Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From Penigma, wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

NOT Good & Pawlenty

"A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought."
Warren Buffett, businessman and philanthropist
b. 1930

"Opinion polls measure the public's satisfaction with its ignorance."

Is it just me, or does it make sense that a serious presidential candidate should be able to carry the vote in their own state?

A recent poll in Minnesota by St. Cloud University showed Governor Tim Pawlenty coming in 10 points behind President Obama if Pawlenty were to run against Obama in 2012. St. Cloud is located in the center of Minnesota, part of the extremely conservative 6th district which elected notorious Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to office not once but twice.

This was not a new poll result for Pawlenty. Other polls have shown similar numbers. In March of 2009, a Rasmussen poll showed that a whopping 61% of Minnesotans did not think Pawlenty should run for president in 2012. A Rasmussen poll in May 2009 showed 55% didn't think he could win the nomination for 2012.

Governor Pawlenty had been among those under consideration for John McCain's running mate during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, prior to McCain selecting Sarah Palin for the position.

Pawlenty is considered a potential candidate for the GOP 2012 presidential race, and has been touring the country speaking at conservative and Republican events, including turning up to promote the losing Conservative candidate in the New York 23rd Congressional District, instead of supporting the more moderate GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava. Palin was another of the possible 2012 hopefuls to turn up far from home to get noticed and to promote the Conservative Party candidate.

Pawlenty, or "T-Paw" for short as he is referred to in Minnesota, has announced that he will not run for a third term as governor, although he's had decent approval ratings in the polls for his performance as governor. Which makes it perhaps the more confusing to note that this suggests that there are some people who like him well enough as governor, but who dislike the idea of him as a possible President, or at least his running for the nomination for candidate for President.

A poll from the Minneapolis newspaper, The Star Tribune, from September 2009 indicated that 30% of Minnesotans would like Pawlenty to make a bid for the presidential candidacy, with 55% indicating they don't want him to run. A statement by "T-Paw" advisor Alex Conant, quoted in an article by CNN Political Director Paul Steinhauser stated (with typical Republican math) "the fact that half of the voters in a liberal leaning state like Minnesota would consider voting for a conservative like Pawlenty is a real testament to his strong record as governor."

At the time Conant made the comment, the STrib poll indicated one in four Minnesotans said there was a good chance they'd vote for him, but the results did not indicate if a hypothetical opponent was named. Another one in four thought there was at least some chance they might vote for him. However 43% indicated there was no chance they would vote for Pawlenty for president.

In the meantime, Pawlenty's approval ratings for his job as governor continue to decline, as he leaves a difficult political scene in Minnesota where there is a great deal of controversy over the state budget. Pawlenty has been described as perhaps less conservative than some of the more extreme right base of the Republican Party, but is frequently described as conservative ENOUGH.

It is expected he may try to appeal to the more conservative views of the narrow GOP base in part by trying to campaign for votes for conservative candidates in other states. For example, in a recent Iowa presidential poll for the Des Moines Register, Pawlenty was viewed favorably by 17%, unfavorably by 10%, not sure 73%. In comparison, Palin was viewed unfavorably by 55% of those polled. But will campaigning for conservative candidates in other states help T-Paw win at home? His declining numbers in Minnesota are headed the wrong way for a presidential win in his home state.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Enemy on Trial

A handful of people who've been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - will be put on trial in New York City in the coming months. Many on the right think it's both dangerous and a waste of time to do so. When pinned into a corner by our own earnest DogGone that despite the realities that these defendants weren't:

1. Going to be released into the general public if not convicted
2. WERE being treated within agreed upon law
3. WOULD avoid unneccessary and costly appeals from dubious military court decisions

their argument in the end basically came down to the fact that it was easier. While I'll defer to DG on whether easier is the course of action a nation of ethics and laws should take, I want to address one other point the conservatives have often made to me, namely, that this is a "rough world" and we "just don't get it, so stand aside and let the adults deal with the problems'.

To them, dealing with such these defendants meant simply jailing them without trial, in perpetuity, without access to family, or anything else - until the Bush Administration was FORCED by law and conservative courts to actually PROVE the people should be held any longer. They were ultimately forced to release, for a gross lack of evidence, more than 2/3rds of those they'd held for FIVE years and more. Then they wanted military tribunals - kangaroo courts where evidence gained by torture is legal, and where the "judges" careers may sit in jeopardy should they decide a case in a way other than how the military brass prefers.

Instead, this administration has chosen to try these people according to treaties we've signed, and principals we say we embrace - where evidence can't have been forced passed people's lips through excruciating pain administered over months of neglect and mistreatment. In fact, just to be clear, that mistreatment wasn't the final step in an interogation path, a final last resort, it was in fact the FIRST resort of these "rough" men. It was a way the willingly embraced - of course vicariously - as they didn't actually have to get their hands dirty. Nevertheless, it was the method they preferred, and preferred any statement so gathered should be used.

Those who claim that liberals or 'others' don't see the nature of the fight are in fact, both underestimating those 'others' and over-estimating their own position.

The underestimation comes from the fact that it is such 'chicken littles' who think they are the only ones who understand the quality of our enemy. They think they are like Colonel Nathan Jessep, the 'final thin line' between the cowed, and fat and happy American civilians, and the dirty, evil enemy. They fail to grasp that Jessep's speech was a satire (and intentionally so) about the psuedo-patriotism of those sworn to defend our liberties who are then willing to sacrifice them for what they claim is the preseveration of those liberties, but like Jessep, instead are most often doing so for their own personal ego or sanctimony, or worse, self-preservation of position.

Further, they fail to understand that most people can easily envision the kind of implacability with which people like Bin Laden approach warfare - we all understand just fine thank you very much (you condescending jerk) that Bin Laden is 'no holds barred' warfare, but since when or why do you think, given that WT Sherman already made plain the concept of 'Total War', that we can't understand that people will make war upon civilians in ugly and brutal ways? Nathan Jessep was 'keeping us safe' from a bunch of Cubans - not exactly the most aggressive of people, but what exactly did Jessep, or more 'reality based' terror 'experts' think we didn't understand about our enemy? It is the height of self-delusion to think you are the ONLY one who can imagine evil - each of us owns enough in our hearts to conceive of the evil men can do.

Which brings us to the over-estimation side of the ledger. When we act callously and recklessly, saying in effect that might makes right and law finishes a distant second to necessity, we are taking the most purile of courses - we are effectively giving in to our own secret heart of evil, and simply seeking a pound of flesh, and the cathartic joy of domination of our foes. The problem is that, while that feels good, it leads to long-term conflict, and a never ending cycle of violence. History is repleat with conflicts which have lingered for decades or even centuries where one side was dominant but abusive, and the other side was dominated but hardly submissive. Only thru just resolution do these kinds of conflicts normally or really EVER come to an end.

And then there is this - it is our commitment to law and civilized conduct of war which distinguishes us from what we say is 'evil' - how are we different from that which we oppose, how do we provide that 'shining city on the hill' example for that matter, if we abandon our laws whenever following them becomes a little bit hard? We, in effect, turn into (for the rest of the world) something little different than Bin Laden - a dangerous, and powerful nation which will not adhere to law nor live up to promises made. Our reputation rests not on our conduct in peacetime, but our ethical fortitude in times of trial - when we can keep our heads about us while all others are losing thiers - we show ourselves to be the better 'men' - when we simply succumb to that which is convenient - we say that we have no concern for the future treatment of our soldiers. For when we embrace the convenient and provide that as an example, we say that it is both 'right' and 'lawful' for the fate of our own soldiers to also simply be decided upon whatever is convenient - and there is no law, no standard, by which we will have any right to judge any mistreatment.

I listened this morning to my Priest who reminded me -

"If you seek peace, seek to be last
If you seek humility, seek to be last
If you seek love, seek to be last

If you seek Christ, seek to be last"

In no way is seeking to do what is right supposed to be easy, and in no way is seeking peace done by succumbing to our desire for vengence. Nor is giving thoughts and voice (and action) to our thoughts that our enemy would not treat us so well, seeking to be last.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coat Hangers: the Symbol for Pro-Choice Protest

"We do not move forward by curtailing people’s liberty because we are afraid of what they may do or say. "
Eleanor Roosevelt

"The line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive."

"And by the way, my belief is that if men were the ones getting pregnant, abortions would be easier to get than food poisoning in Moscow."
Dennis Miller

Selecting singularly vivid iconography - the coat hanger - as in coat hanger abortion, CredoAction launched a campaign to persuade the 20 formerly pro-choice Democratic Congressmen who voted Yes on the Stupak Pitts Amendment to change their minds, by sending coat hangers to those Democratic House members who voted to restrict access to abortion in the healthcare bill along with their petition.

The Stupak Amendment, if it remains a part of the Health Care Reform Bill, would enact greater restrictions on pro-choice than any change we have seen since the 1976 Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment of 1976, named for Republican Congressman Henry
Hyde, banned Federal funding of abortions through the Department of Health and Human Services appropriations, and led to other Federal legislation banning abortion coverage, including for those in the military and their families, but did allow payment for other health care for those individuals, so long as they paid for an abortion 'out of pocket' / with private funds.

The recently passed Stupak Pitts Amendment would make health care under those provisions unavailable for women who were willing to pay 'out of pocket' or to purchase health care with such reproductive coverage with private funds, a serious erosion of the status quo. This Amendment is anticipated to be particularly punitive to those women in low income demographics.

For every signature to their petition, CredoAction will send a coat hanger to these Congressmen, reminding them of the bad old days before safe, legal abortions were available, the days of coat hanger abortions and back alley butchers that were fatal to so many women. Their aim is to have 100,000 signatures by the end of the week before Thanksgiving, which would extrapolate to sending 2,000,000 coat hangers - 100,000 coat hangers per Congressman. As of their email update on Monday, they were already at 78,280 signatures.

The petition says, simply:

"We know what happens when women are denied access to reproductive health care including abortion. And we can't go back to an era of coat hangers and back alley abortions. Reconsider your vote on the Stupak Amendment. Tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the final health care bill that emerges from the conference committee can't turn the clock back on women's rights."

The Congressmen destined to receive the coat hangers are:

Representative Jason Altmire, Pennsylvania - (District 4);

Representative Joe Baca, California - (District 41);

Representative Sanford Bishop, Georgia - (District 2);

Representative Dennis Cardoza, California - (District 18);

Representative Christopher Carney, Pennsylvania - (District 10);

Representative Albert Chandler, Kentucky - (District 6);

Representative Jim Cooper, Tennessee - (District 5);

Representative Jim Costa, California - (District 20);

Representative Artur Davis, Alabama - (District 7);

Representative Bob Etheridge, North Carolina - (District 2);

Representative Baron Hill, Indiana - (District 9);

Representative Michael Michaud, Maine - (District 2);

Representative Richard Neal, Massachusetts - (District 2);

Representative David Ross Obey, Wisconsin - (District 7);

Representative Earl Pomeroy, North Dakota - ( All );

Representative Silvestre Reyes, Texas - (District 16);

Representative Ciro Rodgriguez, Texas - (District 23);

Representative Victor Snyder, Arkansas - (District 2);

Representative Zachary Space, Ohio - (District 18);

Representative John Spratt, South Carolina - (District 5);

If you wish to sign this petition and send a coat hanger, symbolic of coat hanger abortions, go to

If one of these is YOUR representative, I urge you to contact them directly, and express your views on the subject as a constituent, both on provisions denying women the right to use their own PRIVATE FUNDS NOT FEDERAL FUNDS to purchase insurance which includes full coverage for legal reproductive procedures, and on the larger Health Care Reform legislation.

We can only hope that this timely reminder of how making abortion more difficult if not impossible affects women, and that it will be as persuasive as it is intended. There were 64 Democrats who voted with the Republicans for the Stupak Pitts Amendment, this despite the pro-choice plank in the 2008 Democratic Platform.

Personally, I wish the Credo Action group would send coat hangers to Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak of Michicagn, and co-sponsoring Republican Congressman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, along with their co-sponsoring Congressmen: Republican Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, Democrat Dan Lipinski of Illinois, and Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey. Both Stupak and Pitts have ties to / membership in the 'Family', the secretive C-Street Christian cult that gained notoriety over the hypocritical extra-marital misconduct of Governor Sanford of South Carolina, and Senators Coburn and Ensign, and former Congressman Chip Pickering, an organization which espouses 'headship' where men in marriages are in control, and women must obey them.

Going Postal err Rogue

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's new book, "Going Rogue" is being released this week (Tuesday).
(photo courtesy AP)
Bob Schieffer, long-time CBS newsman, political conservative, and host of "Face the Nation", has described her book as, "This is Sarah Palin's turn to get even, as it were."
He goes on to describe her national political future and the book as, "I think she'll be a great attraction as an amusement. She's interesting, she's a celebrity. But I can't imagine that she has much future in politics, I really don't."
A little more than a year ago I told a local conservative blogger (just after the Republican National Convention) that Sarah Palin was an albatross, that her political star was ascending temporarily because she was an unknown who had given a fiery speech, but as her past and especially her comments became public, she would be a boat anchor on McCain's campaign.
I was told by that blogger that I was mistaken, that Palin "was exactly what the campaign needed right now." His point was of course that to the "tea party set" McCain was too liberal, and so to get the 'base engergized" an issue light-weight, but ultra-conservative photogenic candidate like Palin was needed. Perhaps that was the case for the right-wing base, but as the election bore out, it was the undecided and independent voters, not the base, who would ultimately decide the election and who needed to feel 'safe' with the VP candidate, and Sarah Palin made virtually no one feel safe thinking she was John McCain's heartbeat away from being President.
In the year (plus) since, Palin has time and again proven herself to be a goof-ball, a daffy ill-informed, fire spewer ready to mouth idiocy like death panels, and one who talks about having to 'work for a living' (as compared to a 'community organizer), but who then went and quit her job because she was not seeking re-election. She berated Levi Johnson - who maybe even deserved derision, but she appeared cheap and petty - and got into a national TV fight with David Letterman - a stupid move that could have resulted in her becoming the same kind of clown Dan Qayle proved himself to be with "Murphy Brown"/Candace Bergen.
That this women continues to enrapture the right-wing tea-party crowd speaks only to their enormous ability at self-delusion (rivaled by Palin's own ability in that regard). She appears to be a petty and shallow back-biter, looking more like a mean-spirited and dishonest hick queen dressed up in Versace than a serious and educated candidate and this books seals that impression in gold-plated tell-all tin-foil hats.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lou Dobbs

Yesterday, Lou Dobbs resigned abruptly from CNN. The full story is here:

Dobbs was a strong critic of the conduct of war in Iraq by the Bush Administration and frequently appeared on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" on HBO.

But in recent years, Dobbs returned to his very conservative roots, criticizing inaction on immigration, and fomenting further lather on the "birther" idiocy. Apparently his strident comments, given that CNN is moving back toward news rather than "advocacy journalism" as Dobbs and Fox News conducts, caused the leadership at CNN to feel that Dobbs' constant self-promotion and virulent rhetoric no longer was in line with their corporate goals or brand.

Some examples from Media one specific example of incipid racism and ethno-centric arrogance.

"Dobbs also said, "Making a decision to talk about a national initiative on education from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which is effectively an organization that is interested in the export of American capital and production to Mexico, and Mexico's export of drugs and illegal aliens to the United States. This is crazy stuff." "

This kind of race-baiting 'advocacy' is not journalism, it's simply fear-mongering and demagogic posturing intending to play to the base feelings of a segment of the American electorate which actually believes that hispanics somehow 'like' and favor a drug trade, much like that same electorate seems ready to accept that all Muslims like terrorism - the fact is, the drug trade is extraordinarily destructive to Latin America, and to the extent it is tolerated, it is tolerated by the ultra-wealthy corporate barons of Mexico ( because it makes them a lot of money. This isn't a racial issue, it's an issue of what happens when money totally corrupts a society, making the police simply an arm for oppression and supporting the drug lords when necessary. In short, it's an issue of EXACTLY the kind of 'capitalism' which results when monopolies run unchecked, and exactly the kind of capitalism Dobbs otherwise supports.

I admired Dobbs at times for calling things like he saw them, but too often he was simply ill-informed, presented shallow details about difficult issues, and appeared more interested in telling the world how great he was than in relating key information needed to better inform the public. I applaud CNN's decision to return to ACTUAL journalism, rather than the schlock of Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck and unfortunately, Lou Dobbs. Here's hoping Grace follows Dobbs out the door shortly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A More Perfect Union - Part I

"We, the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America." - Preamble to the US Constitution.

The Preamble to the Constitution grants no special powers either to the states, to the federal government, or to the people. Rather, it establishes the general purpose for the establishing a new form of government on the North American continent and gives some of the essential goals in establishing this brilliant plan of government. The Constitution itself is divided into various articles. Each of the articles deals with a particular area. There are seven articles and 27 amendments to the Constitution. This article discusses Article I - The Legislative Branch.

"All legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives" Article I, Section 1. Congress has the sole power to legislate or to create new laws, although Congress has, over the years, increasingly allowed executive departments to create regulations which have the force of law. The courts have generally been tolerant of this, and in fact, in only three cases have they invalidated laws based on delegation of congressional authority. Congress, while having been given the authority to legislate, also has the authority to investigate what it can regulate. Congress has evolved the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents to assist it in its investigations. While many of these investigations seem to be political grandstanding, the courts have generally paid great deference to Congress' authority in this area and have rarely intervened. See: Barenblatt vs. US 360 US 109 (1959) "The power of inquiry has been employed by Congress throughout our history, over the whole range of the national interests concerning which Congress might legislate or decide upon due investigation not to legislate; it has similarly been utilized in determining what to appropriate from the national purse, or whether to appropriate"

Congress is composed of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is composed of two senators from every state, elected at large. (Note: Direct election of senators did not occur until the adoption of Amendment XVII in 1912.) The senate was set up to give a balancing to the larger states, whose members would otherwise overshadow the smaller states in the House of Representatives. Each house has the authority to determine its own rules and procedures, and they differ quite distinctly from each other. Debate in the House is much more regimented, with a rule being established prior to every debate that specifies the length of the debate, etc. Debate in the Senate has no time limit, and in fact, the practice of a filibuster is a way for the minority party to stall a bill in the hopes of defeating it, even if they don't have the votes to defeat it outright. While the Senate has two senators from every state, the Constitution directs that the House of Representatives be apportioned based on population, with each state guaranteed at least one member of the House of Representatives. This is especially important as the upcoming census approaches and each party will be trying to affect census data so to allow them to draw the districts for the House and therefore increase election chances for their party members.

Congress is granted certain exclusive powers. These include the power to declare war and make peace, to approve all treaties, to maintain an army and navy, to establish inferior courts to the Supreme Court, to levy taxes, to regulate commerce between the states and between foreign nations, and others. One important clause states that "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof". Article I, Section 8. This is often called the expansion clause, because it is used as legal justification for doing almost anything.

The commerce clause is often used by Congress to enact a variety of legislation. However, a couple of recent cases indicate that the Supreme Court's willingness to allow Congress do as it pleases under the stretch of the commerce clause may be coming to an end. Specifically, the Court held in United States vs. Lopez 519 US 549 (1995) that Congress could not use the commerce clause to expand federal police powers over areas traditionally governed by the states. The Court, however, in Gonzales vs. Raich 545 US 1(2005) did not continue along this line, and while not expressly overruling its holding in Lopez supra, it did indicate that the Court's opinion on this clause is in flux.

Congress also has some limits. Congress may not pass a bill of attainter, nor may it suspend the writ of habeus corpus (with a few exceptions), and Congress may not grant titles of nobility. It also must only enact a direct tax by doing so based on proportionate taxation of the states. In practice, the income tax amendment of 1916 has superseded this section.

States are also limited in Article I. States may not enter into agreements with each other without the consent of congress, they may not keep armies or troops during times of peace, and they may not go to war unless actually invaded. More importantly, they must tax the imports of each state equally, and may not tax exports except to the point needed to carry out inspection laws. States may not impede the operation of a contract. States may forbid certain clauses in a contract, but not one that is currently operative.

Article I of the Constitution establishes considerable power for Congress, if Congress decides to exercise that power. In Part II of this series, I will discuss the Executive branch, and along with that discussion, the unique relationship that has evolved with Congress, including the limits and expansion of Executive power.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Definition of Terrorism

Yesterday, Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence committee called the attack at Ft. Hood acts of "terrorism." In an interview today on CNN, he repeated his accusation, saying that people shouldn't leap to conclusions, but still saying this is terrorism because it is the tactic of Islamic Jihadists to recruit US soldiers to attack US targets.

Now, notwithstanding the fact (and Rep Hoekstra had no answer for this either), that the FBI has reviewed the communication between Major Nidal Hasan and a radical Muslim cleric who formerly lived in Falls Church, VA - and commented that NO communication between the two indicated any attempt to 'recruit' Major Hasan or incite him to attack US soldiers or otherwise, to Rep Hoekstra, the mere fact that Major Hasan is Muslim opposed our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and that there are radical Islamic sites he might have visited, despite the fact that he acted alone, means that it was terrorism - and reflected this 'tactic' - but hey, he's not jumping to conclusions.

Further, Rep Hoekstra was miffed with the FBI and CIA for not giving him a briefing the DAY AFTER it happened, but rather waited until yesterday, because Rep Hoekstra had returned to Michigan for the holiday break (Thanksgiving), and 'they knew' he was leaving - so to get this straight Rep Hoekstra demanded a briefing before they had concluded ANY sort of investigation - he needed he HAD to have HIS briefing on HIS schedule because waiting until Monday to fly home, rather than Saturday, well that just didn't fit with his schedule - so shame on the FBI - they should give briefings before they have anything substantive to say - to some Congress-schlep who they don't report to and doesn't NEED to know today - right now-- in fact, they should take time away from perhaps finding other people involved JUST to brief this guy.

I make that point rather strongly to point out what a schmuck the guy is - his claim that 'we shouldn't leap to conclusions (what President Obama asked for and he agreed with) - while LEAPING to the conclusion that this is terrorism' is just bald-faced hypocrisy.

What's worse is that there is zero evidence that we know of that this guy was acting in concert with anyone. He MAY have been an Islamic radical - but exactly how would you stop people like him? How will our 'war on terrorism' stop individuals who simply disagree with a governmental policy - which I bring up because IF it was terrorism then frankly, our strategies to confront it should work - which helps to illustrate in part, that it isn't - terrorism ISN'T defined as any violent act of dissent against a government.

What's more - when confronted about Timothy McVeigh - Rep. Hoekstra commented that THIS WAS DIFFERENT - because McVeigh wasn't succumbing to the tactics of Jihadists - even though McVeigh CLEARLY worked with, was familiar with, radical militia groups who advocated - oh I don't know- violent acts of dissent against the government.

Terrorism is commonly defined as....

"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

Major Hasan's "ideology" was that he felt Muslims shouldn't be required to serve in combat areas against other Muslims - he personally opposed his deployment and made plain why. He opposed our participation in - and conduct of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to be sure, but at this point the only thing we know is that he was most strongly motivated by opposition to deployment of Muslims, especially himself. His 'coercion' was specifically in relation to himself - and I'll add one more point - he attacked soldiers, not civilians - while the definition above makes no distinction - the common usage does - we consider terrorism (most commonly) to be attacks upon civilians - the innocent non-combatants rather than wreaking your vengeance upon the war-making ability of those whom you oppose. Major Hassan took his grievance to those who were going to deploy him and the Army itself - the initial victims were certainly defenseless, but hardly what we would call 'non-combatants'. While his acts, in my mind, were horrific, and the worst form of "protest" imaginable - he in fact took his fight to those who have the obligation to fight - he didn't kill a doctor in a church.

Time will tell if he was acting for some larger Islamic fundamentalist principal - at this point we don't know - but using this attack for political purposes is despicable and repugnant. If we are now going to define any attack by any individual as 'terrorism' when it is in protest to something they don't like - well, we have an impossible problem to solve ahead of us. Claiming that this as about Islamic extremism before the facts are in, simply because it gets you political mileage, is race-baiting, religious-baiting ugly bigotry done purely for that political gain. McVeigh, who consorted with and complained with all kinds of anti-government nutjobs - well that was 'different' apparently and only because he wasn't a Muslim. But now, apparently, if it is convenient, we'll use a standard that would have us define the acts of fratricide committed in Vietnam by US soldiers upon their officers - as a protest to poor orders, or as a protest to their presence 'in-country' or for any of a myriad of reasons, well, apparently all that was 'terrorism' too - why?? Simply because it's convenient to claim that Muslims love terrorism, their acts are somehow different, and because we want to claim that Obama isn't 'keeping us safe.' I wonder then, what we call the hand-grenade attacks in Kuwait and Iraq's green zone by US soldiers? Was that not also terrorism, or is it NOT terrorism simply because they weren't Muslims and maybe while they read radical sites protesting government actions - well that's okay, because it wasn't at least radical MUSLIM sites...

This is political grandstanding, ugly, repulsive political, blindered, myopic grandstanding, and nothing else.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

47 More Sexual Assault Victims of Halliburton and KBR

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life."
Theodore Roosevelt
26th President of the United States
1858 - 1919

“There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.”
James Thurber
American Writer


Forty seven more women have reported similar experiences to those of Jamie Leigh Jones. I had previously indicated the number was eleven, from an earlier research source. I have contacted the Jamie Leigh Jones Foundation directly for further information, so I hope to provide continuing updates. At least two of the women already have had similar court cases challenging the enforcement of arbitration clauses which was the subject of the Franken Amendment. They are mentioned in the May 9, 2008 decision of the Jamie Leigh Jones case in the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. That decision mentions the similarity of the sexual assault in Cravetz v. Halliburton (Southern District of Florida Court), and the sexual assault in the case of Barker v. Halliburton (Southern District of Texas).

While looking into what I could find on the allegations of sexual assault related to Halliburton and KBR, I also came across a reference to a criminal conviction of David Charles Breda Jr. for the sexual assault of a woman while employed by a KBR subsidiary in Iraq. There is a wonderful web site hosted by the Project on Government Oversight, "POGO", which maintains a Federal Contractor Misconduct Database that is fascinating reading at

The political fall out for those Senators who voted against the "Franken Amendment" has begun, with the first Senator, Vitters from Louisiana (R), to be confronted by a rape victim in his home state, following a public meeting on health care reform in Baton Rouge on Halloween.

Here is the link to the YouTube video of the encounter:

It could be said that the real life confrontation was potentially far scarier for Vitters, at least politically, than any holiday monsters. It should be interesting to see if this vote against the Franken Amendment is more damaging to Vitters' re-election hopes in 2010 than the fall out from his prostitution scandal.

Vitters earned a certain notoriety for his use of a prostitutes, including apparently being phoned by the prostitution ring to set up appointments for their services while he was on the Senate Floor during actual votes, according to correlations between phone records and Senate vote records. Apparently the Senator has an interesting way of mixing business with pleasure, or at least the business of pleasure.

It has been the recent pattern when asked to explain their vote against the Franken Amendment, for the nay-voting Senators to state their opposition to the intent of the Amendment, while misstating the position of the Obama White House which supported the intent, and worked with the Senators sponsoring the Amendment to make it more enforceable and broader.

There is every possibility that there are more victims than the 11 who have now come forward in addition to Jamie Leigh Jones. It will be interesting to see how this plays out between now and the 2010 elections for those Senators, and with the Department of Justice.