Daily Archives: July 12, 2004

They’re Not Waiting for the 2nd Administration

This site was among the first, if not the first, to warn that the Bushies and the rest of the cadre of radical conservative Republicans are so anti-democratic that they were capable of–and sounding out ways of–postponing or even canceling elections after Junior’s second term in order to maintain their power. Radcon Pub operatives had raised the possibility of repealing the Constitutional Amendment–passed by Republicans after FDR’s death in order to make sure that no Democrat could ever again dominate the national political scene as he had–in order to accommodate a third Bush run, for example, raising the specter of Bush as our first Perpetual President.

Well, it turns out that as paranoid as that sounded, we underestimated them yet again. We warned, baldly, that if BushCo won this election it might well be the last one any of us saw in our remaining lifetimes and speculated that BushCo would use Diebold’s open political support and the demonstrated corruptibility of its voting machines to steal it. We did not think they would dare to postpone this election. Well, we were wrong. As little credit as we gave them, we gave them too much.

July 19 issue – American counterterrorism officials, citing what they call “alarming” intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack, NEWSWEEK has learned.The prospect that Al Qaeda might seek to disrupt the U.S. election was a major factor behind last week’s terror warning by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Ridge and other counterterrorism officials concede they have no intel about any specific plots. But the success of March’s Madrid railway bombings in influencing the Spanish elections—as well as intercepted “chatter” among Qaeda operatives—has led analysts to conclude “they want to interfere with the elections,” says one official.

As a result, sources tell NEWSWEEK, Ridge’s department last week asked the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to analyze what legal steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the election were an attack to take place. Justice was specifically asked to review a recent letter to Ridge from DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Soaries noted that, while a primary election in New York on September 11, 2001, was quickly suspended by that state’s Board of Elections after the attacks that morning, “the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election.” Soaries, a Bush appointee who two years ago was an unsuccessful GOP candidate for Congress, wants Ridge to seek emergency legislation from Congress empowering his agency to make such a call. Homeland officials say that as drastic as such proposals sound, they are taking them seriously—along with other possible contingency plans in the event of an election-eve or Election Day attack. “We are reviewing the issue to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election,” says Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland spokesman.

In the warped, backwards DoubleSpeak that is the hallmark of this Administration, ‘secure the election’ clearly is a half-phrase, the rest of which is ‘for Bush’. They as much as admit it when they point to the Madrid elections: America is too big and Al Qaeda too small for a physical disruption to affect more than a tiny percentage of voters; what they’re afraid of is a sea-change in American attitudes a la Spain when a terrorist incident coalesces the dissension that is building anyway and focuses it like a laser.

Because the thing I don’t think anybody has made clear enough is that the bombings in Madrid could NEVER have pushed the Spanish people into voting against the govt that backed Bush’s imperialist ambitions. People forget that demonstrations against their govt’s support of Bush before the war were MASSIVE–hundreds of thousands of Spaniards were in the streets chanting anti-war slogans two years before the incident in Madrid. The Spanish population was already leaning–heavily–toward throwing the govt out; polls showed that the govt was in deep trouble in the weeks and months before Madrid, hanging by a fingernail onto an extremely thin lead.

All the bombings in Madrid did was pull the feelings Spanish voters had already expressed questioning their govt’s joining the COW, because THAT’S ALL THEY COULD DO. If the population had been behind the Spanish govt, the bombings would only have pushed them toward even more intervention in the name of ‘security’, just as it has the israelis. BushCo can read polls as well as we can; they know bloody well what happened in Spain and why, and they know that the same momentum that was running against the old Spanish govt is running against them now–we are waking up, we are beginning to see the Second Gulf War for the sham, the blatant power-grab, the oil-centered imperial maneuver that it is, and we’re turning away.

BushCo must stop that AT ANY PRICE. Look, we just had an instance when the Pub leadership delayed a vote almost half an hour beyond its scheduled time until they could strong-arm the result they wanted; this is just more of the same tactic. If they ‘postpone’ the fall election using the excuse that ‘the danger of a terrorist attack is imminent’, then if they decide to allow the election, they will time it after a Bush-Bump in the polls when he has the best chance of winning. The supposed terrorist attack–which may never come–has NOTHING to do with it. This will be–as almost every other Bushian decision has been–a purely partisan political decision based on polls, not anti-terrorist intelligence. If there is a genuine danger of another terrorist attack on US soil timed for the elections, as in Madrid, they will postpone the election if it looks like the public is responding as the Spanish public did; if, instead, it works to Bush’s advantage and increases his support, the election will not be postponed, no matter how great the danger may be.

What we are seeing is the trail balloon: ‘How much can we get away with? How far can we go? How much will the American people swallow?’ If the trial balloon isn’t shot down in no uncertain terms, expect to see small, incremental steps taken in the direction of legitimizing Bush’s retention of power by whatever means necessary. They’ll get us used to the idea that we ‘have no choice’ if we want to be safe; they will pass legislation late on Friday nights (without informing the opposition) that gives Bush or a Bush appointee the power to decide when and if an election can be held, using New York’s decision as the precedent; they will set their puppet Mighty Wurlitzer press machine on the ‘war president’ meme, the ‘You can’t change horses in mid-stream’ meme, and the ‘if you don’t support the president you’re aiding and abetting the terrorists’ meme; and they will use the ‘9/11 changed everything’ mantra to excuse and explain all of it.

If we fall for this bullshit, we pretty much will deserve what we get.

DeLay’s Funding Hustle

Tom DeLay, the Cockroach King, who has effortlessly made everybody’s list of the Top Ten Most Corrupt Republican Officials against pretty stiff competition from the likes of Dick ‘Halliburton’s still paying me and you can go fuck yourself if you don’t like it’ Cheney and Junior ‘Sure that government agency is for sale, Kenny-Boy, the prices are pinned to the bulletin board’ Bush, is once again up to his ear-holes in a scheme to break the only campaign financing law Texas has (not a joke–literally true).

In May 2001, Enron’s top lobbyists in Washington advised the company chairman that then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was pressing for a $100,000 contribution to his political action committee, in addition to the $250,000 the company had already pledged to the Republican Party that year.DeLay requested that the new donation come from “a combination of corporate and personal money from Enron’s executives,” with the understanding that it would be partly spent on “the redistricting effort in Texas,” said the e-mail to Kenneth L. Lay from lobbyists Rick Shapiro and Linda Robertson.

The e-mail, which surfaced in a subsequent federal probe of Houston-based Enron, is one of at least a dozen documents obtained by The Washington Post that show DeLay and his associates directed money from corporations and Washington lobbyists to Republican campaign coffers in Texas in 2001 and 2002 as part of a plan to redraw the state’s congressional districts.

DeLay and his colleagues…face serious legal challenges: Texas law bars corporate financing of state legislature campaigns, and a Texas criminal prosecutor is in the 20th month of digging through records of the fundraising, looking at possible violations of at least three statutes. A parallel lawsuit, also in the midst of discovery, is seeking $1.5 million in damages from DeLay’s aides and one of his political action committees — Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) — on behalf of four defeated Democratic lawmakers.

So DeLay financed an unethical, immoral, and anti-democratic re-districting maneuver with illegal corporate money. Actually, for the guy who made a children’s charity a Republican fund-raising front and pioneered the tactic of having state’s AG’s threaten corporations with investigations if they didn’t donate enough scratch, this is pretty tame stuff. A mere technicality, comparatively.

It’s instructive, though, that the top of the Republican House leadership totem pole can’t even manage to obey the one, tiny anti-corruption law on the Texas books. I guess one is too many for Tom. Either he can’t count that high or else his greed is so boundless he can brook no restraints on his collections no matter how minor they are.

Interestingly, even though his name is all over the documents which show that he was clearly behind the whole scam, DeLay himself ‘has not been named as a target of the investigation’.

The prosecutor has said he is focused on the activities of political action committees linked to DeLay and the redistricting effort. But officials in the prosecutor’s office say anyone involved in raising, collecting or spending the corporate money, who also knew of its intended use in Texas elections, is vulnerable.Documents unearthed in the probe make clear that DeLay was central to creating and overseeing the fundraising. What the prosecutors are still assessing is who knew about the day-to-day operations of TRMPAC and how its money was used to benefit Texas House candidates.

Um, Tom DeLay. TRMPAC is his baby. He formed it, defined it, chose who would be involved in it, and ran the show from Washington. That’s no secret, it all came out during the re-districting fight when Delay tried to use the Texas State Police to arrest the Democrats who fled to Oklahoma rather than be forced to officiate at the signing of their own Death Warrant.

But TRMPAC is a ‘target’ and he’s not. Must be nice to have friends in high places.

Women Blog, Too! #9

Fact-esque, by blogger eRobin, is a site that discusses politics and current events in general but focuses more on tracking specific reporters’ and newspapers’ reactions to and reporting on current affairs. It began, apparently, as part of the Journalist-Watch Project in which bloggers picked the work of a particular journalist and tracked them over time, reporting on observed biases or lack of same, but it has evolved way past that initial limited premise.

First, eRobin has enlarged her concern from Calvin Woodward and Judy Bumiller (her original ‘Objective’ reads:

This blog is part of an effort to adopt a journalist and track his/her writing during the 2004 campaign. I chose Calvin Woodward of the AP because although he can be less than fair, he can also do good work. Contact Mr. Woodward at CWoodward@ap.orgI’m adding Elizabeth Bumiller of the NYTimes to my watch. She seems very fair and writes about the BushCo election campaign.

–an impression I’m willing to bet has been drastically revised since this was written) to take in critiques of the two major papers–the NYT and WaPo–as well as media outlets like Fox and NPR. At the moment she’s concentrating on the NYT’s Jodi Wilgoren, with whom she is less than thrilled.

John Kerry and John Edwards have ideas to improve America, and they’ve been talking about them during the last two days, but don’t look for any of them to show up in the reporting in the NYTimes.Jodi Wilgoren instead reports that the second Kerry fundraiser that had to be postponed when Reagan died happened last night despite Wilgoren’s public worrying that “[r]euniting the performers and rebooking those locations will be difficult.” Somehow Team Kerry has defied the odds again – this time to the tune of $7.5 million.

The rest of the story outlines the remainder of the “carefully choreographed multimedia campaign” that Kerry and Edwards have been on since the VP announcement. It’s really not bad, if you want to hear a rundown of appearances and cutesy sound bites (Mrs. Kerry says Mrs. Edwards has a “huge brain”, Sen. Kerry has no plans to see F911) instead of a story that actually says something we could use to decide how to vote.

She is particularly withering on entertainment passing as news, and is capable of skewering unmercifully anyone who doesn’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between the two. She’s a very talented writer, too, but that doesn’t show up to good advantage in the shorter posts; catch her on a rant, though, and her way with a phrase is wondrously free. She tosses off insightful observations and biting critiques that would take me hours to compose as if they just rolled off the edge of her mind–or maybe she’s so good it just seems that way.

eRobin’s mind and interests range much too widely to be confined to press criticism, though. Here she is cutting to the core of the AIDS problem–no dancing around the delicate issues for her:

The Institute of Medicine is calling for an effort along the lines of the Peace Corps, to fight AIDS worldwide. It sounds good to me. It’s a good idea to push the idea of community when fighting AIDS since it is a communicable disease and we are all at risk. But I’m not sure even it gets at one of the biggest causes of the epidemic. Most people involved with the situation say that we can’t fix the problem with treatment alone; we have to work the prevention angle. I’d go a step further and say that unless women are economically empowered to be able to be independent of men, prevention plans aren’t going to work either. So there are two big things that need to be done (condoms and the economic empowerment of women) and they are both counter to most traditional cultures and the will of the Catholic Church, which is influential in many of the most desperate countries. Any effective plan will have to deal with those two stumbling blocks.

Soft-peddling isn’t eRobin’s thing. It’s strictly cut-to-the-chase time at Fact-esque. eRobin doesn’t think we can afford the luxury of cushioning our delicate sensibilities while people are dying from our inattention or antagonistic policies. She has no time for and little patience with pussy-footers and excuse-mongers, yet she manages to savage them without seeming either bitter or cruel. She isn’t trying to hurt people’s feelings; she just isn’t trying not to hurt them.

A final note. eRobin does something I’ve never seen any other blogger do: she not only puts the links to the sources of her posts in the text, she puts them in again in the post footer, adding sources she used but may not have quoted in the actual piece. It’s an interesting practice. I don’t know how useful it actually is but it shows an enormous respect for the intelligence, curiosity, and innate skepticism of her audience. It’s as if she assumes we’re all from Missouri–or should be.

LitBlogs Is Born

As you know, I’ve been quite taken lately by the blogs I’ve run across that use a blogging format as a creative device. So taken, in fact, that after a night of flowing wine and an excess of hubris, I decided to start yet another blog, this one devoted to pure literary creativity in the blogosphere. I call it LitBlogs, and from time to time I’ll be posting reviews and/or descriptions of new finds there as well as short precis of new updates to old favorites.

For those of you who think I’ve completely lost my mind, here’s the rationale: I’m doing what I would be doing anyway, I’m just putting it all together in a single convenient place, posting there what I would have posted here. It’s not really extra work, just a shifting of focus. (How was that? Convincing, huh?)

The first three posts are edited and enlarged versions of posts first published here, so you can skip them without feeling like you may have missed something. From now on, though, all the posts on these litblogs will go there. I expect a once-a-week check of it will be plenty, probably on Monday or Tuesday. The next one will be the review of Fafblog! that I never got around to, probably today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you know of any imaginative blogs that might fit the LitBlog criteria, please pass them along to me by clicking the Russian postman on the sidebar (this will bring up your mail client’s composer with my email address already in the “To:” bar; this has caused some confusion, apparently, but it was an attempt to make communication easier, not harder. For those of you who prefer to copy-and-paste, the actual address will be added shortly). I am particularly on the prowl for poetry and short-short sites, humor sites, and really good journal sites, which means sites where the entries are well-written essays rather than tossed-off personal news-and-views (think of Maine Line as a template example). No politics or current events, please; everything else is fair game. I’m looking for sites entirely devoted to creatively re-imagining the blog format, not individual posts on an otherwise normal site. I may get around to that later, but right now I want to concentrate on the macro rather than the micro. Thanks.

With summer here and the political season heating up–the Democratic Convention, at least, is right around the corner–the need for release from oppressing news is greater than at any other time of the year. I think once we get going, we’ll be able to find something different and entertaining for everyone’s summer blogging needs while at the same time giving some welcome encouragement to a brand-new development in blogging. And have some fun while we’re at it.