Saturday, March 25, 2006

on this we agree

I don't share much philosophical ground with the one Garrison Keillor refers to as the Current Occupant. But, thought we may niggle about the details, I agree whole-heartedly with his call for guest-worker status for willing aliens.

I think there are several good reasons for this, but let's just follow Malcolm Gladwell in cutting to the bottom line:

...I also think it's time that business stood up and joined the immigration debate. I think it has been--with the exception of some high-tech firms--shamefully silent on this, which should be one of its top competitiveness issues. Congress should not be shutting down the borders at a time when we're 10 or 15 years away from some very serious workplace shortages, skilled-labor shortages. We've shut the spigot off, and we're keeping out the very people who would drive our economy 10 years out when our workforce retires en masse.

We talk about these as equity issues, as cost issues, as ideological issues, but more than anything else, they're about competitiveness.

civil war

"Sustained military combat, primarily internal, resulting in at least 1,000 battle-deaths per year, pitting central government forces against an insurgent force capable of effective resistance, determined by the latter's ability to inflict upon the government forces at least 5 percent of the fatalities that the insurgents sustain." (Errol A. Henderson and J. David Singer, "Civil War in the Post-Colonial World, 1946-92," Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 37, No. 3, May 2000.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the long tail in action

Perhaps you're familiar with The Long Tail, Chris Anderson's treatise on why the new economy really is new.

This morning GoogleAlert sent this:

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

dream or nightmare circulated an email today that frames our choices this Fall about as clearly as I've seen.

"Taking just the House of Representatives, here is a small slice of who will be leading:

Nancy Pelosi—a progressive—becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives.

John Murtha—a veteran and anti-war champion—would become chair of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations. He would be in charge of the budget for the war in Iraq.

John Conyers—who forced a national debate on the Downing Street Memos—would be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Henry Waxman would be chairman of the Government Reform committee—he has a bulls-eye on war profiteers like Halliburton.

Barney Frank—who has led efforts to rein in out-of-control CEO pay—would be in charge of the Financial Services Committee.

David Obey—who led opposition to the Republican budget—would be chair of the House Appropriations committee—protecting Medicaid, food stamps, veteran's benefits, student loans and more.

Charles Rangel—who predicted the Medicare debacle—would be chair of the House Ways and Means committee—protecting Social Security.

George Miller—a big advocate for working people—would be chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and could bring a vote to raise the minimum wage.

"Put aside for a minute any disappointment you might have in the Democrats overall—these leaders are what we'll get if we win in November. They are champions on issues we all care about."

I agree. I'm disheartened by what's happening (and what's not happening) in the Democratic National Committee, but these eight Members of Congress have gained my political trust. If a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives puts these people in leadership, let's get on with it.

Liberals and Progressives still have to figure out what to do about taking the White House in 2009. In the meantime, what we do this year can rein-in the current White House occupant in 2007 and 2008. When I consider the damage Mr. Bush has done, I shudder to think American's might let him go unchallenged in the final 24 months of his government.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mr. Conyers steps up

Asked why he introduced House Resolution 635, Michigan Congressman John Conyers replied, "To take away the excuse that we didn't know."

“I don't think enough people know how much damage this administration can do to their civil liberties in a very short time. What would you have me do? Grumble and complain? Make cynical jokes? Throw up my hands and say that under the circumstances nothing can be done? At least I can muster the facts, establish a record, tell the story that ought to be front-page news.”

Find the executive summary of Mr. Conyers' report to the 109th Congress below. Download the 278 page report at Mr. Conyers' website.

Executive Summary
This Minority Report has been produced at the request of Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. He made this request in the wake of the President's failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of this year asking him whether the assertions set forth in the Downing Street Minutes were accurate. Mr. Conyers asked staff, by year end 2005, to review the available information concerning possible misconduct by the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War and post-invasion statements and actions, and to develop legal conclusions and make legislative and other recommendations to him.

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.

There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses.

In addition, we believe the failure of the President, Vice President and others in the Bush Administration to respond to myriad requests for information concerning these charges, or to otherwise account for explain a number of specific misstatements they have made in the run up to War and other actions warrants, at minimum, the introduction and Congress= approval of Resolutions of Censure against Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Further, we recommend that Ranking Member Conyers and others consider referring the potential violations of federal criminal law detailed in this Report to the Department of Justice for investigation; Congress should pass legislation to limit government secrecy, enhance oversight of the Executive Branch, request notification and justification of presidential pardons of Administration officials, ban abusive treatment of detainees, ban the use of chemical weapons, and ban the practice of paying foreign media outlets to publish news stories prepared by or for the Pentagon; and the House should amend its Rules to permit Ranking Members of Committees to schedule official Committee hearings and call witnesses to investigate Executive Branch misconduct.

The Report rejects the frequent contention by the Bush Administration that their pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they have been exonerated. No entity has ever considered whether the Administration misled Americans about the decision to go to war. The Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review of pre-war intelligence distortion and manipulation, while the Silberman-Robb report specifically cautioned that intelligence manipulation "was not part of our inquiry." There has also not been any independent inquiry concerning torture and other legal violations in Iraq; nor has there been an independent review of the pattern of coverups and political retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald.

While the scope of this Report is largely limited to Iraq, it also holds lessons for our Nation at a time of entrenched one-party rule and abuse of power in Washington. If the present Administration is willing to misstate the facts in order to achieve its political objectives in Iraq, and Congress is unwilling to confront or challenge their hegemony, many of our cherished democratic principles are in jeopardy. This is true not only with respect to the Iraq War, but also in regard to other areas of foreign policy, privacy and civil liberties, and matters of economic and social justice. Indeed as this Report is being finalized, we have just learned of another potential significant abuse of executive power by the President, ordering the National Security Agency to engage in domestic spying and wiretapping without obtaining court approval in possible violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

It is tragic that our Nation has invaded another sovereign nation because "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," as stated in the Downing Street Minutes. It is equally tragic that the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress have been unwilling to examine these facts or take action to prevent this scenario from occurring again. Since they appear unwilling to act, it is incumbent on individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to protect our constitutional form of government.