this nation.

Before Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire occupied the Middle East, including Iraq. After the Roman Empire fell, the Ottoman Empire occupied this land. After the Ottoman Empire fell, the British Empire occupied this land and arbitrarily drew the political boundaries of Iraq. Now, the American Empire occupies the Middle East. Indeed, the parallels with LBJ’s Vietnam are just the tip of the iceberg.

Iraq has the second largest oil fields in the World. Next to Saudi Arabia, Iraq’s oil resources are very important both to regional stability and our nation’s security and economic interests. Indeed, Iraq is a corporate war for oil resources and a political war for dominance in the Middle East—the same dominance LBJ asserted in Southeast Asia nearly 4 decades past. Your administration masks these realities in the colonial and post-colonial struggles and workings of our founding fathers, such as George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Also, Woodrow Wilson’s philosophies on international democracy are cited. But, just as the false intelligence was used to rationalize our war for oil and dominance in Iraq, these philosophies are also based on very false pretenses. It is clear that we are fighting a war in Iraq for reasons of power, not righteousness.

I think you are a good man, Mr. President. I think you have a good conscience. I ask of you to please achieve your Administration’s objectives in Iraq and begin again with diplomacy. Keep up your good fight against the evils of terrorism. Work through diplomacy in Iraq and the world will forgive you for the war against Iraq. God Bless America!

My warmest regards,
Jonathan A. Melle


Bush’s words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967
By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 7:49 PM ET
Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq might look anything like Vietnam. Yet just as today's anti-war protests recall memories of yesteryear, President Bush's own words echo those of President Johnson in 1967, a pivotal year for the U.S. in Vietnam.
"America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated," Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, "We shall stay the course."
After 14 Marines died in a roadside bombing on Aug. 3, Bush declared: "We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this: We'll help the Iraqis develop a democracy."
The two wars were waged quite differently even though they shared similar aims.
About 500,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam in 1967 after a three-year buildup, compared with about 140,000 in Iraq today. Heavy aerial bombing was a primary U.S. strategy in Vietnam while Iraq, after the initial campaign of "shock and awe," has been mainly a ground war. The U.S. negotiated for peace in Vietnam, but there is no single entity with which to negotiate in Iraq.
"The differences are so notable that it would take too long to list them," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld remarked recently.
Knowing the long, painful and divisive Vietnam War ended with an unceremonious U.S. withdrawal and the fall of South Vietnam, administration officials have blanched at comparisons with Iraq. The administration declined to comment on comparisons between the rhetoric of Johnson and Bush.
Johnson's main arguments were much like those Bush has employed: War was justified to protect the U.S. and to encourage freedom everywhere. When faced with mounting losses on the battlefield, both presidents offered the dead as a reason to keep fighting.
"When a war is long-lived and the outcome is not demonstrably positive, the lines of argument available to a president are seriously constrained," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "Democrat or Republican, 1960s or early part of the 21st century, you're going to hear a common rhetoric."
South Vietnam, politically unstable because of internal violence and corruption, stumbled toward elections to adopt a constitution and to select officials — not unlike the process Iraq is undergoing.
"Our nation was not born easily. There were times in those years of the 18th century when it seemed as if we might not be born at all," Johnson said in a speech on Aug. 16, 1967.
"Given that background, we ought not to be astonished that this struggle in Vietnam continues," Johnson said. "We ought not to be astonished that that nation, wracked by a war of insurgency and beset by its neighbors to the north, has not already emerged, full-blown, as a perfect model of two-party democracy."
Bush, too, has compared Iraq's difficulties in determining its political future to postcolonial America's.
In his radio address on Aug. 27, Bush said: "Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion — not at the barrel of a gun."
Bush has often linked the security and freedom of the United States to the war in Iraq. On Aug. 4 he told reporters: "We're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. We're defeating the terrorists in a place like Iraq so we don't have to face them here at home. And, as well, we're spreading democracy and freedom to parts of the world that are desperate for democracy and freedom."
A secure and free America was tied to the fight in Southeast Asia, Johnson maintained. "What happens in Vietnam is extremely important to the nation's freedom and it is extremely important to the United States' security," he said from the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 15, 1967.
The question of progress amid a rising death toll dogged Johnson as much as it has Bush. In part, Johnson measured progress by the number of enemy soldiers killed and the much smaller number of U.S. troops dying in Vietnam. Other Americans in uniform would carry on, the president pledged.
"Be assured that the death of your son will have meaning," Johnson told the parents of a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor during a Rose Garden ceremony on April 6, 1967. "For I give you also my solemn pledge that our country will persist — and will prevail — in the cause for which your boy died."
Speaking to military families in Idaho on Aug. 24, Bush said: "These brave men and women gave their lives for a cause that is just and necessary for the security of our country, and now we will honor their sacrifice by completing their mission."
Bush remains optimistic about the outcome of the war though just four out of 10 of those polled favor his handling of it.
A loss of public confidence overwhelmed Johnson. By March 1968, he had decided someone else needed to see the war to its conclusion — and startled the nation by announcing he would not seek another term.

Web link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050921/ap_on_go_pr_wh/words_of_war

Friday, September 23, 2005 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Bush: Militants Seek to Establish Empire

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer

October 6, 2005

President Bush accused militants Thursday of seeking to establish a "radical Islamic empire" and said the United States and its allies had foiled at least 10 plots by the al-Qaida terror network since the Sept. 11 attacks.

He warned other nations not to support or harbor groups with al-Qaida ties.

In a speech designed to revive flagging public support for the war in Iraq, Bush said Islamic radicals are using that nation as a base for attacks. Such radicals are being sheltered by "allies of convenience like Syria and Iran," Bush declared in a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy.

Polls show declining American support for the war that has thus far claimed more than 1,940 members of the U.S. military. Bush's policy faces a crucial test in Iraq's Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution, a vote that Bush has said terrorists will try to derail.

In remarks clearly aimed at those seeking a withdrawal of U.S. troops, Bush said: "There's always a temptation in the middle of a long struggle to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder."

"We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory," he said.

Asked about the president's singling out of Iran and Syria as "allies of convenience," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "They continue to move in the wrong direction."

Likewise, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in London that explosive devices that have killed U.S.-led troops were similar to those used by the Iranian-linked militant group Hezbollah.

"There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq," Blair said at a news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Iran's ambassador in London, Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli, said the charges were not supported by evidence and "we are against any kind of action which might jeopardize or destroy the stabilization process of Iraq."

At the White House, McClellan was asked about Bush's reference to 10 foiled terror attacks, including three in the United States. He said some of the information the president based his remarks on remains classified.

McClellan mentioned the conviction of Iyman Faris, a Columbus, Ohio, truck driver who authorities said plotted attacks on the Brooklyn Bridge and a central Ohio shopping mall. Administration officials have previously claimed success in breaking up terror cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia and Florida.

He also mentioned Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member who converted to Islam and allegedly plotted with top al-Qaida commanders to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city. Padilla, whose plot never materialized, was designated an enemy combatant by Bush and is being held without criminal charge at a Navy brig in South Carolina.

"We have been successful in disrupting certain plots. Some have been made public or are in the public domain, like Richard Reid," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told reporters. "Others are classified." Shoe-bomber Richard Reid is serving a life sentence after a failed attempt to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001.

Democrats challenged Bush's arguments on the Iraq mission. "The president went into Iraq under a false premise, without a plan, and has totally mismanaged our involvement," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. "Now he is trying to justify his actions with a series of excuses."

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said Bush "continues to invent a false link between the war in Iraq and the tragedy of Sept. 11." Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Bush "has offered America a false choice, between resolve and retreat."

Bush said Islamic extremists hope to use "the vacuum created by an American retreat" to gain control of Iraq and use it as a base for launching attacks against other countries.

"The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century," he said. "Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision."

"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia," Bush asserted.

"Against such an enemy, there's only one effective response: We never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory," Bush declared.

Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the speech was "one he should've made a few years ago. I'm glad he made it now."

"I've been saying for a long time the president needs to better define this war," Santorum said.

Countering claims that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is fueling radicalism, Bush noted that American troops were not there on Sept. 11, 2001. He said Russia did not support the military action in Iraq, yet a terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia, left more than 300 schoolchildren dead in 2004.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 4:34:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Why Didn't He Ask Congress?

By George F. Will

Tuesday, December 20, 2005; Page A31 of The Washington Post

The president's authorization of domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency contravened a statute's clear language. Assuming that urgent facts convinced him that he should proceed anyway and on his own, what argument convinced him that he lawfully could?

Presumably the argument is that the president's implied powers as commander in chief, particularly with the nation under attack and some of the enemy within the gates, are not limited by statutes. A classified legal brief probably makes an argument akin to one Attorney General John Ashcroft made in 2002: "The Constitution vests in the president inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."

Perhaps the brief argues, as its author, John Yoo -- now a professor of law at Berkeley but then a deputy assistant attorney general -- argued 14 days after Sept. 11, 2001, in a memorandum on "the president's constitutional authority to conduct military operations against terrorists and nations supporting them," that the president's constitutional power to take "military actions" is "plenary." The Oxford English Dictionary defines "plenary" as "complete, entire, perfect, not deficient in any element or respect."

The brief should be declassified and debated, beginning with this question: Who decides which tactics -- e.g., domestic surveillance -- should be considered part of taking "military actions''?

Without more information than can be publicly available concerning threats from enemies operating in America, the executive branch deserves considerable discretion in combating terrorist conspiracies using new technologies such as cell phones and the Internet. In September 2001, the president surely had sound reasons for desiring the surveillance capabilities at issue.

But did he have sound reasons for seizing them while giving only minimal information to, and having no formal complicity with, Congress? Perhaps. But Congress, if asked, almost certainly would have made such modifications of law as the president's plans required. Courts, too, would have been compliant. After all, on Sept. 14, 2001, Congress had unanimously declared that "the president has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism," and it had authorized "all necessary and appropriate force" against those involved in Sept. 11 or threatening future attacks.

For more than 500 years -- since the rise of nation-states and parliaments -- a preoccupation of Western political thought has been the problem of defining and confining executive power. The problem is expressed in the title of a brilliant book, "Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power," by Harvey Mansfield, Harvard's conservative.

Particularly in time of war or the threat of it, government needs concentrated decisiveness -- a capacity for swift and nimble action that legislatures normally cannot manage. But the inescapable corollary of this need is the danger of arbitrary power.

Modern American conservatism grew in reaction against the New Deal's creation of the regulatory state, and the enlargement of the executive branch power that such a state entails. The intellectual vigor of conservatism was quickened by reaction against the Great Society and the aggrandizement of the modern presidency by Lyndon Johnson, whose aspiration was to complete the project begun by Franklin Roosevelt.

Because of what Alexander Hamilton praised as "energy in the executive," which often drives the growth of government, for years many conservatives were advocates of congressional supremacy. There were, they said, reasons why the Founders, having waged a revolutionary war against overbearing executive power, gave the legislative branch pride of place in Article I of the Constitution.

One reason was that Congress's cumbersomeness, which is a function of its fractiousness, is a virtue because it makes the government slow and difficult to move. But conservatives' wholesome wariness of presidential power has been a casualty of conservative presidents winning seven of the past 10 elections.

On the assumption that Congress or a court would have been cooperative in September 2001, and that the cooperation could have kept necessary actions clearly lawful without conferring any benefit on the nation's enemies, the president's decision to authorize the NSA's surveillance without the complicity of a court or Congress was a mistake. Perhaps one caused by this administration's almost metabolic urge to keep Congress unnecessarily distant and hence disgruntled.

Charles de Gaulle, a profound conservative, said of another such, Otto von Bismarck -- de Gaulle was thinking of Bismarck not pressing his advantage in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War -- that genius sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. In peace and in war, but especially in the latter, presidents have pressed their institutional advantages to expand their powers to act without Congress. This president might look for occasions to stop pressing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 3:02:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

I DISSENT against President Bush's many proposed budget cuts! The government is here to serve the American People. The Bush Administration's cutting of a comprehensive study of children is just one example of the bureaucratic disservice the American People receive at the benefit of cold-hearted beltway big government bureaucrats.

I am in 100% concurrence with the following Boston Globe Editorial, below.

-Jonathan A. Melle

A [Boston] GLOBE EDITORIAL
Short shrift for kids

February 20, 2006

SQUEEZED BY his tax cuts and the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, President Bush is calling for cutting or dropping many worthwhile programs. But it is unlikely that any budget cut would have as big an impact on the future health of Americans as Bush's axing of the proposed National Children's Study.

With 100,000 children to be enrolled from pre-pregnancy to their 21st birthday, the ambitious study should answer questions about the increasingly common diseases, from asthma to obesity and diabetes, that threaten to make this generation the first in US history to be less healthy than its parents. The study's designers hoped it would do for children what the Framingham Heart Study did for cardiovascular health and what the Women's Health Initiative continues to do for medicine's understanding of diseases in postmenopausal women.

Like any long-term study carried out at dozens of locations with so many participants, this one has a sizable price tag, $2 billion over 25 years. More than $50 million has already been spent in planning. But even though these figures are a fraction of what it costs annually to treat diseases with roots in childhood, administration officials have decided the study is no longer affordable and call for all planning to stop by the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30. Congress should make reinstatement of funding a top priority.

Scientists hoped through the study to gain insights into the mix of genetic and environmental factors in a range of puzzling physical and mental disorders, including birth defects, autism, and schizophrenia. Researchers would survey everything from conventional health data to mothers' diets and family TV habits. They would collect home dust samples to go along with biological samples in the piecing together of clues as they observe the study participants growing up. According to the study's director, Dr. Peter Scheidt of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, biological samples can be ''enormously valuable for decades to come."

If the study does not go forward, Scheidt said, the country will ''lose answers to really important questions that people have . . . about environmental exposure and their kids' health and development." The study, which has been backed by medical organizations and the chemical industry, would have explored how pesticides and other synthetic materials interact with congenital factors in determining which children grow up healthy and which become ill.

Dr. Alan Fleischman of the New York Academy of Medicine, the chairman of the study's advisory committee, has called the study's cancellation ''an affront to America's children." It is also an affront to common sense.

Thursday, February 23, 2006 2:45:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Trade deficit reaches record $68.5 billion

By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer | March 9, 2006

WASHINGTON --The U.S. trade deficit surged to another record as the country's foreign oil bill climbed sharply, auto imports rose and Americans' taste for imported wines helped increase the deficit in food products.

The politically sensitive imbalance with China also rose in January, reflecting a flood of Chinese cell phones and clothing.

The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that the deficit jumped by 5.3 percent in January to an all-time high of $68.5 billion. The worsening of the deficit exceeded analysts' expectations and was certain to provide ammunition for critics of President Bush's trade policies.

Those critics contend that the president's pursuit of free trade agreements around the world has exposed American workers to unfair competition from low-wage countries that has contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million American manufacturing jobs in recent years.

Unhappiness with foreign competition was heightened in recent weeks with the revelation that the administration had approved the sale of operations at six U.S. ports to a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates. Opponents, arguing that the sale would represent a serious security threat, have moved to overturn that decision in Congress.

In other economic news, the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose to 303,000 last week, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week. It was the first time the level of jobless claims has been above 300,000 in eight weeks.

America's trade deficit hit a record of $723.6 billion for all of 2005 and many economists believe this year's imbalance will be even worse. The $68.5 billion January deficit in trade in goods and services surpassed the old monthly record of $67.8 billion set last October.

For January, U.S. exports of goods and services rose 2.5 percent to an all-time high of $114.4 billion. But this increase was swamped by a 3.5 percent rise in imports which also set a record at $182.9 billion. The trade deficit is the difference between what America imports and what it sells abroad.

The rise in imports reflected a 4.3 percent increase in America's foreign oil bill which climbed to $24.6 billion as an increase in crude oil prices offset a drop in the volume of shipments. The average per barrel price for crude oil rose to $51.93, up from $49.76 in December.

Imports of foreign cars and auto parts rose by 5.6 percent to $22.7 billion. Imports of computers and consumer goods were also up. Demand for foreign food products climbed by 6.2 percent to $6.4 billion, reflecting increased demand for wine and other food products.

U.S. exports of industrial supplies, capital goods and autos all set records in January as American producers benefited from increased demand as many of America's major trading partners showed stronger economic growth.

America's deficit with China jumped 9.9 percent to $17.9 billion in January, reflecting a big increase in imports of cell phones, clothing, textiles and shoes. The administration is facing growing pressure to crack down on what critics see as practices that violate global trade rules and give Chinese companies unfair advantages over American firms.

America's deficit with Canada, the country's largest trading partner, jumped 11.1 percent to a record $8.9 billion, while the deficit with Mexico was up 8.8 percent to $4.6 billion. The deficit with the 25-nation European Union declined by 3.8 percent to $9.7 billion in January.

The Bush administration contends that the country's huge trade deficits primarily reflect the fact that the U.S. economy has outperformed the rest of the world in recent years, boosting domestic demand while American exporters have had to battle weak demand overseas.

The administration is seeking to strike free trade agreements with countries around the world as a way to lower foreign barriers to U.S. exports. U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced on Wednesday the administration will negotiate a free trade deal with Malaysia, following the announcement last month that it was launching free trade talks with South Korea.

Critics charge these deals open American workers to unfair competition from low-wage countries.

Thursday, March 09, 2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Cheney aide is screening legislation
Adviser seeks to protect Bush power
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | May 28, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The office of Vice President Dick Cheney routinely reviews pieces of legislation before they reach the president's desk, searching for provisions that Cheney believes would infringe on presidential power, according to former White House and Justice Department officials.

The officials said Cheney's legal adviser and chief of staff, David Addington , is the Bush administration's leading architect of the ``signing statements" the president has appended to more than 750 laws. The statements assert the president's right to ignore the laws because they conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution.

The Bush-Cheney administration has used such statements to claim for itself the option of bypassing a ban on torture, oversight provisions in the USA Patriot Act, and numerous requirements that they provide certain information to Congress, among other laws.

Previous vice presidents have had neither the authority nor the interest in reviewing legislation. But Cheney has used his power over the administration's legal team to promote an expansive theory of presidential authority. Using signing statements, the administration has challenged more laws than all previous administrations combined.

``Addington could look at whatever he wanted," said one former White House lawyer who helped prepare signing statements and who asked not to be named because he was describing internal deliberations. ``He had a roving commission to get involved in whatever interested him."

Knowing that Addington was likely to review the bills, other White House and Justice Department lawyers began vetting legislation with Addington's and Cheney's views in mind, according to another former lawyer in the Bush White House.

All these lawyers, he said, were extremely careful to flag any provision that placed limits on presidential power.

``You didn't want to miss something," said the second former White House lawyer, who also asked not to be named.

Cheney and Addington have a long history. Addington was a Republican staff member on the congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, while Cheney was the ranking GOP House member. When Cheney became defense secretary under President George H. W. Bush , he hired Addington as Pentagon counsel.

After Cheney became vice president in 2001, he again hired Addington as counsel. Addington played a major role in shaping the administration's legal policies in the war on terrorism, including a 2002 memo arguing that Bush could authorize interrogators to bypass anti torture laws. In October, when Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis ``Scooter" Libby , was indicted for perjury and resigned, Cheney replaced Libby with Addington.

A spokeswoman for Cheney's office, asked to comment on Addington's role in reviewing legislation, said, ``We do not comment on internal deliberations."

Addington, through the spokeswoman, declined to be interviewed.

But Martin Lederman , who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush , said that Addington is simply doing the day-to-day legwork for Cheney and that he is influential within the administration because of the vice president's desire to enhance executive power and Bush's willingness to endorse Cheney's views.

``In every administration, Democratic and Republican, there are officials with strongly held constitutional views, including somewhat idiosyncratic views," said Lederman, now a law professor at Georgetown University. ``What is new is that the extremely idiosyncratic and aggressive constitutional views are being adopted by the vice president and, therefore, by the administration."

Previous administrations left the reviewing of legislation to the White House counsel's office and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

``What's happening now is unprecedented on almost every level," said Ron Klain , who was chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore from 1995 to 1999. ``Gore was a very active policy maker in the Clinton administration, but that didn't include picking through bills of Congress to find things to disagree with."

The administration insists that Bush's use of signing statements is not unprecedented. Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, ``President Bush's signing statements are lawful and indistinguishable from those issued on hundreds of occasions by past presidents."

The use of signing statements was rare until the 1980s, when President Ronald W. Reagan began issuing them more frequently. His successors continued the practice. George H. W. Bush used signing statements to challenge 232 laws over four years, and Bill Clinton challenged 140 over eight years, according to Christopher Kelley , a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio.

But in frequency and aggression, the current President Bush has gone far beyond his predecessors.

All previous presidents combined challenged fewer than 600 laws, Kelley's data show, compared with the more than 750 Bush has challenged in five years. Bush is also the first president since the 1800s who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments.

Douglas Kmiec , who as head of the Office of Legal Counsel helped develop the Reagan administration's strategy of issuing signing statements more frequently, said he disapproves of the ``provocative" and sometimes ``disingenuous" manner in which the Bush administration is using them.

Kmiec said the Reagan team's goal was to leave a record of the president's understanding of new laws only in cases where an important statute was ambiguous. Kmiec rejected the idea of using signing statements to contradict the clear intent of Congress, as Bush has done. Presidents should either tolerate provisions of bills they don't like, or they should veto the bill, he said.

``Following a model of restraint, [the Reagan-era Office of Legal Counsel] took it seriously that we were to construe statutes to avoid constitutional problems, not to invent them," said Kmiec, who is now a Pepperdine University law professor.

By contrast, Bush has used the signing statements to waive his obligation to follow the new laws. In addition to the torture ban and oversight provisions of the Patriot Act, the laws Bush has claimed the authority to disobey include restrictions against US troops engaging in combat in Colombia, whistle-blower protections for government employees, and safeguards against political interference in taxpayer-funded research.

Cheney's office has taken the lead in challenging many of these laws, officials said, because they run counter to an expansive view of executive power that Cheney has cultivated for the past 30 years. Under the theory, Congress cannot pass laws that place restrictions or requirements on how the president runs the military and spy agencies. Nor can it pass laws giving government officials the power or responsibility to act independently of the president.

Mainstream legal scholars across the political spectrum reject Cheney's expansive view of presidential authority, saying the Constitution gives Congress the power to make all rules and regulations for the military and the executive branch and the Supreme Court has consistently upheld laws giving bureaucrats and certain prosecutors the power to act independently of the president.

One prominent conservative, Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, said it is ``scandalous" for the administration to argue that the commander in chief can bypass statutes in national security matters.

``It's just wrong," Epstein said. ``It is just crazy as a matter of constitutional interpretation. There are some pretty clear issues, and this is one of them."

Laurence Tribe , a prominent liberal at Harvard Law School, said: ``Nothing in the text and structure of the Constitution, or Supreme Court precedents, supports the Bush-Cheney assertion that Congress cannot limit or direct what government officials may or must do."

Nonetheless, Bush has demonstrated that he is willing to put his legal team's claims about his authority into action. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush authorized the military to eavesdrop on Americans' international phone calls without a warrant, bypassing a surveillance law that requires warrants.

Passed in 1978, the warrant law is one of a series of policies enacted after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. The laws sought to prevent future abuses by regulating how the president can use his national security powers.

In December 2005, shortly after the warrantless wiretapping program was exposed, Cheney gave a rare press conference to explain why he believed the program was legal. Offering an early view of the administration's argument that the warrant law is unconstitutional, Cheney recalled the period in which it was enacted as a time of congressional overreach.

``A lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both, in the '70s served to erode the authority, I think, the president needs to be effective, especially in a national security area," said Cheney, who served as White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford .

Cheney also offered a roadmap to his thinking about presidential power. He told reporters to read a 1987 report whose production he oversaw when he was a leading Republican in the House of Representatives. The report offered a dissenting view about the Iran-Contra scandal.

``If you want reference to an obscure text, go look at the minority views that were filed with the Iran-Contra Committee," Cheney said. ``Nobody has ever read them, but . . . I think [they] are very good in laying out a robust view of the president's prerogatives with respect to the conduct of especially foreign policy and national security matters."

The Iran-Contra scandal involved efforts by Reagan administration officials to bypass a law cutting off funds to anti-Marxist rebels in Nicaragua. The officials secretly sold arms to Iran, sent the proceeds to the rebels, and lied to Congress to cover it up.

A congressional committee issued a 427-page report concluding that a ``cabal of zealots" in the administration who had ``disdain for the law" had violated the statute.

But some of the Republicans on the committee, led by Cheney, refused to endorse that finding. They issued their own 155-page report asserting the real problem was Congress passing laws that intruded into a president's authority to run foreign policy and national security.

``Judgments about the Iran-Contra affair ultimately must rest upon one's views about the proper roles of Congress and the president in foreign policy," Cheney's report said. ``The fundamental law of the land is the Constitution. Unconstitutional statutes violate the rule of law every bit as much as do willful violations of constitutional statutes."

Cheney's report includes a lengthy argument that the Constitution puts the president beyond the reach of Congress when it comes to national security. Some 18 years later, the Justice Department would repeat these same arguments in a 42-page memo arguing that Bush's warrantless wiretapping program is a lawful exercise of presidential power.

Despite legal scholars' skepticism about the expansive theory of presidential power Cheney has long promoted, Bush's legal team has used the theory to target every law that regulates the military or the executive branch.

Kmiec, one of the only scholars who has testified that Bush might have the authority to set aside the warrant law, said he thinks the administration's use of signing statements has gone too far, needlessly antagonizing Congress. Arlen Specter , Republican of Pennsylvania and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, recently announced hearings into the matter.

``The president is not well served by the lawyers who have been advising him," said Kmiec.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 5:10:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

April 22, 2004

Hello, Maryellen and fellow Peace Activists, Democrats:

I am 100% for John F. Kerry for U.S. President. He will radically broaden the current executive branch constituency from billionaires to average wage earners. This alone will be a major PROGRESSIVE shift in economic policy. There will be a whole new agenda focusing on universal healthcare insurance and public education. Sure, the mighty U.S. Military and elite U.S. Corporate Contractors will take a hit when Bush is defeated; but this reality has been so with other modern Democratic Presidents. Since we are all peace activists, this is not a big deal to us. But let us not forget that many powerful interests are not happy without growth from militant foreign policy initiatives (i.e., Iraq) and will support President Bush with a self-interested passion. John Kerry is in for a real fight against Karl Rove & company. There are interests that will be 100% for Bush, including many wealthy people and businesses, such as major news media including GE's NBC (Universal).
I respectfully disagree with many of your messages concerning U.S. Senator/Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry. My reasons are as follows:

#1 - He stands for middle class values, despite his patrician and privileged background. John Kerry could have caved into this lifestyle, but instead believes in government's role in redistributing wealth for socioeconomic equity. Isn't this enough of a statement for Liberal Activists?

#2 - He stands for universal healthcare. This has to be the biggest social injustice in our nation today. I would go so far as to state that depriving citizens to access to medical care is almost as wrong as slavery was from the historical Colonial period to the period that saw the end of our nation's Civil War. Our elderly cannot maintain their homes, which they spent their entire lives working to own, because when they age and become ill, they have to spend their non-inflation adjusted money on health insurance and prescription drugs. Our elderly are going homeless, into substandard public housing, or displaced into the homes of their children or relatives due to this problem with inadequate to no healthcare insurance. This is truly dispiriting and John Kerry will do something about this issue when he is elected President. Isn't this enough for Democrats to support their Democratic Nominee for the American Presidency?

#3 - John Kerry is NOT in the pocket of the fascist religious right. The evangelical Christian movement is a dangerous movement that is tearing down the walls of separation of Church & State. The comments that evangelical Christian leaders made after the terrorists attacks of September 11th, 2001 were indeed "Hitler-esque" and divided our Muslim friends from our free nation. I cannot believe our nation would elect/appoint or re-elect/re-appoint George Walker Bush because he is a right-wing, evangelical Christian. The evangelical Christian movement will eventually use the state appartus to indoctrinate the citizenry with right-wing religious and political beliefs that will serve to disseminate hate and violence against "non-believers." (Sounds Familiar?--Nazi politics!) John Kerry stands against these freaks! Isn't that enough to get behind him for President?

#4 - John Kerry is a moderate on War. This is contentious to you lukewarm John Kerry supporters, but not to me. I love peace and want nothing else in the world than for Peace on Earth. I believe humankind has the ability and willingness to produce and maintain World Peace. However, right now, our nation is at War. We need a President to lead us through these wars and to eventually end these wars. In truth, I have a very difficult time with John Kerry talking about United Nations involvement with our war in Iraq because we would be spreading this violence to other nations. Our nation now has the RESPONSIBILITY to resolve our wars. Our nation should go the United Nations and other nations to find a way to peace. John Kerry has a difficult time talking about multi-national and international efforts for peace, and this disappoints me. While this is not a solid reason for you to back John Kerry for President, it certainly is something to consider in comparison to the war hawks in the Bush Administration.

#5 - This leads me to Maryellen's email about the long-term planning for war with Iraq and bringing back the draft to sustain our military domination in the world. I am not well versed in all of the acronyms and names of these plans and groups that Maryellen points out very well, but obviously President Bush is part of some kind of security state establishment that has had their interests in the Middle East for quite some time (decades). This does support evidence that President Bush lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction and other security threats posed by the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein. The other viable choice for President is John Kerry, who, as far as I know, is not part of this security state establishment that has driven our nation to war based on false pretenses. John Kerry may be a moderate on war and also may give some deference to the security state establishment in his decision-making on foreign affairs, but he may also be independent from these security state groups that make up this current security state establishment under the Bush Administration. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and many other Senators gave President Bush the authorization for war with Iraq, but BUSH LIED TO CONGRESS and the American People during this period. Let us not be selective in our history! I believe John Kerry deserves our support for the Presidency because he will make decisions indepently of the conspiratorial security state groups that Maryellen pointed out.

#6 - Taxes! President Bush cut taxes for the primary benefit of the wealthiest Americans THREE (3) times AND never vetoed a spending bill AND grew the size and scope of the federal government. President Bush's economic policy on taxes made no coherent sense for the public good. Our national debt is over $7 Trillion; our budget deficit is, as I recall, at about $1/2 Trillion! Locally, municipalities have had to raise regressive property taxes to make up for the cuts in funding from Congress and their respective state Legislatures, which have also felt the cuts from Congress. The Bush Administration's policies have redistributed wealth back to the wealthiest Americans, including Billionaire Investment wizard Warren Buffet who has eschewed these tax cuts because they will NOT grow the economy. Or better said, the costs will outweigh the benefits of the macro-economy. John Kerry will roll back these tax cuts on the top 5% and start funding our government programs again. John Kerry has clearly stated he will stand for the middle class on the issue of taxes. Isn't that enough to get behind John Kerry for President?

#7 - John Ashcroft: Joseph McCarthy::Evangelicalism:Red Scare. President Bush maintains his full support for a fascist Attorney General, John Ashcroft. I have read about and watch on TV his actions taking civil liberties away from American Citizens. John Ashcroft has violated the double jeopardy clause in the Bill of Rights by re-opening adjudicated cases against American Citizens involved with suspected Muslim enemies. John Ashcroft has planted the seeds for a new Red Scare by fully supporting the Patriot Act and its new versions that allow the government to secretly spy on "suspicious" American Citizens, thereby tapping into their telephone conversations, emails (read it and weep), library logs, among other personal information without any sort of notification. President Bush has brought back the evils of Joseph McCarthy with pride and the same fervor that his Evangelical Leaders use to spread their hate and violence against "non-believers." This reality scares me greatly. I would rather be put to death then be indocrinated by evangelical Christian fascist freaks like John Aschcroft, but sadly the seeds have been planted for just these type of measures. John Kerry will stand up to the fascism and seeds thereof planted by John Ashcroft and bring back the America President Dwight Eisenhower advocated for where we should be free thinkers and even take the time to read and understand such works as Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto." John Kerry will fight banal indoctrinations and divisive separations that have been implemented under President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft. John Kerry will stand for FREEDOM! Isn't that enough to get behing John Kerry for President?

#8 - The Republican Party's Attack on John Kerry's HONORABLE Military Record is similar to the McCarthy attacks on a person's patriotism. I dissent against both John Kerry's attack on George Bush's military record and George Bush's attack on John Kerry's military record. This is disgusting! I will never judge a candidate based on the political machinations documented in one's military record. Almost all of one's military record throughout many thousands of years is who you get behind and take orders from. How could any reasonably minded American Citizen judge a candidate's character and leadership based upon his or her military record unless they were a very high commanding officer? This is the opposite of leadership because all the rank and file Bush and Kerry military service was about was following orders. Both performed their duty in the service honorably and should be respectful of this fact. The Republican's attack on John Kerry's service in Vietnam and political activism after his discharge should cease because it is similar to the McCarthy hearings and connects to the many aforementioned issues I have discussed herein.

#9 - JOBS! Where are the jobs in the USA? President Bush has supported outsourcing American jobs and his administration believes this will lead to growth. John Kerry believes in the opposite. John Kerry believes America should keep American jobs within her borders. He stands for job growth by funding job growth programs and giving incentives to businesses to create and retain jobs. Unemployment levels are at a 16 year high in our nation. President Bush has failed us in the area of job growth! John Kerry will work to put America back to work. Isn't that enough of a reason to support him for President?

#10 - Last but not least: The ebbing influence of the Democratic Party! John Kerry is running for President at a time when the Republican Party has control of every branch of our national government: THE WHITE HOUSE, THE SUPREME COURT, & THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS! We have been given the temporary gift of hindsight from watching John Ashcroft spit on the Bill of Rights, Republican Majority U.S. Representatives and Senators turn our surplus into massive deficits, and right-wing evangelical justices begin their take over of the judicial system. Here and now, the Democratic Party has a chance to take back our national government from the failures of the Bush Administration and their cohorts in Congress and on the Courts. John Kerry is our leader both of the Democratic Party and next year of our country if we all show our unity and support for him.

Are not these enough reasons to support John Kerry for President?

Yours very truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

Democrat

Friday, June 02, 2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Novak: Rove was a source in outing Plame

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Wednesday, July 12, 2006, 5:24 AM ET

Now that Karl Rove won't be indicted, now that the president won't fire him, now that it really doesn't matter anymore, more details of the Valerie Plame leak investigation trickle out.

In his latest syndicated column released Wednesday, columnist Robert Novak revealed his side of the story in the Plame affair, saying Rove was a confirming source for Novak's story outing the CIA officer, underscoring Rove's role in a leak President Bush once promised to punish.

The columnist said he learned of Plame's CIA employment from a source he still refuses to publicly identify, and then confirmed with Rove and then-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, whose roles in talking to Novak have been previously reported.

Novak said for the first time that prosecutors looking into the leaks already knew his sources when he agreed to disclose them.

Novak comes late to the Plame game, long after several other reporters talked publicly about the involvement of Rove and of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, in leaking the CIA identity of the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Novak says he kept his mouth shut so long because prosecutors asked him to.

A month ago, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said he didn't anticipate seeking charges against Rove. Novak wrote that, more recently, Fitzgerald told his lawyer that after 2 1/2 years his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to Novak has been concluded, freeing him to talk now.

Triggering the criminal investigation that resulted in Libby being charged with perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI, Novak revealed Plame's CIA employment on July 14, 2003, eight days after her husband went on the attack against the Bush administration.

Initially refusing to identify his sources to the FBI, Novak knew that Fitzgerald had obtained signed waivers from every official who might have provided Novak information about Plame. Despite that, Novak was prepared to resist. He says he relented in early 2004 when it became clear that Fitzgerald "knew the names of my sources."

Novak could still have protected his sources, but his lawyer told him "I was sure to lose a case in the courts at great expense."

In contrast to other reporters whose news organizations footed the bill for lengthy and expensive legal battles, the fact that Novak was a no-show in contentious court proceedings fed a rumor mill.

"Published reports that I took the Fifth Amendment, made a plea bargain with the prosecutors or was a prosecutorial target were all untrue," Novak writes. The facts were simpler. He was telling prosecutors everything he knew, and taking a beating in public for not talking about it.

Keeping quiet had the effect of providing protection for the Bush White House during the 2004 presidential campaign, because the White House had denied Rove played any role in the leak of Plame's CIA identity.

As Rove's legal problems grew a year ago, Bush said he stood by his pledge to "fire anybody" in his administration shown to have leaked Valerie Plame's name. His press secretary, after checking with Rove and Libby, assured the public that neither man had anything to do with the leak.

Now that he's finally opening up, Novak is stirring up more trouble, saying without elaboration that his recollection of his conversation with Rove about Plame differs from Rove's. Rove's spokesman says the difference amounts to very little.

"I have revealed Rove's name because his attorney has divulged the substance of our conversation, though in a form different from my recollection," Novak wrote. Novak did not elaborate.

A spokesman for Rove's legal team, Mark Corallo, said that Rove did not even know Plame's name at the time he spoke with Novak, that the columnist called Rove, not the other way around, and that Rove simply replied he had heard the same information that Novak passed along to him regarding Plame.

"There was not much of a difference" between the recollections of Rove and Novak, said Corallo.

Novak says he told Fitzgerald that Harlow of the CIA had confirmed information about Plame.

Harlow declined to comment Tuesday night. But a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the matter denied that Harlow had been a confirming source for Novak on the story. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Harlow repeatedly tried to talk Novak out of running the information about Plame and that Harlow's efforts did not in any way constitute confirming Plame's CIA identity.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Harlow may end up being a witness in a separate part of Fitzgerald's investigation, the upcoming criminal trial of Libby.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:

Re: "Bush Says Iraq Pullout Would Be `A Disaster'" (Washington Post Online, 8/22/2006): I believe you are WRONG on Iraq and in your general foreign policies. My reason for stating my belief is that MILITARY settlements to long-standing tribal, natioanl, regional and international conflicts do NOT lead to "STABILITY." The reason why your Administration has FAILED in the MIDDLE EAST is that you have chosen to follow the "NEOCONS" militaristic and corporate driven vision for the World. Both inside the great United States and throughout the World, no one likes the "NEOCONS" and their militaristic and corporate driven foreign policies.

President Bush: People in the U.S.A. and throught the World want to see HUMAN RIGHTS, EDUCATION, FAMILIES, LIVING WAGE JOBS, SECURITY, DEMOCRACY, and the like. Even our wealthy nation, many people are forced to work substandard paying and benefit compensation jobs. The children of the great middle class are NOT making it into their parents lifestyle of "STABILITY."

People are dying, GEORGE WALKER BUSH, and it does not seem that you care. You are only pushing the agenda of a militaristic and corporate driven ideology that will provide only further death, destruction, violence and instability.

Find a way towards PEACE, not war. Find a way to raise the standard of living and hopes of all American Citizens, not just the few. Find a way to end what you and your NEOCON political hacks have begun in the Spring of 2003.

I dissent against your leadership. When I become a future President of the United States of America someday, I am going to be guided by HUMAN RIGHTS, EDUCATION, FAMILIES, LIVING WAGE JOBS, SECURITY, DEMOCRACY, and PEACE ON EARTH!

My very best regards,
Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006

Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:

Please STOP the public relations campaign for the War in Iraq by linking it with the War against the Terrorist Groups throughout the World, especially the terrorists who have declared War against our great Nation.

Our American troops are dying and becoming disabled everyday. War is serious! I am disgusted everytime I see, hear or read about your investments in marketing the War. You are WRONG. Invest in our Troops & Disabled Veterans first. Advocate for the military families impacted by this War. Put your energy where it should be: For all of the thousands of people who have been harmed and impacted by this War.

I never wanted to be President until I have watched this country go downhill under your watch and the lackluster U.S. Congress' complicity in this wrongheaded War in Iraq. When I become President someday, I am going to put our great nation back on track to one that leads, not dominates!

My very best regards,

Jonathan A. Melle

Friday, September 08, 2006 1:43:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:

I watched you on ABC News with Charles Gibson last night. I listened to every word you had to say. I am happy that you feel emotional about the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 and share a special bond with the surviving families of the victims of these terrible terrorist attacks. Sometimes, I see you as a great leader and good man who uses the federal executive seat of power to advocate for a nation of Liberty. When you put your mind to helping people, the results are often incredible.

Other times, Mr. President, I see you as a POLITICIAN! To define my banal label, I mean an opportunist and phony who uses and corrupts ideals, events and people to consolidate your political power in order to achieve narrow ends that are both immoral and exclusive to the elite constituency being served. In the news interview with Gibson, you were basically campaigning for the continuing War in Iraq and putting forth the perceived strengths on national security of your beloved Republican Party. You were advocating the support by the 2006 American Voters for your foreign policy agenda on national security instead of for a possible victory in Iraq with defined resolutions for Peace.

You even went on to President Harry S. Truman's Cold War policies during the coterminous totalitarian reign of the then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as an analogy to your own Anti-Terrorism policies in a post-9/11 World. I disagree with you about your comparisons with Mr. Truman because Truman had no choice but to defend Western Europe and the U.S. against Stalin's plans for World Domination. Stalin was a mad man who would have destroyed the democratic and human rights values and institutions of our nation and her allies across the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S., U.K, France, et al, had just fought a major World War (II) and did not have the means to fight the Soviet Union in 1945 - 1953.

During the Korean Conflict, there were Republican Generals and members of Congress who strongly opposed Truman -- as one famous Republican Party General was relieved of command in order for the President to keep his Civilian and Constitutional control of the military. Truman dismissed proposals to threaten China and Communist led Korea with Nuclear Weapons. Years before Korea, Truman had ordered the WMD Atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan to end World War II and had had enough.

Your war on "Terrorism" had been corrupted to falsely include Iraq. I do not believe Harry Truman, who limited the use of War by trying to negotiate with Stalin in Europe and using the Atomic Bombs in Japan, and then also would not threaten China to win Korea, would have agreed with you on the invasion and never-ending War in Iraq in order to fight "Terrorism." In short, Harry Truman did NOT take on the World in order to fight the rise of Communist Totalitarianism in the then Soviet Union and then in China after the Mao "revolution" in 1949.

President Bush: You should NOT be a History revisionist on post World War II America in order to justify your administration's impractical foreign policies in our post 9/11 World. You should NOT be using 9/11 and the War on "Terrorism" to justify your false pretenses for War in Iraq and its never ending cycle of violence, failures and tragedies. You should NOT be using and corrupting past, present and future World events to campaign for your self preservation and the Republican Party 2006 mid-term Congressional elections. Moreover, I hope that your IGNORANCE, CORRUPTION of HISTORY and flawed view of the World, and campaigning instead of governing will all backfire on you politically.

When I vote in New Hampshire's Congressional elections next week and in early November, I am going to support Democratic Party candidates who will oppose your administration's wrongheaded War in Iraq in the name of fighting "Terrorism"!

God Bless America!

My very best regards,

Jonathan A. Melle

Friday, September 08, 2006 2:18:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable President Bush II:



YOU ARE NO HARRY TRUMAN!



In your address to the nation last night, you compared yourself to President Truman in his policies to contain Communism and defend free countries from the aggressions of totalitarian communist regimes. In essence, you are making a comparison to Truman's Cold War ideals to your own War on Terror policies.



In the Cold War, regional conflicts were UNFAIRLY exploited and suppressed by the World's two superpowers. For example, the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts were small scale theaters for the larger Cold War military conflicts between the then Soviet Union and the U.S.A. Regional conflicts existed, but did not pose the threat they do today. In many ways, Terrorism and Genocide both have arisen as a result of the escalation of regionalized military conflicts across the globe.



THE MISTAKES of your father, President George Herbert Walker Bush, your predecessor, President William Jefferson Clinton, and your current administration has been to view the U.S.A. as a Super Power to keep order and "stability" in the World when such a policy is impractical and unfair. Instead of your father, Clinton and yourself ceding our nation's Super Power status to other nations or a reformed international governmental organization, you ALL kept the power for our "national interests."



The Genocide in Darfur is a prime example of the failed Super Power world order that your father, Clinton and you have all implemented and operated in a post-Cold War world. In the 1990s, President Jimmy Carter, who has more integrity than all three of you aforementioned Presidents, pointed out there was more per capita Genocides across the regional conflicts of the globe than in any other time in human history. Indeed, Nazi Germany's Genocide against the Jewish people and "the others" was the largest in number, size and scope, but in the new World order, the United States has not used her Super Power status to prohibit and end Genocide in our World.



Terrorism is a product of regionalized conflict. Terrorists come from regions of the World where they want their ideology to be the only way for people to live. Terrorists use terror to achieve their goals and build their base. Indeed, we must end terrorism, just as we must end genocide. However, the only way to end terrorism and genocide is for the World to be able to have law and order by de-escalating regional conflicts from which these two iniquities have rooted and deployed from.



President Bush, you are no Harry Truman! You have not offered a new view of the World, but only the view that the U.S.A. must be the sole Super Power and solve all of the World's problems. This is something President Truman would have never done, nor consented to. Indeed, it was President Truman who not only fought the Soviets through the Cold War, but also helped to open the United Nations as a way for sharing power and using DIPLOMACY to resolve conflicts and come together in unity. Indeed, we all need another Harry Truman as President in 2008!



My very best regards,



Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

September 21, 2006



Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:



Please take the time to read the enclosed news article: "A deadline for Darfur" (A Boston Globe Online Op-Ed by David L. Phillips, 9/21/2006). In regards to this aforementioned news article, Elie Wiesel is one of my favorite political advocates of all time! I was able to hear Elie Wiesel speak while a student at Siena College in Albany, New York. He stands for Human Rights for all Peoples, Peace and Justice, and the prohibition and the end of Genocide in our World. Elie Wiesel is a credit to our great nation and humankind.



Please ensure the end of Genocide in the World. Please STOP the Genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa. In your address to the United Nations this week, you bravely did something which I am very proud of you for, which is to call the many murderous killings and human rights abuses in Darfur what they really are: GENOCIDE! Please bring Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to justice for his crimes against humanity. Please work with China and Russia to get these two authoritarian countries to at least work with the rest of the World to stop the gendocide in the Sudan. I am so very proud of you, President Bush, for putting the sanctity of human life above economic interests and standing up before the world to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan. You are, indeed, a good man.



If I am a U.S. President someday in the future, the one thing I will do is to serve the American People and Citizens of the World is once and for all end the iniquity of Genocide in our World. I hope in the last 2+ years of your Administration, you will be able to beat me to the punch.



I love all of God's children and all of the Peoples of the World. In my own life, I have been made fun of (by Denis E. GUYER) time and time again for protecting human life and having the aftermath of recurring mental health issues. But (unlike Denis E. GUYER), there are good men who have always advocated for me, including Larry Caprari of the Pittsfield Veterans Department, Richard Delmasto of Congressman Olver's Veterans Department, Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto, Congressman John Olver, yourself--President Bush II--by ordering me an appeal hearing one block from the White House for my Veterans Benefits, among other good people. I am a good man just like you, Jim Ruberto, Larry Caprari, Richard Delmasto, John Olver, and other good people, who all put human life and dignity above economic interests.



I am so proud of you, President Bush II, and all I can say is thank you for advocating for human life by pushing for a U.N. peacekeeping force to end the genocide and human rights abuses in Darfur! Thank you for recognizing my sacrifice as a Soldier in the U.S. Army by disobeying illegal orders that could have otherwise resulted in tragedy and deaths in order to save human life, along with being "bullied or ostracized" as was noted in the December 5, 2005 Board of Veterans Appeals ruling denying me my Veterans Benefits despite your support of my claim. Thank you for standing with Elie Wiesel and many other good people who support human life above economic interests. Someday, the good people will win and we will live in a World that sustains Life, Liberty and Human Rights for all Peoples!



Sincerely and my very best regards,

Jonathan A. Melle

----------->


DAVID L. PHILLIPS


A deadline for Darfur


By David L. Phillips | September 21, 2006



DARFUR IS IN a free fall. By Sept. 30, Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, is threatening to evict a heroic but overstretched force of peacekeepers from the African Union. He has also rejected United Nations peacekeepers and launched a military offensive aimed at destroying Darfur rebels once and for all. Without protection, humanitarian agencies will be forced to suspend operations and, the UN estimates, 100,000 people will die each month.



During a presentation last week to the UN Security Council, Elie Wiesel said that Bashir must cooperate with the international community, or pay a personal price.



To this end, targeted sanctions would be most effective. These include a travel ban on Bashir, his cronies, and their relatives, as well as freezing their overseas assets.



The Security Council can also show that it is serious about accountability by asking the International Criminal Court to indict Bashir. To accelerate the prosecution, the council should issue a public appeal to UN member states asking them to provide information relevant to the indictment.



Pressure can also be intensified by imposing an arms embargo on Sudan and enforcing a no-fly zone to prevent the aerial bombardment of civilians. The Security Council could also limit Sudan's war chest by implementing an embargo on the country's oil exports.



If Bashir refuses to accept the UN peacekeeping force recently authorized by Security Council Resolution 1706, Wiesel urged the council to invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the imposition of troops against the will of the host country.



UN peacekeepers would be used not to ``recolonize" Sudan -- as Bashir asserts -- but to create safe havens separating victims from the killers and allowing the delivery of emergency food supplies.



Bashir is cleverly trying to undermine international efforts by manipulating anti-American sentiments among the UN's members and drawing parallels with the US occupation of Iraq. He maintains that the United States has a hidden agenda to occupy Sudan and seize its oil.



The international community must not be fooled. The criminal nature of Bashir's regime and his history of collaboration with terrorist groups and rogue regimes speaks for itself.



Bashir harbored Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the 1990s. He is exploring the acquisition of nuclear technology with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bashir has also waged war on his neighbors and committed atrocities against his citizens. Bashir also allows Chadian rebels to launch attacks from Sudanese territory. During the North-South civil war, Bashir's scorched - earth policy in south Sudan and the Nuba Mountains killed 2 million people. Since 2003, about 400,000 people in Darfur have been killed and several million rendered homeless.



In his UN address this week, President Bush warned that a disaster is looming. The time has passed for hand wringing and exhortations that ``something must be done." Before the Sept. 30 deadline, great powers should exert maximum pressure on Bashir.



The United States should engage recalcitrant members of the Security Council. The Bush administration should point out to China, a major customer of Sudanese oil , and Russia, the primary supplier of arms to Sudan, that they can show their commitment to human life above economic interests by pressuring Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers. Quiet diplomacy would be most effective.



The United States says all the right things when it comes to Sudan. However, the Bush administration's involvement has been largely rhetoric. It still hides behind the threat of a veto by Russia or China in demurring from more robust diplomacy aimed at getting Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers.



What if Bashir continues to defy the will of the international community? The Darfur crisis dramatizes two opposing principles central to the UN's identity. One is the principle of ``sovereignty" and the rights of member states to manage their affairs absent outside interference. The other, which emerged after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, is the UN's ``responsibility to protect."



The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 1930s and '90s, the world can not sit idly by while ruthless regimes hide behind claims of sovereignty to commit genocide. International conferences are meaningless if they don't affect conditions on the ground.



For Darfur, which faces an imminent catastrophe if the African Union leaves and Sudan prevents the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation, the choice is clear: many will die if the world does not act in unison to defend defenseless victims.



David L. Phillips is executive director of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
----------

Thursday, September 21, 2006 1:20:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:

Re: "It is positively Kafkaesque" (Letter to the Editor of The Boston Globe, 9-22-2006): Washington, D.C.'s beltway politics is often broken down into two main components. The first prong is the strongest and most insidiuos: Mean-Spiritedness! From January, 1996 through April, 1996, I attended a semester at American University in our great nation's capital city. I came away with the sense that powerful and privileged politically-connected people were super intelligent, mostly all from the Ivy League, and lastly, the meanest in culture and conflict that I have ever at once and always witnessed on a first-hand basis. The second prong of beltway politics was "the game of semantics." Everyone who spoke had to squabble over words and then redefine issues. No one could find a common ground a hammer out solutions that would best benefit the country.

Frank Rooney's letter epitomizes the beltway mentality to both the letter and spirit of the structural nature of poor leadership and power struggles that leaves the people of our nation scratching our collective heads in confusion. The letter writer makes a tangential point to the original columnist's initial thesis that you, President Bush II, are planting the seeds of totalitarianism in our failed new world order and the citizens of the World are seeing America as a place of oppression. Rooney goes on to point out that it is not just the institutions of government (and multi-national corporations) that create oppressive environments, but also the the ignorance and apathy of people that gives rise to these deplorable human conditions of tyranny.

The problem with Hitler and Nazi Germany was totalitarianism. The quality that makes Franz Kafka so amazingly special is that he wrote his books prior to the rise of the evils of the 1930's. The German people were powerless to the power of the German State. They also feared Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. The problem with you, Bush II, and post 9-11 America is unilateralism and the false reality that the U.S.A. can be the Super Power that polices the World in the face of a failed and never-ending Iraq War, the continuing iniquity of genocides in the 21st Century, and the resentment so many peoples and nations have against our heavy-handed foreign policies. The citizens of the World are powerless to the power of the American State.

I wish you and all of the beltway Pols would be able to get over your egos, the bullying nature of being mean-spirited, and the pseudo-intellectual game of semantics in order to find solutions to the real problems our nation and world faces. In conclusion, the real reason why we live in a Kafkaesque World is due to politicians such as yourself, President Bush II, and many other Pols who want power for their own ends and thereby corrupt the institutions of government (and business) to achieve their ends.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

------

Letter to the Editor of The Boston Globe

It's positively Kafkaesque

September 22, 2006

JAMES CARROLL'S Sept. 18 column (``Judge, jury, and torturer") describing the current Bush administration as beginning to resemble one of the totalitarian nightmares Franz Kafka predicted contains Carroll's usual sober wisdom. However, I would like to suggest a slightly different emphasis as to the guilt or innocence of Kafka's characters. They are not helpless victims of oppression; they are complicit in their fate. Their ignorance is why they are guilty.

The existence of the ``anonymously oppressing power structure" Carroll cites was made possible by the characters' failure to be aware of its existence. In Kafka's work ignorance is a fatal flaw, an implicit denial of responsibility.

For example, from Kafka's point of view, a German citizen living under Adolf Hitler, if he claimed ignorance of the concentration camps, would share the same guilt as Joseph K of the novel ``The Trial."

Perhaps the real nightmare of contemporary life is not the surreal, oppressive power structures that man faces in this century, but the extent to which the individual has disappeared within a moral vacuum, which then makes these structures possible.

FRANK ROONEY
Boston

The writer is professor of humanities at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Friday, September 22, 2006 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: My open letter to the U.S. Congress & the President

Dear U.S. Congress & President Bush II:

Please stop the President's signing statements that serve the purpose of rewriting the will of the people by the intent of elected members of the U.S. Congress. Only the U.S. Supreme Court has the power of "Judicial Review" to affirm or strike down a law based upon its Constitutionality. It is amazing to me that it is the Republican Party's conservative base that has long complained about judicial activism and review powers, but now it is the Bush & CHENEY Administration that has now blatantly USURPED the power of the American People, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. CONSTITUTION. What hypocrisy!

As an American Citizen with U.S. Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties who will always speak his good conscience for as long as he shall live, I, Jonathan A. Melle, hereby request the following: (a) the immediate IMPEACHMENT of both U.S. President George Walker Bush and "Vice" President Richard Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors by way of their corruption of executive power in order to USURP the power of the United States Congress through illegal signing statements, and (b) an Amendment to the United States Constitution either specifying (i) the power of the Executive Branch to use signing statements, (ii) or the power of Congress to stop the use of Executive Branch signing statements in lieu of vetoes and/or in addition to vetoes.

I want an immediate written response from the U.S. President, "Vice" President, and all members of the U.S. Congress to my letter and requests for the Constitution and rule of law to be held up as the Charter of our Freedoms instead of just a piece of paper. I, Jonathan A. Melle, like the Virginian and American Revolutionary Leader Patrick Henry believe in the cause of Liberty so much that I re-proclaim the quote to my democratically elected leaders throughout the land of freedom: "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!"

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle
-----------
Bush cites authority to bypass FEMA law

Signing statement is employed again

By Charlie Savage, [The Boston] Globe Staff

October 6, 2006

WASHINGTON -- President Bush this week asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey a new law in which Congress has set minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Congress passed the law last week as a response to FEMA's poor handling of Hurricane Katrina. The agency's slow response to flood victims exposed the fact that Michael Brown, Bush's choice to lead the agency, had been a politically connected hire with no prior experience in emergency management.

To shield FEMA from cronyism, Congress established new job qualifications for the agency's director in last week's homeland security bill. The law says the president must nominate a candidate who has ``a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management" and ``not less than five years of executive leadership."

Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions.

The law, Bush wrote, ``purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the president may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office."

The homeland-security bill contained measures covering a range of topics, including terrorism, disaster preparedness, and illegal immigration. One provision calls for authorizing the construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.

But Bush's signing statement challenged at least three-dozen laws specified in the bill. Among those he targeted is a provision that empowers the FEMA director to tell Congress about the nation's emergency management needs without White House permission. This law, Bush said, ``purports . . . to limit supervision of an executive branch official in the provision of advice to the Congress." Despite the law, he said, the FEMA director would be required to get clearance from the White House before telling lawmakers anything.

Bush said nothing of his objections when he signed the bill with a flourish in a ceremony Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. At the time, he proclaimed that the bill was ``an important piece of legislation that will highlight our government's highest responsibility, and that's to protect the American people."

The bill, he added, ``will also help our government better respond to emergencies and natural disasters by strengthening the capabilities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

Bush's remarks at the signing ceremony were quickly e-mailed to reporters, and the White House website highlighted the ceremony. By contrast, the White House minimized attention to the signing statement. When asked by the Globe on Wednesday afternoon if there would be a signing statement, the press office declined to comment, saying only that any such document, if it existed, would be issued in the ``usual way."

The press office posted the signing-statement document on its website around 8 p.m. Wednesday, after most reporters had gone home. The signing statement was not included in news reports yesterday on the bill-signing.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, who has been one of the harshest critics of FEMA's performance during Katrina, yesterday rejected Bush's suggestion that he can bypass the new FEMA laws.

Responding to questions from the Globe, Collins said there are numerous precedents for Congress establishing qualifications for executive branch positions, ranging from the solicitor general's post to the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

She also said that Congress has long authorized certain officials from a variety of departments ``to go directly to Congress with recommendations," pointing out that the FEMA director statute was modeled after a law that gives similar independence to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.

``I believe it is appropriate to extend this authority to the official tasked with leading the nation's response to disasters," she said.

Georgetown Law School professor Martin Lederman said Congress clearly has the power to set standards for positions such as the FEMA director, so long as the requirements leave a large enough pool of qualified candidates that the White House has ``ample room for choice."

``It's hard to imagine a more modest and reasonable congressional response to the Michael Brown fiasco," said Lederman, who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 1994 to 2002.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment about its signing statement.

In the past, the administration has defended the legality of its signing statements. It has also argued that because Congress often lumps many laws into a single package, it is sometimes impractical to veto a large bill on the basis of some parts being flawed.

At a June hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a Bush administration attorney, Michelle Boardman , noted that other US presidents have also used signing statements. She asserted that Bush's statements ``are not an abuse of power."

Bush's use of signing statements has attracted increasing attention over the past year. In December 2005, Bush asserted that he can bypass a statutory ban on torture. In March 2006, the president said he can disobey oversight provisions in the Patriot Act reauthorization bill.

In all, Bush has challenged more than 800 laws enacted since he took office, most of which he said intruded on his constitutional powers as president and commander in chief. By contrast, all previous presidents challenged a combined total of about 600 laws.

At the same time, Bush has virtually abandoned his veto power, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Bush has vetoed just one bill since taking office, the fewest of any president since the 19th century.

Earlier this year, the American Bar Association declared that Bush's use of signing statements was ``contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers."

Last month, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that Bush's signing statements are ``an integral part" of his ``comprehensive strategy to strengthen and expand executive power" at the expense of the legislative branch.

Friday, October 06, 2006 1:46:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Editor of the Union Leader:

Senator Judd Gregg is attempting another unconstitutional power grab for the Bush Administration. He is proposing the president have line item veto authority over the recurringly late and deficit-ridden federal budget. He is not allowing his proposal to be given independent deliberation and study, but rather he is continually placing his proposed measure as a rider on pending Democratic Party bills.

In an age where the current president is shredding the very fabric of our constitutional and democratic rule of law, such as the Bush Administration's recent illegal authorization of domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency that contravened a statute's clear language, I dissent against Senator Gregg handing any more power to the White House from Capitol Hill.

More examples of both President Bush's usurpations of diminishing Congressional Power include the president's unprecedented use of "signing statements" that allows the president to to disobey newly passed laws without the use of a veto. Moreover, the White House has violated the double jeopardy clause in the Bill of Rights by re-opening already adjudicated cases related to terrorism. On top of that, Bush signed into law the Patriot Act and its new versions that allow the government to secretly spy on "suspicious" American Citizens in the name of fighting terrorism, thereby tapping into their telephone conversations, emails, library logs, among other personal information without any sort of notification. To make matters worse, the Bush Administration is recurrently asking for more and more federal dollars to fund an illegal war of occupation in Iraq that was based on false intelligence and spurious links to terrorism and has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.

In conclusion, Senator Gregg's proposal for the Bush Administration to have the authority to line item veto Congressional spending bills should be (a) proposed independently from other pending bills, (b) opposed based on the president's aforementioned demonstrable usurpations of Congress's diminishing power, (c) revised for Committee's to cut out waste, pork, special interests, and the like, and (d) seen for what it is, which is a power grab for a Republican Party that has failed the American people for 14 years and now must live with the consequences of Democratic Party politics, spending and reform.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Friday, January 26, 2007 9:30:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

NEWS ARTICLES:

Bush Defies Lawmakers To Solve Iraq
Gates Says Doubts Bolster Enemy

By Michael Abramowitz and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 27, 2007; A01

Declaring "I'm the decision maker," President Bush yesterday challenged congressional efforts to formally condemn his Iraq plan, while Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned that a proposed Senate resolution criticizing the deployment of additional troops would embolden the enemy.

"Any indication of flagging will in the United States gives encouragement to those folks," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. "I'm sure that that's not the intent behind the resolutions, but I think it may be the effect."

Bush consulted with Gates and Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who will head U.S. forces in Iraq, at an early-morning meeting at the White House. Speaking with reporters afterward, the president complained that lawmakers "are condemning a plan before it's even had a chance to work. And they have an obligation and a serious responsibility, therefore, to put up their own plan as to what would work."

Bush later met with House Republicans at a retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore and, according to two Republicans present, mocked the Senate by telling the House members that he found it "ironic" that senators would oppose his plan to dispatch 21,500 more troops to Iraq but praise and unanimously confirm Petraeus, who helped design it.

Democrats responded angrily to Gates's comments, which were similar to what Petraeus said at his Tuesday hearing before his confirmation yesterday. "The American people will rightly dismiss these accusations as a desperate attempt by the administration to support a failed policy that is not worthy of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) disputed Bush's suggestion that the Democrats have not come up with a plan. Speaking at the Brookings Institution, he said his party was united around the proposition that the United States should shift more responsibility to the Iraqis, begin a "phased redeployment" of troops and initiate more aggressive regional diplomacy to stabilize Iraq.

Yesterday's administration comments were part of a White House campaign to try to keep Republican lawmakers from signing on to any resolution that criticizes the president's new strategy in Iraq. By keeping down the number of Republican defections, the administration hopes to make any vote appear highly partisan and to buy Bush's new plan more time.

With Bush's leverage on Capitol Hill at a low, the White House appears to be relying heavily on GOP leaders to orchestrate the opposition to two resolutions condemning the troop buildup, according to lawmakers, lobbyists and administration officials. White House lobbyists and senior officials at the National Security Council are continuing to meet with lawmakers, but a number of senators said they did not perceive the lobbying as particularly aggressive. The strategy, as they described it, is to muddy the waters with a number of competing resolutions that could siphon support from a strong message of disapproval for the president's plan.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a resolution opposing the introduction of the additional troops, calling for more diplomacy and a regional peace effort, and demanding that U.S. troops be deployed away from urban sectarian hotbeds to guard Iraq's borders, hunt down terrorists and train Iraqi security forces. Bush defied Congress yesterday to come up with an alternative to his Iraq strategy, but advocates say the committee's resolution amounts to one.

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) has offered a similar resolution, while also calling for measurable benchmarks in Iraq. Warner's resolution includes language accepting Bush's constitutional powers as commander in chief, leaves rhetorical room for some additional troop deployments and treats the fight with Sunni extremists in Anbar province as a matter separate from the sectarian violence in Baghdad.

GOP leaders, meanwhile, are coalescing around a resolution drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would establish strict benchmarks for the Iraqi government and the Bush administration to meet, without criticizing the president's plan. The leaders may also offer a simple resolution of support for Bush, saying the president's plan should be given a chance.

Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said that the administration would still like GOP leaders to block any vote but that at this point even some of the most ardent Republican conservatives need some way to voice their skepticism on the record. The best the White House can hope for is what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called a "smorgasbord" of resolutions that splits both parties and pulls senators in multiple directions.

Like other GOP lawmakers, McConnell said time is running out for the president. "I think everybody knows what the consequences are. The president doesn't have a stronger supporter in the Senate than the person you're looking at, but I repeat, this is the last chance for the Iraqis to step up and demonstrate this government can function," he said. "The message to the Iraqi government could not be more clear."

Administration officials say they realize their position on the Hill is precarious. Many Republicans blame the war in Iraq for their electoral debacle last November, and if the situation does not improve soon, the administration will be faced with massive defections within the GOP -- not only on nonbinding resolutions but perhaps also on bills that limit the president's ability to prosecute the war.

But several administration officials said they felt they had a good week, with Petraeus making an effective case for more time at his confirmation hearing Tuesday and only one Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), defecting when the Foreign Relations Committee approved the resolution against additional troops on Wednesday.

"No one is under any illusion that we are going to win over many Democrats or turn around the country. What we need to do is stabilize Republicans," said one senior White House official who was not authorized to speak on the record. While many Republicans are very anxious to vent their displeasure with the situation in Iraq, Republican stalwarts still seem reluctant to part with the president.

"I think he made the case in the State of the Union message . . . that this is the best that he and his military commanders can come up, so give us a chance," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah). "If you are going to say no, you better have an alternative."

Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson and washingtonpost.com staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.

-----

Ex-Cheney aide details media tactics By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jan 27, 10:05 PM ET

A smorgasbord of Washington insider details has emerged during the perjury trial of the vice president's former chief of staff.

For example, when Dick Cheney really needed friends in the news media, his staff was short of phone numbers.

No one served up spicier morsels than Cheney's former top press assistant. Cathie Martin described the craft of media manipulation — under oath and in blunter terms than politicians like to hear in public.

The uses of leaks and exclusives. When to let one's name be used and when to hide in anonymity. Which news medium was seen as more susceptible to control and what timing was most propitious. All candidly described. Even the rating of certain journalists as friends to favor and critics to shun — a faint echo of the enemies list drawn up in Richard Nixon's White House more than 30 years ago.

The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby owes its very existence to a news leak, the public disclosure four summers ago of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity.

A private brainstorm of Plame's in 2002 brought a rain of public attacks on Cheney the following year. Cheney was accused of suppressing intelligence and allowing President Bush to present false information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Plame's husband, ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson, started the attack. Her unit at the CIA had sent him to Niger in 2002 to check a report Iraq was buying uranium for nuclear weapons. Cheney and the departments of State and Defense wanted to verify that.

Wilson thought he had debunked the report, but Bush mentioned it anyway in his State of the Union address in 2003. The story helped justify war with Iraq.

Wilson claimed Cheney's questions prompted his trip and Cheney should have received his report long before Bush spoke.

Wilson's charges first surfaced, attributed to an unnamed ex-ambassador, in Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column. But Martin testified she felt no urgency to set him straight because Kristof "attacked us, our administration fairly regularly."

But by July 6, 2003, Wilson wrote his own account in the Times and appeared on "Meet the Press" on NBC.

After that much exposure, Cheney, Libby and Martin spent the next week trying get out word that Cheney did not know Wilson, did not ask for the mission to Niger, never got Wilson's report and only learned about the trip from news stories in 2003.

Cheney personally dictated these points to Martin. She e-mailed them to the White House press secretary for relay to reporters.

When the story did not die, Martin found herself in a bind because Cheney's office was known for disclosing so little.

"Often the press stopped calling our office," Martin testified. "At this point, they weren't calling me asking me for comment."

So she had to call National Security Council and CIA press officers to learn which reporters were still working on stories.

Once Martin got names, Cheney ordered his right-hand man, Libby, rather than lowly press officers, to call — a signal of the topic's importance.

Top levels of the Bush administration decided that CIA Director George Tenet would issue a statement taking the blame for allowing Bush to mention the Niger story. Cheney and Libby worried Tenet would not go far enough to distance the vice president from the affair.

Libby asked Martin to map a media strategy in case Tenet fell short.

A Harvard law school graduate, Martin had succeeded legendary Republican operative Mary Matalin as Cheney's political and public affairs assistant. Matalin had brought Martin to Cheney's office as her deputy and trained her.

Martin offered these options in order:

_Put Cheney on "Meet the Press."

_Leak an exclusive version to a selected reporter or the weekly news magazines.

_Have national security adviser Condoleezza Rice or Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hold a news conference.

_Persuade a third party or columnist to write an opinion piece that would appear in newspapers on the page opposite the editorials.

Not only did Tenet leave unanswered questions about Cheney, his remarks came out late on a Friday, the government's favorite moment to deliver bad news.

Why?

"Fewer people pay attention to it later on Friday," Martin testified. "And in our view, fewer people are paying attention on Saturday, when it's reported."

As Martin rated their options, putting Cheney on "Meet the Press," NBC's Sunday morning talk show, "is our best format." Cheney was their best person for the show and "we control the message a little bit more," according to Martin.

The downside was that Cheney could "get pulled into the weeds and specifics. We like to keep him at a pretty high level," she said. Also, it "looks defensive to rush him out on `Meet the Press.'"

Next they could give an exclusive or leak to one reporter and she considered David Sanger of The New York Times, Walter Pincus of The Washington Post, or Time or Newsweek.

Because reporters are competitive, "if you give it to one reporter, they're more likely to write the story," Martin testified.

Plus an official can demand anonymity in return for the favor. "You can give it to them as a senior administration official," she said. "You don't have to say this is coming directly from the White House."

The news weeklies offered a focus on the big picture and opinion-editorial writers and columnists could voice opinions.

Ultimately, Cheney crafted an on-the-record statement to be attributed to Libby by name along with some anonymous background information. Libby personally called Matt Cooper of Time, who had e-mailed questions to Martin earlier.

But when Libby suggested calling Newsweek in fairness, Cheney's aides were at a loss.

"We were scrambling for a number for a reporter that we know there named Evan Thomas," Martin testified. "We were looking around for a number. I didn't have it with me." Eventually, they found a number and left a message.

But Cooper did not use the full quote and Martin called to complain. "I put Scooter on the phone with him, which we didn't do very often on the record with a quote," she testified, "and he took just a piece of it." The result "wasn't helpful" and the story did not fade away.

So the following week, two senior Bush aides — communications director Dan Bartlett and Rice's deputy, Steve Hadley — briefed White House reporters. Cheney invited a group of conservative columnists to lunch at his residence.

-----

Monday, January 29, 2007 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

NEWS MEDIA ARTICLE:

Iraq Report Offers Little Encouragement on Future

By Kevin Whitelaw

Posted 2/2/07

In the debate raging in Washington over Presidents Bush's new Iraq strategy, both his backers and critics will find something to hold on to in the intelligence community's new assessment of the Iraq conflict. But the grim National Intelligence Estimate, subtitled "A Challenging Road Ahead," does not offer much encouragement that anything in Iraq will get much better anytime soon.

In one of the clearer statements yet, the estimate, released by the director of national intelligence, effectively calls the situation in Iraq a "civil war," a term the Bush administration has tried to avoid. DNI analysts point to the hardening of sectarian identities, a change in the patterns of violence, and large numbers of people being forced out of their homes.

But the estimate adds that the "civil war" description "does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al Qaeda, and Sunni insurgency attacks on coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence."

On its face, the new NIE, which represents the consensus judgment of the nation's 16 intelligence agencies, does not give Bush's new strategy high odds of success. Looking at the next 12 to 18 months, the DNI assesses that "the overall security situation will continue to deteriorate at rates comparable to the latter part of 2006." Even if violence were reduced, the report suggests that "Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation" in the next 18 months.

The assessment of Iraq's security forces is similarly gloomy, with analysts concluding that the Iraqi military, but particularly the police, will also be "hard pressed in the next 12-18 months to execute significantly increased security responsibilities." This is a discouraging conclusion for the Bush administration, which is relying on Iraqi units to help reduce the violence level in Baghdad as a key part of its plan.

Still, Bush's backers will find some support for his policy. For one thing, the NIE allows that if U.S. forces, along with strengthened Iraqi forces, manage to reduce the violence level, it could permit political compromises to begin.

The estimate also forcefully rebuts the congressional proponents of a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, calling the U.S. military presence "an essential stabilizing element in Iraq." If those forces departed rapidly in the next 18 months, the NIE warns that it would "almost certainly lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq."

Even worse, it adds that Iraqi security forces would likely fracture, Iraq's neighbors might openly intervene, massive civilian casualties would be likely, and al Qaeda would use lawless parts of the country to plan attacks in the region.

An in-depth report on Iraq released by the Brookings Institution this week was even clearer. "By any definition, Iraq is already in a state of civil war," it concluded. "The only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into a Lebanon- or Bosnia-style maelstrom is 140,000 American troops, and even they are merely slowing the fall at this point."

But the Bush administration remains unwilling to go that far. This morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates refused to describe the situation in Iraq as a civil war. "What I see in Iraq in the sectarian conflict are gangs of killers going after specific neighborhoods or specific targets," he said. "This isn't a divided army or a divided government in the sense that I always thought of a civil war."

In the past several weeks, Bush administration officials have stepped up their rhetoric against Iran and its activities in Iraq. In particular, Washington has accused Tehran of supporting Shiite militias with weaponry and training. Yet the estimate downplays the role of Iraq's neighbors, particularly Iran and Syria, in fomenting the violence. "The involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq's internal sectarian dynamics," the NIE concludes.

The intelligence community is also warning policymakers that the situation in Iraq could get much, much worse. The NIE describes several kinds of major events, such as the assassination of a major religious or political figure or the complete defection of Sunni leaders from the government, that could "convulse severely" the security environment. The result, the estimate warns, could be anything from a hostile, de facto partition of Iraq to the emergence of a Shiite strongman, to complete anarchy.

Friday, February 02, 2007 2:03:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

THE WASHINGTON POST

AN EDITORIAL

Mr. Bush's Deficit Dance
The president takes an unbalanced approach to an ostensibly balanced budget.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007; Page A16

HAVING PILED UP record deficits, President Bush now promises black ink by 2012 -- three years after he leaves office. The fiscal 2008 budget the president submitted to Congress yesterday shows Mr. Bush's purported path to a $61 billion surplus by 2012. Some of its approaches, particularly the effort to restrain the growth of Medicare through additional means-testing and cutting payments to providers, are commendable; they merit more serious consideration by Congress than they appear destined to receive. The administration also deserves credit for a more candid acknowledgment of the likely cost of the war in Iraq than in budgets past. For the first time, the administration included a realistic estimate of the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the coming year, $145 billion.

Yet Mr. Bush's balance is more illusory than real. It ignores known costs such as ameliorating the impact of the alternative minimum tax, which would top $90 billion in 2012 alone; the administration, once again, would simply affix a one-year patch for 2008. It assumes the government will collect far more revenue than the Congressional Budget Office projects, amounting to a $150 billion difference in 2012. No one should start spending Mr. Bush's projected surplus.

The more fundamental problem with Mr. Bush's supposedly balanced budget is its fundamentally unbalanced approach. He squeezes social programs while his tax cuts remain untouchable. An administration serious about fiscal prudence would have acknowledged that political and fiscal reality -- a new Democratic Congress, the ever-mounting costs of war -- demand reconsideration of some of the tax cuts. Instead, Mr. Bush yesterday insisted once again on extending them, at a cost of $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

That's not sustainable, particularly in light of the squeeze the administration wants to put on domestic spending. On top of emergency spending for the war, it would hike outlays for defense and homeland security by 10.7 percent next year and 23 percent over five years. By contrast, domestic discretionary spending would, depending on how you measure it, grow slowly -- 1 percent over each of the next five years, according to the administration's figures -- or actually shrink slightly.

Either way, the money available would increasingly fall behind as the population grows and inflation erodes the funding's purchasing power. A Democratic Congress is not going to accept -- nor should it -- cutting health insurance for low-income children or fuel assistance for the elderly while extending tax cuts for millionaires.

If Mr. Bush's budget is dead on arrival in this Congress, that increases pressure on the leadership there to come up with its own approach. Democrats have a new responsibility to propose realistic solutions to difficult problems and to demonstrate that they are willing to make the kinds of painful trade-offs for the country's long-term fiscal health that the president, once again, has ducked.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 4:38:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

I watched PBS' "NOW" TV show 12 minute segment on the new national bankruptcy law.

I listened to Prez. Bush #2 and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley talk about the need to make it tougher for citizens to declare bankruptcy because personal responsibility will lead citizens to control their spending and therefore reduce their personal debts. Then I thought to myself, George W. Bush as a citizen bankrupted his oil businesses, and as president, rose the national debt by over $3 Trillion Dollars. Moreover, Sen. Grassley and his Congressional cohorts have spent record levels of public money, including on a never-ending and illegal war of invasion and occupation in Iraq. I concluded that here we have the pot (Bush and Grassley) calling the kettle (American Citizens) black. What utter hypocrites.

Now that Congress and the President have instituted the new national bankruptcy law, big banks and financial institutions have reaped record level of profits, middle class families are constrained in writing off all of their debts, poor citizens cannot pay the filing higher fees, and home foreclosures are now at a record high. On top of that, the leading cause of bankruptcy is our nation's healthcare crisis. The Congress and President have only made Medicare more expensive and less consumer friendly when they passed, signed and implemented the new prescription drug benefit that falls up to a factor of 6 times short of neighboring Canada's prescription drug prices(, which are up to 6 times cheaper than the same American prescription drug prices.)

In conclusion, the new national bankruptcy law is the height of hypocrisy!

In truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Thursday, February 15, 2007 8:53:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: At all costs, please protect Israel from Iran's genocidal messages

Dear Honorable U.S. President George W. Bush:

At all costs, please protect Israel from Iran's genocidal messages. If ever you were right, it was when you placed Iran in the "Axis of Evil." What a hateful and backwards country, indeed. The writing is on the wall, if Iran develops nuclear weapons, they are going to blow up Israel and another iniquitable genocide will have taken place against the Jewish people.

If I was in your shoes, I my diplomacy with Iran would be through the barrel of our nation's nuclear arsenal. I would tell Iran that if they threaten Israel with genocidal messages even one more time, then there would be no more Iran. I dissent against "The Nation's" editorial calling for diplomacy with a "Hitlerarian" dictatorship.

Moreover, I do not think China is a great nation either. The forced labor and explotation of people through a totalitarian government is nothing more than tyranny and social injustice. I don't buy "The Nation's" argument that because China deals with America through diplomacy that we or the World is the better for it. Indeed, the U.S. and World should be condemning the Chinese government at every turn. Instead, we reward them with a very inequitable amount of billions upon billions of our hard earned trade dollars. The Chinese government gets rich while the common man in America loses another job and cannot feed his family anymore.

I hope that I am President of the United States of America someday so that I will stop all of this "diplomacy" with totalitarian states like Iran and China. When I am president, and Iran sends a genocidal message against Israel, I will cut off all diplomacy with Iran. I will then tell the entire World that I will deal with Iran through the barrel of America's nuclear arsenal. Moreover, I will hold China accountable for their iniquitable human rights violations and condemn their totalitarian state. Lastly, genocides like the one in Darfur, Sudan, Africa or the like, will cease immediately or else I will jail or kill the dictator(s) perpetrating such acts of violence and mass murder.

In conclusion, I will protect human life at all costs. I will put human life above America's economic interests. When I am President someday, like you are now, the 21st Century will be transformed from iniquitable violence into a planet of human rights, democracy and Liberty and Justice for all peoples!

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

Future President of the United States of America,
& Ensurer of the protection of human life throughout the World

-----

The Nation

Is the Bush Administration Lying About Iran?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Nation -- Did the Bush Administration miss a major opportunity in the spring of 2003 to engage Iran and stabilize the Middle East? Two high-ranking former Administration officials contend it did.



In May 2003, Iran faxed a letter to the State Department, via the Swiss ambassador to Iran, proposing a sweeping realignment in US-Iranian relations. Iran offered "full transparency" on its nuclear enrichment program, to take "decisive action against any terrorists (above all Al Qaeda) on Iranian territory," to help stabilize Iraq and establish democratic institutions there, to disarm Hezbollah, to stop "material support to Palestinian opposition groups," and accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



In exchange, the Iranian government asked the US government to foreswear regime change, abolish sanctions, crack down on the terrorist group MEK and allow Iran to develop peaceful nuclear technology.



"What the Iranians offered in 2003 was nothing short of a Nixon-in-China breakthrough in US-Iranian relations," said Flynt Leverett, the Bush Administration's former top official on Middle East policy at the National Security Council, at a conference on Iran sponsored by the New America Foundation today. "The Bush Administration, for its own reasons, rejected it."



According to Leverett, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said he "couldn't sell it at the White House." Added Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's top deputy: "I doubt Powell thought he had the power or political capitol" to take on Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, who opposed negotiations with Iran.



Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice could have pushed President Bush to begin talks with Iran. But Rice did nothing--and now claims she never saw the memo. "I just don't remember ever seeing any such thing," she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.



Leverett says Rice is lying. She's acknowledged the existence of the Iranian offer in previous interviews and discussed it with him personally. "She owes Congress an apology for saying she has never seen that document," he says.



Both Leverett and Wilkerson stressed that it is not to late to begin negotiating with Iran, as the Baker-Hamilton Commission and countless other foreign policy experts have urged. "If the Administration comes to its senses, it's still possible to put US-Iranian relations on a more positive trajectory," says Leverett.



That means favoring diplomacy over sanctions, unproven accusations and threats of military action. It's up to Congress to keep the Administration honest. The House Foreign Affairs Committee should invite Rice back and ask her why she can't keep her facts straight.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:33:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable President George W. Bush, the News Media, Pols, and the People:

Re: "I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Case": The fact that the Bush II Administration RETALIATED against a CIA Officer to cover up its false intelligence reports instead of coming forward to the public with its intelligence errors prior to and during the course of illegally invading Iraq and then illegally occupying Iraq is THE WORST goddamned crime of TREASON that I that have EVER seen a president and his staff commit against the citizens of America and citizens of the World!

I am DISGUSTED with my current U.S. President right now! Moreover, I feel that Bush covered for Karl Rove and others within his close inner circle of hack political partners, and that he made Libby the scapegoat for the entire administration that all knew full well what they were doing wrong, including unethical and illegal procedures when it came to our nation's intelligence and military rules. On the news this afternoon, political commentators stated that it is a matter of time before President Bush II PARDONS Libby. If Bush pardons Libby, then that would be the icing on the cake for sure.

Many thousands of innocent people have died since the Bush II Administration's illegal invasion and illegal occupation in our nation's Iraq II War. Vice President Dick Cheney gave Libby all of the information against CIA Officer Valerie Plame to retaliate against Joe Wilson's reports of false intelligence on Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program, which was never proven to be true. Libby then fired the gun loaded by the Vice President, Karl Rove, et al. That is a high crime and an impeachable offense against an administration that has been proven to be liars and treasonous criminals to achieve their ends of controlling the world's second largest oil reserves in Iraq.

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 5:01:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

RE: Bush renews call for 'culture of life'

Dear Honorable President George Walker Bush:

If you really want a 'culture of life' then start by ending your illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq where many thousands of innocent people have died at the hands of the United States Government national interest for OIL and CORPORATE ECONOMIC POWER / DOMINATION in the Middle East.

You sit there in the Oval Office and make the holiest speeches about protecting human life, but then you continue to be a war criminal in Iraq, cut funds for healthcare programs for poor and needy families, and cut other social service programs that allow people to live in healthy and safe environments.

YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE, President Bush! Lead by example and start by protecting life by your public and foreign policies, and only then make your renewed call for a 'culture of life'. Otherwise, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE in your renewed call for a 'culture of life'.

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

------

Bush renews call for 'culture of life'

By ANN SANNER, Associated Press Writer

April 13, 2007

President Bush, at the national Catholic prayer breakfast, stressed his opposition to easing restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, a reference to a bill he's threatened to veto.

"In our day there is a temptation to manipulate life in ways that do not respect the humanity of the person," Bush said Friday. "When that happens, the most vulnerable among us can be valued for their utility to others instead of their own inherent worth."

The Senate on Wednesday voted 63-34 to pass the measure that it hopes will lead to new medical treatments. The vote, however, fell short of a veto-proof margin needed to enact the law over Bush's objections. The House, which passed similar legislation earlier in the year, is expected to adopt the Senate's version in the weeks ahead.

"We must continue to work for a culture of life where the strong protect the weak and where we recognize in every human life the image of our creator," Bush said.

His brief speech also included a call to Congress to pass immigration reform, a prayer for U.S. troops serving abroad and praise for Catholic schools across America. Later Friday, Bush planned to meet with parochial education leaders and parents at the White House.

The prayer breakfast at a Washington hotel attracted religious leaders, members of Congress, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and top government officials. After the president spoke, a female heckler shouted "War criminal! War criminal!" It was unclear whether the president heard her.

Bush, a Methodist, noted that this year's prayer breakfast occurred the Friday after Lent.

"You can eat your bacon in good conscience," he joked.

Friday, April 13, 2007 2:15:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Write Us - NH Union Leader:

Just like President Bush, you are HYPOCRITES about 'culture of life' and your editorials against "Abortion." You back an inequitable Mayor of Manchester, Frank Guinta, who wants to cut out much needed dental, healthcare and social services to the city's poor, especially the children. You criticize a Democratic Majority in the State Legislature in Concord for record increases in the state budget, especially spending levels on social service programs. You criticize the state's Supreme Court for wanting to ensure every child in the state an adequate education.

Well, if there were no more abortions, then it would be due to equitable politicians who ensured quality and effective healthcare, social service and educational programs for all of God's children regardless of economic class and social status. If the average homeless human being were not 6 to 10 years old with parents unemployed, abusing substances and/or incarcerated, and the like, then the woman bearing the fetus would not think twice about terminating her pregnancy. If society gave a damn about the fetus after it was out of the mother's womb, then I am sure that abortion numbers would plummet sharply downwards to near zero.

What you and all of your neo-conservative, pseudo-religious, bigoted politicians, including news media, don't get is that abortion rates are real because society is ran by special interests, lobbyists, corporate executives, and power brokers who make it so damn hard to provide a good living for his or her family and community. The same Pols that The NH Union Leader praises day in and day out are the ones who have made society ripe for many more abortions to come!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Friday, April 13, 2007 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

I have not read the recent case ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Abortion, but I have read and watched news media articles about it. My thoughts on Abortion is that prevention should be job #1. From the time a child enters school, he or she should be taught about sexuality and the consequences of sexual behavior. Children should be counseled about matters of sex by doctors and mental health professionals. Sex should be accepted as part of human behavior.

Archaic rules disallowing religious people, such as male-only Catholic Priest who are the primary opponents of human sexuality and abortion, from marrying should be strongly questioned under law. Our nation should pass a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting religious people, especially male-only Catholic Priests, who are mandated to abstain from sex, from having any contact with any American Citizens under the age of 18, and when an American Citizen is 18 and older, he or she must receive a course and be certified in the dangers of fringe religious people and groups who mandate abstinence-only programs. Any religious person adhering to archaic rules against sex who has social contact with a child should be arrested and jailed for influencing that child from becoming averse to sex education and behavior. Any religious person adhering to archaic rules against sex who has social contact with an adult who is not educated and certified in the dangers of sex averse religious indoctrination should be arrested and fined for influencing that adult from becoming averse to sex education and behavior.

Instead of criminalizing women for having Abortions, our political elite class should criminalize religious people who put their faith and influence to make sexuality a sin, illegal, and something to be averse to. All of President Bush # 1 and President Bush # 2's picks for U.S. Supreme Court Justices have been Catholic Men with terrible views on human sexuality! I am not Anti-Catholic, but I will always fight Catholic Men tooth and nail over their terrible views on human sexuality. I will always dissent against any and all religious groups and people who want to limit and/or eliminate American Citizens' right to be educated about sex and know that sex is part of human behavior.

Sex has always been used as power by the ruling elites in almost all past and present civilizations. In the industrial revolution when factories were the place to work for the have nots, the haves conditioned the workers around their sexuality so that they could entrap their children to be the next generation of exploited workers. Now, our U.S. Government is criminalizing women for choosing to have certain kinds of Abortions. I WONDER WHAT THE UNDERLYING METHOD TO THE MADNESS REALLY IS?

I DISSENT AGAINST THE U.S. SUPREME COURT's RELIGIOUS RULING ON ABORTION. THE REAL CRIMINALS ARE THOSE FRINGE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WHO INFLUENCE AMERICAN CITIZENS ON MATTERS OF HUMAN SEXUALITY TO BE FEARFUL AND AVERSE TO THAT WHICH IS PART OF OUR NATURE AND HUMANITY!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Saturday, April 21, 2007 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Bush administration under a cloud
By The Associated Press | April 22, 2007

A rundown of Bush appointees who left under a cloud or face conflict-of-interest allegations

--Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in a grand jury investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. His trial also implicated top political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney in a campaign to discredit her husband, Iraq war critic and retired ambassador Joe Wilson. Libby, who plans an appeal, is awaiting a June 5 sentencing.

-- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is fighting to hold onto his job in the face of congressional investigations into his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Two top aides have resigned in the investigation into whether the firings were politically motivated. Emails and other evidence released by the Justice Deparment suggest that Rove played a part in the process. Other e-mails, sent on Republican party accounts, either have disappeared or were erased.

-- Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank and a former deputy defense secretary, acknowledged he helped arrange a large pay raise for his female companion when she was transferred to the State Department but remained on the bank payroll. The incident intensified calls at the bank for his resignation.

-- J. Steven Griles, an oil and gas lobbyist who became deputy Interior Secretary J., last month became the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, pleading guilty to obstructing justice by lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with the convicted lobbyist. Abramoff repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at Interior on behalf of Indian tribal clients.

-- Former White House aide, David H. Safavian, was convicted last year of lying to government investigators about his ties to Abramoff and faces a 180-month prison sentence.

-- Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting tickets he received from Abramoff.

-- Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the top Justice Department prosecutor in the environmental division until January, bought a $980,000 beach house in South Carolina with ConocoPhillips lobbyist Donald R. Duncan and oil and gas lobbyist Griles. Soon thereafter, she signed an agreement giving the oil company more time to clean up air pollution at some of its refineries. Congressional Democrats have denounced the arrangement.

-- Matteo Fontana, a Department of Education official who oversaw the student loan industry, was put on leave last week after disclosure that he owned at least $100,000 worth of stock in a student loan company.

-- Claude Allen, who had been Bush's domestic policy adviser, pleaded guilty to theft in making phony returns at discount department stores while working at the White house. He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and fined $500.

-- Philip Cooney, a former American Petroleum Institute lobbyist who became chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, acknowledged in congressional testimony earlier this year that he changed three government reports to eliminate or downplay links between greenhouse gases and global warming. He left in 2005 to work for Exxon Mobil Corp.

-- Darleen Druyun, a former Air Force procurement officer, served nine months in prison in 2005 for violating federal conflict-of-interest rules in a deal to lease Boeing refueling tankers for $23 billion, despite Pentagon studies showing the tankers were unnecessary. After making the deal, she quit the government and joined Boeing.

--Eric Keroack, Bush's choice to oversee the federal family planning program, resigned from the post suddenly last month after the Massachusetts Medicaid office launched an investigation into his private practice. He had been medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex and contraception.

-- Lurita Doan, head of the General Services Administration, attended a luncheon at the agency earlier this year with other top GSA political appointees at which Scott Jennings, a top Rove aide, gave a PowerPoint demonstration on how to help Republican candidates in 2008. A congressional committee is investigating whether the remarks violated a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes.

-- Robert W. Cobb, NASA's inspector general is under investigation on charges of ignoring safety violations in the space program. An internal administration review said he routinely tipped off department officials to internal investigations and quashed a report related to the Columbia shuttle explosion to avoid embarrassing the agency. He remains on the job. Only Bush can fire him.

-- Julie MacDonald, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service but has no academic background in biology, overrode recommendations of agency scientists about how to protect endangered species and improperly leaked internal information to private groups, the Interior Department inspector general said.

Monday, April 23, 2007 4:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

8:07 P.M., 5/24/2007

Dear Honorable President George W. Bush:

I dissent against and politically oppose your escalation of the military conflict in Iraq in order to suppress sectarian conflict (civil war based on religious divisions), while at the same time conducting a covert intelligence and military conflict operation in Iran without Congressional authorization. Moreover, I see the highest gas prices in our nation's history in 2007 as the federal government's use of perverse incentives to add to the already artificially sky high oil company profits.

I am totally ashamed that you are the President of the United States of America. Your military surge in Iraq is impractical, your covert intelligence and military mission in Iran is illegal on many legal and moral fronts, and your support of big oil is unconscionable! You are the fulfillment of George Orwell's writings on political theory in the Oval Office!

I believe you will go down as the worst modern U.S. President in the history of America and the World!

In my strongest political dissent and opposition!

Jonathan A. Melle

Thursday, May 24, 2007 8:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Bush, Senate head for showdown on domestic spying By Thomas Ferraro

Thursday, June 21, 2007

President George W. Bush headed toward a showdown with the Senate over his domestic spying program on Thursday after lawmakers approved subpoenas for documents the White House declared off-limits.

"The information the committee is requesting is highly classified and not information we can make available," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in signaling a possible court fight.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the subpoenas in a 13-3 vote following 18 months of futile efforts to obtain documents related to Bush's contested justification for warrantless surveillance begun after the September 11 attacks.

Three Republicans joined 10 Democrats in voting to authorize the subpoenas, which may be issued within days.

"We are asking not for intimate operational details but for the legal justifications," said Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. "We have been in the dark too long."

Authorization of the subpoenas set up another possible courtroom showdown between the White House and the Democratic-led Congress, which has vowed to unveil how the tight-lipped Republican administration operates.

Last week, congressional committees subpoenaed two of Bush's former aides in a separate investigation into the firing last year of nine of the 93 U.S. attorneys.

Bush could challenge the subpoenas, citing a right of executive privilege his predecessors have invoked with mixed success to keep certain materials private and prevent aides from testifying.

Bush authorized warrantless surveillance of people inside the United States with suspected ties to terrorists shortly after the September 11 attacks. The program, conducted by the National Security Agency, became public in 2005.

WARTIME POWERS

Critics charge the program violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires warrants. Bush said he could act without warrants under wartime powers.

In January, the administration abandoned the program and agreed to get approval of the FISA court for its electronic surveillance. Bush and Democrats still are at odds over revisions he wants in the FISA law.

"The White House ... stubbornly refuses to let us know how it interprets the current law and the perceived flaws that led it to operate a program outside the process established by FISA for more than five years," Leahy said.

Interest in the legal justification of the program soared last month after former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified about a March 2004 hospital-room meeting where then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales tried to pressure a critically ill John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to set aside concerns and sign a presidential order reauthorizing the program.

With top Justice Department officials threatening to resign, Bush quietly quelled the uprising by directing the department to take steps to bring the program in line with the law, Comey said.

Leahy noted that when Gonzales, now attorney general, appeared before the panel on February 6, he was asked if senior department officials had voiced reservations about the program.

"I do not believe that these DoJ (department) officials ... had concerns about this program," Leahy quoted Gonzales as saying. Leahy added, "The committee and the American people deserve better."

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick)

Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Email on Wed, 11 July, 2007

Dear Honorable President Bush II:

Why don't you just get it over with and declare de jure martial law under whatever false pretenses you can come up with instead of making us all live under your de facto martial law strong armed tactics?

In Dissent,

Jonathan A. Melle

POWER CLASH: BUSH ORDERS FORMER COUNSEL HARRIET MIERS TO DEFY CONGRESS AND REFUSE TO TESTIFY BEFORE A HOUSE PANEL INVESTIGATING PROSECUTOR FIRINGS

-----

GLOBE EDITORIAL
Bush's unhealthy notions
July 19, 2007

THE Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Finance Committee have given President Bush the chance to leave a positive legacy on healthcare. He should accept their compromise to reauthorize and expand the Children's Health Insurance Program -- and abandon the deeply misguided arguments he has been making against the proposal.

S-Chip, as the federal-state program is known, was originally approved by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1997. Legislators from both parties realized that the private market, on its own, would never provide affordable insurance for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but are on the edge of poverty. S-Chip has worked well, providing coverage for about 6.6 million people at the latest count, but it hasn't covered every child who needs insurance.

With the program up for renewal this year, it was reasonable to expect Congress to expand it. The compromise unveiled by Finance Committee leaders last week won't go as far as many Democrats want, but it would probably cover an additional 3.3 million children. It would be financed by a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, which by itself would enhance health by making smoking too expensive for many teenagers.

But Bush is fixated on the idea that the expansion will hurt the private insurance market. "This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program," Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Saturday.

The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the plan and concluded that, while it's impossible to prevent all families from switching their children from unsubsidized plans to S-Chip , two-thirds of the new enrollees would be previously uninsured. And S-Chip insurance is usually administered by private plans. The new S-Chip money would supplement, not compete with, the private market.

Bush has made another curious argument: "People have access to healthcare in America," he said last week in Cleveland. "After all, you just go to an emergency room." But these treatment centers of last resort are expensive and unnecessary for routine care. It's far healthier -- and more cost-effective -- when patients get preventive care or early treatment at a doctor's office. That's the kind of care encouraged by S-Chip.

Few politicians would want to rely entirely on private sources, without government help, to pay for healthcare for all Americans. Bush himself proposed a substantial tax break for all families, rich, middle-income or poor, to make health insurance more affordable.

The Senate Finance leadership, however, has given Bush an opportunity to target federal health dollars to those in particular need: poor and near-poor children. Support for this plan would provide a warm coda to Bush's last 18 months as president.

-----

Bush vows to veto children's health insurance bill
Measure would raise excise tax on cigarettes
By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press | July 19, 2007

LANDOVER, Md. -- President Bush yesterday reiterated his threat to veto Senate legislation that would substantially increase funds for children's health insurance by levying a 61-cents-a-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes.

The tax increase would be used to subsidize health insurance for children and some adults with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but not high enough to afford insurance on their own.

The renewal of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, is considered by many to be the most important health legislation Congress will take up this year.

"Members of Congress have decided, however, to expand the program to include, in some cases, up to families earning $80,000 a year -- which would cause people to drop their private insurance in order to be involved with a government insurance plan," Bush said in a speech in suburban Maryland.

"If Congress continues to insist upon expanding health care through the SCHIP program -- which, by the way, would entail a huge tax increase for the American people -- I'll veto the bill," he said.

Democratic leaders called for adding $50 billion to the program over the next five years. Bush had recommended a $5 billion increase.

On Friday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate signaled its support for a $35 billion increase, which would bring the total funding to $60 billion over five years. The Senate proposal would provide health insurance coverage to current participants as well as an additional 3.3 million uninsured children, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society support the increase. But the administration, which consistently refers to SCHIP as government-run health care, says billions of dollars in insurance costs will be shifted from the private sector to the federal government under the Senate proposal.

Bush spoke after attending a discussion at Man & Machine Inc. in Landover with small-business leaders the president said feel pinched by high health care costs. "They don't like the idea of having to make the decision between providing health care for their employees and not expanding their businesses," he said.

Man & Machine, which employs 20 people , makes water-resistant computer accessories designed for hospitals, medical laboratories, and other industries.

During the tour, Bush typed on a white keyboard immersed in a pan of water. He wrote: "G Tro N was the first president." Clifton Broumand, company president, joked that Bush, who apparently was trying to write "George Washington was the first president," might want to practice his typing.

Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, urged Bush to support the committee's proposal, which he said would keep health coverage for 6.6 million children currently covered by the plan and reach 3 million more low-income uninsured children over the next five years.

"We are preserving the Children's Health Insurance Program for kids and targeting the lowest-income children for outreach and enrollment," Baucus said. "The president should join the effort to build on the success of the Children's Health Insurance Program and get health care to more American kids in need now."
-----

WILLIAM O'HARE AND CYNTHIA M. DUNCAN
Rural children's health insurance in jeopardy
By William O'Hare and Cynthia M. Duncan | July 18, 2007

THROUGHOUT social history, trends have started in cities and spread to rural areas. Today, however, we may be seeing a case where the reverse is true.

The shift from employer-sponsored health insurance to public-sector health insurance is being led by rural families. Among rural children in low-income families, the share covered by public-sector health insurance increased from 38 percent in 1998 to 54 percent in 2005, while children covered through parents' employers fell by 10 percentage points over the same period.

Quietly, our bucolic Main Street has become a place where too many families struggle to make ends meet -- often without a safety net -- in a rapidly changing economy. Rural areas are hit hard by the loss of stable middle-class employment as foreign competition and lower wages overseas vie for these industries.

While many think of Detroit, Cleveland, or Pittsburgh as the manufacturing centers of the country, in fact, manufacturing jobs are a bigger share of rural employment than urban employment. Many of these are small manufacturing companies that are especially vulnerable to the changing economic tide. Too often stable, well-paying manufacturing jobs are replaced with less steady service-sector work with few benefits.

As Carsey Institute research shows, three-quarters of the 1.3 million uninsured children in rural areas are from families where at least one adult works full time, year-round.

Rural children remain the most vulnerable to the inequities that plague low-income families. Nearly half of all children in rural areas live in low-income families, and rural children are more likely to live in poor and near-poor families than their urban counterparts. According to the 2005 American Community Survey, 23 percent of rural children live in poverty compared with 18 percent of urban children.

For rural children, the situation is only getting worse. Between 2000 and 2005 rural child poverty rates increased in 41 states. A new report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire shows that rural children also depend more on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, and Medicaid than children in urban areas. The rise in such coverage is also more pronounced in rural areas.

As the cost of health care continues to rise, low-wage or part-time jobs -- often the only option for the many low-skilled workers in rural America -- are unlikely to provide health care coverage. Presently 4 million children in rural America receive SCHIP or Medicaid, and nationwide 28 million children receive assistance from these programs.

Congress is planning to spend an additional $10 billion a year over the next five years to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to reach some of the 9 million uninsured children in this country. The White House is offering an increase of less than $1 billion a year from current levels. Government estimates indicate that the funding level being offered by the White House will result in millions of children losing SCHIP coverage by 2012 as inflation eats away at the ability of the program to cover children .

Sorting out this health care crisis will take political will -- and, no doubt, time. However, for the 9 million uninsured children, many of them with two working parents, we cannot wait a day longer. We have at our fingertips an effective program to insure children of our working families, but its future hangs in the balance.

Run by states with state and federal money, SCHIP today insures roughly 6 million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but who are often in low-wage jobs that lack health insurance. Enacted in 1997, the program has been a resounding success. Together with Medicaid, it has reduced the rate of uninsured children by nearly a quarter over the past 10 years.

Providing health insurance to children is an investment in the future, and the majority of Americans, according to a recent survey, say the federal government should guarantee health insurance for children, and many are willing to pay higher taxes to do so.

As Congress considers reauthorization and funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program , it should keep in mind the critical role the program plays in the lives of many children. It is also important to recognize that this program will become even more critical for low-income children living in rural America in the years ahead as economic restructuring continues to diminish the number of stable well-paying jobs for rural families.

William O'Hare is a fellow and Cynthia M. Duncan is director of the Carsey Institute at University of New Hampshire.
-----

Thursday, July 19, 2007 2:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Olver says no more war money
By Evan Lehman
The North Adams Transcript [Online]
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Transcript Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Olver joined 69 other congressmen Thursday in telling President Bush they will oppose all future funding for the Iraq war unless it's used to withdraw American troops.

The warning comes as Congress prepares to debate a massive defense-spending bill that would provide $141.7 billion for military operations in Iraq for fiscal 2008.

"We are writing to inform you that we will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during fiscal year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office," the lawmakers told Bush in a letter.

Potential opposition to the defense bill, which could also propose a military pay increase and funding for new war-fighting equipment, is already drawing criticism from Bush as he struggles to maintain Republican support for the war and defeat Democratic proposals for withdrawal.

"The House and Senate are now scheduled to leave for their August recess before passing a bill to support our troops and their missions," Bush said in the Rose Garden on Friday. "Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there."

The House has already passed a spending bill for the Veterans Administration. It provides $43.2 billion — nearly $4 billion more than the president requested — for medical care for veterans.

Olver, an Amherst Democrat who voted against the war in 2002, has opposed past funding measures for the Iraq conflict, including three emergency spending bills and the 2006 defense appropriation bill.

"I voted against the Iraq operations supplemental-appropriations bill earlier this year when redeployment of our troops out of Iraq was removed from the package," Olver said in a statement. "The recent letter to the president, signed by me and 69 of my colleagues, is meant to be a warning that the president can expect more of the same."

Five members of the 10-person Massachusetts House delegation, all Democrats, joined Olver in signing the letter, William Delahunt, Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey and James McGovern. The congressional threat comes five weeks after the administration's so-called surge reached full strength, adding almost 30,000 American troops into Baghdad and other trouble spots.

Named Operation Phantom Thunder, the troop increase has resulted in more attacks on American and Iraqi forces, except in al Anbar province, where administration officials say attacks against coalition forces have fallen dramatically.

The White House says the operation is having some positive effects, and officials are offering unusually detailed descriptions into the new strategy to buttress their claims. White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters Friday that 175 "high-value targets" have been killed or captured since the operation achieved full strength on June 15. He also said coalition forces have cleared 1,300 makeshift bombs, dismantled eight labs in which those explosives were built and discovered 600 weapons caches.

The assessments come as the White House is struggling to hold together Republican lawmakers as Democrats bombard the administration with withdrawal proposals. Both parties are awaiting an anticipated report by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, on the surge's effectiveness in mid-September.

Snow cautioned on Friday, however, that the effort to bring security to Iraq is a long-term mission.

"And if you listen to what a number of members of Congress said, they understand that there's a long-term mission, but what they don't want is U.S. forces on the front line over the long-term," Snow added.

For Olver, the time to withdraw has already passed. He said Bush has refused to change his approach in Iraq since being reelected in 2006.

"We're simply saying, 'You must change,'" Olver said.

Monday, July 23, 2007 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

HARVEY SILVERGLATE
Privilege's limits
By Harvey Silverglate | July 31, 2007

THE DEVELOPMENT of the doctrine of "executive privilege" -- the notion that presidential advisers may withhold executive communications from congressional scrutiny -- recalls the Dickensian line that "the law is a ass." Although the public and courts have largely taken the existence of this privilege for granted, they ignore both the text and original understanding of the Constitution. Congress was granted the privilege, not the executive branch.

The Founders never envisioned, and the Constitution does not provide for, a presidential privilege allowing White House advisers to flaunt congressional subpoenas, especially in the context of an investigation of potential executive branch impropriety, as in the US attorneys scandal. By contrast, the Constitution's Article I, Section 6, explicitly prevents the executive and judiciary from inquiring about, much less punishing legislators "for any Speech or Debate in either House."

In other words, although Congress can question the president, his staff, and appointees in the course of an investigation, the reverse does not apply. If the Founding Fathers thought the president needed a privilege, they would have provided for it.

Of course, legal history teaches that presidents have prickled against the Constitution, while courts have enabled our chief executives. Only in politically unpopular cases, as in Richard Nixon's attempt to obscure the White House's criminal role in Watergate, has the Supreme Court tempered the utterly made-up legal doctrine of executive privilege. (Seeing the benefits of shielding a branch's actions and decisions from scrutiny by other branches, the judiciary fashioned its own near-absolute, and extra-constitutional, "judicial privilege."

Borrowing from English parliamentary history, the Founders understood that legislative privilege was instrumental for ensuring the separation of powers. Although the Founders imported legislative privilege almost unchanged from the ancient English Bill of Rights, our courts have sharply limited the extent to which legislators can claim such protection and have bizarrely conferred a made-up privilege on the executive.

A seminal battle over legislative privilege was centered in Boston during the early 1970s, when the Nixon Department of Justice investigated how then-senator (and 2008 presidential candidate) Mike Gravel received the ultra-secret Pentagon Papers that had been partially published in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Those newspapers won a historic battle at the Supreme Court, beating back the executive branches' effort to impose a "prior restraint" against publication. However, the Department of Justice tried to make a post-publication criminal case against the leaker as well as the newspapers. At a Senate subcommittee hearing, Gravel tried to enter the papers into the record, then arranged for Boston-based publisher Beacon Press to publish and distribute them.

The Justice Department subpoenaed Gravel's aides to find the embarrassing leak's source. When the Alaska Democrat invoked his legislative privilege, the Supreme Court issued a lukewarm 1972 opinion weakening the "speech or debate" clause so as to exclude Gravel's receipt of the documents from protection or inquiry. Subsequent court battles have only showcased the absurdity of the judiciary's expansion of made-up privileges to the detriment of the only constitutionally enumerated privilege.

Congress's subpoena power is roomy enough to fry fish larger than the US attorneys scandal, such as the CIA's secret prisons or the Bush administration's institutionalization of torture. But when the president explicates a bizarre interpretation of constitutional law, Congress should not stand by as executive branch officials thumb their noses at subpoenas. The president has threatened that if Congress seeks to hold presidential advisers Harriet Miers or Joshua Bolten in contempt, he will order Justice Department prosecutors to refuse to prosecute them for contempt of Congress.

But Congress has tools and powers at its disposal that can do an end run around such executive branch obduracy. Although the executive and the legislative branches are coequal in some ways, the Constitution instructs that in the area of privilege they are not. Although the courts have been reluctant to recognize congressional privilege, they have conceded that Congress is not powerless to enforce its will without any assistance from either the courts or the Department of Justice. As recently as 1934, in Jurney v. MacCracken, the high court upheld the arrest of a minor executive branch official by the Senate's sergeant-at-arms. Terrance Gainer, who holds that position today, maintains on his office's website that he is "authorized to arrest and detain any person violating Senate rules, including the President of the United States."

This remedy of congressional detention is available in theory, but in practice Congress has preferred to refer contempt cases to the Justice Department. If Bush instructs federal prosecutors to ignore Congress, the Judiciary Committees of each house could reassert their historical rights. If White House advisers keep acting like intransigent children enabled by a misguided parent, the House and Senate could tell their sergeants-at-arms to demonstrate the principle of separation of powers. Perhaps then Congress will get the respect the Constitution says it deserves.

Harvey Silverglate, a Cambridge-based lawyer, was cocounsel for Senator Mike Gravel's legislative privilege case.

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New fight over more children's health aid
Bush vows to veto plan to cover three million
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff | July 31, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The politically charged proposal to extend health insurance to more than 3 million poor and lower-income children nationally -- one of the most ambitious domestic health proposals to come through Congress in the last decade -- unfolded yesterday in the Senate under the shadow of a formal veto threat from President Bush.

But unlike previous debates pitting Democrats against Republicans, yesterday's floor action on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, put many Republicans at odds with their president and other members of the party.

The Senate plan would expand children's health insurance by $35 billion over the next five years, while the House is expected to take up a competing proposal later in the week that could boost the initiative by $50 billion during the same time frame.

Bush, however, has vowed to veto either plan, saying that the new coverage would encourage people to leave their private insurers for a government-run program. The White House reiterated its opposition yes terday, condemning the Senate bill as essentially extending "a welfare benefit to middle-class households" earning up to $83,000 a year.

On the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Orrin G. Hatch -- an influential Utah Republican and one of two original cosponsors of the SCHIP bill that became law in 1997 -- said "mistakes" by the administration "have caused us a lot of problems here."

"We are trying to do what is right by our children, who are currently not being helped by our healthcare system," Hatch said. "If we cover children properly, we will save billions of dollars in the long run. Even if we didn't [save billions], we should still take care of these children."

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Jr., a Republican from Kentucky and a staunch White House ally, said that while the children's health insurance program has been a "tremendous success," the Senate legislation was far too generous.

"It will significantly increase taxes . . . and lead to a government-run health insurance," McConnell said. If senators allow states to add families with household incomes 400 percent above poverty levels, it would extend a federally funded benefit to those who can afford to pay for their own health insurance, he said.

The president backs a more modest increase of $5 billion for the health insurance plan over the next five years. But opponents say that as the number of uninsured children continues to climb, many states -- including Massachusetts -- would have to drop more of them from their programs.

Signed into law by President Clinton, SCHIP gives federal block grants to states, which then determine how to spend the money for health insurance on eligible children. Since then, the number of children covered by the plan has steadily increased -- 6.6 million children are now covered under the program, and the Senate proposal would add another 3.2 million. The House Plan would cover 4 million new children, but many of the 9 million children who currently do not have insurance still would not be covered.

Over the last decade, the children's health insurance initiative has "reduced the health disparities among children . . . in communities across the country," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who cosponsored the SCHIP legislation with Hatch in 1997. "This is a matter of enormous importance."

Kennedy added, "If we are interested in educating the children of this country, we have to make sure that children can hear the teacher, that children can see the blackboard."

Officials in Massachusetts, along with those in several states, are anxiously watching the political battle in Washington. The program ends on Sept. 30, giving the White House and lawmakers a deadline just two months away.

Massachusetts' universal health insurance plan depends on receiving funding from a variety of sources, including the SCHIP program. Last July, the state raised eligibility to children in families earning 300 percent of the poverty level, up from 200 percent. Currently, 90,500 children in Massachusetts are covered under the program.

In order to maintain its program and enroll more children who are eligible, the state forecasts it will need $277 million in fiscal year 2008 -- $61 million more than the fiscal 2007 allocation. While Massachusetts officials said they have no projections on the financial assistance from the Senate and House plans, Bush's proposal, by definition, would result in health insurance for fewer children.

The president's proposal would cap insurance at 200 percent of the poverty level.

"We're watching this as closely as we can," said Alison Kirchgasser, director of federal and national policy management at the state office of Medicaid, part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. "The state is committed to covering as many people as we can. SCHIP is very important."

The measure has largely been funded without controversy until the White House insisted it would reject the expansion in the last few months. The Senate, in particular, has had strong bipartisan support for expanding children's health insurance, but the Bush administration's opposition has created much tension among Republicans.

The Senate bill would be funded by a 61-cent increase on cigarette taxes; the House measure also relies on an increase in tobacco taxes.

Senator Elizabeth Dole, a North Carolina Republican, called the legislation "not only the right policy, but it's the right thing to do." Nevertheless, she said the cigarette tax increase to pay for it was all wrong, predicting that her home-state tobacco industry "may collapse altogether" if the Senate passes the bill.

Michelle C. Bucci, a visiting health policy fellow at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation policy institute, said the tobacco tax unfairly targets families most likely to take advantage of the SCHIP program. "Over 50 percent of smokers are poor and low-income, so this is essentially hurting the people we're trying to help," she said.

But Cindy Mann, executive director at the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said the child health insurance program is in dire need of expansion.

"We have 9 million uninsured children," she said. "What should happen is to take a program with a strong track record and strengthen it so that we can bring those 9 million uninsured children to as close to zero as possible."

Lew Finfer, director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, a federation of faith-based community organizations, said the focus now will be on Bush -- whether he vetoes legislation, and then whether each chamber of Congress would have the two-thirds majority needed to override it. "The deadline is coming up fast," Finfer said.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 4:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

DOONESBURY/by Garry Trudeau

1 - Fun fact, okay? Since 1776, The U.S. has accumulated a national debt of $9 Trillion...

2 - ...Over HALF of which was incurred when a Bush was on watch! What a family legacy!

3 - If you throw in Reagan, fully 70% of the national debt was created under just 3 Republican Presidents!

4 - What is more, they did not even TRY to restrain SPENDING! Out of 19 submitted budgets, only 2 were BALANCED!

5 - So here is my question, Dude... Where did the myth of GOP fiscal responsibility COME from?

6 - How is this my department? (asks the Easter Bunny). Don't you figments all hang out together? (asks the radio interviewer to the Easter Bunny).

--

Friday, 07 September, 2007

Bush's police suppress "Sept. 15" press conference

Plus, read an AFP wire story and see the video

While the momentum for the Sept. 15 Peace/Impeachment demonstration grows, the Bush Administration is going to extraordinary lengths to suppress the mobilizing for this mass demonstration.

Less than 18 hours ago, National Park Service Police turned a September 15 Press Conference, held in front of the White House, into a chaotic scene. On the pretext that there was no permit for a three foot long folding table that the media placed their microphones on, the police intervened in the middle of the press conference to announce that it was an unpermitted activity. Three people were arrested and are still being held in jail. They include Adam Kokesh, an Iraq war veteran; Tina Richards of Grassroots America; and Ian Thompson an ANSWER Coalition organizer.

The Parks Police even rode a horse directly into the crowd of reporters and shocked onlookers. The National Parks Police is an agency in the Interior Department whose Secretary is a member of George W. Bush's cabinet. In recent weeks September 15 organizers have been fined more than $30,000 for putting up posters promoting the September 15 March on Washington.

We encourage ImpeachBush.org members to circulate this email and the important story from the AFP wire story that documents this outrageous assault against Free Speech rights by the Bush Administration. At the end of this email we are also enclosing a link to a video on YouTube that shows some part of the suppression of the September 15 press conference yesterday.

Bush and company want to prevent people from coming out for a mass action led by Iraq war veterans and their families that will expose his war propaganda as a lie. The Administration wants to suppress the growing movement for impeachment. This is a showdown of great magnitude.

Please make every effort to come to Washington DC on September 15. We will not be intimidated. Join the tens of thousands who are coming to Washington, DC on September 15. Buses, car caravans and vans are coming from more than 100 cities.

If you cannot personally come you can help by making a generous donation. The buses, literature, posters, stage, sound and other expenses are immense. Many have already contributed. Please do your part and make a contribution today.

--

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Mounted police charged in to break up an outdoor press conference and demonstration against the Iraq war in Washington on Thursday, arresting three people, organizers and an AFP reporter said.
"The police suppressed the press conference. In the middle of the speeches, they grabbed the podium" erected in a park in front of the White House for the small gathering, Brian Becker, national organizer of the ANSWER anti-war coalition, told AFP.
"Then, mounted police charged the media present to disperse them," Becker said.
The charge caused a peaceful crowd of some 20 journalists and four or five protestors to scatter in terror, an AFP correspondent at the event in Lafayette Square said. No one appeared to have been hurt.
Three people -- Tina Richards, the mother of a marine who did two tours of duty in Iraq; Adam Kokesh, a leader of the Iraq Veterans Against the War group; and lawyer Ian Thompson, who is an organizer for ANSWER in Los Angeles -- were arrested, Becker said.
"A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities."
The ANSWER coalition is trying to rally support for an anti-war demonstration in Washington that is due to take place on September 15.
Last month, the movement was threatened with a fine of at least 10,000 dollars unless it removed posters in the city announcing the September 15 march.
Washington city authorities have said the posters had to come down because they were stuck on with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.
"At our demonstration today we were showing the media that the paste we use conforms to the rules," Becker said.
"One of our activists was making a speech when the police barged in and grabbed the podium. At that point, Tina Richards started to put up a poster, so they arrested her and two others."
"This strategy of suppression has not worked. We expect many tens of thousands of people" in Washington for the September 15 anti-war demonstration, he said.
The march has been timed to coincide with the release of a report by the US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and will be part of a week of protests led by veterans of the Iraq war.
A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities, ANSWER has told AFP.

--

CAPTIONS:

Above, a NPS policeman on horse disrupts today's Sept. 15 press conference. Below, Adam Kokesh, Iraq war veteran while legally putting up a poster for September 15th.

Police break up anti-war meeting in Washington AFP Photo: Tina Richards of Grassroots America being arrested.

--

"How about that President Bush, yesterday made a surprise visit to Iraq. . . President Bush was in Iraq for eight hours. Nice to see he has an escape strategy."
DAVID LETTERMAN

--

Old Joke:

What is the difference between George W. Bush's exit strategy for Vietnam versus Iraq? He had an Exit Strategy for Vietnam...It was called "AWOL"!

Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

CNN News

Sanchez: Iraq war 'a nightmare with no end in sight'

--

Story Highlights

Sanchez: U.S. political leaders' "lust for power" has cost lives

Bush administration, Congress, State Department share equal blame for war

U.S. pullout would cause chaos with global implications, Sanchez said

Partisan struggle for power in Washington needs to end to resolve war

--

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A former commander of coalition forces in Iraq issued a harsh assessment of U.S. management of the war, saying that American political leaders cost American lives on the battlefield with their "lust for power."

Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, coalition commander in 2003 and 2004, called the Iraq war "a nightmare with no end in sight," for which he said the Bush administration, the State Department and Congress all share blame.

Sanchez told a group of military reporters in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday that such dereliction of duty by a military officer would mean immediate dismissal or court martial, but the politicians have not been held accountable.

He said the Iraq war plan from the start was "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic," and the administration has not provided the resources necessary for victory, which he said the military could never achieve on its own.

Still, he said, the U.S. cannot pull out of Iraq without causing chaos that would have global implications.

"After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism," Sanchez said.

Sanchez pointed to what he said was "neglect and incompetence at the National Security Council level" which has put the U.S. military into "an intractable situation" in Iraq.

NSC spokeswoman Kate Starr issued a short response to Sanchez Friday evening:

"We appreciate his service to the country. As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker said, there's more work to be done but progress is being made in Iraq. And that's what we're focused on now."

Sanchez, who retired in 2006, said it was his duty to obey orders and not object publicly when he was on active duty, but now that he is retired he has an obligation to speak out.

"While the politicians espouse a rhetoric designed to preserve their reputations and their political power, our soldiers die," he said.

The administration, he said, has ignored messages from field commanders that warned repeatedly that "our military alone could not achieve victory" without corresponding help from the State Department.

"Our National leadership ignored the lessons of World War Two as we entered into this war and to this day continue to believe that victory can be achieved through the application of military power alone," he said.

"From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration's latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economical and military power," he said.

Sanchez said the current strategy, which included a "surge" of troops into Iraq, was "a desperate attempt by the administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war and they have definitely not been able to communicate effectively that reality to the American people."

"Too often, our politicians have been distracted and they have chosen loyalty to their political parties above loyalty to the Constitution because of their lust for power," he said.

Congress, he said, has failed its job of oversight.

"Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leadership involved in the management of this war," he said. "They have unquestionably been derelict in in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would be immediately relieved or court-martialed."

Sanchez was pessimistic about the chances of victory in Iraq unless there is a major change in commitment.

"Continued manipulations and adjustments to our military strategy will not achieve victory," he said. "The best we can do with this flawed approach is stave off defeat."

"There is no question America is living a nightmare with no end in sight," he said.

The nightmare will not end, he said, until the partisan struggle for power in Washington ends.

"National efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising an effective, executable and supportable strategies," he said. "At times, these partisan struggles have led us to political decisions that endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that political power had greater priority than our national security objectives."

"Overcoming this strategic failure is the first step toward achieving victory in Iraq," he said. "Without bipartisan cooperation, we are doomed to fail. There is nothing going on today in Washington that would give us hope."

Sunday, October 14, 2007 12:59:00 AM  

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