Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Aeon J. Skoble
First, it's possible that Scully was acting on behalf of his current employeers to push a bill that would benefit their clients. If this were so, it seems clear that a larger scale investigation into any linkages would be great red meat for some young federal prosecutor looking for television face time. However no one in Washington appears anxious, so far, to make much of this.
This leaves us with scenario number 2 - someone inside the White House told Scully to threaten his employees into lying to get this bill done. That raises a whole bunch of problems for this administration, and I for one hope that the media, and Democrats in Congress, keep digging until someone hangs for this.
That's freedom in America today. The founders will never stop spinning over this.
The title of this post is from W. S. Gilbert's Princess Ida.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
The lives of over a thousand U.S. troops have been consumed in the Iraq war, and this week marks the three-year anniversary of the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., which led to the deaths of nearly 3000 civilians.
Some organizations have a weird way of marking the anniversary. Here comes a story of a rather tasteless WTC toy, depicting a plane ramming into the Twin Towers. The toy showed up in 14,000 bags of candy produced by the Lisy Corporation, which issued a recall from small grocery stores around the United States. Seeing is believing, so take a look at the link above ...
Matthew Barganier (Guest Blogger)
- White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said yesterday that President Bush views America as a"10-year-old child" in need of the sort of protection provided by a parent.
Card's remark, criticized later by Democrat John F. Kerry's campaign as" condescending," came in a speech to Republican delegates from Maine and Massachusetts that was threaded with references to Bush's role as protector of the country. Republicans have sounded that theme repeatedly at the GOP convention as they discuss the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.
"It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child," Card said."I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."
Matthew Barganier (Guest Blogger)
- Last fall, as the board of Hollinger International prepared to oust its founding executive, Conrad M. Black, the director most protective and supportive of him turned to a friend and balked.
"This is a kangaroo court," a person recalled the director, Richard N. Perle, as saying in defense of Lord Black, who had been accused by investors of improperly siphoning millions of dollars to other companies he controlled.
But last week, Mr. Perle's view of Lord Black changed. Issuing his first public statements since being heavily criticized in an internal report for rubber-stamping transactions that company investigators say led to the plundering of the company, Mr. Perle now says he was duped by his friend and business colleague. ...
From his vacation home in southern France late Friday, issuing the outlines of his legal defense for the first time, Mr. Perle said that he was misled.
"The special committee has concluded that Lord Black and other members of the Ravelston Management Group misled the directors of Hollinger, including me, concerning the scope of their compensation, the payment of noncompete payments and the related-party nature of several transactions," Mr. Perle said, referring to the holding company run by Lord Black that effectively controlled Hollinger."As the report shows, critical information was either not revealed or obscured as matters were presented to the audit and executive committees and the full board of directors.
"I did not participate in or profit in any way from the management agreements, related-party transactions or noncompete payments at issue," the Perle statement added. ...
According to the report, after Mr. Perle, without the authorization of Hollinger's board, signed a document on Dec. 25, 2002, that appeared to commit Hollinger to invest $25 million in his venture capital fund, Trireme, Lord Black sent an e-mail message to the president of Hollinger Digital, in which he wrote,"As I suspected, there is a good deal of nest-feathering being conducted by Richard which I don't object to other than that there was some attempt to disguise it behind a good deal of dissembling and obfuscation.
"My instinct told me that these two were trying to smoke one past us," Lord Black wrote, referring to Mr. Perle and an associate at Trireme.
"I think they have done a good job rummaging all this together, but they should treat us as insiders with our hands cupped as the money flows down, and not as outsiders pouring in the money," he continued. ...
The report suggests in one passage that Lord Black ultimately agreed to permit Hollinger to make a $2.5 million investment in Trireme to get Mr. Perle to resign as head of Hollinger Digital, telling three top Hollinger executives by e-mail messages that he was"well aware of Richard's shortcomings" and another that he was"well aware of what a trimmer and a sharper Richard is at times."
In another e-mail message, sent to a Hollinger executive in early January 2003, he wrote:"I have been exposed to Richard's full repertoire of histrionics, cajolery and utilization of fine print. He hasn't been disingenuous exactly, but I understand how he finessed the Russians out of deployed missiles in exchange for noneventual deployment of half the number of missiles of unproven design."
In February 2002, according to the report, Lord Black sent a letter to Mr. Perle complaining that Hollinger had been receiving expenses from an American Express card for $1,000 to $6,000 a month"and there is no substantiation of any of the items which include a great many restaurants, groceries and other matters. This is not a system that conforms to the standards being imposed in every area of this company."
The report said it could not find a reply from Mr. Perle.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Much has been said about the politics and history of the current state of the world. In my Brooklyn neighborhood, however, one maxim remains true:"Never Forget." Whatever one's opinions about the causes or the consequences of 9/11, this exercise in historical memory is a cathartic one for those of us who survived that tragic day and continue to bear witness.
Aeon J. Skoble
David T. Beito
Poor JFK. He can't get anything right lately. Since this is from Drudge, it is best to take it with a grain of salt. UPDATE: Grain of salt alert! Juan Non-Volokh thinks that Drudge has"misfired" on this though the last paragraph of his post seems to leave the matter open. I am not a gun expert so perhaps others will want to weigh in.
UPDATE: Grain of salt alert! Juan Non-Volokh thinks that Drudge has"misfired" on this though the last paragraph of his post seems to leave the matter open. I am not a gun expert so perhaps others will want to weigh in.
Roderick T. Long
I just finished watching the Badnarik/Cobb debate. I thought Badnarik did an adequate job, but economics is not his strong point, and he did not seem able to give the kinds of convincing economic responses to Cobb’s economic dirigisme that a Harry Browne, for example, might have.
The remark of Cobb's that most called for response, and didn't get much of one, was this:"It seems self-evident to me that if health care is privatised, only the rich will be able to afford health care." The fact that Cobb finds this"self-evident" is the most important failing on his part, as it demonstrates his complete lack of understanding of the market. The less affluent outnumber the more affluent. Why on earth would anyone market services just to a minority of their customer base? Why would anyone provide health care just to the wealthy few when they could make far more money by catering to the poorer many? Health care costs are driven upward by government-granted monopolies and subsidies; they would be driven down by genuine market competition.
Badnarik should have talked about the history of cheap health care for the poor before government got into the health care business, and should have explained more clearly how government favours the wealthy while markets favour the poor.
Badnarik did say that markets can achieve Green goals better than governments can. But he didn't explain how. I look forward to the day when Libertarian candidates present their positions in the Green-friendly manner of Mary Ruwart's Healing Our World.
On a different point: I would also like to have seen Badnarik call Cobb on Cobb's claim to stand for nonviolence. What I wrote about Kucinich a year ago on this point applies equally to Cobb today: Cobb's economic policies amount to an expansion of violence, not a diminution of it.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Just saw John McCain on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I was astonished by how the arguments he uses, and those offered by many in the Bush administration, parallel the welfare liberal sociology that we heard for several generations as an explanation for why kids go into a life of crime: that when people have no hope and no opportunity, they are prime candidates for becoming criminals. McCain simply uses that as a rationale for why young people in the Middle East become terrorists. No hope, no opportunity. So the US must simply go in there and provide them with hope and opportunity. The Great Society Goes Global! Bring in HUD!
Something else I found curious: McCain has long understood that brutal Russian policies toward Chechnya are fueling the spread of lethal terrorism there, resulting this past week in the horrific deaths of over 300 people, many of them children. Indeed, Chechen terrorists are not at war with the Russian"way of life"; they are at war, McCain understands, with Russian policies,"blowback" leading to terrible tragedies like the one at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan.
Likewise, as I have argued, here and elsewhere:
the history of US policy in the Middle East has provided, at least partially, the context for the current problems with Islamic terrorists. That is not a justification for Islamic terrorism against innocent American civilians; but it does provide, at least partially, an understanding of the context within which such terrorism has taken root and flourished. There is a difference between explanation and justification. I say"partially" because the vast array of problems in that region cannot simply be reduced to a pure product of US intervention. There are tribal, ethnic, and religious conflicts fomenting in the Middle East, which long predate US intervention—and which have now become deeply intertwined with the US presence. The US has stepped into a minefield of historical complexities, which can only generate explosive unintended consequences over the long-term.
The phenomenon of unintended consequences is equally applicable to the current Russian-Chechen situation. As George Will observed on"This Week," the current context represents a collision of nationalism, ethnicity, and religion, complicated now by the fact that the long nationalist war for Chechen independence is drawing power from Muslim separatists. But none of these factors can be abstracted from the context of policies pursued. In the long run, different policies will be necessary. In Chechnya. And in the Middle East.
Remember Diebold, the company whose CEO promised to "help Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to Bush? Perhaps we're learning how. Black Box Voting has discovered a backdoor in the Diebold vote tabulators:
"Manipulation technique found in the Diebold central tabulator -- 1,000 of these systems are in place, and they count up to two million votes at a time."
By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks.
...The GEMS central tabulator program is incorrectly designed and highly vulnerable to fraud. Election results can be changed in a matter of seconds. Part of the program we examined appears to be designed with election tampering in mind." [Emphasis added.]
I've just searched Google News and Yahoo News for"Diebold tabulator." Although Black Box Voting released this nine days ago, among the"major" (print & TV) media, only the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune have picked up this story. (CNN did mention it in their Daily Blog Roundup, but that's hardly front page coverage.) I learned about it from The Inquirer, a computer news site in the UK.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
David T. Beito
While doing research on From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1930, it became readily apparent just how much historians have ignored the extensive role played by fraternal societies in the history of film, comics, novels, radio, and television.
David T. Beito
The subtitle of my essay, about the latest attempt to smear Kerry (a brand new one, growing out of the Swift Boat campaign) and its broader meaning, is: How the Bush Administration Seeks to Destroy the Enemy, and Achieve A Mandate -- For Absolute Power.
The full article is here.
When thinking about this we are left with two choices. Maybe Hastert does not know the difference between a group that sells drugs on the necessarily violent black market and a group such as the Soros funded Drug Policy Alliance who ran an ad this week in the New York Sun (complimentary copy to every GOP delegate’s hotel room each day of the convention) quoting such people as Milton Friedman, Grover Norquist, and William F. Buckley on the failed war against people who use certain kinds of drugs. More likely though, Hastert does know the difference between these two types of organizations and was deliberately smearing Soros figuring the rest of us were too dumb to notice and showing himself to be a second rate political hack.
Now, if the drug cartels were to contribute money to either of these two men it would most certainly be Speaker Hastert. After all, George Soros is a billionaire and can fund pretty much anything he wants without any help. But, more importantly, to the extent that he is an advocate of drug legalization he is the mortal enemy of the narcotic cartels. The reforms put forth by the polical groups Soros supports would end the corrupt violence filled black market, which provides so much money to these drug selling associations. Why would they want such changes in policy?
On the other hand, the drug cartels have no better friend than Dennis Hastert. It is people like him who assure the continuance of the black market in drugs and the enormous profits made there. If you are a big time drug dealer it is definitely in your interest to keep Hastert in office.
David T. Beito
I was perusing Gore Vidal's lively series of essays, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of America (New York: Nation Books, 2004) and came across these nuggets on page 45.
Ulysses S. Grant, who had led troops at Veracruz, wrote in his memoirs:"The war was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering the justice in their desire to acquire additional territory."
Many years later, he characterized the Civil War as"largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times."
The same could be said, of course, about World War II as an"outgrowth" of World War I.
David T. Beito
Daniel Ellsberg, Former Defense and State Department official who released the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971
Coleen Rowley, Special agent, Minneapolis FBI, Named Person of the Year in 2003 by Time Magazine
Sibel Edmonds, Former FBI Translator fired for revealing coverups of pre 9/11 warnings and of possible espionage
Katharine Gun, Former translator in GCHQ, the British equivalent of the National Security Agency, who was put on trial for releasing NSA memo seeking British assistance in bugging offices and homes of UN Security Council members prior to vote on Iraq
Scott Ritter, Former Chief UN Weapons Inspector, who challenged government claims on WMD in Iraq
Mary Ann Wright, Former Acting Ambassador in Afghanistan, who resigned from the Foreign Service as Deputy Chief of Mission in Mongolia on March 19, 2003 (the day bombing began in Iraq) to protest US foreign policy
John Brown, Former Foreign Service officer who resigned because of the Iraq war
Ray McGovern, 27-year veteran of CIA, formerly a briefer to several presidents on the President's Daily Checklist, who co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
David MacMichael, Veteran CIA analyst and VIPS co-founder who testified to World Court on U.S. covert actions in Nicaragua
Major Frank Grevill, Danish intelligence analyst who released his own classified analyses from before the war, asserting lack of foundation for the charges of WMDs in Iraq being echoed by Danish government and is currently facing trial in Denmark
Karen Kwiatkowski, Recently retired Lt. Col., who served in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans under Douglas Feith and revealed that office’s misrepresentations in building the case for invasion of Iraq
I believe all of these people in the same room will produce a very powerful statement on the true nature of government.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
So, after discussing the rise of fundamentalist conservatism as a social, cultural, and economic force to be reckoned with, after dispensing with"progressive conservatism" as a viable option, I've now read George F. Will's take on the"return" of"libertarian conservatism" to the Republican Party. Will believes that if this past week's GOP convention proves anything, it is that there is a renaissance among Goldwater-type conservatives who apply the limited government philosophy to both economic and social spheres of life. Will admits that this wing of the party is"not fully ascendant." You can say that again! But Will thinks that by showcasing people like Rudy Giuliani (a complex case for this New Yorker to evaluate), Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other"moderate" voices, the GOP is sending out a message that it can be the"Big Tent" it has long advertised. (Goldwater, after all, in his later years, was an advocate of abortion rights and gay rights.)
If you'd watched some of the coverage of this convention, however, you would have heard from a lot of delegates who, quite simply, were none too thrilled by the fact that the advocates of"abortion" and"gay rights" were getting so much prime-time. It seems that ever since the Patrick Buchanan debacle of 1992, the GOP learned that it could keep its fundamentalist base intact (who are they gonna vote for? The Democrats???), while trying its best to appeal to those independent young and suburban swing voters who are more likely to be a bit more socially liberal. Clearly, this strategy is not really designed to win"big states" on the West and East coasts. The"libertarians" are, for the most part, coming out of California or places like New York, two states that will probably figure in the Kerry Electoral Vote column. But it's still a strategy that might pay off in some hard-to-call states.
Still. When, curiously, on the eve of the convention, Vice President Dick Cheney tells us how proud he is of his gay daughter Mary, while backing off from the administration's call for a heterosexual marriage constitutional amendment, the right-wing slams back. Perhaps the controversy cost poor Mary and her significant other a place on the podium, while the rest of Cheney's family joined him after his acceptance speech on Wednesday night. Whatever the reason for her lack of participation, it was a true Hegelian moment for those of us who notice such things: the absence spoke much louder than the presence.
Sorry, Mr. Will: This spoonful of"libertarian" sugar may influence some voters who would rather not take the fundamentalist and/or neocon medicine that the GOP wants to shove down the throats of the American electorate. But this prescription is not for me. I'm still voting for None of the Above.