Daily Archives: June 3, 2004

Quotes of the Day

From a NY Times report on Stephanie Herseth’s win in South Dakota, voters explain why they did what they did:

The president got us into something awful over there, and I don’t know how we’re going to get out. It’s really an awful situation. It can’t help but influence the way you vote.–Eleanor Nold

Stephanie’s personal appeal is definitely her biggest asset, but the Iraq thing is also part of it. She doesn’t talk about it because she doesn’t have to. People are so upset with the way Bush is handling everything that I really think it’s playing a role in this election.–Sarah Ebeling, who edits Parker’s weekly newspaper, The New Era

We’re in a big mess over there. No one in Washington planned for what was going to happen. That was a big mistake.–Dale Wojahn, businessman

It was very much a local race run on local issues.–Thomas Reynolds, Republican US Representative and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee

Your Paranoid, Anti-Democratic Government in Action

In order to avoid having to listen to any views but their own, members of the G-8 have been holding their meetings on islands because of ‘security concerns’. They mean, ‘security from protests and alternate viewpoints.’ This time the summit is on Sea Island off the Georgia coast, and fears of a ‘terrorist attack’ (though none has been threatened) have provoked, shall we say, excessive measures? Is that too strong?

“Georgia Homeland Security Director Bill Hitchens has met with these groups to listen to their concerns and to provide reassurance that measures are being taken to protect the rights of peaceful protesters,” said state Homeland Security spokeswoman Lisa Ray. “Our goal is to provide an environment conducive for the expression of First Amendment rights.”

This is what he means by that:

Between 10,000 and 20,000 federal, state and local law enforcement personnel are expected to protect the summit, which opens Tuesday. Last month, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in six coastal Georgia counties and establishing a central command to coordinate law enforcement operations for the summit.A similar emergency order was signed ahead of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta by then-Gov. Zell Miller. Harold Melton, Perdue’s executive counsel, insisted the order does not mean protesters’ rights will be abridged. He said it’s intended to reduce the time required for state officials to respond if a true emergency occurs.

Protesters will not be allowed on Sea Island, and security on St. Simons Island, which is connected to the exclusive resort community by a road, will be tightened. As a result, Clarke said most demonstrations will be held on the mainland in Brunswick. She said the port city, connected to St. Simons by a causeway, is located in “an incredibly impoverished region,” which has had its air, water and soil polluted by pesticides, paper mills and mercury. (emphasis added)

To protect the G-8 from how many protesters?

We’re expecting hundreds, not thousands” of demonstrators in Brunswick and on St. Simons Island because of the “incredibly unfriendly environment” created by security measures protecting the summit on nearby Sea Island, said Marie Clarke, national coordinator of Jubilee USA Network, a coalition that wants wealthy nations to cancel the debts of impoverished countries. (emphasis added)

20,000 cops ought to be enough, wouldn’t you say? (What happened to all those ‘tight budgets’?)

Protecting the PATRIOTs

John Ashcroft, in a blatant attempt to influence the Supreme Court’s decision in the Padilla case, has released material it claimed at the trial was too ‘secret’ to disclose publicly. Apparently the DoJ’s interior SCOTUS count is telling them the govt’s patently un-Constitutional claim is going down in flames. After first insisting that Padilla was part of a ‘conspiracy to explode a “dirty” radioactive bomb in New York or Washington’, a charge they had to later withdraw because IT WASN’T TRUE, now they’re claiming that Padilla ‘had planned to target apartment buildings and hotels’. Any more truth to that charge? Probably not, why should there be?

But the really interesting pasrt is that the gloves are off. The Bushies aren’t even pretending any more.

When asked about the suspicious timing of the news conference after two years of claiming absolute secrecy, [Deputy Asst Atty Gen James] Comey denied that the Justice Department was trying to influence the Supreme Court, instead saying it was merely trying to influence “the court of public opinion.”In a moment of extraordinary and chilling honesty, Comey explained that Padilla had to be stripped of his civil liberties because, if he used them (including his right to remain silent or his right to a lawyer), he might have been able to win his freedom. Thus, the government had to keep him away from lawyers and judges at all costs. Gone was the pretense of legality or principle. The Justice Department had finally found its natural moral resting point: Civil liberties are tolerated only to the extent that they will not interfere with the government’s actions. Meanwhile, Zacarias Moussaoui, a foreign citizen accused of terrorism, was presumably given his rights in federal court because, given the case against him, the government thought those rights would do him little good.

The administration seems to believe that the public and O’Connor will not worry about others’ rights when they are contemplating their own demise from terrorist attacks. It might be right. When Comey described Padilla in absentia as some terrorist barking out confessions, no one seemed to mind that the Justice Department had turned a U.S. citizen into a presidential plaything to be manipulated for short-term political gain. The message was clear: If we don’t strip some citizens of their rights, your apartment building might collapse.

Uh-huh. Well, that’s a fair trade, right? The Dept of Injustice protects [its] rights. Yours are, uh, not very important.

Is the fact that they’re not even bothering to hide it any more a sign that they’re certain no one will notice? Or that they’ve grown so powerful they don’t care any more whether we notice or not because there’s nothing we can do about it? Or so desperate to get this decision that they have to come out out in the open?

Maybe the last. If they lose Padilla, the rest of the PATRIOT Act is in real legal trouble.

Doug McGill in Ethiopia

According to ‘dave’ of The Anuak Genocide Watch, a blog from Gambella, a reporter from Rochester, Minnesota is ‘the only member of the press consistently covering the events’ there. Doug McGill, the former NY Times reporter, now writes a column for the Rochester Post-Bulletin called ‘Global Rochester’. (A little Rochester, Minnesota paper can do this but the NYT can’t?) The columns are collected on a website called, naturally enough, The McGill Report, and his despatches from Ethiopia are, or should be, required reading. A sample.

‘The Minister of Genocide’

Some Anuak relief groups have named Barnabas Gebre-Ab, Ethiopia’s Minister of Federal Affairs for the State of Gambella, in western Ethiopia, as the highest-ranking of three officials responsible for the targeted killing of more than 1,200 Anuak in the past three months in Gambella.Last December 13, more than 400 Anuak were killed in a single day in the town of Gambella, the capital of the state of Gambella. Eyewitnesses say the Ethiopian army has since conducted scorched-earth raids against many Anuak villages killing men, women, and children.

Like many top Ethiopian government figures, Gebre-Ab fought as a revolutionary for more than a decade to topple the cruel Communist regime known as the Dergue. Gebre-Ab was a medic in the revolutionary militia, hiding out for years until the Dergue was finally overthrown in 1991.

As we finished our beers, Gebre-Ab described how he had hungrily read through all the great works of Communist revolutionaries for inspiration. It struck me that he and his fellow revolutionaries are now discovering that revolution doesn’t work as a principle of governance.It’s been thirteen years since the Dergue was overthrown. Today, rather than fostering democracy, the Ethiopian government is adopting the Dergue’s own former methods to keep power and maintain domestic rule.

‘An Anouak Survivor’s Story’

NAIROBI, KENYA — Emmanuel Okwier Oletho, a teenage agriculture student in Gambella who has a sister in Minnesota, was at home at around noon on December 13. His father, Okwier Oletho, the pastor at the Assembly of God Chuch, was one of Gambella’s most prominent figures. Here is Emmanuel’s eyewitness account of that day:

“A lot of Highlanders came, followed by Ethiopian government soldiers. My Pop opened the window and he said ‘I’m a pastor, why are you looking for me?’ They said ‘We are searching for you. You are the one we are looking for.’ He said ‘Okay, let me finish my prayer.’ At that time the house was starting to burn because they threw two bombs into the house. The furniture was burning.

“When he finished he ran out the window. They pursued after him and killed him with an axe.”

‘A Bloody Saturday’

On Saturday, December 13, in a single bloody burst of targeted mass murder, Ethiopia became the world’s latest sovereign to attempt genocide as a way to solve its problems with a troublesome minority.The U.S., which gave Ethiopia $32 million in foreign aid last year, is investigating the massacre in which eyewitnesses say uniformed Ethiopian soldiers murdered more than 400 members of the Anuak tribe.

The charge is made by dozens of Anuak refugees who live in the United States, and who have spoken by telephone to relatives who survived the massacre. More than 2,000 Anuak live in the U.S., having fled ethnic cleansing over the past decade.

The genocide in Ethiopia is, it seems, only being covered with any regularity in Rochester, Minnesota. The rest of the world is too busy with George’s Folly to care. Somebody needs to tell Emmanuel not to expect any outside help. President George W ‘I went to war against Saddam because he was committing genocide’ Bush is only interested in stopping genocide when it’s happening in a country with oil–A LOT of oil. Tell Junior that the area of the Anuak has oil (it does, too, though not all that much, certainly not compared to Iraq) and maybe you’ll get his attention.

First, though, somebody has to show him where Ethiopia is.

Africa, George. Africa. Big place south of Italy, right across the water (you know where Italy is, that’s the place you got in so much trouble on your first Euro-trip that the Prime Minister, considered by many experts in Europe to be the dumbest politician on the continent, had to pull you out of the fire by the heels). Camels, lions, pyramids. You know. AFRICA. Elephants, crocodiles, scary black people. AFRICA, you dimwit. It’s near Iraq. *sigh* Map, George. Look at a map. *pause* That thing with the squiggly lines running all over it. Never seen one before? Oh, fine. Oh, a road map? Um, not quite the same thing, George. This covers a little more territory–NO, Africa was NOT your birthday present. Saudi Arabia was. Remember that nice Mr Abdullah who came to see you? He dropped off the keys that day. It’s all yours– No, when you’re old enough to handle it respons– GET DOWN FROM THERE RIGHT NOW! Right NOW, I said! The very idea. Reaching for Iran when you haven’t digested Iraq yet and Afghanistan is sitting on a corner of your plate hardly touched. On second thought, maybe it will be best if you don’t know where Ethiopia is. Well, best for both of you, dear. I’m not sure that poor little country could stand Gebre-Ab and you at the same time. Why don’t you go find Don and the two of you can play outside. Well, I don’t know. Bomb some more wedding parties in the desert, you had fun doing that, didn’t you? Oh, the neighbors didn’t like it? How do you know? They wrote you a note. But darling, you don’t know how to–Oh, Don read it to you and that’s how you know what it said. Well, I don’t care what you do but really, dear, you’ve got to get out of Mommy’s hair because frankly if she doesn’t get a little drinky-poo and some peace and quiet pretty soon, she’s going to SCREAM! Now, GIT! And don’t touch Syria! I’m saving that for Christmas!