Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Guantanamo’

The Audacity of Hoping for Change: Barack Obama’s Broken Promises to America

In Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Corruption, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Media, Politics, Republican, War on June 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm

This article was written almost a year ago. I have not added to it or expanded on my concerns. I think that anyone who reads this can themselves think of the President’s stance on issues, his lack of actual leadership, his failures over the year and a half to give us any hope that things will be better by November, 2012.

_____________________________________________________________________________

On March 26 [2009], only two months after Barack Obama had been sworn in as President, I wrote and posted an article on “Constitutional Oaths“. I also sent an email message to friends and family about the article with this message:

 “I proudly voted for Barack Obama for President of the United States. I never thought that I would so soon think that impeachment for violation of his Constitutional Oath of Office should be discussed. I feel sick and ashamed of my country.

https://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/constitutional-oaths-and-a-plea-to-president-obama-2/ 

“Right now I am feeling that there is no point in continuing giving a damn about any of it. I am about ready to unplug my TV, turn off my computer, crawl into my dark room and only come out to get a book, relieve myself and maybe eat. Our national evil has now passed to ANOTHER administration and I don’t know if I can take it.

“I do NOT want anyone to call me or pester me about talking about this. My own words in the past and the news are very clear and speak for themselves. I am tired and I literally want to vomit. I don’t think that this bridge can be unburned. Now, I just want the whole thing to collapse and get it over with. I am still waiting for that meteor to land on me and save me from all of it.

Yes, that was me back in March [2009], when I first believed it might be appropriate to investigate whether or not Obama should be impeached. Not for some far-right extremists cries for his head for any and everything he does… for even simply existing and holding the office of President; not for some lunatic conspiracy theories but rather for legitimate constitutional reasons. Was I the first Obama supporter to raise the issue of impeachment? I personally believe that when a candidate makes campaign promises they are creating an oral contractual agreement with their constituents… “You elect me and I will DO these things, and / or make my best EFFORT to accomlish these goals“. They don’t necessarily have to SUCCEED at what they promised but they DO have to at least fight for those things. I said in the 1990s that those Republicans who signed the ‘Contract With America‘ should have had class action lawsuits filed against them for BREACH of Contract. Until we hold our politicians accountable for what they say to us when they are running for office, what is their motivation to change their relationship with those that they ask for their votes?

I was watching The Daily Show tonight (because both Countdown and The Rachel Maddow Show were supplanted with non-stop crap about the death of Michael Jackson… big deal… NOT news) and Jon Stewart was talking about how Obama, a former teacher of Constitutional Law, thinks that it is appropriate to block access to information about Dick Cheney because HE MIGHT BE MADE FUN OF. (http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-june-25-2009/cheney-predacted) After that, Stephen Colbert did his Word of the Day segment about Obama’s failure to keep promises that he made on gay issues… and his latest is being done almost exactly 40 years after New York’s Stonewall riots.  (http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/232014/june-25-2009/the-word—stonewalling)

I was going to list categories of Obama’s broken promises (on government transparency, on the ‘war’, on Guantanamo, on torture, abortion rights, on pretty much everything) but it would already fill a book to try to do so. Instead, I copied links to legitimate news stories (mostly, if not all, from the left or neutral positions). These stories are NOT by Obama haters. They are by people who supported him and are feeling betrayed or by neutral news sources. Here are some of them so that you can read them for yourselves:

 http://www.alternet.org/story/140507/obama’s_broken_promises/

 http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/06/06/sirota/

 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

 http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hRdIJDxVpdhYoXnxKGfPOn8lZJKAD991TH9O0

http://promises.nationaljournal.com/

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/17/despite_campaign_promises_president_obama_adopts

http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/1548444,obama-100-days-promises-kept-broken-042909.article

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=91286

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/05/15/1933734.aspx

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/election/1129-obamas-broken-promises-openness-ending-military-commissions

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23915.html

Now, I want to take a slight shift here and lecture to those on the far right, the conservative extremists who hate Obama and would no matter what he does… especially Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. You have already made yourselves irrelevant to any but those who already agree with you. You spent eight years with your nose shoved up George Bush’s ass and, no matter what he did, you defended him. The problem with news in America is NOT bias. Bias itself is not bad… as long as it comes with honesty. I do not watch Kieth Olbermann because I agree with what he says. I watch Keith Olbermann because when he makes an attack on someone he backs it up with verifiable documentation as to when something happened, and what the context is. I would watch a conservative Olbermann as well, if there were one, but there isn’t. The far right media long ago abandoned honesty and integrity when they were on the side of those in power. Because of HOW they tried to defend Bush and attack his critics, they cannot be accepted as legitimate voices of opposition now. Opposition is NOT about blindy attacking who or what you hate, it is about journalistically showing why your opposition is valid. It is also about supporting what someone you are in opposition to does that is acceptable and ONLY attacking them when they are legitimately in the wrong. The far right has no concept of how to fulfill the necessary role of ‘loyal opposition’ so they simply attack blindly and maliciously in the simple hope of hurting… someone. What they don’t see is that they don’t have to make up ANYTHING because there are so many legitimate and supportable reasons to attack that all they are doing is showing how devoid of integrity or intelligence THEY are. All they have to do is investigate and tell the stories that they can back up and let the rest go.

I know that it is a mantra of the far right to hate Olbermann and the “liberal media“, but he backs his attacks up with who, what, where, when, why, and how… he gives names, dates and places to allow us, his viewers to verify what he is reporting to us.. The other thing that the far right misses is that most journalist on the left will not cover up for the side that they support when it is in the wrong. When Obama screws us all, the legitimate media which supported him will also openly and publicly denounce him when he is wrong. IT ISN’T ABOUT BIAS, IT IS ABOUT HONESTY!

I voted for Barack Obama as President. I did what I don’t do… I trusted a politician… and I trusted the Democratic Party to actually change things and push hard to the left in order to shift American back to the middle. I was not wrong to vote as I did. I voted for who I believed would be best as President. I voted for who I was willing to take a chance on but, unlike most people I know on the far right, I am intellectually honest enough that I will say when the emperor has no clothes… even the emperor I supported. The are many things that make politics in America the shame it is. One of them is when people put their own personal egos above honesty about those they support. What is important now is NOT how those who were in opposition to Obama criticize him, it is how those of us who supported him criticize him.

I could probably go forever about this but if my point hasn’t already been made and understood, more words won’t change that. To anyone who wants to comment on this article, this is NOT a forum for hit-and-run drive-by comments from the left OR the right. I don’t want to hear from anyone on the right making blanket attacks or smears saying that “lefties” or “libs / liberals” or “Democrats” are ALL like something and neither do I want to hear anyone from the left making blanket attacks saying that “right wingers” or “conservative nuts jobs” or “Republicans / Repubs” are all like something. I don’t want to hear anyone from either side making some ‘clever’ play on words, like “Repukes” to describe the other side. America needs both liberals AND conservative, Republicans AND Democrats. It isn’t whole sides who are to blame, it is specific, usually extremist ends of different ideologies that are what most people REALLY hate. And don’t attack those you disagree with JUST BECAUSE you disagree with them, attack or mock someone for being a moron, for writing something stupid that they can’t document or support. It is much more effective to challenge someone to prove what they make claims about that it is to just hate them. So, talk about specific promises he has broken or WHY you think it is good or bad that he broke a specific one; talk about the law and The Constitution; talk about… God, just talk like you have a God-damned brain in that head of yours.

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

Advertisements

To Make a Fool Fall, Just Get Him a Hall

In Libertarian on December 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm

By a hall of a libertarian Don Meinshausen

There’s been a long lasting controversy and much current noise about whether to try   accused terrorists, in courts. People from all over agree that these terrorists have operated all over the world and especially in Iran, for too long with outrageous impunity. Some say it makes perfect sense to try violent villains in a court of law where outraged victims were allowed to present their case against them. It would have been great theater just to watch these creeps squirm in a witness stand where they had no power to hurt others. For once they would be where the whole world would watch them so they can feel the scorn and hatred of outraged people. Don’t forget that these evildoers were getting funds from those who have much oil money. And they have yet to explain themselves.  Such types have actually succeeded in imposing and maintaining tyrannies that have ruined societies and economies in many countries.

However those who want such trials should keep in mind the guidelines of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals. These famous trials were held in that city because it was close to where the victims lived. So why not continue this tradition with other war crimes tribunals? This way the victims who have survived this terror can easily go and watch or testify at this trial. The victims and their families have the option of not taking part or ignoring the proceedings.

At Nuremberg it was established as a principle of justice that the defendants have rights to be respected even if they were involved in crimes against humanity. This is so that these procedures will not be seen as just vengeance by the victors. Those who sit in judgment must set high standards. This means that fundamental rights must be upheld in the trial such as; choice of counsel, the ability to summon witnesses and cross-examine and the defendants not to be subjected to torture. Even if the accused did not observe these rules one must honor them. If the tribunal seeks the respect of intelligent world opinion then standards of justice must be maintained EVEN IF THE ACCUSED DOES NOT DESERVE IT.

But why bring up these arguments about a war crimes tribunal that never happened after 30 years? Because this is what should have happened during the Iranian hostage crisis when the radical students arrested CIA and US embassy personnel in Teheran.  The students at that time could have organized a very interesting trial that would have attracted judicial and ethical leaders from all over the world. There would have been worldwide media attention and their revolution would have benefited not only in opinion from outside opinion but as a moderating influence on the newly minted state.

However, the students had no idea what was going on. The new Iranian government of religious fundamentalists was making a deal with the new American government of religious fundamentalists about holding the hostages until the Ayatollah Reagan got in power He would then sell Iran arms to fight Iraq.

In other words if the students had tried the embassy personnel they would have educated the world as well as themselves about the horrible regime of the Shah of Iran. He and his trained secret police, the Savak, were both put in and trained by the CIA. The CIA or the embassy personnel on trial would have had to fess up to what they were doing in imposing and supporting police states to help oil companies, arms sales and such. This would have been a tremendous benefit to the American people as they learned where their tax money had been spent. The hostages would be safe as it is far better to embarrass the US government and the oil companies than to punish the few pawns caught in the embassy. Like the historical outcome the hostages would have been released in a magnanimous gesture of forgiveness by the new regime after the secret arm sales went through after the inauguration of Reagan. But as Ron’s campaign slogan went: “It is Mourning in America.”

And what about the current controversy of the trials of the terrorists that were interned in Guantanamo who may soon be tried in American courts? Their notoriety deserves judicious notice. Whenever anyone hears about any crazy violent killing of any type most everyone has the same question: “Why did these people do such a thing?”  Even concerning the grimmest, most rabid of raving serial killers, outside of governments or religions, everyone wants to know what these psychotics have to say for themselves and why they did it so that further insanity can be avoided.

This is especially true for politically motivated crimes and trials. The defendants must have their say in court no matter how embarrassing for anyone. They must be allowed to present their case publicly. And if it exposes shameful behavior of the American government and its allies then so be it. This will not excuse their behavior just as their behavior is not an excuse for the violation of rights done by the US government.

. Many US citizens concerned about the implementation of policy to protect our rights want to see the Islamic terrorist way of thinking explain itself in a court of law. The more public and fair the trial the less sympathy these madmen will have here and in their home countries. Remember when a large entity defends itself from an attack by a smaller one it is important not to appear as a bully or even as a Goliath vs. David match.  It is part of the nature of humans to identify with and even root for the smaller player and to see them as brave.

It is therefore especially important to define these shocking events in the history and the cultures of the time in a fair and public way so our ideals are seen as justice.  These misguided souls live in their own myth that needs a thorough public discussion and dissection of their warped thinking with media coverage from around the world. This is so as to not make themselves into a martyr within any culture.

And this is the best way to defend a moral system under attack. For those who attack a standard of moral order are obliged to raise and uphold another as well as withstand critique. There is no mistake they wanted attention to some real grievances. In that corner of the world there is a smothering neo-colonialism, corruption, tyranny and hopelessness as in the much of the Third World. What makes this area a breeding ground for religious violence is that Islamic fanaticism is seen there as the only space where a poor man can find acceptance, justice, brotherhood and expression within a respected tradition. And while reforms are badly needed this does not excuse terrorism.

Therefore to try these supposed terrorists it is incumbent on those who create the theater of justice (and it is a theater) must take into account civil libertarian and conservative Islamic legal traditions as well to determine justice. From what I hear about Islam this is not difficult. Even under Sharia terrorist acts are considered horrible deeds.

The idea is that if you judge then by the same standards shall you be judged. You build a hall of justice and share a standard with others. At the same time you’ll be liable to stand in the defense dock if you break the rules of the hall. If not, all hall will break loose.

America… Spearheading the New Dark Age.

In Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, George Bush, Guantanamo, Human Rights Abuses, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, Torture, US Government on June 1, 2009 at 1:34 am

I guess all of us should be happy to be alive during such interesting times as these. We have the internet, books, videos, and rapid dissemination of knowledge everywhere in the world almost instantly. We are alive when books like “1984” have been written where slavery is outlined, yet we still seem to be enslaved. In America and many other countries in the world our governments coerce our money (that we earned with our own personal time) out of us to commit atrocities around the world. Waterboarding, electric torture, torture of children, mass murder, torture with insects, torture with razors, kidnapping of innocent people without warrant, spying on military personnel on the phone with their wives overseas, and systematic beatings of detainees for no reason are just a few things that our “civilized” society engages in on a daily basis. It reminds me of historical accounts where people were tortured in medieval times for their crimes. It also reminds me of the witch trials where woman were tortured until they said that they were witches.

It seems that it only took one terrorist attack to plunge most of the Western World 300 years into the past.

I just wanted to outline a few recent atrocities that came to light in a recent article on AntiWar.com. The article is located here and it talks about a few instances of torture that have occurred in Guantanamo some of which have even occurred after Obama took office. The article outlines such outrages as smearing another inmate’s feces on an inmate’s face, shooting a high pressure water hose up a detainee’s nose, slamming detainee’s faces on concrete, the intentional breaking of noses and other appendages, shoving people’s faces into toilets and flushing them repeatedly, sexual assault, and deliberate cover-ups.

Here are a few excerpts below:

…When an IRF team is called in, its members are dressed in full riot gear, which some prisoners and their attorneys have compared to “Darth Vader” suits. Each officer is assigned a body part of the prisoner to restrain: head, right arm, left arm, left leg, right leg…

…IRF teams in effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner’s head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them – sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end…

…Up to 15 people attempted to commit suicide at Camp Delta due to the abuses of the IRF officials…

…After 9/11, Deghayes was detained in Lahore, Pakistan, for a month, where he allegedly was subjected to “systematic beatings” and “electric shocks done with a tool that looked like a small gun…One day they took me to a room that had very large snakes in glass boxes. The room was all painted black-and-white, with dim lights. They threatened to leave me there and let the snakes out with me in the room. This really got to me, as there were such sick people that they must have had this room specially made…

…Deghayes was eventually moved to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was beaten and “kept nude, as part of the process of humiliation due to his religion.” U.S. personnel placed Deghayes “inside a closed box with a lock and limited air.” He also described seeing U.S. guards sodomize an African prisoner and alleged guards “forced petrol and benzene up the anuses of the prisoners.”…

…The IRF team sprayed Mr. Deghayes with mace; they threw him in the air and let him fall on his face … ” according to the Spanish investigation. Deghayes says he also endured a “sexual attack.” In March 2004, after being “sprayed in the eyes with mace,” Deghayes says authorities refused to provide him with medical attention, causing him to permanently lose sight in his right eye…

…On one of the ERF-ing incidents where Omar was abused, the officer in charge himself came into the cell with the feces of another prisoners [sic] and smeared it onto Omar’s face. While some prisoners had thrown feces at the abusive guards, Omar had always emphatically refused to sink to this level. The experience was one of the most disgusting in Omar’s life…

…The ERF team came into the cell with a water hose under very high pressure. He was totally shackled, and they would hold his head fixed still. They would force water up his nose until he was suffocating and would scream for them to stop. This was done with medical staff present, and they would join in. Omar is particularly affected by the fact that there was one nurse who “had been very beautiful and kind” to him to [sic] took part in the process. This happened three times…

…David Hicks, an Australian citizen held at Guantánamo, said in a sworn affidavit, “I have witnessed the activities of the [IRF], which consists of a squad of soldiers that enter a detainee’s cell and brutalize him with the aid of an attack dog … I have seen detainees suffer serious injuries as a result of being IRF’ed. I have seen detainees IRF’ed while they were praying, or for refusing medication…

The officer Smith was the MP sergeant who was punching him. He grabbed his head with one hand and with the other hand punched him repeatedly in the face. His nose was broken. He pushed his face, and he smashed it into the concrete floor. All of this should be on video. There was blood everywhere. When they took him out, they hosed the cell down and the water ran red with blood. We all saw it…

According to attorney Julia Tarver, one of her clients, Yousef al-Shehri, had a tube inserted with “one [IRF member] holding his chin while the other held him back by his hair, and a medical staff member forcibly inserted the tube in his nose and down his throat” and into his stomach. “No anesthesia or sedative was provided to alleviate the obvious trauma of the procedure.” Tarver said this method caused al-Shehri and others to vomit “substantial amounts of blood…

…According to Tarver, “Nasal gastric (NG) tubes [were removed] by placing a foot on one end of the tube and yanking the detainee’s head back by his hair, causing the tube to be painfully ejected from the detainee’s nose. Then, in front of the Guantanamo physicians … the guards took NG tubes from one detainee, and with no sanitization whatsoever, reinserted it into the nose of a different detainee. When these tubes were reinserted, the detainees could see the blood and stomach bile from the other detainees remaining on the tubes.” Medical staff, according to Tarver, made no effort to intervene…

…In January 2003, Sgt. Sean Baker was ordered to participate in an IRF training drill at Guantánamo where he would play the role of an uncooperative prisoner. Sgt. Baker says he was ordered by his superior to take off his military uniform and put on an orange jumpsuit like those worn by prisoners. He was told to yell out the code word “red” if the situation became unbearable, or he wanted his fellow soldiers to stop… They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and, unfortunately, one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down. Then he – the same individual – reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn’t breathe. When I couldn’t breathe, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was ‘red.’ … That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough air. I muttered out: ‘I’m a U.S. Soldier. I’m a U.S. Soldier.’…

While the dominant media coverage of the U.S. torture apparatus has portrayed these tactics as part of a “Bush era” system that Obama has now ended, when it comes to the IRF teams, that is simply not true. “[D]etainees live in constant fear of physical violence. Frequent attacks by IRF teams heighten this anxiety and reinforce that violence can be inflicted by the guards at any moment for any perceived infraction, or sometimes without provocation or explanation,” according to CCR…

…In another incident after Obama’s inauguration, prisoner Khan Tumani began smearing excrement on the walls of his cell to protest his treatment. According to his lawyer, when he “did not clean up the excrement, a large IRF team of 10 guards was ordered to his cell and beat him severely. The guards sprayed so much tear gas or other noxious substance after the beating that it made at least one of the guards vomit. Mr. Khan Tumani’s skin was still red and burning from the gas days later…

http://original.antiwar.com/scahill/2009/05/16/obama-thug-squad-brutalizing-prisoners-at-gitmo/

Do these sound like the acts of a “Shining City on a Hill”? Do these sound like the acts of “The Leader of the Free World”? No, they don’t. They sound like the acts of a barbarous empire drunk on it’s own power. It sounds like people who have no respect for human life. Imagine the hopelessness that these people in Guantanamo and other black locations feel. They are stuck  torture dungeons unable to die or live. Merely a piece of meat kept alive for reason’s unbeknown to anybody. Your captors will never let you go and you will never have a chance to defend yourself in a court. You can be tortured at any time for no reason. You may never see your family or your wife again, and the worst part is that most of these men have never done anything wrong.

Is this the way you want you’re tax money to be spent? You want the money stolen from you to pay torturer’s and killers? Then stand up and let someone else know how their money is being spent. Don’t be apathetic. Don’t be complicit is the destruction of life at CIA black sites.

Peace…

Announcement from Defend Habeas Corpus Facebook group

In Constitutional Rights, Media, War on August 4, 2008 at 1:19 pm

I received the following in my personal inbox, and thought it may be of interest to LFV readers.
Subject: Chat Live TODAY with GITMO Expert on Firedoglake! Please join Alliance for Justice in a live web chat with Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights TODAY, August 4, at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

Vincent Warren has been the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) since 2006. He spearheads CCR’s “Beyond Guantanamo: Rescue the Constitution” campaign and is widely praised as one of the nation’s most knowledgeable experts on issues related to detainee policy. We expect Monday’s discussion to provide a frank and lively exchange about the future course of Guantanamo policy.

Last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey urged Congress to pass unnecessary legislation that would “sharply reduce the possibility that any Guantanamo prisoner could have a fair hearing.”

The attorney general’s remarks are indicative of the Bush administration’s failed detainee policies. These policies are the topic of Alliance for Justice’s upcoming “First Monday” web chat, brought to you in partnership with FireDogLake.

To read more about the attorney general putting political gain over the best interests of the American people, please visit our Justice Watch blog (afj.org/blogs). To participate in Monday’s conversation, simply go to www.firedoglake.com and create a free user profile.

Gravel announces Libertarian presidential run

In Congress, Global Warming, Guantanamo, Health, Iran, Libertarian Party-US, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Science, Taxation, Torture, US Government, Veterans, War on March 26, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Mike Gravel

A Personal Message from Mike

I wanted to update you on my latest plans before news gets out. Today, I am announcing my plan to join the Libertarian Party, because the Democratic Party no longer represents my vision for our great country. I wanted my supporters to get this news first, because you have been the ones who have kept my campaign alive since I first declared my candidacy on April 17, 2006.

The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism — all of which I find anathema to my views.

By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.

I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views.

Please take a moment to make your most generous donation to my presidential campaign today. $10, $20, $50 — whatever you feel you can afford.

I want to thank you all for your continued support.

_______________________________

So, what are Gravel’s views on the issues? Here are some issue statements from his website:

The War in Iraq Senator Gravel’s position on Iraq remains clear and consistent: to commence an immediate and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops that will have them home within 120 days. The sooner U.S. troops are withdrawn, the sooner we can pursue aggressive diplomacy to bring an end to the civil war that currently consumes Iraq. Senator Gravel seeks to work with neighboring countries to lead a collective effort to bring peace to Iraq.

One of the leading opponents of the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel was one of the first current or former elected officials to publicly oppose the planned invasion of Iraq in 2002. He appeared on MSNBC prior to the invasion insisting that intelligence showed that there were indeed no weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq posed no threat to the United States and that invading Iraq was against America’s national interests and would result in a disaster of epic proportions for both the United States and the Iraqi people.

Today, more than four years into the invasion, the death toll of U.S. troops has climbed over 3,300 with over 50,000 more permanently maimed, some having lost limbs, others their sight. Tens of thousands more are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and urgently need psychological care. The Iraqi civilian death toll nears three-quarters of a million, and still there remains no end in sight to the bloodshed.

As President, Senator Gravel will call for a U.S. corporate withdrawal from Iraq and hand over reconstruction contracts to Iraqi businesses which will empower Iraqi nationals to reconstruct their own country.

The National Initiative for Democracy Mike fully supports the National Initiative for Democracy. The NI4D is a way to bring legislative power back to the people. In many states, citizens can put measures on the ballot and Mike believes as citizens of the United States we should all have that power.

Iran and Syria Senator Gravel opposes a military confrontation with Iran and Syria and advocates a diplomatic solution to the current situation.

Global Warming/Climate Change Senator Gravel believes that global climate change is a matter of national security and survivability of the plant. As President, he will act swiftly to reduce America’s carbon footprint in the world by initiating legislation to tax carbon at the source and cap carbon emissions. he is also committed to leading the fight against global deforestation, which today is second only to the energy sector as a source of greenhouse gases. However, any legislation will have little impact on the global environment if we do not work together with other global polluters. China, India, and under-developed nations all work together fighting climate change can only be effective if it is a collective global effort. As President, Senator Gravel will see that the U.S. launches and leads a massive global scientific effort, integrating the world’s scientific and engineering community, to end energy dependence on oil and integrate the world scientific community in this task.

Progressive Taxes – A fair Tax Senator Gravel’s Progressive Fair Tax proposal calls for eliminating the IRS and the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax on new products and services. To compensate for the tax on necessities, such as food, lodging, transportation and clothing, there would be a “rebate” to reimburse taxpayers. This would be paid in a monthly check from the government to all citizens. The focus on taxing new goods would also help tackle the global climate change problem.

Healthcare Senator Gravel advocates a universal healthcare system that provides equal medical services to all citizens, paid for by a retail sales tax (a portion of the Progressive Fair tax). Citizens would pay nothing for health benefits.

Reproductive Rights Senator Mike Gravel supports a woman’s right to decide if and when to have children. He also supports a woman’s right to make the difficult decision about abortion without interference by government authorities. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, including accurate information about contraception, can always be provided in order to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions. Parity in health insurance and access to specialized family health care services, including family planning education, would also benefit the health and welfare of infants and children, who need and deserve to be wanted and loved.

Immigration Senator Gravel favors protecting our borders and monitoring the flow of immigrants into our country. He also favors a guest worker program and setting up naturalization procedures that would fairly bring immigrants into legal status. America must address the root cause of illegal immigration. Any discussion of immigration must include NAFTA and the concept of “free trade.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the working class of both the U.S. and Mexico and a boon to the international corporate interests. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that over 1 million U.S. jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrants looking for work in the U.S. Reforming unfair trade policies spawned by measures like NAFTA will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border.

LGBT Rights Senator Gravel supports same-sex marriage and opposes the Defense of Marriage Act. He supports expanding hate-crime legislation and opposes laws that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or one’s gender identity or expression. Senator Gravel strongly opposes the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” legislation on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, as it restricts the rights of gay Americans. He opposes any state or national constitutional amendment that restricts the rights of the gay community.

Social Security Senator Gravel wants to put real money, rather than borrowed money, in the Social Security Trust Fund. He advocates investing it properly and identifying the interests of individual beneficiaries so they can know what their retirement fund is and leave surplus funds to heirs.

Education Access to public education is a bedrock American value. Why is it then that the United States ranks 49th in literacy and that an estimated 30% of our students don’t graduate from high school? Investing in education provides a pathway to a thriving national economy, to individual and family economic opportunity, and to the reduction of poverty. A successful education system requires the commitment of families, the community, and government. It’s time to re-order our national budget priorities in order to improve the American education system. Parent education and access to preschool programs such as Head Start need to be expanded so that children from low income families are equally ready to benefit from elementary school. Universal pre-kindergarten would also enhance readiness. Encouraging our students to be the best they can be will require flexibility from the federal and state governments, within school systems, and from groups with a stake in educational success. Flexibility may mean extended school days and summer learning opportunities or extended school years. It may mean online and broadcast courses to provide access to highly qualified teachers. It may mean charter schools to address the needs of local communities, smaller classes, enrichment programs for students at risk, and vocational options. One thing we know for sure: No Child Left Behind has left too many children behind. It needs to be reformed and adequately funded. It needs to acknowledge the need for a fuller curriculum that encourages critical thinking-not just math and science test-taking. A high school diploma should be the minimum goal for all students; without it, our children will be condemned to a substandard economic existence.

Veteran’s Affairs As President, Senator Gravel would ensure that veterans receive full funding for their most important needs, including healthcare that is indexed to the increasing cost of care and medicine. He would make sure that all soldiers receive a full medical diagnosis to assess what their individual needs would be. He would also make sure that the VA system is fully financed and has sufficient well-trained personnel to provide the finest care that is available. As the Senator says, “We can do no less and we will do much more.” Mike Gravel is the only military veteran in the democratic race.

The War on Drugs The War on Drugs has been a failure. It is time to end prohibition and start treating addiction as a public health problem. This has ravaged our inner cities, and we are losing an entire generation of men and women to prisons. We must regulate hard drugs for the purpose of treating addicts, which would emphasize rehabilitation and prevention over incarceration. We must decriminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment in our communities as well as in jails and prisons. The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other industrialized nation in the world. Some 2.3 million Americans are now behind bars. This tragedy must end.

Net Neutrality Net Neutrality aims to keep the Internet free from large companies, which are trying to limit the number of web sites their customers can view and the speed at which they can view them. Senator Gravel guarantees a free and open Internet with unlimited access to all sites. He will do this by supporting legislation and regulation that keeps you in control of your Internet usage and promotes free speech.

Human Rights Senator Gravel is adamantly opposed to torture, indefinite detention, and the deprivation of lawyers/speedy trials. He opposes the Military Commissions Act, flagrant ignorance of the Geneva convention, and Guantanamo.

And the propaganda machine keeps spinning …..

In Corruption, Crazy Claims, George Bush, Guantanamo, Human Rights Abuses, Military, Terrorism, Torture, War on July 20, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Road To GuantanamoAccording to this article, we’re supposed to believe that prisoners being held at Gitmo are being treated as if they’re merely guests of the goverment, while the only real abuse is directed at the guards.

However, it’s far more likely that the government is sending military members back to the states with strict orders to report that all is well at Gitmo. It’s easy to get them to do that, after all, especially if the person in question is an officer with a pension on the line, as with the person who gave the information for this story. It’s even easier when the military member knows that they, too, can be declared an enemy combatant and simply disappear if they dare to speak the truth about the atrocities they have witnessed. There is also the fear that they will be discharged due to a nonexistent “personality disorder”, and thus shamed and stripped of the civilian benefits of having served voluntarily and honorably in the armed forces.

That’s nothing new, incidentally. The military was discharging soldiers on the basis of alleged preexisting personality disorders in the early 1980s, when I served in Air Force Intelligence Operations. Those airmen were not mentally ill, and in fact were extraordinarily good at their specialties; however, they had committed the unspeakable crime of not remaining silent against what they perceived to be wrong, and branding them mentally deficient is the military’s way of silencing them. Once they are so categorized, the military can easily discount anything they may later say against the military’s interest. But, I digress.

Like so many in the current administration, this Brigadier General (for those unfamiliar with military ranks, that’s a one-star General) believes it’s acceptable to hold people in a lawless prison environment long-term with no charges, and no hearing, because they’re “enemy combatants” …… and he really and truly thinks there’s a difference between enemy combatants and prisoners of war, which causes Geneva Convention protections to not apply to enemy combatants. Yet the only real difference is that prisoners of war are captured while engaging in war, while enemy combatants are, for all intents and purposes, kidnapped. In other words, while he is willing to toe the military line and is quite successful in that position, in the civilian world his brainwashing would render him, for all intents and purposes, useless.

If prisoners at Gitmo are specifically classified as not being prisoners of war, for whom torture is forbidden under the Geneva Convention, does the government actually expect us to believe that these men are not being tortured? It’s quite obvious that the only reason to classify them differently is so that they can be tortured without violating the Convention.

What’s most sickening about this particular article, beyond the brainwashing aspect, is that it is being distributed and touted as truth on a discussion list for paralegals, who should definitely know better than to mindlessly accept what the government says. Or maybe, just maybe, these particular paralegals know just enough to be dangerous. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Bastille Day. We need a new one.

In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Human Rights Abuses, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Protest, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on July 15, 2007 at 6:40 am

Originally posted yesterday on my blog for Bastille day. Forgot to transfer it over til today. Oh well, better late than never…

According to wikipedia,

On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were clergy and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a Constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The Assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.

The blue-blooded Chimperror, Cesar Potus George Dubai-ya Bushitler II, has brung back the clergy and the nobility back to a level of undue influence in civic life. Perhaps we need a new storming of the Bastille?

In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of the royal finance minister Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain arms for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a prison which had often held people arbitrarily jailed on the basis of lettre de cachet. Besides holding a large cache of arms, the Bastille had long been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The general populace being increasingly outgunned by regime agents? Check. People jailed arbitrarily? Check. Political prisoners? Check. Absolutist, hereditary rulers? Check.

The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.

Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was proclaimed.

Ending feudalism and having citizens rights? Yeah, we kinda need that again. Check!

God forbid that detainees should actually have rights …..

In Constitutional Rights, George Bush, Guantanamo, War on June 21, 2007 at 9:31 pm

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 7 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility and move its terror suspects to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.

Senior administration officials said Thursday a consensus is building for a proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where they could face trial.

President Bush’s national security and legal advisers had been scheduled to discuss the move at a meeting Friday, the officials said, but after news of it broke, the White House said the meeting would not take place that day and no decision on Guantanamo Bay’s status is imminent.

“It’s no longer on the schedule for tomorrow,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “Senior officials have met on the issue in the past, and I expect they will meet on the issue in the future.”

Three senior administration officials spoke about the discussions on condition of anonymity because they were internal deliberations.

Expected to consult soon, according to the officials, were Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace.

Previous plans to close Guantanamo ran into resistance from Cheney, Gonzales and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. But officials said the new suggestion is gaining momentum with at least tacit support from the State and Homeland Security departments, the Pentagon and the Intelligence directorate.

Cheney’s office and the Justice Department have been against the step, arguing that moving “unlawful” enemy combatant suspects to the U.S. would give them undeserved legal rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Bush Administration Declares Anti-War Nobel Peace Prize Winner “Irrelevant”

In Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Democrats, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Iraq War, Middle East, Military, Police State, Politics, Republican, Terrorism, War on May 22, 2007 at 7:43 am

Jimmy CarterCRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) – The White House on Sunday fired back at former President Jimmy Carter, calling him “increasingly irrelevant” a day after Carter described George W. Bush’s presidency as the worst in history in international relations.Carter, a Democrat, said on Saturday in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”White House spokesman Tony Fratto had declined to react on Saturday but on Sunday fired back.“I think it’s sad that President Carter’s reckless personal criticism is out there,” Fratto told reporters. “I think it’s unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments.”Carter has been an outspoken critic of Bush, but the White House has largely refrained from attacking him in return. Sunday’s sharp response marks a departure from the deference that sitting presidents traditionally have shown their predecessors.In the newspaper interview, Carter said Bush had taken a “radical departure from all previous administration policies” with the Iraq war.“We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered,” Carter said.In a separate BBC interview, Carter also denounced the close relationship between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.“Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient,” Carter said when asked how he would characterize Blair’s relationship with Bush.”I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world,” Carter said.Carter, who was president from 1977-1981 and won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his charitable work, was an outspoken opponent of the invasion of Iraq before it was launched in 2003. [Source: Reuters.com]

Across the blogosphere, conservatives are now making the rather shocking claim that 9/11 occurred as a result of Jimmy Carter’s policies. In a way, it’s amusing, since most of those bloggers are too young to even remember the Carter presidency. As a middle-aged left Libertarian, I remember it well. Jimmy Carter was the first president I ever voted for, although he lost that time around to Ronald Reagan. I voted for Carter because he is a humanist who believes in a strict policy of non-military intervention in international affairs, opting instead for diplomacy, except if our national security is directly threatened. After all, I was alive during Vietnam, and during the height of the Cold War, so that was (and will always be) an extremely important issue for me.

At the same time, it’s typical that conservatives would find a way to blame the actions of George W Bush – decades after Jimmy Carter left office – on a liberal. After all, they can’t blame themselves for re-electing a known warmonger who openly advocates torture and the erosion of our civil rights …. can they?

Let’s compare the two presidents.

Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. George W. Bush couldn’t even win second prize in a beauty contest on Monopoly.

Jimmy Carter is known as a peace-advocating diplomat, and a humanitarian. George W Bush is known as a lying, draft-dodging, bloodthirsty warmongerer.

Don’t blame a man, who advocated peace, for a war that started decades after he left office. And don’t just dismiss him because he dared to say what many, if not most, politically active Americans are already thinking.

Put the blame where the blame is due. This is a war based on lies and deceptions, all of which are directly traceable and attributable to the Bush administration. There were no WMDs, folks, and Bush knew there were no WMDs; but he attacked Iraq anyway because they might one day get WMDs. Huh? I’m still scratching my head about that one. Now, Bush wants to attack even more countries, and the Democrats have already backed off the promises they made when they were elected, to end the war in Iraq. Is it therefore any wonder that third parties are more attractive than ever to voters during the 2008 presidential election cycle? Read the rest of this entry »

War on Terrrrr Pays Another Dividend

In Civil Liberties, Guantanamo, Military, Terrorism on March 14, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Via Yahoo news:

Unhappy Guantanamo guest

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to that attack and a string of others during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a transcript released Wednesday by the Pentagon.

No doubt the neocon faithful are all out strutting their stuff today after this home run of a news story. In their minds, this goes a long way to vindicate King George’s unwavering mission to rid the world of terrorists (at least the ones currently on the Administration’s shit list).

I’ve grown quite skeptical of any claim coming out of Washington about some clandestine terrorist threat being thwarted in the nick of time or the capture of the next super-evil al-Qaeda villain and the like. Bush’s ratings have plummeted so low that they’re clearly desperate for anything they can hold up as a positive, even if it means fabricating a story (you know, the kind that can’t really be validated because, well, it’s classified, national security-risking information).

As for this particular story, it may very well be on the level. But, does that in any way justify the indefinite incarceration, the secret trials, the complete abandonment of habeas corpus? What happened to our proud tradition of American justice? It’s not too difficult to imagine one fessing up to just about anything after being subjected to the kind of reprehensible treatment being doled out in Gitmo.

Again, maybe these confessions are legit. But, personally, I think they got the wrong guy.