Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Attacks on the First Amendment by Republicans!

It is ironic that in the very same week that Republicans failed to find enough supporters to push their flag-burning amendment comes an attack on another clause in the First Amendment, the Freedom of the Press.

Recall the text of the Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It is these freedoms that make America unique. Our nation is built on freedom. Not on tri-color banners or harassment of the press.

The importance of a free press was explained by Thomas Jefferson who wrote:

"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." --Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.

And yet this week, once again we have elected Republican politicians scurrying around trying to gather votes and signatures to retaliate against the New York Times for its investigative reporting into the Banking Data Mining program by the United States.

As reported:
"Hayworth, a Republican running for re-election against Democrat Harry Mitchell, is circulating a letter among his colleagues calling on the speaker of the House of Representatives to take away the paper's credentials.

"The request does not come lightly, but in response to the Times' decision to repeatedly publish information detrimental to our national security," Hayworth wrote in the letter to Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

In the letter, Hayworth cites the Times' June 23 story that revealed the existence of a secret government program to track terrorist networks through the use of international financial records."

Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky) did one better on this complaint, he accused and threatened the New York Times with prosecution for TREASON. As reported:
"WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Bunning accused the New York Times of treason Tuesday for publishing a story about a secret government program that checks the bank records of Americans and others as part of anti-terror efforts.

"That the press wouldn’t have better sense than to leak critical information on terrorists so that they know what we’re doing - that scares the devil out of me," Bunning told reporters in a morning conference call.

The senator said Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez should empanel a grand jury to decide whether the New York Times’ publisher, editors and writers involved in the bank records story should be indicted for treason."

I know that Iraq is not the same as Vietnam. But this is all so "deja-vu" all over again!

Recall the story of the Pentagon Papers:
"...government study of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in June, 1967, the 47-volume, top secret study covered the period from World War II to May, 1968. It was written by a team of analysts who had access to classified documents, and was completed in Jan., 1969. The study revealed a considerable degree of miscalculation, bureaucratic arrogance, and deception on the part of U.S. policymakers. In particular, it found that the U.S. government had continually resisted full disclosure of increasing military involvement in Southeast Asia—air strikes over Laos, raids along the coast of North Vietnam, and offensive actions by U.S. marines had taken place long before the American public was informed."
And more importantly, once again it was the New York Times that took the lead in bringing this to the attention of the American people!
"On June 13, 1971, the New York Times began publishing a series of articles based on the study. The Justice Dept. obtained a court injunction against further publication on national security grounds, but the Supreme Court ruled (June 30) that constitutional guarantees of a free press overrode other considerations, and allowed further publication. The government indicted (1971) Daniel Ellsberg, a former government employee who made the Pentagon Papers available to the New York Times, and Anthony J. Russo on charges of espionage, theft, and conspiracy. On May 11, 1973, a federal court judge dismissed all charges against them because of improper government conduct."
Where was the Republican Outrage at this Administration's outing of a CIA agent? Instead, they choose to 'kill the messenger', trashing the Constitution one Amendment at a time. They have abused the Constitution extending the power of the Presidency with Signing Statements, ignoring International treaties like the Geneva Conventions, and suspended the need and requirements for Search Warrants with the NSA spy scandal.

America deserves better! It is time for the Democrats to lead this nation and vote out those who would sacrifice our freedoms and trash our Constitution for their own political advantage.


More on Flag Burning and Freedom

Yesterday I got "fired-up" and added my thoughts to Carl Luna's "Election Reflection" from the Sand Diego Union-Tribune online. This is what I had to say:

Good points.

The Republicans engage in concrete thinking that is not easily discernible to Americans who do not wish to think in nuance.

Everyone loves Old Glory so WHY would any politician wish to protect flag-burners? Simple stuff.

It is much harder to explain, but still needs to be done, that freedom of speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment of our Constitution is there to protect even distasteful speech such as a flag-burning. But that would require more than just a simple-minded approach.

Or take the "Under God" phrase in the Constitution. Don't we ALL believe in God ask the Republicans? It is far more nuanced to explain that our founding fathers designed the First Amendment to protect EVERY American, even atheists, and that separation of church and state is not so much an attack on religion as it is a protection of religious freedom in this country. But that would require a little thought, wouldn't it?

Or the Gay Marriage Amendment. Isn't it obvious that regular Americans want marriage to be one man and one woman? It is far more nuanced to ask Americans to understand that some of our citizens are homosexuals and that they deserve to be protected under the 14th Amendment of equal protection under the law and allowed to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities of every other American. It is easier to argue the simple message that pretty soon we will be sliding down the slippery slope and men will be marrying dogs and having five wives. Just reduce it to absurdity. Who cares if you hurt someone.

Or the Ten Commandments...ditto all of the above. Most of the politicians can't even name them. But dictating belief in the Sabbath, following one God, not taking the name of the Lord in Vain....well those are proscriptions that aren't consistent with our own Bill of Rights. But that is subtle. Better to appeal to ignorance and simple thought.

Or Abortion. Of course nobody likes abortion. So why not appeal to the third-grade sophistication level and just outlaw it. Be tough. Be a man. It is far harder to explain how women are hurt, abused and exploited and that it is a public health measure to allow women the righjt to safe and legal abortions.

Or Stem Cell Research. Go ahead Republicans take the moron approach and appeal to saving the unborn babies. Who cares if they are just 16 cells of undifferentiated tissue. Who cares if they are going to be tossed in the garbage. Who cares if they can cure disease.

Or Sex Education. Just say NO. Abstinence only. Who cares if studies show that it advances unsafe sex and is a failure. It is the moral approach.

The list goes on.

Being Progressive requires NUANCE. Easier to appeal to the gut. Not the brain.

Meanwhile, make tax cuts permanent, allow for multimillionaire heirs to receive their inheritances unhindered by tax collection, and don't think about adjusting the minimum wage for inflation. That is the real family values.

Democrats need to stop fearing appealing to the understanding of the masses. We need to express ourselves as being defenders of freedom....for we are...while the Republicans work to undermine and limit freedom and advance the Imperial Presidency.

There is no longer any time for fear of the American People.
We need to give Americans more credit than they are given by Republicans with wedge issues, the "Wedgies".

Americans respect the flag but cherish the freedoms that come from living in America more than any symbol and more than wishing to Amend our Constitution to regulate our individual behavior.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Are Americans Becoming Victims of "Wedgies"?

As we search to find the appropriate descriptor to label those who advance their political agenda with "wedge issues" it occurred to me that they are all "wedgies" to us. They give us the proverbial "pain in the ass" sensation.

As we find them irritating when they try to exploit Wedge Issues and Amend our Constitution for base-motivating things like flag-burning, or whether two homosexuals can get married, or perhaps whether we should allow prayer in public schools, let us remember this image of Wedgies, and think of our friends who subscribe to this extreme ideology.

America is in need of protection from an abundance of Wedgies!

Keep on coming Senator Kerry! We got your backside covered.


Monday, June 26, 2006

More Concrete Republican Thinking!

This is concrete:

Seems like Republicans are having a hard time with concrete thinking:

"This is the opposite of positive formal thought disorder in that the links between thoughts are very rigid. It is sometimes called concrete thinking.

The patient is unable to think in abstract terms and will give an over-literal interpretation of proverbs e.g. when asked about the phrase "a rolling stone gathers no moss", the explanation revolves around stones and moss.

Concrete thinking is a symptom of schizophrenia."
You see some Republicans think that American soldiers fought for the flag.

They believe we are playing a game of Stratego, one of my favorite games growing up where the object is to capture the other player's flag. I always tried to capture the flag using my "Engineers". (Best to have a General nearby!).

They think that soldiers fight wars to protect pieces of cloth. Not pieces of paper like the Constitution. Thus they are ready to sacrifice the Constitution to protect those banners. I like the flag too. But I love the United States Constitution. Especially the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression. Even protecting speech that I find personally distasteful like flag-burning.

Senator Frist explained his support for the Flag-burning Amendment:
"• Countless brave men and women have died defending the American flag. It is but a small, humble act to vote to defend it."
I think Senator Frist has been playing too many games of Stratego.

We don't go to war defending flags.

Flags are symbols. Presidents don't send young men and women into harm's way to defend symbols.

Americans fight wars to defend our liberty. To defend our freedom. To defend our Constitution. And yes to defend our right to express ourselves.

Republicans are intent on amending the Constitution to limit our freedoms! That is not an American value.

Republicans are intent on amending the Constitution to curtail freedom of speech that they find distasteful and to persecute homosexuals denying them the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They offer concrete ideas about how a flag is more important than an American citizen's right to expression. They tell Americans they should be afraid and that it is o.k. to persecute individuals with lifestyles different than our own who simply want to join in marriage.

This is not an American value!

It is time for American patriots to defend our freedoms from those who seek to meddle with the United States Constitution. This Administration has sought to undermine Constitutional freedoms ranging from searches without warrants with the NSA scandal, the mixing of religion and government with faith-based initiatives that take money from the public sector and voucher it into parochial schools. They have stifled dissent at political rallies black-listing individuals from attending meetings involving the President. The President has bad-mouthed the Federal debt violating the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. And now they wish to Amend the Constitution itself to limit our freedom of speech.

It is time for new leadership in America!

Freedom is America's values.

We got your back John. 2008 is around the corner!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cheney Continues Deceit: "Congress Never Misled"

It is amazing to read of Vice-President Dick Cheney's continued assertion that Congress wasn't misled, and that in particular Senator Kerry had the same facts as everyone else. Cheney jumped into the attack on Kerry for proposing a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

As reported in the Washington Post today (6/16/06):
"Vice President Cheney weighed in, taking note of Kerry's statement earlier this week urging fellow Democrats who joined him in authorizing force in 2002 to acknowledge that the war is a mistake. "I'm not surprised at John Kerry switching his position yet again," Cheney said on Sean Hannity's radio talk show. Kerry is charging "that somehow he was misled," the vice president said. "He wasn't misled. He saw the same intelligence all the rest of us saw. He knew what an evil actor Saddam Hussein was."
But this is old news.

I suppose the more you repeat a lie the more likely somebody will believe it.

Has Mr. Cheney forgotten the 9/11 Commission's conclusions on the actual relationship between Iraq and al Quaeda? As was reported in 2004:
"By Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page A01

The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq.

Along with the contention that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials have often asserted that there were extensive ties between Hussein's government and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network; earlier this year, Cheney said evidence of a link was "overwhelming."

But the report of the commission's staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday's hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.

The staff report said that bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq" while in Sudan through 1996, but that "Iraq apparently never responded" to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, "but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
But it was the Vice-President who himself misled Congress and the American people!

As the news report related in 2004:
"Speaking about Iraq's alleged links to al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney connected Iraq to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by saying that newly found Iraqi intelligence files in Baghdad showed that a participant in the bombing returned to Iraq and "probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven." He added: "The Iraqi government or the Iraqi intelligence service had a relationship with al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s."

Shortly after Cheney asserted these links, Bush contradicted him, saying: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th." But Bush added: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties."

In January, Cheney repeated his view that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda, saying that "there's overwhelming evidence" of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. He said he was "very confident there was an established relationship there."
So was Senator Kerry misled?

Has this Administration ever been found to release incorrect information?

Either this nation went into war under false pretenses that were manipulated, or the degree of incompetence in the intelligence interpretation by this President and Vice-President is so unbelievable that this is an incriminating fact in itself.

Senator Kerry speaks truth to power.

Keep on coming John! We got your back!


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why Kerry Matters

It seems somewhat fashionable to doubt the viability of a Kerry candidacy in 2008.

Sort of 'how can he win if he couldn't win against a candidate like George W. Bush.'

Or maybe he should have been tougher. Or he should have answered the attacks from the Swift Boat people quicker. Or maybe he 'had his shot, let's try someone new.'

But the problem was never Kerry's. This nation has not ever had a sleazy, smearing campaign as fought by the Republicans under Karl Rove.

And the problem isn't Kerry.

The same machine is gearing up for Hillary. Senator Edwards. Murtha. Gore. Mark Warner. Or whoever the Democratic Party puts forward as its nominee. It doesn't matter.

It never was about Kerry.

And meanwhile, our nation is involved in an unnecessary pre-emptive war which was sold to Congress under false pretenses. We now have a President who scoffs at the Constitution with his 'Signing Statements', abuses his power with unprecedented data mining without warrants and places himself above the law.

A President and a Party which is bankrupting America with massive deficits and fraud and corruption. And their answer is to make tax cuts permanent. To continue a war because we are in a war.

They ask us to "support the Troops" meaning support whatever policy is being implemented.

They suspend the Geneva Conventions, engage in torture of detainees, and practice rendition of terror suspects to secret locations in third world countries where additional torture and who-knows-what can be practiced.

They obstruct testimony to Congress when asked about Katrina.

And they violate anti-propaganda laws with phony video news releases and phony reporters in the White House press pool.

They obstruct science and interfere with the research into cures for disease and exploit the fears and insecurities of ignorant Americans attempting to deny homosexual Americans with the rights and privileges enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.

And they say they are the ones that have "values".

America needs Senator Kerry now more than ever before. We need his experience in being a decorated veteran yet knowing that the pain of war should be reserved for necessary conflicts.

We need Senator Kerry for President because no other candidate has his wisdom and understanding of foreign affairs and his experience as a Veteran who also knew when it was time to ask America to stop sending its young men and women to die for a mistake in Vietnam.

This time the mistake is called Iraq.

John Kerry is the heavyweight in the field. He is tough and he is persistent and he is not afraid to speak truth to power.

We don't need a red-state governor or a southern politician. We need a leader who can be a Statesman and represent us in Washington as our leader.

John Kerry is able to say he made a mistake supporting Iraq in the beginning. He is able to recognize that if we started a war under false presumptions, it doesn't make it any better to keep fighting it because many Americans have already died and have been maimed forever.

As long as Senator Kerry is interested in being President, this blogger shall continue to work to advocate for him, promote his candidacy, and discuss the issues.

We got your back John! Keep on coming!


Monday, June 12, 2006

Kerry Third in Latest Iowa Poll

As reported by CBS, Senator Kerry is the third choice for Iowans for President in 2008.

As reported:
"In a survey measuring the strength of potential Democratic presidential candidates, Edwards received 30 percent. Clinton was close behind with 26 percent. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was third with at 12 percent."
Other potential recipients of the 2008 nomination including Governor Mark Warner and Senator Russ Feingold were farther back in the poll in the single digits.

This is far too early to call.

But the important thing is that America is thinking about John Kerry for 2008!

There is no other candidate who has the personal experience as a decorated Vietnam Veteran combined with the unique perspective of being a founder of Vietnam Veterans against the War.

Senator Kerry understands America and the need to protect our freedoms.

He is not afraid to offer criticism of a mis-begotten military campaign.

He is tough and he is persistent.

And as long as he is interested in the job, he has the support of this blogger and other Americans. Including 12% of those polled in the latest Iowa survey.

Keep on coming John! We got your back!