Today’s march 31

March 31, 2007 § Leave a comment

Hicks, Keynes, political science, Mathew Dowd, school as lottery..Hicks and plea bargain. The plea bargain idea is corrupt because, given the choice beween twenty yars and five, the innocent can be pesuaded to give up and accept the five. We are denied valuable information, the policy makers are protected, and Hicks is probaably done an injustice.

We need a much more transparent society.

The case of Gitmo detainee David Hicks of Australia is a travesty on so many levels, but consider the following terms of his plea bargain:

The deal included a statement by Mr. Hicks that he “has never been illegally treated” while a captive, despite claims of beatings he had made in the past. It also included a promise not to pursue suits over the treatment he received while in detention and “not to communicate in any way with the media” for a year.

Critics said those requirements were a continuation of what they say has been a pattern of illegal detention policies. “It is a modern cutting out of his tongue,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group, based in New York, that is coordinating the representation of detainees in many suits challenging Guantánamo detention.

What we have here is a plea bargain in which the government leverages its vast control over the life, liberty, and body of the defendant to obtain for itself a release from potential liability for its own conduct and a one-year protection from bad PR. Truth, justice, and the Gitmo way.

Source: Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

and, I read Keynes on Laissez faire. Briiant article with many cross referencing ideas.

http://www.panarchy.org/keynes/laissezfaire.1926.html

I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable. Our problem is to work out a social organisation which shall be as efficient as possible without offending our notions of a satisfactory way of life.

The next step forward must come, not from political agitation or premature experiments, but from thought. We need by an effort of the mind to elucidate our own feelings. At present our sympathy and our judgement are liable to be on different sides, which is a painful and paralysing state of mind. In the field of action reformers will not be successful until they can steadily pursue a clear and definite object with their intellects and their feelings in tune. There is no party in the world at present which appears to me to be pursuing right aims by right methods. Material poverty provides the incentive to change precisely in situations where there is very little margin for experiments. Material prosperity removes the incentive just when it might be safe to take a chance. Europe lacks the means, America the will, to make a move. We need a new set of convictions which spring naturally from a candid examination of our own inner feelings in relation to the outside facts.

What a great lead in to GardenWorld. there is much more of value in this wonderful paper. avoid the rant by the archivst who posted it.

and the import and oracle on the current state of political theory which I only have time to mention.

From Perspectives on Politics, Ira Katznelson (Columbia): At the Court of Chaos: Political Science in an Age of Perpetual Fear pdf.

I also need to mention the works of Henry Liu, writing for the Asian Times. His essay is our collected at

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/Henry.html

The Asian Times is rapidly becoming a favorite source of news. Liu covers an amazing range of topics. There are about eight major series.

  1. World order, failed states, and terrorism
  2. The coming trade war
  3. Money power and modern art
  4. Chinese currency
  5. China and the us, the quest for peace
  6. Religion
  7.  enlightenment and imperialism
  8. A critique of the role of the world’s central banks

and Fitzgerald and Libby and beyond.

 

…delegate you all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department’s investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity, and I direct you to exercise that authority as Special Counsel independent of the supervision or control of any offices of the Department…

“all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department’s investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosre of a CIA employee’s identity” is plenary and inclused the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committees in the course of and with intent ot interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses; to conduct appeals arising out of the matter being investigated and/or prosecuted; and to pursue administrative remedies and civil sanctions (such as civil contempt) that are within the Attorney General’s authority to impose or pursue….

from http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/03/31/plenary-powers/#respond

OK. But since Libby was accused of obstructig justice, now that that is out of the way, can’t the path continue to where Libby was obstructing? that is, now we know, to Rove, Cheney, The Pres, all within the origial letter of authrity?

and,

 

Ex-Aide Details a Loss of Faith in the President

AUSTIN, Tex., March 29 — In 1999, Matthew Dowd became a symbol of George W. Bush’s early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Karl Rove and Matthew Dowd talked as President Bush spoke at a campaign rally in 2004 in Canton, Ohio.

A top strategist for the Texas Democrats who was disappointed by the Bill Clinton years, Mr. Dowd was impressed by the pledge of Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington. He switched parties, joined Mr. Bush’s political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the president’s chief campaign strategist.

Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.

In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.

 

He said that during his work on the 2006 re-election campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, which had a bipartisan appeal, he began to rethink his approach to elections.

“I think we should design campaigns that appeal not to 51 percent of the people,” he said, “but bring the country together as a whole.”

Mr. Dowd does not seem prepared to put his views to work in 2008. The only candidate who appeals to him, he said, is Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, because of what Mr. Dowd called his message of unity. But, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work.”

He added, “I do feel a calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.”

The naivee in this, the lack of historical perspective, the lack of knowledge abut Iraq. It is all feeling.(in so far as the erview is accurate).

and a Good iterview  with Thom Hartmann and Christy Hardin Smith, on voter fruad and other things.

including,

to everyone in the African American community, as happened in Ohio in the 2004 election, and it happened in Florida as well, that says if you or any member of your family has parking tickets or has ever committed a crime, and you show up to vote, you will be arrested. Now, this is not true, but unknown groups were distributing tens of thousands of flyers that said this, or letters to registered Democratic voters in African American communities. And it was apparently effective in suppressing a certain percentage of the Black vote.

and, on biofuel compeeing for food.

If we want to save the planet, we need a

five-year freeze on biofuels
Oil produced from plants sets up competition for food between cars and people. People – and the environment – will lose
George Monbiot
Tuesday March 27, 2007

 

and, From the New Statesman, I find this quite terrible. The idea that fate plays such a hand so early. i know it is in the context of other kinds of fate – the parents  you are born to – but, the identity of having lost the lottery seems like  abad way to start life. But worse, why should the advantge be so rare that everyone can’t have it? Wouldn’t that be a better society, and a healthier one?

The new school code suggests introducing a lottery-type admission system, to stop parents gaining admission for their children by buying houses nearby. Some city academies already operate random allocation policies, ensuring that certain children from poor backgrounds get a place.

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Andrew Carnegie and Theodore Roosevelt.

March 30, 2007 § Leave a comment

 

The developing disagreement between Carnegie and Roosevelt revealed moral ambiguities on both sides. Roosevelt the progressive was annoyed by Carnegie’s hypocrisy: for all his talk of peace, what about the workers worn out by his labor policies and the small investors he ran out of business? The questions were well-placed, but the hostility behind them was mired in a mass of confusion. When Roosevelt asserted that “righteousness and justice” were more important than peace, and that those goals sometimes required war, Carnegie reminded the president that since each side in war declared that it was in pursuit of righteousness and justice, the question was: who was to decide where the moral right lay? “No one, according to you,” he told Roosevelt. “They must go to war to decide not what is right’ but who is strong.”

Source: Powell’s Books – Review-a-Day – Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw, reviewed by The New Republic Online

Fitzgerald and Libby

March 25, 2007 § Leave a comment

I am not satisfied, but the perspectiev is serious. More questions.

 

Fitzgerald may be forgiven his passionate defense of the integrity of grand-jury proceedings and F.B.I. investigations. But attorneys general should resist the temptation to interfere with newsgathering or to delegate such a decision to a single-minded special counsel. When a White House leak is suspected, it is hard to avoid an independent prosecutor, but it¹s a pressure worth resisting. Nothing in the last four decades has altered my preference for the chaotic condition I described when I asked the courts not to fret over the lost secrets of the Pentagon Papers:

For the vast majority of ³secrets,² there has developed between the government and the press (and Congress) a rather simple rule of thumb: The government hides what it can, pleading necessity as long as it can, and the press pries out what it can, pleading a need and right to know. Each side in this ³game² regularly ³wins² and ³loses² a round or two. Each fights with the weapons at its command. When the government loses a secret or two, it simply adjusts to a new reality. When the press loses a quest or two, it simply reports (or misreports) as best it can. Or so it has been, until this moment.

It may sound cynical to conclude that tolerating abusive leaks by government is the price that society has to pay for the benefit of receiving essential leaks about government. But that awkward condition has long served to protect the most vital secrets while dislodging the many the public deserves to know.

As Justice Potter Stewart wrote after studying the unending contest between the government and the press during the cold war:

So far as the Constitution goes … the press is free to do battle against secrecy and deception in government. But the press cannot expect from the Constitution any guarantee that it will succeed. … The Constitution itself is neither a Freedom of Information Act nor an Official Secrets Act. The Constitution, in other words, establishes the contest, not its resolution.

… For the rest, we must rely, as so often in our system we must, on the tug and pull of the political forces in American society.

In loose translation: Prosecutors of the realm, let this back-alley market flourish. Attorneys general and others armed with subpoena power, please leave well enough alone. Back off. Butt out.

Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The New York Times, is the author of ³The Times of My Life and My Life With The Times.² March 25, 2007 Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/25/magazine/25Libby.t.html

I am left with – if Libby was lying and is now convicted, can’t he be called again to retell the story? What of the outing? Who orchestrated it, if it was illegal. I conclude that Frankel here is only arguing a narrow part of the case – Fitzgerald’s attack on reporters. Give him that, is there not still a lot to find out in the context of a broken law?

En México, Gates cambiará armas por computadoras – Infobae.com

March 24, 2007 § Leave a comment

 Extraordinary, trading computers for guns.

En México, Gates cambiará armas por computadorasAgregar a mis artículos

El gobierno de esa ciudad apoyada por el presidente de Microsoft, iniciará una campaña de cambio de pistolas por PC. Las máquinas serán compradas por el municipio y la empresa pondrá en forma gratuita los programas

Ampliar Imagen

Bill Gates - Windows XP

El gobierno de la Ciudad de México, en acuerdo con el presidente de Microsoft, Bill Gates, iniciará una campaña de cambio de armas de calibre 9 milímetros, 40 y 45 por computadoras, informó el viernes por la noche el jefe de la Policía local, Joel Ortega.
Ortega indicó que la campaña de desarme comenzará en la capital la próxima semana y que para ello el gobierno comprará las computadoras mientras que Microsoft pondrá gratuitamente los programas
El convenio con Microsoft fue realizado durante la visita a la Ciudad de México que realizó Gates, quien se reunió en días pasados con el jefe de Gobierno, Marcel Ebrard.

Source: En México, Gates cambiará armas por computadoras – Infobae.com

An example of duplicitous rhetoric on Iraq NYT Thomas Edsall

March 22, 2007 § Leave a comment

A Smoke-Filled War Room

By THOMAS B. EDSALL

Washington

THE Democratic majority in the House is trying to set policy for the Iraq war by committee — a fractious and divided committee.

If the Democrats really want to play a role in the current Iraq debate, they should take a look at what John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are up to. These two Republican presidential contenders are pinning the blame for the current morass squarely on President Bush, rather than tackling the far more contentious project of how and when to bring the war to an end.

But, as you will see, they blame Bush for failing, not for starting. Watch how he slips this in.

The Democratic leadership, meanwhile, instead of hammering Mr. Bush, has busied itself behind closed doors, producing a toothless, loophole-ridden resolution that showcases the party’s generic antiwar stance while trying to establish troop readiness requirements, benchmarks for Iraqi progress and withdrawal timetables. The resolution — more precisely, a set of deals intended to paper over intraparty factions — is the result of a process better suited to a highway bill than national security.

This patchwork proposal not only demonstrates the House leadership’s inability to extract a meaningful consensus from a membership that runs the ideological gamut from the Out of Iraq Caucus on the left to the Blue Dogs on the right. It also risks setting the Democrats up for a poisonous share of responsibility for the failure of United States foreign policy, while amplifying questions regarding Democratic competence on military matters.

This is the democratic war side – we will not be weak, we will be strong.!” and out do the Republicans on militarism.

Admittedly, some Democrats have tried to spell out coherent objections to the administration’s botched venture.

Note, botched, not wrong.

But none so far have come close to matching the forcefulness of Mr. McCain and Mr. Giuliani, and, as often as not, when a Democrat speaks about the war, he or she gets pulled back into the maw of the legislative process.

Still, Democrats must find a way — transparently and purposefully — to formulate an authoritative critique of the strategic errors of the White House.

Mixing strategy and tactics. the White House errors were both, and strategy includes the aim and purpose of the response to 911, which does not include invading Iraq.

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. McCain have already shown the potential of this line of attack.

Take Mr. Giuliani. On “Larry King Live” on Feb. 14, he found fault with virtually every aspect of the Bush administration’s military posture. Mr. Giuliani argued: “You’ve got to change the whole strategy. …The whole strategy has to be a strategy of not just pacifying places, but holding them, and holding them for some period of time.”

Ah, let’s win. But holding them produces ever more resistance to occupation. The question in the background is, why so much concern about “losing.”? US forward military bases, oil, and Israel (and the president’s ego – and jockeying for position in 2008).

He added: “Here’s what I would change. Do it with more troops, maybe 100,000, 150,000 more.

So, the proposal is that the Dems should imitate this policy. Was that suggested in the opening lines? No. Sleazy argument.

I would do it in a way in which we didn’t disband the army, which we’ve learned. I would have us not disband the army. You wouldn’t de-Baathify. See, de-Baathify sounds like the right thing to do because you’re getting rid of all the old Saddam guys. But that meant getting rid of the entire civil service. The country had no infrastructure.”

Mr. Giuliani’s comments were made as if they represented policies to be adopted in the future. But in fact, they are a retrospective condemnation of Mr. Bush’s conduct of the war.

Five days after Mr. Giuliani spoke out, Mr. McCain was vigorously applauded when he told a gathering near Hilton Head Island, S.C., home to many military retirees: “We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that’s the kindest word I can give you of Donald Rumsfeld — of this war.

“mismanagement”, not that it was a bad idea in the first place. the war, it says, was good, but we needed to manage it better.

Two looming 2008 questions: who gets blamed for mismanagement, and who gets blamed for the mistake of going there in the first place.

 

The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously. I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.”

Less than two weeks later, when Mr. McCain “announced” his presidential bid on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” he continued his attack on the administration: “Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives.”

Because of mis-management or the big strategy? Doesn’t say.

If Democrats are going to capitalize on their November electoral successes, they must compete effectively with Republican candidates to keep attention focused on Mr. Bush’s responsibility for the catastrophic state of the Iraq war.

The state of the war, not the existence of it.

 In Congress, rigorous investigations and public hearings that lay out the scope of this fiasco should take precedent over resolutions putatively managing or ending the war. Democrats failed to make policy by resolution during the lead-up to the war and through its darkest years; they should not start now.

Democrats should stay out of policy, he implies, cause hey might not be in favor of this kind of war.

Remember: for much of the American public, the Bush administration’s mismanagement — its unwillingness to plan for the aftermath of the invasion, its misuse of intelligence data and its destruction of worldwide support — still need to be explicitly spelled out. Democrats should devote the next two years to convincing voters that accountability for the record levels of violence, calcifying sectarian divisions, and increasing numbers of daily casualties belongs to the White House — and, by proxy, to the Republican Party.

Thus sounds better, but in context, it is muddying the water so you acquiesce a bit to his major argument – the war is a good one badly done.

Otherwise, in 2008, despite years of crisis in Iraq, the usual dichotomy may well reassert itself: that Republicans are historically strong on defense, and Democrats historically weak.

See, that is the danger, not strategy. He also fails to recall that Kennedy ran against Eisenhower because the US was not strong enough in response to (hyped up) views of Soviet missile developments.

The fact remains that nearly 40 years of Democratic opposition to weapons spending, calls for cuts in the Pentagon budget and backing of broad constraints on covert operations have made the party — fairly or unfairly — an easier mark than the Republicans for those seeking to find a culprit for military collapse in Iraq.

If Democrats want to consolidate their recent political gains, they cannot afford to make themselves susceptible to charges that they contributed to American defeat overseas.

Yes, a danger, but the repnt is that is was a bad war badly conceived based on misleading use of information to get to a war the Neocons wanted to get to anyway.

But one sure way for them to lay themselves open to criticism is to do what they’re doing now — tinkering with wartime policy out of public view, vote-swapping and cutting deals to accommodate competing party interests.

Rather than passing hurried and porous legislation, Democrats would do better to make their priority public documentation of the Republican failure in Iraq, while taking the time to finally devise a strong, smart, coherent stance on how they’ll handle terrorism, national security and the Middle East.

That is, don’t do anything now to end the war.

Certainly, a slower and more considered approach would give Democrats the chance to demonstrate to voters that they take seriously the threat of terrorism — that whatever Iraq policy the party adopts, it is based on recognition of this grave danger, and not on a helter-skelter rush to quiet demands from its influential antiwar wing.

Terrorism requires a response of better understanding the world, not reacting defensively in ways that give “the others” an identity. he is arguing for a continuing war while trying to figure out a stronger response (of a military kind) to “terrorism”, which is not amenable to war, but to diplomacy and economics.

Thomas B. Edsall, a professor of journalism at Columbia, is the author, most recently, of “Building Red America.”

What Happens Now? re Justice firings

March 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

 This is a good summary of the potential legal process.

What leverage do the Judiciary Committees have over the Administration with respect to the Overblown Personnel Matter? Why shouldn’t Fred Fielding just stonewall to his heart’s content?

Answer: a Congressional subpoena isn’t a request, it’s an order. (Sub poena: “under pain.”) If the order is ignored, the Committee that issued the subpoena asks the parent body to vote a Contempt-of-Congress citation. Contempt of Congress is like contept of court: defiance means jail. In principle, the Justice Department could refuse to prosecute but at that point even the Republicans in Congress would probably have reached the limits of their tolerance. In addition, either House of Congress has (though it seldom uses) the power to order its Sergeant-at-Arms to simply arrest anyone who defies a subpoena; that power, like civil contempt of court, is coercive rather than punitive. That is, confinement lasts only as long as defiance lasts.

The person subpoenaed can challenge the propriety of the subpoena on various grounds: for example, that the investigation doesn’t actualy serve a legislative purpose, or that the material is covered by the attorney-client privilege. If the Congress has exercised its arrest powers, the person arrested can challenge the arrest by means of the writ of habeas corpus. (So far, Congress has no facilities at Guantanamo.)

Source: Firedoglake – Firedoglake weblog » What Happens Now?

Today’s march 21

March 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

An Iran initiative.

Calling time out on Iran sanctions

South Africa, currently presiding over the UN Security Council, has urged everyone to cool it on Iran sanctions for 90 days. The US would be wise to go along with the suggestion, not only in the name of seeking Tehran’s cooperation on Iraq but to re-inject credibility into the Security Council itself. – Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Mar 21, ’07)

Source: Asia Times Online :: Asian news hub providing the latest news and analysis from Asia

and China

This year’s N.P.C. shows that China’s leaders are paying increased attention to the social and economic divides between the rural, inland provinces and the booming, coastal cities. However, much of the legislation passed will benefit the upper and middle classes in the cities far more than the poor rural areas.
Targeting the Wealth Divide
Premier Wen Jiabao focused on the widening income gap in his opening remarks. He asked China’s provincial leaders not to focus purely on economic growth figures, but rather on the quality of growth. To this end, he set a targeted growth rate at eight percent, much lower than the double-digit rates China has come to expect. Wen and President Hu Jintao, however, have set similar targets for the economy in the past, only to have the directives ignored at the local level. This is unlikely to change this year.
The rural-urban divide is worsening in China, and with it social divisions are being strained. Rural incomes average 3,465 yuan (US$448) a year, or about one-third of those in the coastal areas. A much cited and disputed figure puts the number of rural protests in 2005 at 87,000, compared to 11,000 a decade ago. This division set off the largest mass migration in modern history, as rural residents seek a better life in the coastal areas, with or without the proper authorization from the authorities. As such, the N.P.C. passed legislation to improve conditions in the rural provinces to stem this migration and calm the protest movements.
Last year’s N.P.C. focused on reducing the tax burden of rural residents by eliminating agricultural and livestock taxes. This year, the focus was on improving social services and infrastructure in the western provinces. Spending on rural areas is to be expanded by 15.3 percent over last year’s level to 391.7 billion yuan ($50.6 billion). As part of this initiative, 10.1 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) will be used to expand medical coverage to more rural areas, almost doubling the amount from last year. However, many do not participate in the state co-op medical system because they do not trust their local authorities.

And this tidbit

Another reason for concern is that the announcement comes on the eve of a reshuffle of the U.S. command. The current U.S. Pacific Command chief, Admiral William J. Fallon, is being moved to Central Command in the Middle East. He has been a driving force for closer contact with the Chinese military; he increased the frequency of dialogue with his Chinese counterparts; and he was involved in the first joint-training exercises with China in 2006. He claimed success for this approach when China contacted him shortly before North Korea tested an atomic device last year. Admiral Timothy J. Keating will replace Fallon at the end of March. His public statements indicate that he will continue to build upon Fallon’s approach, but China may interpret some of his criticisms surrounding its anti-satellite test as too harsh.

That Fallon plays this role is a possible good sign for what he might do in Iraq and Iran.

Gore..

His meeting with the House committee is wonderfully conversational. The use of the market and proper incentives….

On the US..

30 Valuable Lessons That Americans Can Learn From the Rest of the World:

This story appears in the March 26, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for March, 2007 at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.