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Wed, Feb. 20th, 2008, 12:08 pm
More raiding

In response to Jerid.

Jerid wrote: "It's called freedom of choice."

It's called "gaming the system." And it's clearly not what is intended in a representative democracy.

One thing I used to appreciate about conservatives, even if I disagree with the policy choices, was that they were woman and man enough to have some integrity. You sir, it appears, have lost no small degree of that. As an Independent, I fear for the nation and the possibility of salvaging our failed experiment in Democracy when people like you advocate petty, nonsensical electoral games. You are making a mockery of what little integrity is left in the system. You and your party would have been much better served by voting for the candidate of your true choice, making a positive affirmation of your political beliefs and demonstrating the strength of your party even as it is being decimated by a weak-minded little man named George. You have lost a great opportunity here and we're all the worse off for it.

Wed, Feb. 20th, 2008, 09:56 am

Follow more nonsense from McIlheran here.

The reply:

You shouldn't.

This is called "raiding" and there are laws in many states which prevent this obviously dubious practice by requiring people to register with a party to vote in the primary election. The following states, falling variously on the political spectrum, have closed primaries which prevent raiding:
* Arizona
* California
* Connecticut
* Delaware
* District of Columbia
* Florida [1]
* Kentucky
* Maryland
* Massachusetts
* Nebraska
* New Mexico
* New York
* North Carolina
* Oklahoma
* Oregon
* Pennsylvania
* Puerto Rico
* Rhode Island
* South Dakota
* Utah
* West Virginia

In a world where people had integrity and didn't vote for candidates whose positions they don't support closed primaries would be unnecessary. Unfortunately we have folks who treat electoral politics like a game.

Rather than thinking about "messing" with the Democrats you should be discouraging this unsavory practice among your party members. In fact you better hope "raiding" has been prevalent on "Super Tuesday" with roughly 15 million Democrats voting in closed primaries versus about 9 million for Republicans. If "raiding" doesn't explain the Obama/Clinton tidal wave in the open primary states, the Republicans are in for a serious shellacking.

Wed, Feb. 20th, 2008, 07:30 am
More McIlheran

Since you have censored my last attempt to post on the "People's Cube" reference, I am appealing to your sense of integrity to not censor this modified post.

The site you refer your readers to makes an inappropriate and deviant sexual comment. I refer to the reply to the quote: "The war in Iraq makes millions of dollars for big corporations, either weapons manufacturers or those working in the reconstruction, such as Halliburton and its sister companies."

It is: "Osama bin Laden - Correct. He discovered the clitoris of the progressive movement and has been massaging it with both hands."

I don't understand why you can refer your readers to a sexually inappropriate page but not allow a reader to call you on it.

Wed, Feb. 20th, 2008, 07:14 am
Patrick McIlheran

I'm working this fellow's weblog.

He mentioned Chomsky. Doubtful that it'll pass his censorship, I reply:

Okay -- let me explain something to you. This is a contention: "They were ... transparently paranoic rants about the thoroughgoing evil of America." It requires evidence. You gave us none. Merely stating your (bizarre) opinions do not make them true. My wife's high school English students have trouble with this concept too.

Here's another one: "His view seems premised on the belief that capitalism is a kind of theft." The charge of the writer is to back-up things that they say. My suspicion is that you don't back up what you say because you can't.

In fact, Chomsky is not as you appear to believe "anti-American." He is one of the most patriotic and honest assets our troubled nation possesses. You fail to recognize the fundamental premise upon which our great country was founded that, in order to be a healthy, well functioning open society we must have a vigorous, unrestrained debate. Criticism of the actions of one's government, when those actions are immoral and stupid is not "foolish" but the citizens ultimate responsibility. Similar to the love exhibited in the excoriation of a misbehaving child, we must stand over our government, watchful and vigilant to their errors and crimes. Which unfortunately, with the criminal Bush administration in office, are at an all time high.

And Chomsky never said "that we deserved 9/11" -- I defy you to provide a checkable quote for this one.


Wed, Feb. 13th, 2008, 11:42 pm
Autumn surprise 2008

I can't shake it. The image of Cheney declaring martial law. A dead president. A terrorist act. Suspended elections.

I know. I'm ready for the aluminum foil pyramid hat. Institutional am I.

Why? Why expend great effort and spill tankers of blood, real and political, expanding the power and reach of the executive to a degree in rate and extent heretofore unmatched in American history? Why set about developing the "unitary executive" in practice, minimizing by ignoring the power of congress to legislate through executive signing statements? Why?! If you're just going to let all this power pass to the Democrats on 20 January 2009?

I can't figure it.

I don't think a serious argument can be forged against the notion that the Bush administration has greatly expanded the power of the executive. Signing statements alone gets you there. But then there's (in no particular order) recess appointments, extraordinary rendition, violation of criminal statutes against the ordering and use of torture, warrantless surveillance, and most significant for our AS08 (Autumn Surprise 2008) scenario -- "The National Security and Homeland Security Directive" issued by Bush 09 May 2007.

The ostensible (and incredibly naive given all the Bush administration's givens) reason for this statement's issuance is, according to Mike German, ACLU policy counsel, harmless: “All it does is establish that they should have a policy and coordinate that policy with legislative and judiciary. It doesn’t change the order of succession, or anything like that.” -- as Matt Rothschild quotes in The Progressive. Despite German's nonchalance, Rothschild's uncomfortable. It might have something to do with this wording from the statement:

"Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches [...]

Basically saying that Bush controls "a cooperative effort" among the three branches. Why? Out of politeness or "comity." He's under no obligation to be bound by the constitutionally mandated powers of the judicial or the executive. But he'll be polite.

This is disturbing. But I think something can be done to stop this. It starts with pushing Rep. Paul's [R-TX] HR 3835 bill through the House Judiciary subcommittee on consitutional affairs where it now languishes. This bill merely reaffirms existing constitutional law. You can sign the American Freedom Campaign's Freedom Pledge. It's worth something, however precious little.

Maybe most effectively, we call for the Congress to pass legislation forbidding the prevention of elections under almost any event -- short of attack by the duly constituted military of another nation. Like Canada. I've got my eye on you Canadians.

It's probably not going to happen -- but why take the chance?


Wed, Feb. 13th, 2008, 12:00 am
Take a stand against torture

Do it now.

Dear Senator,

I'm still trying to assimilate the idea that the Senate needs to pass a bill forbidding torture.

Besides being a useless means of gathering intelligence -- those being subjected to physical and psychological pain often lie in order to end the interrogation; in often misrepresented case of averting imminent danger (the '24' scenario) even if you know you have the right person (often it's impossible to know this) and you know that they have desirable information (also very difficult to know) the suspected individual only has to resist the interrogation as long as the "fuse" burns to accomplish the objective. (Not to mention the fact that the subject in these situations is likely to be willing to die to protect the terror mission.)

Please, WAKE UP! You're doing no good to our failing American experiment in democracy by supporting an irrational, illogical, and useless practice that has been frowned on since antiquity.

And it's just plain wrong.


Tue, Nov. 6th, 2007, 10:36 pm
Dear Mr Lieberman:

Dear Senator,

I am taking the time to write you -- I hope you will grant me the courtesy of a reply.

I read about your comments to Brad Davis listeners yesterday. You said, "I'm proud to say that the tide has turned in Iraq and we're winning that war."

I am writing to inform you, since you appear to be the least informed member of congress -- well, okay, maybe Old Ted from Alaska has you beat -- that 2007 is shaping up to be the bloodiest year in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.

You sound like a fool, sir. Please step down. You are a nice guy. But grossly incompetent.


Tue, Oct. 30th, 2007, 11:16 pm
Marketplace - on our knees for corporate schlock

After hearing this on Marketplace. I wrote this:

Thanks for including Steve Aftergood in your brief report on the "black budget" of the US intelligence industry. Mr. Aftergood has worked for many years to increase accountability of the national security apparatus.

Your report was overall incorrect, however, and confusing. You should correct the following.

First, an incidental correction: the budget was, in fact, "made public" since 1998, in 2005 [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/08/politics/08budget.html?pagewanted=print]
by then deputy director of national intelligence for collection Mary Margaret Graham. Although inadvertent, this incident clearly contradicts your report's language. This is just sloppy reportage.

But worse: the contention that "the idea of publicly releasing how much money America spends on spying was initially suggested by the 9-11 Commission" is ludicrous. That the "initial" suggestion can be traced is itself laughable and without content. This statement's vapidity clearly exhibited by the fact that it contradicts Mr. Henn's previous declamation that, "The last time the U.S. intelligence budget was made public, back in 1998, America was spending a bit more than $26 billion a year on spying." These statements are at best confusing and obviously inconsistent.

Overall the quality of this report is consistent, in my view, with that of Marketplace in general.


Sun, Aug. 12th, 2007, 11:20 pm
Dear Rep. Pelosi

Dear Rep. Pelosi,

You lied. You claimed you would end the war in Iraq. You have perpetuated and made it worse. I must remind you of a fact: your party won in the midterm elections on the basis of a single issue. Iraq.

You made promises on election night. And like a used car salesman you reversed them all the following day. I know you care about your grandchildren -- your care for mine isn't as clear -- but you have done them and us all a great disservice with your position of power in the US congress. You have squandered it and made all our futures that much more precarious.

Do you realize what is happening there? Our men and woman in uniform kick in normal, peaceful working folk's doors and execute them in their living rooms. They resemble German soldiers in Polish ghettos in the late 30s. Stormtroopers.

You are perpetuating one of the most heinous international crimes of modern times. Soon we will hear calls for impeachment of Cheney and Bush along with your name. Pull your head out of the sand and live up to your promises. You grandchildren will thank you later.

Most sincerely,

Wed, Mar. 28th, 2007, 12:50 am
Third parties, third parties, third parties.

Response to:


I won't attempt to answer your sundry and provocative questions -- I'm late in the game here, replying way after the fact.

But I just wanted to comment on the general nature of the responses that your post initiated. Many of them attempt to speak to the psychological aspects of the political economy of the American empire given, I think, the way you presented your disgust with the state of American policy, foreign and, apparently, domestic. While I think this is an compelling dimension to explore for sociological interests, I don't think one gets very far in terms of how to change the situation going along these lines. (It's fair, now, if you're thinking, "This guy's a Marxist," though hopefully that doesn't preclude my thoughts from your consideration.)

In fact, I think Prof. Chomsky tends to avoid this line of inquiry into the particularities of sociological and psychological underpinnings of political economy. Mainly because it misses the primary point:

These United States are, in fact, divided -- divided along the lines of public policy and public opinion. (Of course, complete theft here of Prof. Chomsky's analysis.)

If the will of the majority-American were exercised by government we would have universal (single payer) health care, unencroachable reproductive rights, living wage, etc. -- and we certainly would not be in Iraq nor have fought all of the wars-of-profit of the 20th century.

Consider that the way out of this dilemma -- I think there is really only one -- is the long-term, slow, plodding development of third party alternatives to what our dear friend, Ralph Nader describes as "two wings of the corporate party."

In solidarity,


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